Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood

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What does a typical father’s responsibilities look like these days? This decade in history we are seeing fathers investing much more of themselves in the raising of their children. Michael Lewis may not win the award for Father of the Year, but he will certainly tickle the funny bone in his new book, Home Game. His self-depracating humor at the way he sees fatherhood is pure entertainment. I doubt that it will change the way anyone parents but it will delight and offer some heart-tugging moments.

Water, Stone, Heart by Will North

> Will North’s new novel Water, Stone, Heart is the story of Andrew Stratton, an professor of architecture whose wife leaves him for another man. Looking for a change of pace and atmosphere following his divorce, Stratton decides to take a course in stone hedge-building in the small village of Bocastle in Cornwall, England. Here he finds himself enchanted by a child named Lee, who introduces him to the residents of the town as well as the natural beauty in the surrounding hills. He makes friends and is charmed by the local residents and finds himself immersed in the techniques

used to build with stone. During his stay, he meets Nicola, a woman who has also been hurt in the past and is hesitant to commit to the future. North uses a real event–a flood that devastated the town of Bocastle in 2004–to bring a conclusion to this story of loss and love. North’s ability to convey the sights and sounds of the countryside of Cornwall adds to the atmosphere of the novel.

A Painted House

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A Painted House by John Grisham takes us back to life on an Arkansas cotton farm in the early 1950′s. Up to now, young Lucas’s life has been all about baseball, Saturdays in town, and waiting for his brother to come home from the war. He loves living on the farm with his parents and grandparents, even if they are too poor to even paint the house. Then one summer the migrant workers come in to help pick the cotton and change Lucas’s life forever.
This story of a boy growing up too fast is a change from Grisham’s normal fare, but the great writing and the suspense are still present.

The Last Child by John Hart

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After enjoying Hart’s Edgar-winning novel Down River, I was looking forward to reading his new book The Last Child, and I was not disappointed! Hart is an excellent storyteller, creating complex characters and a suspenseful plot. Thirteen-year-old Johnny Merrimon’s sister Alyssa disappeared a year ago, changing Johnny’s family and life forever. Johnny, convinced that his sister is alive and was abducted by one of the local child predators, continues to search for her daily by monitoring the local criminals and keeping notes on their behavior and locations. The police officer assigned to the missing child case, Detective Hunt, is also haunted by the case and keeps a close watch on Johnny and his mother. After a second child disappears, Johnny is convinced that the same person also abducted his sister. What Johnny discovers puts his life in danger. The interactions between Hunt and Johnny, Johnny’s reliance on mysticism for his strength, his friendship with a boy names Jack and the many other characters that fill this story combine to create a memorable, gripping and taut mystery that leaves the reader guessing until the end. Hart’s writing evokes a strong sense of place in the North carolina woods and swamps. I found this to be a very memorable novel, well-written and hard to put down!

If You Liked Harry Potter, You Might Like . . .

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With Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opening in theaters this weekend, there’s a burst of new interest in the series. There has long been talk of how J.K. Rowling’s books created a new generation of readers. What isn’t discussed as often is how many of those readers are adults. For those of you grown ups who loved the Harry Potter books and need something new, here are some titles you might enjoy.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – This is the classic tale of Bilbo Baggins, a respectable hobbit who is chosen by the wizard Gandalf to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart – The story of Merlin, of Arthurian Legend, as a child, growing up in the court of his grandfather, the King of Wales.
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey – Lessa of Benden Weyr, a supposed kitchen girl, and a queen dragon team up to protect the land of Pern.

The Hunger Games

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Panem, a city in the Rockies, and it’s twelve surrounding districts are what remains of the United States in this post-apocalyptic story. The twelve outlying districts suffer under harsh leadership because of their past rebellion. They are each required to send a teenage boy and girl to participate in the Hunger Games annually. This fight to the death competition is broadcast on live television and is required viewing by all.

Katniss takes the place of her younger sister who is chosen in the lottery. Katniss has developed hunting and tracking skills in order to help feed her family. Her partner in the games has few skills that will give him any advantages. Katniss is put through training with her partner and a relationship develops. Can she bear to kill him if the time comes? This page-turning sci-fi novel is gripping and violent, yet the relationships versus survival theme is unforgettable.

Romance Readers of the World, Unite

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I have a confession to make. I went to visit some family this weekend and I hid my paperback romance. I know, I’m so ashamed. I would pull out my intellectual book if anyone could see me reading, but late at night I would pull out my paperback romance and all the stresses of the day would just fade away.

This article from USA Today gives me the validation I need. Apparently smart people do read books with heaving bodices on the cover. I am not alone. You can read your romance with pride, knowing that you are joined by scholars from some of the best institutions in the nation. Mary Bly, better known to us as Eliosa James is a tenured professor at Fordham University and presented recently at the Princeton University scholarly conference titled “Love as the Practice of Freedom? Romance Fiction and American Culture.”
So, if you love books with a bared male chest on the cover and snappy dialog inside, read them unabashedly. And if anyone mocks you, just feel sorry for them. They’re missing out.

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The Unseen: “A creepy haunted house, reports of a 40-year-old poltergeist investigation and a young researcher trying to rebuild her life take the “publish or perish” initiative for college professors to a terrifying new level in this spine-tingling story that has every indication of becoming a horror classic. Based on the famous Rhine ESP experiments at the Duke University parapsychology department that collapsed in the 1960s, this is a chillingly dark look into the unknown.” Romantic Times

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton

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A fun and entertaining summer book, Mating Rituals of the North American WASP provides laughs and enjoyable characters. It tells the story of Peggy, who after a Las Vegas night on the town, finds herself married to a stranger named Luke, a true Connecticut blue-blooded WASP. Luke’s Aunt Abigail proposes that they stay married for a year, after which they both will inherit her huge old (and well-worn) house. Needing the money, both agree to her terms. Although predictable, this story is filled with likeable characters and amusing situations and is a light, fun summer read–pack it in your beach bag to read alongside the pool!

Night and Day by Robert B. Parker

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In bestseller Parker’s Night and Day, the “eighth Jesse Stone novel (after Stranger in Paradise), the Paradise, Mass., police chief almost effortlessly performs his laconic magic to restore order and right wrongs. When Betsy Ingersoll, the junior high school principal, decides to conduct a check of girls’ undies before an eighth-grade dance, it may or may not have been a crime, but it certainly provokes a firestorm of protests. Then there’s a Peeping Tom calling himself the Night Hawk, whose activities escalate from watching to home invasions. In addition, the legal activities of a group of adults calling themselves the Paradise Free Swingers are badly affecting two children.” Publisher’s Weekly

Knockout by Catherine Coulter

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If you like plenty of action combined with the paranormal—you’ll like Knockout! “Coulter’s riveting 13th FBI thriller (after TailSpin) opens with a bang as psychic FBI agent Dillon Savich thwarts a gang of gun-totting robbers attempting to hold up the First Union Bank of Washington, D.C. Three days later, seven-year-old Autumn Backman, who sees Dillon on TV, sends him a telepathic message that she’s in danger. Though eager to help Autumn, Dillon is busy tracking a bank robber who escaped, a teenage girl now leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. Meanwhile, in Titusville, Va., Autumn’s mother reports her daughter missing to Sheriff Ethan Merriweather. After finding Autumn, Ethan discovers her sinister uncle, Blessed, has evil designs on his psychic niece. Before Dillon and his fellow FBI agent and wife, Lacey Sherlock, can get to Titusville, Autumn and her mother flee.” Publisher’s Weekly