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Book Remarks

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 »

Someone

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Alice McDermott Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2013 288 pages If you have time to read only one novel during the upcoming end-of-the-year hectic holiday season, I urge you to consider Someone by Alice McDermott. She is back after a 7-year absence. For those of you who unfamiliar with Alice McDermott, she won the National Book Award for Charming Billy in 1998 and has been thrice nominated as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Five of her six previous novels have been nominated for national awards. I do not write this because I am bedazzled by ... Read More »

Promise Me: How a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Nancy G. Brinker with Joni Rodgers Crown Archetype, 343 pages The first National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was observed in October 1986, and now it is a global event. Promise Me is the story of Susan Goodman, her younger sister Nancy, and how their sisterly devotion brought that about. Three-year-old Susan welcomed home baby sister Nancy Goodman in 1946 with an intense looking-over and accepted her with, “Well, she’s quite a character,” announcement to their parents. The sisters lived in Peoria, Illinois, an area I know very well as I was born (a little after ... Read More »

Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com   By David Berg Scribner 2013, 254 pages I am very fond of the genre Real Crime, but I believe “Run, Brother, Run” is the first of such that I have addressed in Book Remarks. For the past month or so I have been working on reading the nominees for the Man Booker Prize, due to be announced on October 15. (I predict “Harvest” by Jim Crace takes the prize.) However, after I read that “Guardian US” readers had picked “Run, Brother, Run” as their favorite Summer 2013 read, my interest was piqued and I had ... Read More »

Sisterland

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com   By Curtis Sittenfeld Random House, 397 pages   Violet and Daisy Shramm are psychic identical twins who live in Saint Louis, Missouri, but dwell in Sisterland, the name the older-by-eight-minutes twin, Violet, gave to the bedroom they shared as children. Her sign “Sisterland – Population 2 – Do NOT Enter Without Permission” that hung on their bedroom door was a declaration of both physical and psychic boundaries. As children, both girls accepted their innate ability to “know” future events and other people’s secrets. They also knew others did not understand this trait, including their own ... Read More »

I Hate To Leave This Beautiful Place

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com by Howard Norman 208 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt   Lest you think this is a book about gorgeous vacation spots, let me explain the book title. “I hate to leave this beautiful place” is the call of a man turned into a goose in an Inuit tale. He repeatedly cries out this phrase as migration time, winter, approaches. That this is an exceedingly apt title becomes evident as you read the five sections of the book. The publisher calls this a memoir, but that term does not do this exquisite book justice. This is one of ... Read More »

Deadly News

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Don Farmer with Chris Curle 309 pages, Publisher Page, 2013 Atlanta is hosting the Olympics for the second time. One week before opening day, the planning committee is meeting at the Global News Service boardroom. Each of the 18 people present is assessing his or her readiness for the event. The mayor proudly shares his solution to a prickly problem: “We’ll urge our homeless friends who wander around downtown talking to themselves to walk in pairs. Visitors who come here during the Olympics will think they’re talking to each other.” The characters in the book ... Read More »

The Racketeer

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com   By John Grisham Doubleday 2012 340 pages As a long-time Grisham fan, I didn’t hesitate to read this book when it was recommended by a friend. It is never difficult to get engrossed in a Grisham novel, at least not his legal thrillers. I did not want to put this book down. I have not been this mesmerized by Grisham since The Client, my first Grisham novel. The protagonist is Malcolm Bannister, a small-town Virginia lawyer imprisoned (wrongly) to a 10-year federal prison sentence for money laundering. We find him halfway through that term, ... Read More »

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, A Small Town and the Secret of a Good Life

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com By Rod Dreher Grand Central Publishing, April 2013 271 pages I wanted to read this book because it addresses sibling relationships, in particular the loss by premature death of an adult sibling, a topic rarely written about or discussed. Society does not seem to acknowledge sibling grief but focuses on surviving parents and the grief of losing a child, and/or spouses and their grief. Not to be crass or denigrate anyone’s grief, but spouses can and usually are replaced while siblings cannot be. No one else knows your personal history, shares your DNA or your ... Read More »

The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com Author: David G. Coleman WW Norton & Company, 2012 Oh, to be a fly on the wall! Almost everyone has uttered that phrase at least once in their lifetime, yearning to be an inconspicuous observer taking in details of conversations to which they are not privy. In other words, the good, juicy, unadulterated, unadorned nitty gritty. The Fourteenth Day is a chance to be the fly and witness real-time history during a very crucial event. Filtered through the author, of course.  Because last October was the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, there was ... Read More »

Six Years

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com by Harlan Coben Dutton 2013 Harlan Coben’s most recent novel soared to the number one spot on the NYT Bestseller List immediately after it was published several weeks ago in March. I have to admit I was attracted to it because I read that Hugh Jackman had signed on to play the lead in the movie adaptation of Six Years, assuming that if this intelligent actor was eager to be involved in the project (as the Hollywood types call movies in the works), it must be an engrossing story. I was not disappointed. I am ... Read More »

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

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BOOK REMARKS Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net Mary Roach W. W. Norton & Company As I have mentioned many times in the past finding the right book to review is no easy task. In the past month I have read a number of mysteries, including David Baldacci’s latest, “The Hit.” But when I got through, though I enjoyed it, it just seemed too convoluted to try to write about. Another one that I really loved was “The Garden of Evening Mists” by Tan Twan Eng. It is a novel about a Chinese woman who was a prisoner of war in a Japanese ... Read More »

The Dinner

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by Herman Koch Hogarth Books 2012 The Dinner is a feast for anyone with a taste for dark humor and satire. I found it to be a positively enthralling story. It is the type of book hard to describe without giving away too much. When I read it, I had no prior knowledge about it except the blurb I read in the public library’s newsletter. Two couples, each with a 15-year-old son, meet at a fancy restaurant in Amsterdam to discuss said sons who may be facing grave legal consequences for some recent impulsive behavior that resulted in the death ... Read More »

An American Caddie in St. Andrews: Growing Up, Girls and Looping on the Old Course

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BOOK REMARKS Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net Oliver Horowitz Gotham 2013 How I came to read a book about being a Caddie in St. Andrews Golf Course in Scotland is strange to say the least. The closest I have ever come to playing golf is the summer my husband and I, newly wed, spent in Springfield, Missouri where he was interning as an accountant with Kraft Foods. Since we were only there for a couple of months and knew no one I slept late, watched TV and read. In the evenings and weekends one of the few things we could afford to ... Read More »

A Week In Winter

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A Week In Winter By Maeve Binchy Knopf, November 2012 The Irish speak English with a musical lilt, softening even the harshest words and syllables. The best Irish authors bring this magical musical lilt to their written word. In my opinion, Maeve Binchy is in that class of authors. Some paint pictures with their words, but Maeve paints life with her words. The reader cannot just “see” her characters in her mind’s eye, but experiences life right along with the characters.  The soaring giddiness of falling in love, the deep delight of parental pride, the pathos of betrayal, the comfortable silences ... Read More »

Until I say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy

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At the age of 44 Susan Spenser-Wendel, a Palm Beach Post reporter, was told that she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or as it is more commonly known, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. There is no cure for this disease and sooner or later it is fatal as muscles lose their strength throughout the body. Her first sign of there being something wrong was when she noticed that her left hand had gotten thinner and weaker. Many of us would give up all hope and rail against the unfairness of our situation. But Susan, with a husband and three children, decided that ... Read More »

Jack Grout: A Legacy In Golf

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As a non-golfer, I was attracted to the biographical aspect of this book. What I found was essentially a history of competitive professional golf in the US disguised as the story of one man’s life. I knew the meaning of eagle, bogey, birdie and par before I read this book but not much else. Now I know fade and draw, understand a bit about how integral the golf course design is to the players’ enjoyment of the game, and of course, the clubs. Per Jack Grout, “Just like there are no gimmicks in the swing, there are no magic clubs. ... Read More »

The Expats

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I have to tell you up front that, after reading various reviews about this book, there were varying feelings as to its worth. A good many people liked it a great deal. Almost as many readers were less enthusiastic. Those who were less enthusiastic seemed to dwell on details about the writing itself, which I found perfectly acceptable. There are a number of books on the best seller list right now that, in my opinion, do not have as good a story and are written in the style of some third class romance novelist. If you decide to take my ... Read More »