Same Kind of Different as Me

>

Two men from extremely different backgrounds tell a very emotionally grabbing story of the woman who drew them together to impact lives of the homeless. Ron Hall relates his story of education and entrepreneurship as an international art dealer and Denver Moore in alternate chapters shares his background as a homeless man who lived dirt poor as a sharecropper. They were brought together through the selfless life of Deborah, Ron’s wife, who volunteers at the Union Gospel Mission for the homeless in Ft. Worth, Texas.
This true story is humorous, challenging and gut wrenchingly sad. I was amazed by the courageous life of Deborah. Her will to help those that have nothing involved personal sacrifices that few are willing to make. Check-out Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.

Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky

>

Barbara Delinsky has created another one of her thought-provoking novels in this newest one, Not My Daughter. The idea taken from a real news event that occurred in Gloucester, Massachusetts revolves around a pregnancy pact made by high school girl friends. In this story the daughter of the high school principal is one of the pregnant girls. Herself a teenage mother, Susan Tate, the school principal and mother of Lily questions her parenting abilities and the school board begins to question their choice of principal. How could these bright, excellent students, leaders of their class make a life-changing decision that has the possibility of influencing the rest of their school.
Love and forgiveness is center to this story as mothers and daughters deal with the consequences of teen pregnancy.

The The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

>

After fifty years of marriage, Betty Weissmann’s husband wants a divorce. Blindsided by the betrayal and banned from the apartment she lovingly decorated, Betty retreats with her two daughters to a friend’s rundown beach cottage in Westport. Betty, Annie, and Miranda work together through a painful time for all of them.

I’ll admit this book sounds depressing, and there are parts that will make you cringe with the humiliation that each of them faces, but Schine is able to see the humor in the most painful of situations. “There was an awful, endless, complicated lawsuit that had frozen all of Mirand’s assets. As if they were so many lamb chops, Betty thought, imagining the assets wrapped in aluminum foil and coated with a white film of ice.” Schine uses irony and compassion to walk us through the story of three women facing devastation together. Loosely based on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, The Three Weissmans of Westport is a story you won’t soon forget.

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

>

Adam Marsh’s perfect life as a wealthy business man with a socialite wife and three homes is destroyed in minutes after one impulsive and emotional act. His life totally changed, he finds himself alone in a small apartment, unemployed and doing community service hours at a homeless shelter. In an attempt to help a shelter client, Adam’s life intersects with that of a dog who is trying to escape his own horrific past. Dog and man develop a bond, teaching each other about survival, trust, loyalty, redemption and what matters most in life–love. In alternating chapters, One Good Dog tells the story of Adam, while the dog narrates his own story, describing the changes in his life that lead him from a caged fighting dog to a beloved pet. I loved this poignant story about the value of pets in our lives and found it one of the best books I have read in quite a while!

Not Without Hope

>

Setting off with friends for a day of fishing and relaxation in February 2009, Nick Schuyler had no idea that his life would be forever changed by the trip. He joined NFL player Marquis Cooper on his 25 ft. boat, along with his best friend Will Bleakley and another NFL player Corey Smith–all four were healthy young men looking forward to spending time together. As a storm begins to approach, they gather their gear to return to Tampa, 75 miles away. Their anchor is stuck and in their inexperience, they capsize the boat, beginning their desperate attempts to survive. The men face hypothermia, hallucinations, dehydration, cold water and huge waves. Their lack of emergency preparations–no emergency beacons or provisions, inaccessible life jackets, etc. contribute to their precarious situation. The men work together in their battle to survive, clinging to the overturned hull of the boat, encouraging each other and pulling each other from the water as the waves wash them off the hull. In this first person account, Schuyler relays the helplessness, horror, emotions and courage shown by all of the men. Not Without Hope is a gripping and inspiring story of survival, a story that is hard to put down and one not easily forgotten. Schuyler takes his title from a Persian proverb “In the hour of adversity, be not without hope”.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

>

It is Paris, 1942. Close your eyes and imagine!

You are a ten year old girl having breakfast with your Maman, Papa and little brother. A loud knock on the door! Police! Open up! She was afraid—her Papa had use strange words—roundups, early morning arrests. What could it mean?

Tatiana de Rosnay’s novel, Sarah’s Key, revolves around an actual historic event in German-occupied Paris, in the spring of 1942. The Vel’ d’ Hiv’ (Operation Spring Breeze) was a “round-up” of more than 13,000 Parisian Jews (mostly women and children) by the French police responding to a demand from the Nazis. Few, if any, of these Parisians would return from the death camps.

This story is told in alternating chapters by two people: One living in 1942 and the other living in modern day Paris.

In 1942, Sarah is a ten-year-old Parisian girl, born to Jewish parents. Her family is abruptly and brutally forced from their home and forever torn apart.

Julia, an American reporter, married to a modern day Frenchman, is assigned to investigate “the roundup” on the 60th Anniversary of the Vel’d’Hiv. She is shocked to find how little she, or anyone, knows about the roundup, and eventually the deaths of thousands of Parisian families.
Pivotal to this novel is the key in ten-year-old Sarah’s pocket. It opens the cupboard in which she has hidden her younger brother to hide him from the roundup. He’d be safe there, she was sure. The girl murmured his name and laid her palm flat on the wooden panel. “I’ll come back for you later. I promise.” -From Sarah’s Key, page 9-
As Julia pursues her research, she discovers that she and her French family may have connections to Sarah and her family; connections that will cause Julia to question her own life.

Making Rounds with Oscar: the extraordinary gift of an ordinary cat

>

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous” Albert Einstein.

Was it coincidence that a cat was by the bedside of dying patients at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island? Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician at Steere House, had written an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 about Oscar and now has explored further the task Oscar has taken on at this wonderful care facility. Oscar did not have the reputation as a sociable cat. He never really spent time with the patients but instead was usually hiding somewhere. Oscar did persistently find a way to get into the rooms of patients that were very close to death and spend time on their beds until they breathed their last. This is a remarkable story of an interesting phenomena, but also a very educational story for those interested in dementia and the way it affects individuals and their families.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

>

In The Girl Who Chased the Moon Sarah Addison Allen presents another enchanting tale of magic and romance in a small southern town. Emily Benedict is still recovering from the death of her mother when she goes to live with the maternal grandfather she’s never met. From the moment she enters the house her mother was raised in Emily is surrounded by a sense of mystery and magic: from the quiet giant of a grandfather who constantly checks the dryer to the wallpaper that seems to change overnight. She quickly realizes that there is a reason her mother never visited or talked about her home town, but no one will tell her what it is.

She is befriended by her neighbor, Julia, who bakes cakes and struggles to put the past behind her. That would be easier if Sawyer, her first love and biggest regret would stop hanging around. Emily and Julia struggle together to deal with the past and let a bit of magic into their lives.

Plague of Sleeplessness Unravels Society

>Imagine a mysterious plague of sleeplessness is spreading across the land. What is known is that a protein plaque attacks the brain rendering the victim forever sleepless. The afflicted experience memory loss, confusion, and increasing pain. Their faces show detachment and they walk like zombies. The disease take several months to kill and almost 10% of the population are infected. Thousands of people become a subculture of the doomed. Government begins to fail and vast encampments of the homeless, jobless and the infected spring up.

An undercover cop named Parker is the main character. He works for the LAPD and the crisis is personal for him–his wife is infected and he fears for her and their infant daughter. Author Charlie Huston is a popular crime writer who has elevated the genre to social commentary. Sleepless has the gritty feel of Blade Runner and the conspiratorial elegance of Brazil. Huston’s skillful depiction of popular culture and technology lends credibility to the story. Sleepless provides a disturbingly relevent vision by a talented author.

Bonk: the curious coupling of science and sex by Mary Roach

>

I want to say straight out that this book is not for everyone. There are those who will be offended by reading the flap on the front cover. But then there are people like me who just can’t help but read a book that puts a humorous spin on the science of sex. Roach gives a history of the study of intercourse from the ancient greeks to current times. Instead of being erotic, her text will have you rolling with laughter at the mistaken perceptions of the past and at her own embarrassing adventures researching the field. She tells of Leonardo Da Vinci’s unenthusiastic investigation of the nether regions of the bodies of executed criminals and some of the inside stories of famous researchers such as Kinsey, Masters, and Johnson. This book is a joy to read for those with a curiosity of science and humanity or if you just need a good laugh.