Doc Martin is a surgeon that develops a fear of blood! So begins this British television drama that has won numerous comedy awards. Martin Clunes stars as Dr. Martin Ellingham, a brilliant vascular surgeon who must give up his successful career in London. He begins a new career as a general practitioner in the sleepy seaside village, Portwenn, where he spent his vacations as a child with his aunt. Martin is a doctor without a warm bedside manner. His impossibly cold, gruff and no nonsense manner is the mainstay for much humor as he deals with eccentric backward villagers and falls for the pretty, local school teacher. If you like to laugh, you will love following this really funny British series. Manhattan Public Library owns all five television series plus the made for tv movies produced in 2011.
Louise Brooks was a beautiful silent-film star from Wichita, Kansas who began her career in New York City studying dance at the tender age of 15. Her mother arranged a chaperone to accompany Louise to the glitzy, cosmopolitan city. Laura Moriarty’s latest book, The Chaperone, tells the story of Louise Brooks, but centers on the secret life behind Cora Carlisle, her chaperone. Cora leaves her husband to accompany the troubled and talented Louise for one purpose, to find out more about her background and her first memories of a dark-haired women in a red shawl at ‘The Home for Friendless Girls’. Cora was one of the lucky orphans who came west on an orphan train as she was chosen by a loving Kansas farm couple. Now as a proper, society wife her secret is tugging at her very being.
The history of the war years in Wichita when the city was doubling in population at an amazing rate as the center of the air industry is a fascinating part of the story
Jennifer Pharr Davis spent four months hiking the Appalachian Trail after her college graduation. How many women would wear the same pair of socks for days on end while hiking mostly on her own for 2,175 miles, encountering moose, rattlesnakes, armies of bugs, lightning storms, blizzards, rain and hail? Unlike her fellow hiker, Cheryl Strayed whom I wrote about in the review, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Jennifer chose to backpack with a lighter pack getting along without the best equipment. Her trials were similar but her background was far less ‘wild’, coming from a stable southern Christian family. Jennifer’s experiences with people she meets along the way are funny, frightening and an education. Her miles traveled per day seemed nearly impossible to me. The second time she hiked the AT she set the fastest record for men or women on thru-hikes averaging 47 miles per day. This book is a great motivator to get outside and enjoy nature while you exercise!
Cheryl Strayed has written a frank memoir of her life journey as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl chose to hike the 1,100 mile trail after the devastating death of her mother from cancer and her divorce. This remarkable tale of her hike is composed of harrowing and painful experiences such as rattlesnake near misses and hiking in boots that are too small with a back pack, The Monster, considerably larger than anyone else carried. This book is also composed of beautiful discoveries about life and how she wants to live it and helpful, good people she meets along the way.
Oprah chose Cheryl’s book as her first book club selection for her new 2.0 book club in June. She said her thought was after reading Wild, ‘Where is the Oprah Winfrey show when you need to announce and tell everybody about this book?”
What if Abraham Lincoln, our beloved Civil War president, did not die when John Wilkes Booth attempted to kill him at Ford’s Theatre on Good Friday in 1865? What if he recovered from his wounds and within a short time was once again facing the criticisms of how he handled the war and the reconstruction of the south? Stephen Carter has written an intricately plotted, historically detailed story that captures the time period and weaves a fascinating alternate history.
A young black woman joins the law firm that is representing Lincoln in the impeachment suit. Abigail Canner hopes to clerk at the firm and work toward a law degree but she faces the obstacles of race, age and sex. Nevertheless her brilliant mind begins to impress the firms partners and she is soon embroiled in the court proceedings and sleuthing a murder. Try this alternate history thriller and you will learn much about life in the 1860′s in Washington City and how divided the country was after the Civil War.
Who hasn‘t heard of the famous Oklahoma food blogger that has become a successful author and tv personality! Ree Drummond has turned a simple blog titled Confessions of a Pioneer Woman where she shared stories of ranch life, homeschooling in rural Oklahoma and recipes, into a million dollar business. Her books, tv appearances and blog advertising have made her one of the most talked about bloggers of all times. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier is her second cookbook; she also has a children’s book out and a book that chronicles her personal love story with Marlboro Man, Ladd Drummond. Recipes and editorial comments in this lusciously photographed cookbook will tempted you to rearrange your priorities and spend time in the kitchen.
Is a hot July in Kansas getting you down? How about spending a few hours in frigid New England during a December snowstorm? In the Bleak Midwinter is a riveting mystery by Julia Spencer-Fleming set in Millers Kill, a small town in the Adirondacks of New York. This first story begins a series with Clare Fergusson, an ex-army helicopter pilot and rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and the local chief of police, Russ Van Alstyne. A baby is found in a box on the steps of the St. Alban’s Episcopal Church by the new-to-town former Army chaplain and she calls for the assistance of the police to identify the parents. This tough, former helicoptor pilot is a determined and kindhearted sidekick to the chief of police and the sparks begin to fly between these two as they cross paths looking for answers. This chiller is guaranteed to give you goosebumps during the hottest 100 degree July days. There are six books in this series with the seventh due out late 2012.
In the third book of the Corduroy Mansions series, Freddie de la Hay, the devoted canine who attached himself to William French is missing. While visiting William’s old school friend and his wife, Freddie follows the irresistible scent of rabbit and digs himself into trouble which involves a possible new home and life for Freddie. Meanwhile his master is in his own hot water when the wife of his best friend announces her secret long-held love of William. Free-loading Eddie has found someone to take care of him he thinks, but Barbara with all of her inherited money may have doubts. Other quirky characters charm us with their foibles and we continue to anticipate further antics in this London setting.
The Hungry Ocean was published in 1999 and became a New York Times bestseller. Recently I found it while looking for something totally different to read and I was not disappointed. This riveting tale of a woman swordboat captain is the reason I love reading non-fiction. Linda Greenlaw leads such a different life from me and any of my landlubber friends that I can’t imagine she lives on the same planet. What an amazing story of a gutsy lady from Maine who spends her life on the ocean.
Linda Greenlaw is captain of the Hannah Boden, a sister ship of the Andrea Gail, a boat that was lost in the horrible storm of 1991 and portrayed in the movie The Perfect Storm. Captain Greenlaw is in command of five men who spend month-long trips fishing over 1000 miles off the northeast coast in the Grand Banks. She has to fight weather, mechanical failures, close quarters with very little time for personal hygiene, disagreements, illness, and all the decisions of where to fish in order to bring home a full boatload that will pay their expenses. The story of her personal experiences in how to run a complex operation is fascinating.
Alexander McCall-Smith keeps adding to the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and I keep enjoying the adventures of Precious Ramotswe. This time the difficult situations are a little too close to home for the Precious and her assistant, Grace Makutsi. The best auto repair assistant of Mma Ramotswe’s husband is arrested for auto theft, then Grace and her husband hire a contractor to begin building their home but the builder comes into question when one of his worker’s leaves doubt in their minds. The renowned Clovis Anderson, author of The Principles of Private Detection, comes for a visit and helps them with the terrible trouble of the dismissal of Mma Potokwane, matron of the orphan farm. Satisfactory solutions result and we continue to applaud the wisdom of Precious Ramotswe and her allies.
I love the way Anne Tyler looks at life and the humor in her books. She can write about serious topics with such tenderness and compassion. The Beginner’s Goodbye looks at the topic of grief through the eyes of Aaron, a middle-aged man, whose wife dies unexpectedly when a tree falls on their home. Aaron tries to return to a normal life and adjust to being single but he finds such difficulties with relationships. Interactions with friends are now so different. He is uncomfortable with his closest friends and neighbors as they extend their sympathy and help. He moves in with his sister who lives in their parent’s home and totally ignores repairs on his home. Finally when the ceiling falls in and he can’t get in the front door he calls a contractor, Gil Bryan. This man, with his own problems, shows compassion for the grief that Aaron is going through and begins a relationship with both Aaron and his sister, Nandina.
The first sentence of the book begins, “The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted.” Throughout the story his former wife Dorothy appears and speaks to Aaron as he finds his way through life without her. As Aaron remembers the quirky, problematic relationship he and Dorothy shared, Dorothy reappears to help him work out the regret. This isn’t a depressing book at all, although I found very poignant instances Aaron finally ends this chapter of his life and is able to say the final goodbye reminding all of us to tackle the unfinished business of love.
Watching baseball to me is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Well, I might like it somewhat better than that cliche portends if I have a connection to one of the teams playing, but it is not something I would normally choose to do. So why did I pick up a book about baseball? I like John Grisham’s legal thrillers and I was aware that his newest book, Calico Joe was on the New York Times Bestseller list and was a fairly short book. Why not see how a good writer deviates from his normal genre?
I found myself enjoying the story and immediately getting caught up in the characters lives. The story jumps between August 1973 when a professional baseball player, Calico Joe Castle is hit in the head by a pitcher, Warren Tracey and then thirty years later when Warren Tracey is dying of cancer. Narrated by Paul Tracey, the book has a heartfelt message of righting wrongs, when Paul, estranged from his now dying father, pushes him to ask forgiveness from the man he hurt. Grisham has successfully branched out of legal thrillers with a couple other titles also, Painted House, Skipping Christmas, Bleachers, and Playing for Pizza.
Wikipedia definition: Vignette (literature), short, impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give a particular insight into a character, idea, or setting.
Enjoy vignettes of life in Paris in Eloisa James’ memoir of her family’s year in Paris. Not your typical memoir, Eloisa kept her tweets and Facebook posts while on sabbatical in Paris for a year with her family and turned them into this delightful Parisian read, Paris in Love. Descriptions of ultra- fashionably dressed ladies, wonderful restaurants, rude waiters and fabulous shopping all contribute to a vivid picture of Paris. Funny stories surrounding her children’s adjustment to new schools, friends and language challenges are part of the flavor. I appreciate Eloisa’s ability to describe the little details of life, such as, “This morning I dropped Anna off at school then walked across the Seine on a lavishly gilded bridge. The wind was fiercely chilly, but the sky bright blue, and the way the sun shone on the river and danced over all that gold leaf opened a door straight from winter to a slice of spring.”
Ciro and Enza, two Italian immigrants, find each other and a future in Adriana Trigiani’s epic historical novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife. in 1905, seven year old Ciro and his brother, Eduardo, are left at a convent in Italy by their distraught mother who can nolonger care for her sons. Her husband had died in America while trying to make a new life for his family. The nuns become their substitute mothers and Eduardo takes to the religious life, while Ciro wants more from life. He meets 15 year old Enza when hired to dig the grave of her little sister in a nearby mountain village. Their attraction for each other during this difficult time begins a love relationship that spans many miles and many years.
Adriana Trigiani spent twenty years writing this story that tells the enchanting love story of her grandparents, who came to America. The hardships they endure as they search for a way in this country are overcome through their determination to succeed and strength of character. The historical details of the Metropolitan Opera House in the early twentieth century, and Enza’s relationship with Enrico Caruso for whom she sews costumes and cooks traditional Italian delights add to the delight of this story.
“But one thing is for certain – our need for love, our need for each other does not change. And that’s the painful truth, the raw beauty of being human. We hurt, we love, we endure, we continue – and on any given moment of any given day – we rejoice. Praying for Strangers has allowed me those moments of rejoicing in being human.” So says the author River Jordan one year after the debut of her second book, Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit.
I appreciated this book for the motivation instilled in me to think more of my fellow people each day. I may not take the challenge of praying everyday for a stranger as River did, but I have been more cognizant of my interactions with those around me. River chose to begin this resolution one New Year’s when she had much on her own plate that needed prayer. She selfishly could have focused on her own needs such as her two sons being deployed, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Instead River began praying every day for someone she crossed paths with and then telling them she would be doing this. Many times she approached them with, “Would you mind telling me your name? I have this daily resolution to pray for a stranger and you are my person today” The reactions and responses she received were nearly always of gratitude and love. The short converstaions that followed were such a boost to her spirit that River was encouraged to continue all year. Many shared particular prayer needs and their short interactions became sweet memories and wishes to see them again. We go through life depersonalizing those around us by never acknowedging their existence. The clerk at Wal-mart checking us out could be a robot for all the human interaction we have with them. River Jordan’s book helped me to realize the worth of each person and the hope we can give those around us just by sharing a smile, a few words and a prayer. Praying for Stangers is one book that won’t be read and forgotten.