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Book Remarks

Deep Down Dark


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust By Hector Tobar Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014 309 pages – Nonfiction Collier County Public Library: Yes “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories Of 33 Men Buried In A Chilean Mine, And The Miracle That Set Them Free” is the complete title of this account of the August 2010 accident at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. When the men of A shift report for work on Aug. 5, 2010, most of them are aware of the thunder-like noise and dust, or “smoke,” coming from the mountain mine. A few are even aware of the half-inch ... Read More »

Everything I Never Told You


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust By Celeste Ng Penguin Press, 2014, 297 pages Genre: Psychological Fiction Collier County Public Library: Yes   “Family likeness has often a deep sadness in it.”— George Eliot   For all of her life, her mother, a high school home economics teacher, had been grooming Marilyn to be the perfect homemaker, with all the virtues to attract the perfect husband, the goal of many 1950s young American females. Marilyn, however, wanted to be different. She wanted to be a physician. James was raised by Chinese immigrants, both of whom worked at the school he attended. ... Read More »

The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle


By Joanne Smith Harmony Books, 2014, 204 pages Genre: Christmas/Family Collier County Public Library: Yes   “Christmas is doing a little extra for someone.” – Charles M. Schulz, “Peanuts” creator In the first week of October 1999, Rick Smith died in the night. He had been diagnosed the prior month with a heart valve defect that needed surgical repair but elected to postpone repair until Christmas vacation when he could recuperate at home with his kids. The story picks up two months later, 13 days before Christmas. Rick’s widow, Joanne, and their three kids are adrift, no longer functioning as ... Read More »

We Are Not Ourselves


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust   By Matthew Thomas Simon & Schuster 2014. 620 pages Genre: Domestic Fiction Collier County Public Library: Yes “We are not ourselves when nature, being oppressed, commands the mind to suffer with the body.” – King Lear   Eileen Tumulty is 9 years old when we first meet her in 1950, failing miserably at the Irish dance classes her mother enrolled her in. Like most little girls, she idolizes her father and is bright enough to notice that all the men around them respect and defer to “Big Mike.” Both parents, Big Mike and Bridget, ... Read More »

Leaving Time


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust   By Jodi Picoult 417 pages, Ballantine/Random House 2014. Genre: Mystery/Suspense Collier County Public Library: Yes Rating: 4.25/5.0   I have read two previous books by Jodi Picoult but never considered myself a fan. After reading “Leaving Time,” I am a Picoult fan. This a must-read for anyone who enjoys suspense stories with a clever twist. Much of the story is set in an elephant sanctuary near Boone, New Hampshire. The care, feeding, social life, emotionality and research of elephants figure very strongly in this novel. The older female protagonist, Alice Kingston, was studying elephants ... Read More »

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In The End


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust By Atul Gawande Henry Holt (sold by MacMillan), 2014 300 pages. Genre: Medical Nonfiction “If end-of-life discussions were an experimental drug, the FDA would approve it.” — “Being Mortal.” The author is a general surgeon practicing in the Boston area, who has written previous books about medical practice (“Better,” “Complications,” “The Checklist Manifesto”). His name may be familiar to you. In “Being Mortal,” he is opening a conversation about how we deal with not just end-of-life issues but also debility and decline in our well-being. “‘Being Mortal’ is about the struggle to cope with the ... Read More »

The Children Act


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust By Ian McEwan Nan A. Talese/Doubleday 2014 240 pages. Genre: Legal fiction In 1989, the United Kingdom’s parliament passed The Children Act to ensure that when families and legal guardians fail the young the legal authorities are mandated to step in and protect them. As the title indicates, this book is about that law and how its implementation affects the lives of those touched by it. When I started reading this book, I knew it involved a judge dealing with the case of a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness with end-stage leukemia who, along with his parents, ... Read More »

Then Came Life: Living With Courage, Spirit and Gratitude After Breast Cancer


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust By Geralyn Lucas, Gotham Books, October 2014, 210 pages. Genre: Memoir   “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Soren Kierkegaard   If the author’s name sounds familiar, it is because this is a sequel to her tremendously popular “Why I Wore Lipstick To My Mastectomy,” published 10 years ago. At the time of her mastectomy, she was 27 years old, enthusiastic, open and determined to enjoy every nanosecond of life. Now, 18 years later, she is in her mid-40s, graying, sagging, moving up in pants size, with a ... Read More »

All The Light We Cannot See


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust   By Anthony Doerr Scribner 2014, 545 pages Genre: Historical Fiction   “A good book is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, what human nature is and what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.” — Susan Sontag   I resisted reading “All The Light We Cannot See” when it was published in May, thinking the world did not really need another novel about the second World War. Well, I was wrong. It is quite a vocabulary challenge to find the adjectives to describe this marvelous book ... Read More »

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust   By Nadia Hashimi William Morrow, May 2014, 464 pages   “You know what they say about the human spirit? It is harder than a rock and more delicate than a flower petal.” – Khala Shaima, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel. In her debut novel, Nadia Hashimi has gifted the world with a wonderfully written, mesmerizing look into a fascinating family drama set in Afghanistan. The main protagonists are Rahima, a young 21st century Afghani girl and her great-great-grandmother Shekiba who lived in the early 20th century. The story shifts between the ... Read More »

The Studio Kill


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust   By Charles Fleming Asahina & Wallace, 2014, 262 pages Genre: Mystery (Novel Noir)   “One difference between film noir and more straightforward crime pictures is that noir is more open to human flaws and likes to embed them in twisty plot lines.” – Roger Ebert   Set in 1947 Los Angeles just after the murder of Bugsy Siegel, “The Studio Kill” tells the story of John McClellan, chief detective for Continental Studios. His responsibilities include looking after and cleaning up after the studio’s movie stars, both major and minor, as well as attending to ... Read More »

Traveling Left of Center


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust 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


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust   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


BOOK REMARKS  Maggie Gust 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


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust   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


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust 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


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust 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


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust 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


BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust 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


BOOKREMARKS Maggie Gust 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 »