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Book Remarks

Traveling Left of Center

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com I was looking for a good love story to break up the string of thrillers I have been reading. Instead, I found “Traveling Left of Center.” As the title indicates, these 18 short stories have protagonists who are slightly off kilter psychologically. We all know they are “out there.” It is estimated that one in four Americans suffers from some form of mental illness. Nancy Christie has given them a voice. Though not as dreary as Edgar Allen Poe by any means, Christie’s protagonists are in various stages of psychic distress. The first story, named ... Read More »

The Target

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com   By David Baldacci. 432 pages. Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, April 2014. Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Political Thriller   “The reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – Jojen Reed, Game of Thrones   This is great summertime read — light, refreshing and engaging. Slip into the world of clandestine assassination and a female North Korean operative whose martial arts skills make Jason Bourne look like a slow-motion grandpa. Yie Chung-Cha spent most of her youth in a concentration camp, Yodok, imprisoned there with her entire family. There, she learned ... Read More »

Supreme Justice

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BOOK REMARKS  Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Max Allan Collins Thomas & Mercer, 2014 336 pages “I always turn to the sports page first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”Earl Warren, 14th Chief Justice, SCOTUS   Someone is assassinating the justices of the Supreme Court in this nifty little thriller set in the future, circa 2030. “Summertime and the readin’ is easy” to paraphrase that famous Gershwin tune. “Supreme Justice” was quite a delightful surprise. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. Joe Reeder, CEO of ABC Security, is a former Secret Service ... Read More »

Summer House With Swimming Pool

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com   By Herman Koch Hogarth/Random House 2014 (USA) 387 pages   “Patients can’t tell the difference between time and attention.”Dr. Marc Schlosser He is back, folks, and he is even more dark and twisted than in “The Dinner.” Actually, those two couples appear positively lighthearted compared to Dr. Marc Schlosser, a general practitioner in the Netherlands whose patient base is composed of actors, writers, artists, celebrities from the creative sector. Dr. Schlosser also serves as the narrator of this story. The title comes from the fact that Marc’s most famous patient, actor Ralph Meier, has ... Read More »

Field of Prey

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By John Sandford, G.P. Putnam 2014, 392 pages, Genre: Mystery “There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house.” – Joe Ryan   The 24th book in John Sandford’s Prey series proves the author is only getting better at his craft. I was engrossed in this story from page one. Although Field of Prey is a mystery, the reader knows from the beginning who the killers are. The mystery involves how the police track them down. The story opens with the kidnapping of ... Read More »

Shotgun Lovesongs

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Nickolas Butler St. Martin’s, 2014, 307 pages “All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.”– Thomas Wolfe   The small town of Little Wing, Wisconsin is the setting for this debut novel by 30-something Nickolas Butler who actually grew up in Eau Claire, WI. The story revolves around a group of five friends, now middle-aged, who grew up together in Little Wing; most of them ... Read More »

Chestnut Street

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Maeve Binchy Knopf 2014, 368 pages Genre: Fiction/Short Story Collection Almost two years ago I wrote a Book Remarks about Maeve Binchy’s final novel, A Week In Winter, published shortly after her death in July 2012. All Maeve fans believed that was the end of the anticipation of new offerings from this wonderful storyteller. Rejoice! We were wrong. The woman who did not believe in an afterlife has endowed her readers with such. These stories were written by Maeve over three plus decades, beginning when she was a columnist for The Irish Times. Using ... Read More »

You Should Have Known

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Jean Hanff Korelitz, 439 pages Grand Central Publishing  2014 Genre:  Domestic/Psychological Fiction “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” Ralph Waldo Emerson Grace Reinhart, an almost-40-year-old Manhattan couples therapist, has written a book on the brink of being published. Entitled You Should Have Known, it is based on her 15-year experience with couples in crisis. Her premise is that women negate their initial impressions and intuition about the men in their lives and tell themselves their judgment was wrong, “Now ... Read More »

Missing You

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BOOKREMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Harlan Coben Penguin Group 2014, 417 Pages Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Suspense “We know that everything in our lives is complex and gray. Yet we somehow expect our relationships to never be anything but simple and pure.” - Stacy in Missing You by Harlan Coben I became a Harlan Coben fan last year after reading Six Years which I was inspired to read after seeing that Hugh Jackman had been cast as the male lead for the movie version. Now, Mr. Coben is back with another superb, stay-in-your-seat-and-keep-turning-those-pages, good-heavens-what-will-happen-next whodunit. This time, the movie rights to Missing You ... Read More »

The Accident

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Chris Pavone Crown Publishing, 2014 402 pages Genre: Thriller “Life is the art of being well deceived; and in order that the deception may succeed it must be habitual and uninterrupted.”         – William Hazlitt If you love thrillers, grab this book. Once you do, hang on, because it’s a heck of a ride. I have not yet read Mr. Pavone’s Expats, published in 2012, but I will be reading it in the near future. This man has clearly mastered the thriller genre. Where to start? Too many books lately have been weak in character but ... Read More »

A Circle of Wives

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Alice LaPlante Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014 325 pages Genre: Psychological Thriller “Alas, the love of women! It is known to be a lovely and a fearful thing.” Don Juan, Lord Byron John Taylor, M.D., a prominent plastic surgeon, is found dead in a hotel room in his hometown of Palo Alto, California. Not only does he have a stellar professional reputation, the 62-year-old man is beloved by his community for his pro-bono work for children with facial deformities, by his wife of 35 years, Deborah, and their three adult children. First thought to be the ... Read More »

Cell

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com Author: Robin Cook Publisher: G. P. Putnam, 2014 Length: 402 pages. Genre: Medical fiction Medicine for the soul” – Inscription over the doorway at the Library at Thebes. In his latest novel, Robin Cook takes on the issue of digitalized medical practice. The title refers to 21st century humanity’s ubiquitous accessory: the cellular phone. If you are interested in healthcare issues, this is worth your time. Cook takes the Affordable Healthcare Act, death panels, primary care physician shortages, reimbursement schedules, health insurance companies, electronic medical records, etc. Amalgamated Healthcare, insurance giant aiming to become a behemoth, ... Read More »

The Barkeep

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By William Lashner 468 pages Thomas & Mercer, February 2014 Genre: Mystery (Zenspense) “Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.” - Author Unknown If you are familiar with the name William Lashner, you likely have read some of his Victor Carl mysteries. This is not part of that series. Frankly, I started reading the book because after several nonfiction reads I was ready for something lighter and I found the title intriguing. It is not often I encounter the term “barkeep,” but it certainly ... Read More »

This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” ~ Joseph Brodsky By Ann Patchett 306 pages, Harper-Collins 2013 The title is deceptive. This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage is a collection of essays about Ann Patchett’s life — not “simply” about her happy marriage. The road to that happy marriage had some significant detours. This is probably the most fun I have ever had reading a biography. From the first page, I felt that I was catching up with an old girlfriend over a very long lunch. ... Read More »

Levels of Life

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Julian Barnes 128 pages, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013 In this slender book, Julian Barnes writes three sections/essays: “The Sin of Height,” “On the Level” and “The Loss of Depth.” He begins, “You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed.” Those two things are invariably eventually torn apart, and hence, the ups and downs, or levels, of life. “The Sin of Height” tells the story of Felix Tournachon, a mid-19th-century French photographer who was celebrated for his portrait photographs which were unique due to his use of ... Read More »

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Final Reunion

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Fannie Flagg Random House, 369 pages When we meet Sarah Jane “Sookie” Poole, she is a 59-year-old Alabama housewife who has just married off the last of her daughters and is exhausted from her mother-of-the-bride duties. She and her husband, Earle Poole, Jr., a dentist, have had the financial and emotional exhaustion of four weddings, plus the financial stress of Sookie’s mother’s extravagance. Octogenarian Lenore Simmons Krackenberry has a penchant for watching late night TV and ordering unneeded items and/or phoning people who need her help, such as the Pope, Barbara Bush and Queen ... Read More »

Top 10 For 2013

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com It is the end of another year already, and the inevitable “lists” are popping up everywhere. Here is my own Top 10 list for this final 2013 edition of “Book Remarks.” The parentheses after the author’s name include the date of the edition of Coastal Breeze News referencing that article. (http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/category/entertainment/book-remarks/) 10. Six Years by Harlan Coben (6/18/13) Six Years is truly worthy of the term “thriller.” It was not only fun to read, but the intelligent dialogue and winding plot kept my mind engaged throughout. The ending was not at all what I expected, but ... Read More »

The Death of Santini

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Pat Conroy 352 pages, Nan A. Talese publisher Sold by Random House “Time passing has a soothing, ameliorative effect, and memory softens as its tides flow out to sea. And to the amazement of all his children, Dad was turning into a man of decency and self-control.” I wanted to read The Death of Santini because it was touted as a journey to forgiveness between a father and son. Every major world religion values forgiveness, and it seemed an appropriate read for the Christmas edition, covering father-son relationships, family, love and forgiveness. Also, Conroy ... Read More »

The Rosie Project

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By Graeme Simsion Simon & Schuster 305 pages Don Tillman is a 30-something professor of genetics at a Melbourne university who has decided it is time to get married. He has never had a second date in his life, and most of his first dates have ended prematurely.   Professor Tillman has Aspergers syndrome and lives his life with strict adherence to routine; rationality and time management. TV fans should think of Sheldon Lee Cooper (Big Bang Theory) or Martin Ellingham (Doc Martin on PBS) to grasp the depth of Don’s social ineptness. Owing to his cerebral approach to all life’s ... Read More »

Naples: Paradise Can Be Deadly

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com   By Diane Ketcham Tidelow Press 2013, 302 pages In Naples: Paradise Can Be Deadly we find that it can also be romantic, wicked, petty, fashionable and wryly humorous. This book is an absolute delight to read. Those of us who live locally will find a certain heightened satisfaction in the familiar locales, but knowing the Naples area is not at all necessary. Ms. Ketcham rivets the reader with multiple story threads interspersed with twists, as well as a loop or two, infusing humor in all the right places. The resolution is credible, leaving no loose ... Read More »