Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver

I have always made a habit of reading only one book per year by certain novelists. On that list include my favorite "treats"; Patricia Cornwall, Stephen King, John Grisham, Jonathan Kellerman ... just to name a few. I really enjoy the books by these authors, but reading  too many of their in a short span can be like too much cheesecake. You can love the cheesecake, but one slice usually does the trick.

I feel bad about this but, Jeffery Deaver is going to have to go on my occasional "treats" list.

My husband and I discovered his books over the past year, and I read a bunch of them in a short time. Unfortunately, when you do that with a mystery author... you get to know the writing style a little too well.

So  The Empty Chair will be really absorbing for those of you new to the Lincoln Rhyme series.  In my opinion, though, The Empty Chair is not one of the best. I felt that I had to go through 300 pages until things really got humming along.

Just a bit of advice... do try the BONE COLLECTOR if your are new to Lincoln Rhyme and his lovely red haired companion, Amelia Sachs. You'll get all the backs story you need to get you started.


3 out of 5 stars

THE EMPTY CHAIR on sale now at You Are What You Read Book Store



Sherry and Narcotics by Nina-Marie Gardner

Sherry & Narcotics is an outstanding debut novel by author, Nina- Marie Gardner.

Intelligently written with not one word wasted, Gardner has created a fictionalized version of her own experiences with addiction, a love affair gone wrong with a well known writer, and feeling purposeless in a foreign country.

Gardner describes her writing as "chic-lit noir"; the anti-thesis to the popular women's fiction genre of perfect women shopping for the perfect handbag and living perfectly ever after.

Underneath the driving plot is an unflinching view of alcoholism and living life carelessly on a precipice of failure.

4 out of 5 stars

Sherry & Narcotics on sale at You Are What You Read Book Store



Monday, July 18, 2011

Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm by Michael D. Brown & Ted Schwarz

 Deadly Indefference: The Perfect (Political) Storm: Hurricane Katrina, The Bush White House, and Beyond  provides Michael D. Brown's rebuttal to criticisms of his performance as head of FEMA during the Hurricane Katrina crisis.

Brown (better known by the George W. Bush anointed nickname of "Brownie") hurls blame anywhere where it may stick. Yes, there is plenty of blame to toss around, but what Brown completely fails to do is to take accountability for his lack of leadership during the crisis.

 And, even worse, Michael D. Brown sinks so low as to blame the "welfare state" for allowing people in poverty to become dependent on resources within their own community. (I kid you not!) instead of them driving around and knowing how to navigate the city and its outlying suburbs like well heeled suburbanites. The "welfare state" people who did not have the resources to evacuate themselves because... um... Mr. Brown... they live in poverty and they are usually one financial misstep away from ruin. Oh, and they usually do not have the luxury of owning a car, let alone financing the fueling, paperwork, and maintenance of such a car. No, they have to take those stupid public transportation vehicles... like buses. I guess if an author is going to blame everyone, but himself... he might as well blame the victims who were hardest hit.

FEMA was responsible for planning prior to a disaster. FEMA under the guidance of Michael D. Brown did fail to plan for the rescue and after care of the neediest members of society.

In this book Brown proves to be as flippant and out of touch with the realities of the needs of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina as his critics purported.  His use of adjectives like "sexy" in the context of this book shows a serious lack of gravitas towards the reality that he is writing about the worst natural disaster in the United States and the fact that some people may very well have died due to his lack of leadership.

Deadly Indifference  does successfully reveal the flaws in combining Homeland Security with FEMA. Financial resources were drained from FEMA during the Bush administration's "War on Terror". This flaw in planning was plain to see during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

What is not acknowledged in this book is that in November 2005, the United States House of Representatives determined that Michael D. Brown lacked the leadership skills necessary for his government position.( http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2005/images/11/03/brown.emails.analysis.pdf ) This determination was based on Brown's much publicized e-mails during the crisis. Deadly Indifference does not even mention these now infamous e-mails.

I highly recommend this book as a cautionary warning to all of us regarding the lack of servitude of many of those entrusted as public servants.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil by Richard Shef

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Wall by Richard Sheff, M.D. offers readers an opportunity to vicariously share in the experiences of a medical student in training.

Dr. Sheff shows the emotional wounds that doctors garner through the highly pressured years of their medical school education. In order to survive student doctors are forced to build up emotional walls by the time they walk out with a degree. In reality these doctors have become wounded healers.

Not until the reader is deep into the book, does it become apparent just how much Dr. Sheff suffered personally by witnessing medical treatments done wrong, horribly callous doctors, and by the mistakes that Sheff himself had made.

I am a lupus patient with years of perpetual doctor visits and treatments. Some of the book reignited my own emotional pain from the suffering I had experienced by rigid insensitive doctors. And in turn, I found an even deeper gratitude for my doctors who are truly gifted healers.

Dr. Sheff points out that it is not necessarily the medical treatment that helps the healing, but that healing happens within the relationship between doctor and patient.

I found this to be an engaging read that would most likely appeal to a young adult audience that is interested in a career in medicine.


3 out of 5 stars

Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil available at our bookstore!

LEARN MORE about the Author at: ricksheffmd.com

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A Life On the Road by Charles Kurault

We need more journalists like Charles Kuralt. Engaging, professional and an outstanding storyteller, Kuralt left me reminiscent for the days when television news reporting was actual journalism and where good news could still nab the undivided attention of American viewers. 


A LIFE ON THE ROAD available at You Are What You Read Bookstore

Monday, June 06, 2011

Waltzing with the Enemy by Rasia Kliot & Helen Mitsios

ARC Review

This book is a dual memoir written by a mother, Raisa Kliot, and her daughter, Helen Mitsios.

Raisa Kliot was an Eastern European Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by hiding often times in plain sight, thus the title "Waltzing with the Enemy".

Raisa's story is unlike the published memoirs that I have read thus far about Jewish survivors. She was seventeen when the Nazis invaded her family home and sent her family to the Vilnius ghetto. Raisa's bold survival was definitely due to the feeling of invulnerability and survival drive of the young. An older person probably would not have survived Raisa's journey.

Raisa tells her story in a clear compelling voice without any sentimentality. Her story is a page turner and for that I give Raisa's story 5 stars.

The trouble with the book enters in the second half; Helen Mitsios' sharing her own story of growing up not knowing anything of her mother Raisa's history.

Helen Mitsios' story had the potential to be as compelling as Raisa's, but the writing lacked the clear sighted through line to keep the reader moving.

Helen's story is scattered with what appear to be random details that cause distraction instead of adding depth to her recollections.

When someone is so close to the story, it might have been prudent to have added a biographer into the writing team.

I was quite sorry to see this because Waltzing with the Enemy is a valuable contribution to the voices of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. Especially of those like Raisa who had to create a new identity and felt compelled to continue that false identity even after decades of life in safety.

So the book in total; is rated 3 out of 5 stars simply for the fact that the second half of the book diverges so far from the quality of Raisa's story. 

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

CLARA'S WAR: One Girl's Story of Survival by Clara Kramer

Clara's War : One Girl's Story of Survival   left me absolutely humbled.

Once in a great while you come upon a book that will completely change your perspective on life. This book certainly taught me how much in life is taken for granted.

With the skilled writing of Stephen Glantz, Clara Kramer shares her story with simplicity and humility.

I could not put this book down... and I continue to think and talk about Clara's story. I do not want to give anything away.

Suffice it to say... this book needs to be on every person's Must Read list.

5 out of 5 stars

Clara's War on sale at You Are What You Read Book Store

note: I read the hc edition which included photographs from the past, as well as, current photos of Clara and some survivors.

Friday, January 28, 2011

LETHAL WARRIORS by David Philipps

I had no idea. I had no idea how bad, no, not bad... horrific the situation is for our soldiers.

Yes, I have read books about war; fictional, historical, biographical and autobiographical. Yet,  Lethal Warriors by David Philipps  has created a gut wrenching depiction of the very real toll suffered by American soldiers. And it is happening right now.

This book is a page turner but, I had to read the book slowly needing several breaks as the story of the 506th Infantry Regiment brought me to tears and deep soul searching.

This book MUST be mandatory reading for all Americans. When we beat the drum to wage war, we truly have not taken into account the devastation that we create. War crimes are committed, and returning soldiers bring home the war effecting not just themselves, but their families and their community. The military trains young people to become killers and then provides nothing useful to return soldiers to life outside of the war zone. America is failing those sent out to defend it.

I am grateful that I received this copy as a Librarything.com Early Reviewer, and all I can say is this book better be on the #1 best selling slot for non-fiction. A life changing read.

5 out of 5 stars

Lethal Warriors for sale at You Are What You Read Book Store


Journalist: David Philipps

Monday, May 10, 2010

Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg

Author, Robert Rotenberg, is a native of Toronto who brings his years of experience as a criminal lawyer and a radio producer for the CBC together to create a highly readable work of fiction titled OLD CITY HALL.

I really loved this book. First of all the city itself, Toronto, becomes a living breathing character in its own right under the writing skills of Rotenberg. And Rotenberg's characters are truly three dimensional people that the reader will identify with and care about.

Although the book follows the formula pattern for traditional criminal thrillers, Old City Hall is definitely going to take you on some very unexpected twists and turns.

I call this one a page turner and I am delighted that this will be an ongoing series.


(3.5 out of 5 stars)  

Old City Hall on sale at You Are What You Read Book Store


Author's Website : Robert Rotenberg

Old City Hill: Toronto


Saturday, May 01, 2010

See How Much I Love You by Luis Leante

See How Much I Love You  by Luis Leante (Translation by Martin Schifino ) is an enticing tale of love between two Barcelona teenagers, Montse and Santiago,  that spans thirty years.

I would not dare call this book a romance novel; definitely, the wrong genre, but it is a love story. And the backdrop of the Western Sahara leads the reader into a world that few of us truly understand.

The plot has the impact of a thriller novel. (So much so,  that I have passed my copy on to my husband.)

Santiago escapes to the Spanish military in 1975 and is stationed in Spain's only African colony. Unlike his fellow soldiers, Santiago is befriended by the native Sahawari people. When General Franco dies, Spain pulls out of the colony and Santiago chooses to stay to help his Sahawari friends as Morocco invades their land.

Montse discovers a photo of Santiago thirty years after the conflict and goes on a life threatening quest to find him.

This book has been compared to Michael Ondaatje's   The English Patient by the INternational Literature Festival of Berlin 2010. ( 1 )

The translation is flawless, the story is gripping and the author's cause behind the writing of this story is enlightening.

(4 out of 5 stars)

See How Much I Love You available at You Are What You Read Book Store


Luis Leante teaches classic in a high school in Alicante. He holds a degree in Classical Philology from the University of Murcia. He has written six novels and two novels for children. See How Much I Love You was inspired by a 2005 humanitarian trip to the Western Sahara. In 2007 it won the Alfaguawa priza for fiction.

The Whispers of the Tribe (Author's Blog via Google translator)


Sahawari Women of the Western Sahara

National Union of Sahawari Women

ZEINA - Blog by two Sahawari women