The Roots of the Olive Tree

From Ginny  Pisciotta
Author:  Courtney Miller  Santo
The Roots of the Olive Tree
The Roots of the Olive Tree gives the reader entrance  into the lives of 5 living generations of firstborn daughters and their complex  relationships.  Much of the story takes place at the family home  in an olive grove in the Sacramento Valley.  Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 years old at the beginning of the story and is still going strong.  Her daughter is 90 and also healthy in body and mind.

A geneticist seeks to unlock the secret of their longevity and provide a breakthrough that would change the aging process.  As he studies their genetic make-up, we catch glimpses into their emotional lives and gradually learn the secrets they are keeping from each other and the world around them.  Mysteries about each of them are revealed little by little as we learn the reasons behind  strained relationships.  The book is divided into sections – each one told from the viewpoint of one of these daughters.  The final chapter in the book jumps ahead about 10 years and is written from the viewpoint of the firstborn son of the youngest.

The book is riveting, but it is not a feel-good kind of story.  The characters are real and flawed, yet you do care about them.

Eyes Right: confessions from a woman Marine

Eyes Right: confessions from a woman Marine
Eyes Right : confessions from a woman Marine traces the life path of a woman determined to prove something, both to herself and to the world at large. She came from a broken family and was determined not to end up in her father’s alcoholic footsteps. She went to the recruiting offices for all branches of service and there was a wait, but she was determined to get going on her path. The author showed brutal honesty in exposing her faults and shortcomings.  I give her credit for her pursuit of a better life. I did not always agree with her actions and choices but hindsight is always 20/20. Until one walks in another person’s shoes, one cannot say she should have done this or the other thing because looking in unemotionally, it is always easier to see the better choice. Once emotions are involved, choices are not so clear cut. The book was an enjoyable, informative read and I simply could not put it aside until I had turned the last page.

Defending Jacob

From Rosemarie Jerome
Author:  William Landay
Defending Jacob
A teenage boy is murdered.  Andy Barber is the assistant district attorney on the case.  His world, and his family, is shattered when his fourteen year old son, Jacob, is charged with the murder.  Is he guilty?  Was he framed?  How far will a father go to protect his son?  Is his son a monster?  This is a  riveting, suspenseful legal drama that has a truly shocking ending.

We bought a zoo

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Benjamin Mee
We bought a zoo
This is the remarkable true story of a successful journalist and married father of two who buys the dilapidated Dartmoor Zoo in southwest England. The book was made into a movie, in theatres now, starring Matt Damon. Benjamin is joined in this venture with his siblings and widowed mother, who sinks her inheritance into the purchase.  Ever media-savvy, Ben lands a TV deal to film the park being prepared to be reopened for the public. This book has it all: a love story, exotic animals, impatient creditors, indifferent bankers, demanding government officials, and a ragtag crew of zookeepers. The most exciting parts are when the most dangerous animals (such as Sovereign the jaguar) escape or almost escape their enclosures.   A fascinating section, which became known as the Day of the Dentist, was when a renowned animal dentist checked the teeth of all the animals in a marathon, costly session. The threat of danger always lurks, which makes the narrative so suspenseful. Will the park pass the inspection? Will it ever open to the public again? Will his family give up on his dream?

Sing You Home

From Paulette Aspesi
author: Picoult, Jodi
Sing You Home
Not one of her better books. Too pat. Too contrived. Too Pollyanna. Woman, Zoe, after ten years of marriage loses another child before it is born, and her husband, Max, feels that she no longer loves him so much as the wanting of a child. He divorces her and she finds love with a woman. Zoe & Max fight over three embryos and in the end he gives in, finds love with his sister-in-law and gives Zoe the embryos, and they all end up with the child growing up loving them all. SURE!

Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes

From Rosemarie Jerome
author: Meaney, Roisin
Semi-Sweet:  A Novel of Love and Cupcakes
Hannah Robinson’s life is perfect.  She is dating a great guy and she is starting her own business. The grand opening of her cupcake shop is days away, her friends are having a party for her and Patrick announces that he is leaving her for another woman. Small town life holds no secrets and everyone immediately knows about her painful situation. It is a story about heartbreak and tragedy but also shows the warmth of family, friends and love in this small Irish town of Clongarvin. A good summer read and who can resist a little tears, romance and cupcakes?