From Catherine Given
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
The descendants: a novel
By now you’ve probably seen either The Descendants’ promos or the movie featuring George Clooney and Beau Bridges. In the novel it’s based on, Hemmings provides a sensitive account of the dealings of a comfortably numb man. Matthew, the mostly emotionally absent father of a wacky,disconnected family, along with daughters Alex, a scornful young adult, and Scottie, who’s ten going on 30, have just suffered a great shock. His wife, Joanie, has had a boat-racing accident, leaving the threesome in limbo, for the first time totally dependent on each other.
Matthew hasn’t spent any time with the girls as they were too young to relate to. He’s been so busy preserving his founding Hawaiian family’s legacy that he and his kids are strangers to each other. “I come from the school of thought where a dad’s absence is something to be counted on,” he says. . . . “I remember the girls sort of bothered me as babies, the way everyone raced around to accommodate them. . . .It felt like I was living with royalty.”
These characters are beautifully delineated, realistically flawed and out of necessity, it seems, eventually nurturing to one another. You’ll feel you know them well by the time a few plot twists have churned and settled to momentary stillness, like a surge of Hawaiian surf. Their newly-reconstituted family’s warm but bumpy ride has just begun.
From Geri Sundermier
author: Baldacci, Daniel
Get a box of tissues ready for this one. This is a powerful, moving book that is hard to put down. It’s about a terminally ill man with a lot of courage. Great for a rainy day!
From Marie K. Schulken
author: Sullivan, J. Courtney
This is the first book I have read by J. Courtney Sullivan and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story evolves around multiple generations of an Irish family who summered at their cottage in Maine. A definite cast of characters beginning with the Matriarch, Alice, who rules the roost. A great beach read and a nice respite from my spy novels.
From Shelley Lauer-Bader
author: See, Lisa
This story of Shanghai during the Japanese invasion and immigration to the US has great period detail. May and Pearl escape China in 1937 and arrive in the United States, although not without great pain and suffering. They finally connect with the men they married through an arranged marriage. The Louie family could be the story of any family immigrating to the United States with the racism, poverty, family tension.
Especially pertinent is the focus on the “paper sons;” we would call them
illegal immigrants today.
Great for a book group discussion.
From Jackie Cantwell
author: McDonald, Brian
In the Middle of the Night
In the Middle of the Night tells the horrifying tale of two parolees who go on a crime spree in Cheshire, CT on July 23, 2007. The instigator was Joshua Komisarjevsky, a convicted serial burglar, who met his partner in crime, Steven Hayes, in a halfway house. Joshua began burglarizing homes in his teens, and sometimes he didn’t take anything. Instead, he’d listen to the occupants as they slept, or rearranged pictures or furniture.
Joshua was adopted as an infant into a wealthy family. As a child, he lived in southwestern Cheshire on a 65-acre estate that was part horse farm. His parents, Ben and Jude, were loving and very religious. Joshua was given every opportunity to succeed in life, and coupled with his very high I.Q., he would have gone far if he hadn’t chosen crime as his vocation. It is especially cruel that he stalked the family of Dr. William and Mrs. Jennifer Petit, a nurse. They were a well-loved, community-minded couple whose daughters, Michaela and Hayley, held so much promise. It was very difficult to read the details of the crime. The governor, M. Jodi Rell, changed laws to toughen penalties for home invasion and tighten parole procedures after this crime.
From Rosalia Milan:
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi
By far one of the best graphic novels I have read this year. Marjane and the women of her family regularly gather to have tea and gossip. Through the gossip of her elders Marjane and the readers find out about the heartbreaks of both marriage for love and marriage for convenience. The stories are funny and heartfelt. Since the tales all revolve around love gone wrong, the reader can see the strength in all of the woman who survive these heartbreaks and are still able to raise families and become strong independent people.
from Regina Cortina:
Handle With Care, by Jodi Picoult
When faced with the reality of a fetus who will be disabled, should a parent have the right to consider termination? As usual Jodi Picoult tackles this one with lots of emotion, twists, and turns. I was not too happy with ending. Not one of her best novels, but I did find the story interesting.
From Susan Martin:
My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Extraordinary story of the consequences of conceiving a child for the purpose of saving a sibling. Anna is the donor and her sister Kate is the recepient. For thirteen years, Anna has been subjected to various medical procedures in order to help Kate. Anna’s decisions have far-reaching effects for her entire family. Yes, the ending of this book is very different from the movie’s ending. Very heart-rending and realistic. There is some language and sexual scenes and inuendos that I felt could have been omitted without harming the excellent story.
From Donna Southard:
The Gatehouse, by Nelson DeMille
This is the sequel to DeMille’s novel, The Gold Coast. I had look forward to reading this book, but I was very disappointed in it after I read it. I found the narrative of the main character to be very repetitive and it became annoying to read. The action consisted of the last 50 or so pages of the novel and I found it to not to be worth the time it took to read it.
Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold
This novel begins with the main character reflecting on how her life was before and after she killed her mother. I found some of the analogies to be well written. However, I found the book to be very conflicting and overall depressing. There are a lot of emotional roller coaster moments.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, by Steve Harvey
This is a funny guide for women to understand how men “think” in a romantic relationship. Harvey writes like a script from one of his stand-up performances. I found myself laughing quite often. This was a fun read and very different from the average self-help book.
The Host, by Stephenie Meyer
I found this book to be very interesting. It was geared to teens, but I was quickly hooked into reading it. I found it fascinating how the author created the interactions of alien life forms with humans. In my opinion, I feel that Meyers created a suspenseful plot, that was a little creepy, and I feel that she did an excellent job in developing her characters. This book made me really think about “life” as we know it.
The Wednesday Letters, by Jason F. Wright
The novel begins with the introduction of a happily married couple of almost forty years who owns a bed and breakfast in the Shenandoah area of VA. One night the couple dies within hours of each other. When their three children arrive to make funeral arrangements, they discover boxes full of letters that their father wrote to their mother every Wednesday of their marriage. The letters reveal information that the adult children have to reflect on and understand. This is a quick read with several twists. It makes one wonder about writing their own “Wednesday Letters” to their significant other.