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Book Remarks

better than fiction: True Travel Tales From Great Fiction Writers

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com   Edited by Don George Lonely Planet Publications, 2012 I usually find collections of short stories a bore. If there are ten stories, only four are truly interesting and well-written. I was drawn to this book because I was intrigued by the title, “better than fiction,” which could be my mantra, and because “travel” is in the title (Ready – where are we going? is my other mantra). I had no inkling I would be writing about it in Book Remarks, but it was an unexpected delight and worth sharing. An editor and book reviewer for ... Read More »

Book Remarks: The Forgotten

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David Baldacci Grand Central Publishing 2012 David Baldacci has done it again. I am sure that you, as do I, hesitate before buying a book unsure as to whether or not to fork out the money just in case the book might not be as good as the flyleaf’s titillating words make it sound. You are pretty safe when it comes to a Baldacci book. He seldom fails to deliver. I am not too much into espionage, foreign intrigue, spy novels or anything involving “the mob.” I can count on this author to deliver a good old, down to earth ... Read More »

Bring Up The Bodies

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2012 To begin, I would like to note that I was given credit in the last issue of Coastal Breeze for the article on “Killing Kennedy.” In fact, my partner in crime, Diane Bostick, is the author and deserves your accolades for sharing her excellent reflections on the book as well as her reminiscences of the JFK era. No doubt, many of you are familiar with Hilary Mantel and may have read “Wolf Hall,” her novel published three years ago, which won the prestigious ... Read More »

Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot

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BOOK REMARKS  Maggie Gust  winetaster13@gmail.com Author: Bill O’Rielly, Martin Dugard.  Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 2012  n October 1962 I was a fairly new bride, with a four month old baby, living in Perrine, Florida, a suburb of Miami, only 228 miles from Cuba. My nervousness in how to care for a new baby was grossly overshadowed by my fear in hearing the constant roar of military trucks loaded with servicemen rumbling down the highway a few blocks from my home headed to Homestead Air Force Base. Overhead could be heard the nerve-racking drone of military planes headed to the same ... Read More »

THE RICHEST WOMAN IN AMERICA: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age

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BOOK REMARKS  Maggie Gust  winetaster13@gmail.com Author: Janet Wallach  Publisher: Doubleday, 2012  “Before deciding on an investment, seek out every kind of information about it.” To Hetty Robinson Green, this was just common sense – work hard to learn everything possible about a venture before committing. Some saw her as cruel and heartless because of her no-nonsense-when-it-comes-to-business philosophy. Ironically, Hetty never paid workers slave wages, paid off government officials, bought off public land or manipulated stockholders as did many of her more celebrated male counterparts. She gave much to help others, but quietly, without fanfare, without having her name chiseled on the ... Read More »

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

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BOOK REMARKS  Diane Bostick  dianebostick@comcast.net Author: Margaret Dilloway Publisher: Putnam 2012  I would be curious to know what percentage of the readers of this column are women and what percentage are men. My gut feeling is that it is the kind of thing primarily read by women, but I could be very wrong. As I have said before, I try to vary the books I read so that at least some appeal to both men and women. I probably haven’t written any “Remarks” that would only appeal to men but I am sure I have written quite a few that lean ... Read More »

The End Of Your Life Book Club

BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com Author: Will Schwalbe Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf 2012 The End Of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe is not morbid or maudlin. It is a celebration of life. Do not be deterred by the title or you will miss one fantastic book as well as the opportunity to meet one of the kindest and most generous people who ever lived. And boy, did she live! The book club consists of the author and his mother, Mary Anne Schwalbe. It is formed when Will accompanies his mother to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for treatment of her ... Read More »

Back of Beyond

BOOK REMARKS Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net   Author: C.J. Box Publisher: St. Martins Press, 2011 I am 72 years old, so even five years ago I should have been old enough to know that a woman my age does not sign up for a 100 mile horseback ride into the Bob Marshall Wilderness in northern Montana, especially since I had never ridden a horse before. “Should have” being the operative words here as I did indeed let myself be persuaded to do that very thing with the promise that there would be fantastic scenery and equally wonderful fly fishing in streams seldom ... Read More »

In Between Days

BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com Author: Andrew Porter Publisher: Alfred Knopf, 2012 The Harding family of Houston, Texas, is one highly dysfunctional group – and their story is absolutely mesmerizing. Andrew Porter had me at page one of “In Between Days.” Elson and Cadence are still adjusting to their divorced status, Richard, 20-something has one foot in the adult world and one foot in mother’s world, and daughter Chloe is a college student back East. Her abrupt return from school, ejected by the administration for reasons she refuses to disclose or discuss, is the catalyst that rallies these people into a ... Read More »

Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind

BOOK REMARKS Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net Author: Alex Stone Publisher: Harper, June 2012 Kind of an intimidating title, I will admit, but don’t let it keep you from discovering the delights of this book. It is quite fascinating. I know that I told you that the new kid on the block, Maggie Gust, would be doing the non-fiction stuff in the future but I was not totally truthful. If I find a book I really enjoy I am not going to hold back from telling you about it just because it is not fiction. And in some ways this is fiction ... Read More »

Adventures of a Curious Guy

Book Remarks Maggie Gust winetaster13@gmail.com Clarence Frank Birdseye II was born 12-01-1886 and died 10-07-1956. During his 69 years, this diminutive dapper dynamo transformed the eating habits of the entire world – and had the time of his life in doing so. Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man by Mark Kurlansky is the biographical equivalent of a page-turning thriller. Perhaps it is Kurlansky’s style or the fact that he so obviously admires his subject, but this book is hard to put down. It is 230 pages chock full of descriptions of early 20th century America, the era of inventions and ... Read More »

Ties That Bind

BOOK REMARKS Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net Author: Marie Bostwick Publisher: Kensington Books, 2012 If you are enticed into reading this book pay special attention when you are looking for it as the title is fairly common, but the books are written by various authors. When I looked on Amazon some of them appeared to be a bit racy…or perhaps even more than a bit. This particular one has a sub-title of “A Cobbled Court Quilts Novel,” which does not say racy in any language. It is still mighty hot around here even if the calendar says summer is over so there is ... Read More »

HARD COUNTRY

BOOK REMARKS  Diane Bostick  dianebostick@comcast.net   Author: Michael McGarrity  Publisher: Dulton Adult, 2012  I am doing much of my reading these days on either my Kindle or my iPad as I have taken to using them for ease of use while reading in bed or traveling, and while I am using one my husband can be reading the same book on the other. Otherwise we are sometimes grumbling as to who gets to read a new book first. And that is exactly what happened with this one. I bought it in hard cover and he wanted to read it first. Since ... Read More »

XO – A Kathryn Dance Novel

BOOK REMARKS Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net   Author: Jeffrey Deaver Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2012   I have always enjoyed Jeffrey Deaver’s books. He manages to keep me on the edge of my seat, and occasionally, with the covers over my head. His characters usually personify pure evil. I wouldn’t put him in the class of some of the books I read in my younger days but he certainly has no problem keeping me in suspense. If you are now in your “younger days” you might not have read some of the books that kept me pale and sweaty palmed so I ... Read More »

The Shoemaker’s Wife

BOOK REMARKS Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net   Author: Adriana Trigiani Publisher: Harpers, 2012 It is time for a “summer read.” When the weather gets this hot there is nothing to do but try to find a cool, shady place where one can curl up, cool drink in hand, with a nice long romance novel (I believe I made this exact suggestion last summer. Must be a good one and worth repeating). Throw in a little history and you can tell anyone who asks that you are reading an historical novel, which somehow makes it seem as though you have not totally given ... Read More »

Hunger Games 2008, Catching Fire 2009, Mockingjay 2010

BOOK REMARKS  Diane Bostick  dianebostick@comcast.net   Author: Suzanne Collins  Publisher: Scholastic Press  My usual instructions from the publisher of the Coastal Breeze are that I am to choose books for review that have been written in the past year or so. I explained to them that though these three books are all older than that, they are still very much in the public’s mind. When I went to the library to get a copy of the first of the series I was number 144 in line waiting for it to be returned. After hearing this they agreed to make an ... Read More »

Home Front

BOOK REMARKS  Diane Bostick  dianebostick@comcast.net Author: Kristin Hannah.  Publisher: St. Martins Press, 2012.  Kristen Hannah’s style of writing is not my favorite for various reasons. It somehow reminds me of the “Chicken Soup for the…” books. All the girls have either raven or auburn hair, smiles are always gentle, eyes sparkle, skirts swing gently around shapely legs, feet always slip into shoes…in other words, everybody is perfect. Nobody has dirty brown hair, smiles are not snaggle toothed, eyes aren’t dull, and nobody just plain puts on a pair of shoes. I can only stand such kind and gentle writing for ... Read More »

30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans

BOOK REMARKS Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net   Author: Karl Pillimer Ph.D Publisher: Hudson Street Press, 2011. Much to my surprise it seems that the author of 30 Lessons for Living, Dr. Karl Pillimer, considers those who have passed their 65th birthday the “Wisest Americans.” So it is nice to know that I qualify as “wise” in the eyes of some. Please don’t ask my children if they concur with this conclusion as I would hate to see them shuffle their feet as they try to come up with some politically correct response. After all, they still get some benefit from making me ... Read More »

11/22/63

BOOK REMARKS  Diane Bostick  dianebostick@comcast.net   Author: Stephen King  Publisher: Scribner, 2011.  I would think that almost everyone over the age of ten, in 1963, remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. I clearly remember grabbing my two tiny children and running over to my neighbor’s house, tears running down my cheeks, in total shock, to see if they had heard the news. It seemed totally unbelievable. That was not something that happened in America. That only happened in ... Read More »

Lone Wolf

BOOK REMARKS Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net   Author: Jodi Picoult. Publisher: Emily Bestler Books/Atria, 2012. This is Jodi Picoult’s 19th novel and I would have to say I found it one of the most engrossing of those she has written. Many of the books I have reviewed for you have had some type of moral dilemma involved and this is, once again, one of those books. All through life we encounter moral dilemmas. When we are young it might be should we copy the answers to a test we are taking from the person sitting next to us, who is known for ... Read More »