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Book Remarks

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 »

Little Wolves

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Maltman has taken an incident, the true story of a small-town Minnesota boy killing the local sheriff with a shotgun, and fashioned Little Wolves (Soho Press, 2012) into a captivating read. Sixteen-year-old Seth Fallon, Junior, took his shotgun, went to his teacher’s house, range the doorbell, and getting no response, walked on. He was stopped by the sheriff who while rolling down his car window was greeted with a shotgun blast to his face. Later that day, Seth was found in a field, having turned the gun on himself. This book is full of characters whose mundane intertwined outer lives belie ... Read More »

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse

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By Diane Bostick dianebostick@comcast.net By Robert Knott G.P. Putnam’s Sons 2012 As many of you know, Robert Parker died in 2010. He published books with various main characters and after his death, his family, with the encouragement of his publisher I would imagine, decided to allow various other authors to attempt to write books in Parker’s voice, in my opinion, with varying success in their endeavors. His Spenser series has been taken over by Ace Atkins, his Jesse Stone series by Michael Brandman, and now his Virgil Cole western series is being written by Robert Knott. It seems to me that ... Read More »

“Do You Remember Your Spirit?”

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Review by Jane A. Marlowe A new book by local author, Dom Fiorda and Kendra Brady relates a story about someone who remembers his ‘Spirit Time.’ Ernest Spirit’s name was rather prophetic. When he was a boy, he didn’t realize that fact. He was named for his grandfather, Ernesto, who immigrated to America at the beginning of the 20th century. The custom’s officer who processed him through Ellis Island Americanized his name, Ernesto Di Spirito, to Ernest Spirit. In English or Italian, the name translates to mean “of the Spirit”… and young Ernest was ‘of the spirit’. As a child ... Read More »

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  In 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 »