Where did August go? I feel like every night for the past month, I fell into bed and wondered where the day had gone. Most nights I went to bed feeling frustrated because I didn’t get the things done that I wanted to accomplish that day. These same thoughts go along with my reading as well. It wasn’t a good month for that. Other things took priority and reading was worked in when I had time, which wasn’t much. I finished 6 books in August, 3 kids books and 3 adult books. Not what I was hoping for when I was looking forward to summer reading. But, it is what it is. I can’t change our busy life right now, but just have to make do with the time I have.
I have turned away so many great books because the level of anxiety I am having about all the books I should be reading is stressing me out. So, I have made the choice to not accept anything right now and try to focus on what is in front on me. Of course, some books just find their way to me anyway, some book deals are too good to pass up, and others I had already agreed to review. So, I still have some books to share for the month.
There are a lot of great books in my stack this month. I can’t wait to share my thoughts about them with you in the coming weeks. I’m only going to read books that I am interested in. If it isn’t working for me, I’m going to put it aside and move on to something else. I can’t read every book that comes my way, but I can at least share them with you here and I hope to review them just as soon as I can.
WOMEN HEROES OF WORLD WAR II
The Pacific Theater
By: Kathryn Atwood
Published: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
This type of book is right up my alley. I have her previous book, WOMEN HEROES OF WWI, but every time I move it to my stack, something comes up and I don’t get it read. I’m determined to read both of her books soon!
After glamorous American singer Claire Phillips opened her own night club in Manila, using the proceeds to secretly feed starving American POWs, she also began working as a spy, chatting up Japanese military men and passing their secrets along to local guerilla resistance fighters.
Australian Army nurse Vivian Bullwinkel, stationed in Singapore then shipwrecked in the Dutch East Indies, became the sole survivor of a horrible massacre by Japanese soldiers. She hid for days, tending to a seriously wounded British soldier while wounded herself. Humanitarian Elizabeth Choy lived the rest of her life hating only war, not her tormentors, after enduring six months of starvation and torture by the Japanese military police.
In these pages, readers will meet these and other courageous women and girls who risked their lives through their involvement in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Fifteen suspense-filled stories unfold across China, Japan, Mayala, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, providing an inspiring reminder of women and girls’ refusal to sit on the sidelines around the world and throughout history.
These women — whose stories span from 1932 through 1945, the last year of the war, when U.S. Marines landed on Iwo Jima — served in dangerous roles as spies, medics, journalists, resisters, and saboteurs. Nine of the women were American; seven were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, enduring brutal conditions.
Author Kathryn J. Atwood provides appropriate context and framing for teens 14 and up to grapple with these harsh realities of war. Discussion questions and a guide for further study assist readers and educators in learning about this important and often neglected period of history.
A GIFT OF LOVE
By: Tony Cointreau
Published: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Prospecta Books
I have already reviewed this book, HERE. It was a humbling and convicting look at loving and caring for those who are dying. I have a giveaway running through Monday for this book. Enter to win by clicking on my review link.
I wrote A Gift of Love because people kept asking me to do so, telling me that there was a great need for it. Perhaps it was their parents who were dying, or another family member, or a close friend, and they needed to know what they could do for their loved ones in those last weeks, days, or hours. They knew that I had worked with Mother Teresa as a volunteer in her homes for the dying, and had twelve years’ experience in what they were facing perhaps for the first time, and asked me to pass on some of my knowledge.
In 1979, when I saw a magazine photograph of one of Mother Teresa’s volunteers carrying a dying man in his arms, I knew in an instant that I had to become a part of this work. It was certainly not a religious calling, but a simple calling to give something of myself to others. I felt that if I could comfort one dying person, my life would have had purpose.
In the years to come, these men, who were dying of AIDS and had never been given much of a chance in life, taught me not only about the many ways to help others die in an atmosphere of peace and love, but also how to enjoy the richness of living our lives fully until the very end.
If I can reach just one person who is flailing around in panic and fear while trying to help a loved one at the end of their life, my journey will have been worthwhile.
THE MATCHMAKERS OF MINNOW BAY
By: Kelly Harms
Published: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
This book is part of an interview/review I’ll be doing for The Gazette in October. Harms is an Iowa native and is coming to Next Page Books in Cedar Rapids for a reading/book signing. Stay tuned for more on this event and her newest book.
A young painter, Lily has reached a crossroads in her life. Her career hasn’t taken off, her best friend may no longer be the trusted friend she thought, her boyfriend is a disappointment, and now she can’t keep up with the rising cost of living in the city. With no one to turn to, Lily is forced to move from her beloved apartment, but while packing she comes across a piece of mail that had slipped to the back of her junk drawer: a letter detailing further action needed to finalize the annulment of a quickie Vegas wedding. Ten years ago!
Lily decides it’s time to turn over a new leaf and the first item on her list of things to fix is getting the annulment… but you can’t just send a reply ten years later, “Hey by the way we are still married.” This is something that must be addressed in person. Lily takes to the road to track down her husband – the charming, fun, and sexy man she connected with all those years ago – Ben Hutchinson.
Ben Hutchinson left a wealthy dot-com lifestyle behind to return home to his family and the small town he loves, Minnow Bay. He’s been living off the grid and the last thing he expects is a wife he didn’t know he had to show up on his doorstep.
By chance, Lily arrives at the magical Minnow Bay Inn, and there she will discover not just a place to lay her head, but new friends, a thriving art community, and maybe even the love of her life.
True Tales of Madness and Hope
By: Mark Rubinstein
Published: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Thunder Lake Press
I have a thing for medical nonfiction books. I’ve got three in my list of books this time. They are always so fascinating and these tales of mental illness will hopefully shed a light on the troubling situation our hospitals and law enforcement are facing with no one to send those who are suffering.
Why would a man born in Hungary and living on Manhattan’s Lower East Side run down Delancey Street ranting “I’m king of the Puerto Ricans”?
What would compel a physically healthy woman to persuade surgeons to operate on her more than a dozen times?
How was it possible for a man wearing a straitjacket to commit suicide within a locked psychiatric ward while in the company of a well-trained guard?
Though these and the other stories in this volume read like fiction, each is true.
Former practicing psychiatrist Mark Rubinstein opens the door and takes the reader deep into the world of mental illness. From the chaos of a psychiatric emergency room to the bowels of a maximum security prison, the stories range from bizarre to poignant and the people from noble to callously uncaring.Bedlam’s Door depicts the challenges mental illness poses for patients, their families, health-care professionals, and society. More importantly, it demystifies the subject while offering real hope.
By: Eric Prochaska
Published: August 25, 2016
Publisher: Endeavour Press
This is another book I’m reading for a review/interview for The Gazette. This author is a Cedar Rapids native and a friend of my best friend. This one is next up on my to-read list and I’ll be sharing it with you soon.
There’s no limit to what we’ll do for family…
Ethan Tanner’s grad school life in Arizona is a far cry from his childhood in Cedar Rapids. And that’s exactly how he wants it.
Raised in near poverty by a father who dabbled none too successfully in the world of organised crime, the only person Ethan has ever cared about is his older brother Aiden.
So when he gets a call saying his brother is dead, Aiden’s world falls apart. Ethan plans to attend his brother’s funeral and then leave, once and for all. But from the moment he gets back, something feels off.
Soon, law-abiding Ethan is immersed in the dark underworld he always wanted to avoid, as he starts to think that a drug debt prompted Aiden’s death. No matter who he angers, Ethan is going to find out what really happened to his brother.
When Casey Porter, an old friend from school who is now entrenched in the world that swallowed his brother lends a hand, Ethan has to ponder how far he is willing to go to avenge Aiden. But as the pieces start to fall into place, he finds allies in strange places, and discovers a side of himself he never knew existed…
Set in a pre-9/11 world, Vengeance looks at the choices that determine our fate, a son’s quest for a father’s love, and how far one brother will go for another.
By: Emma Donoghue
Published: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
From the author of ROOM, I had to see what this book was all about. It has the same feel of ROOM with the focus of the story on a child. This book has been making lots of Fall reading lists.
In Emma Donoghue’s latest masterpiece, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle – a girl said to have survived without food for months – soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.
Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.
Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels–a tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.
POWER YOUR HAPPY
Work Hard, Play Nice, and Build Your Dream Life
By: Lisa Sugar
Published: September 20, 2016
If you have heard of POPSUGAR, then you will be familiar with this author. Whether you are wanting to start a business or just recharge your life…this book may be just kick in the pants you need.
Lisa Sugar has an amazing job. She spends her days creating content about pop culture, must-have handbags and makeup, healthy recipes, and Instagram-worthy sweets. She manages an enormously successful, growing company with employees who love what they do. And her life is just as great at home. She and her husband have three daughters and she’s the number one soccer mom who loves reading bedtime stories every night.
How did she do it? By figuring out what her dream job was, taking risks, and believing in herself. And now she wants to motivate others to do the same. She wants to show them how to live colorful, interesting lives where every second counts.
She’ll do so by sharing her personal and business story. Lisa knows that creating your dream job requires hard work, patience, and experience. She’ll give advice, in big and small ways, about exactly how to do that, from starting a company to ditching a relationship that isn’t working to becoming a fabulous boss. And with the great, accessible writing style that has made POPSUGAR such a hit, she’ll make it fun!
By: Camilla Way
Published: August 2, 2016
I’m not remembering why this book interested me expect for that thrilleresque synopsis. This is also making a lot of Fall Must-Read Lists.
Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.
Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…
But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…
THE FLOWER ARRANGEMENT
By: Ella Griffin
Published: October 4, 2016
The cover grabbed me first. Then it’s premise reminds me of THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, one of my favorite books. Plus it is set in Dublin. Hoping it is all I am wanting it to be!
Golden peonies bowing their heads beneath blue delphinium bells. Delicate pink anemones threaded between freckled green orchids. Soft apricot roses woven together with velvety purple irises. Every bouquet tells a story. And every story begins at Blossom & Grow, a tiny jewel-like flower shop in the heart of Dublin. Here, among the buckets of fragrant blooms, beneath the flickering candles and lanterns, Lara works her magic. Translating feelings into flower arrangements that change hearts and lives. But what about her own heart? Has she really healed since she lost her chance to be a mother? What will happen when her own story takes a sudden turn? Can the flowers that heal the customers work their magic on the florist? Drawing together a delightful cast of characters, Ella Griffin brings her warmth, wit and wisdom to a captivating tale woven around a Dublin florist.
CROSSING THE HORIZON
By: Laurie Notaro
Published: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books
Laurie Notaro is writing historical fiction??? Her writings are hilarious and so hearing that she has stepped out of her box and wrote something different intrigued me!
Soar back to the fearless 1920s with #1 New York Times best-selling writer Laurie Notaro—beloved author of The Idiot Girls’ Action Adventure Club—in a stunning historical novel that tells the true, little-known story of three aviatrixes in a race to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.
Ten thousand feet in the sky, flipping and twirling through the air, aviatrixes from London to Paris to New York—fueled by determination and courage—have their eyes on the century’s biggest prize. The year is 1927, and Amelia Earhart has not yet made her record-breaking cross-Atlantic flight. Who will follow in Charles Lindbergh’s footsteps and make her own history?
Three women’s names are splashed daily across the front page: Elsie Mackay, daughter of an Earl, is the first Englishwoman to get her pilot’s license. Mabel Boll, a glamorous society darling and former cigar girl, is ardent to make the historic flight. Beauty pageant contestant Ruth Elder uses her winnings for flying lessons and becomes the preeminent American girl of the sky.
Inspired by true events and real people, Notaro vividly evokes this exciting time as her determined heroines vie for the record. Through striking photos, meticulous research, and atmospheric prose, Notaro brings Elsie, Mabel, and Ruth to life, pulling us back in time as the pilots collide, struggle, and literally crash in the chase for fame and a place in aviation history.
EMILY THE ASTRONAUT
The Space Case
By: Colette Omans Nicoletta
Published: February 27, 2014
Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press
Love when books teach children to follow their dreams and to learn something along the way.
“What is the moon made of and how can I get there?” wonders Emily. “The moon is fascinating to me and I want to be the first girl to explore it.” Come along with Emily as she discovers how to get to the moon and become an astronaut.
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF ELLIE THE ELEPHANT #5
Ellie’s Fun Day at the Farm
By: Marci Fair
Published: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Pacochel Press
Another installment in this fun book series. I’ve loved every one that I have read.
Join Ellie the Elephant and her friend, Pudgy the Penguin, on a fun visit to the farm in this delightful children’s book cowritten by author Marci Fair and her twelve-year-old daughter Elle.
Ellie and Pudgy–characters based on Elle’s two favorite stuffed animals–have had many grand adventures. Now, in the fifth installment of the Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant series, the curious duo decides to take a look at the origins of the food they eat every day.
This decision takes them to a farm and garden where they get a chance to ride on a big red tractor, feed a bottle to a baby goat, sit on eggs to keep them warm, and take part in many other hands-on experiences that will delight both children and parents. Readers will learn about different types of farm-grown food, meet many friendly, real animals, as well as laugh at the use of animal sounds in the story.
At the end of the day, Ellie and Pudgy settle in for a snack made from all the different foods they found at the farm. Their unbreakable friendship and sense of adventure are sure to encourage young readers to use their imaginations when it comes to their own favorite stuffed animals!
A”New York Times”bestseller: A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at life on Pennsylvania Avenue with America s first families, by the man who spent nearly three decades in their midst J. B. West, chief usher of the White House, directed the operations and maintenance of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and coordinated its daily life at the request of the president and his family. He directed state functions; planned parties, weddings and funerals, gardens and playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and, with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For twenty-eight years, first as assistant to the chief usher, then as chief usher, he witnessed national crises and triumphs, and interacted daily with six consecutive presidents and first ladies, as well as their parents, children and grandchildren, and houseguests including friends, relatives, and heads of state. J. B. West, whom Jackie Kennedy called one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met, provides an absorbing, one-of-a-kind history of life among the first ladies. Alive with anecdotes ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt s fascinating political strategies to Jackie Kennedy s tragic loss and the personal struggles of Pat Nixon, “Upstairs at the White House” is a rich account of a slice of American history that usually remains behind closed doors. “
This one has been on my to-read list since it came out. When I saw it was as daily deal I had to snag it…it’s a medical memoir. Fascinating stuff and I love that it is the nurse’s perspective and not the doctors.
Every day, Theresa Brown holds patients’ lives in her hands. On this day there are four. There is Mr. Hampton, a patient with lymphoma to whom Brown is charged with administering a powerful drug that could cure him–or kill him; Sheila, who may have been dangerously misdiagnosed; Candace, a returning patient who arrives (perhaps advisedly) with her own disinfectant wipes, cleansing rituals, and demands; and Dorothy, who after six weeks in the hospital may finally go home. Prioritizing and ministering to their needs takes the kind of skill, sensitivity, and, yes, humor that enable a nurse to be a patient’s most ardent advocate in a medical system marked by heartbreaking dysfunction as well as miraculous success.
The stunning debut novel from bestselling author Bill Clegg is a magnificently powerful story about a circle of people who find solace in the least likely of places as they cope with a horrific tragedy.
On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is upended when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. June is the only survivor.
Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak.
From the couple running a motel on the Pacific Ocean where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life, to the wedding’s caterer whose bill has been forgotten, to Luke’s mother, the shattered outcast of the town—everyone touched by the tragedy is changed as truths about their near and far histories finally come to light.
Elegant and heartrending, and one of the most accomplished fiction debuts of the year, Did You Ever Have a Family is an absorbing, unforgettable tale that reveals humanity at its best through forgiveness and hope. At its core is a celebration of family—the ones we are born with and the ones we create.
Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
By: Judy Melinek, MD
Publisher: August 12, 2014
Format: Audible Audio Book
I already owned this book on my Kindle, but thanks to Sheila @The Deliberate Reader, I saw that it was part of an Audible deal. I’ve been wanting to try audio books for quite a long time, but haven’t found a deal I wanted to try or purchase. This worked out great because I can go back and forth from reading on my Kindle to listening on audio and it syncs right to where I left off on either device. I’m enjoying listening to the book and think I may try to find a few more Kindle books that have a deal on adding the audible version as well. I will say that if you have a weak stomach, this may not be a book for you. So far I’ve been able to manage the graphic descriptions of the human body, but it has certainly been fascinating while making me cringe a bit.
The fearless memoir of a young forensic pathologist’s rookie season as a NYC medical examiner, and the cases, hair-raising and heartbreaking and impossibly complex, that shaped her as both a physician and a mother.
Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband T.J. and their toddler Daniel holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation, performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives.Working Stiff chronicles Judy’s two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587.
Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a firsthand account of daily life in one of America’s most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies, and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on shows likeCSI and Law and Order to reveal the secret story of the real morgue.
A HAPPIER 2017
By: Gretchen Rubin
Published: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
I know a calendar isn’t a book, but it is based off of Rubin’s THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, a book I loved. I adore page-a-day calendars and thought this one would be perfect on my desk next year! I’ll be reviewing it soon so you can get yours!
Get happy! From Gretchen Rubin—author of The Happiness Project and other bestselling books—here’s a day-by-day blueprint for a happier life. On each page is a nugget of optimism and practical inspiration drawn from cutting-edge research, ancient wisdom, popular culture, or the author’s own astute observations—all to help you find new happiness and satisfaction every day.
As always, I hope you will let me know if you read any of these books. But, for sure, whatever you are reading, I hope you are enjoying it because life is too short to read something you just aren’t interested in. Here is to Happy Reading!
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