Until Tuesday…by Luis Carlos Montalvan

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A golden retriever stars in this memoir, Until Tuesday. Luis’s memoir is about his experiences as an Iraq veteran who returns to New York recovering from injuries with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Failing to cope with a “new”world and at the end of his sanity, Luis enlists the help of a service dog to help him re-acclimate. It is a charming story of the bond that grows between Luis and Tuesday. More than that, it is a dramatic look into the mind of a person suffering from PTSD. Montalvan, a former captain in the US Army, is most compelling when he zones in on how he reacts to his world. He is an advocate for service dogs to help the disabled.

Haiti After the Earthquake

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Paul Farmer has been a voice for Haiti for a number of years.. He came to my attention when I read Mountains Beyond Mountains: the Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man who Would Cure the World, a biography written by Tracy Kidder in 2003. This amazing doctor has a heart for the downtrodden. He currently lives in Rwanda and has spent much time both there and in Haiti working on solutions to the terrible poverty and health conditions of these two countries.

Haiti After the Earthquake is a new book that Paul Farmer has written to document the current situation in Haiti. The information in this book reveals the seemingly hopeless situation, yet exudes the hope of these special people. We learn the history of this once important producer and exporter of sugar and cotton and the damaging consequences of foreign rule.

The earthquake killed over a quarter of a million people in a single day. Their silenced voices speak volumes about the problems of poor building construction that Paul Farmer and many others are trying to address. He is co-founder of Partners in Health, a group of doctors and advocates for the poor. They use their combined influence to set up clinics, lobby drug manufacturers, establish schools and mobile health screening stations to help the poor.

Included in this book are personal stories of survivors, doctors and other volunteers that bring the emotions and beauty of the Haitian people to our lives.

To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

>Levi, the new blacksmith in town, is just that, new. No one knows anything about him, except Parson Cranford. Levi’s past is safe with the Parson. Levi came to town highly recommended by a friend of David Cranford. The Parson’s recommendation to Mr. Spencer, the town’s founder, along with the fact that spring was around the corner and they had been without a blacksmith for four long months, was in Levi’s favor in obtaining the job in Spencer.

Eden Spencer, the beautiful town founder’s daughter, catches Levi’s eye. Then when he finds out there is a library in town, which Miss Spencer happens to run, he longs for Jules Verne’s book “Around the World in Eighty Days.” Miss Spencer didn’t know how to react to his request when he came into the library. The new blacksmith horded his words, she didn’t even know if he could read. What did he really want? Eden Spencer was suspicious of all men, after being jilted by her betrothed just days before their wedding day. How could she trust her inner most feelings when it came to men, after all she had thought she had been in love and he in love with her. But now, she knew it was best to trust no man. To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer, is a fun read with a few unexpected turns.

Finding Jack by Gareth Crocker

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Fletcher Carson, deeply depressed after losing his family in an accident, volunteers to go to fight in Viet Nam at a time when the war seems to be a lost cause for the US. His unit is close-knit and is sent on dangerous reconnaissance missions, searching tunnels and the jungle for the Viet Cong. During one mission, a badly injured Labrador Retriever crawls out of the jungle. The officer in charge, fearing a trap, orders Fletcher to shoot and kill it but Fletcher defies the order, carrying the dog back to their base for medical treatment. This begins the relationship between the dog they name Jack and Fletcher. With his mastery of commands, Jack appears to be a lost canine unit dog, and after he heals he accompanies the unit on patrol. He locates trip wires and booby traps, saving the lives of the men in the unit and working his way into the hearts of war-weary soldiers. As the war comes to a close, Fletcher is shocked to learn that the Army dogs will be left behind to fend for themselves. Jack has become Fletcher’s reason to live and he defies orders to leave Jack behind, thus beginning their journey to survive together. Finding Jack is a story of friendship, love and hope in the darkest of situations. Author Crocker tells the story of thousands of Army dogs that were left behind in Viet Nam through Jack’s story–dogs who saved thousands of American soldiers lives and were abandoned to survive on their own or were killed. This is a story that will touch your heart–a story of the bonds forged in war between both men and dogs.

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

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He was a man who didn’t deserve a second chance. But, he needed one…

Sandy Portman, a wealthy New Yorker, who attracts women like bees to flowers, marries naive and optimistic Emily, a young editor. Becoming bored with his pretty wife of four years, Sandy is on the way home to ask for a divorce when he is killed in a tragic accident.

After Sandy’s death, Emily finds out that he was unfaithful and on top of that, now she faces eviction from their home.

Sandy wakes up in an animal shelter in the body of a scruffy little dog named Einstein. It is Sandy’s chance to make up for his mistakes, a chance for redemption.

Bewildered and angry, Emily finds comfort in the form of a wacky little dog named Einstein that she finds at the animal shelter where she volunteers. Emily and Einstein is a mixture of humor, regret and love–told by turns from Emily and Sandy/Einstein.

Trespasser

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Paul Doiron’s latest mystery, Trespasser, features Mike Bowditch, Maine Game Warden, as the main character. In this riveting thriller, Bowditch is called out on a cold and foggy night to check on a car-deer accident. When he arrives on the scene, there is blood on the highway and a damaged car, but both deer and driver are missing. After a quick search of the area and finding nothing suspicious, Bowditch assumes that the driver has found a ride. The body of a brutally murdered young woman is found, and the circumstances are similar to a previously committed crime. Bowditch is haunted by the murder–unable to avoid feeling that he might have prevented it if he had searched harder for the woman on the night of the accident. He disregards orders to leave the case to the police and in doing so, puts himself and his loved ones in danger. Doiron’s descriptions of Maine and the spring thaw–the mud season–make the reader feel the cold and damp as well as the pure pleasure of the first warm, sunny day of the year. This is an exciting page-turner with characters that won’t soon be forgotten. The Poacher’s Son is the first book in this series and is also an exciting mystery!~

The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn

>This fascinating book called The Wild Life of Our Bodies has a very telling subtitle: Predators, Parasites, and Partners that Shape Who We Are Today. Dr. Rob Dunn, a professor in the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University, has written the story of how human evolution was influenced by our interactions with other species. From the smallest intestinal worm to snakes and large predators, Dr. Dunn addresses everything from why humans currently look the way we do to why we have good eyesight to how some modern illnesses are caused by our guts “missing” their old enemies and the body attacking itself in search of something to fight. Not only does Dunn address the interactions that have made us who we are today, he addresses how we can reintroduce old enemies (and helpers) into our lives to improve them and the health problems we have created by banishing nature from our lives.

This book took me quite awhile to read since it was so compelling I wanted to read the stories he used to illustrate his points slowly and carefully. The notes provide a wealth of background papers and books in which to further explore this subject.

Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper

>With a variety of characters to help keep the conversation flowing, and a myriad of surprises to keep the story going, who wouldn’t enjoy this book? Carrie Carter is the main character of Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper. She owns and runs the small town café in Seaside along with her sister & baker, Lindsey. Her employees consist of Ricky the cook, Jase the dishwasher, and Andi her waitress. Many customers of interest visit the cafe daily. One of the interesting customers is Mr. Perkins, an old man that doesn’t say much but when he does you better pull in your toes. Then there is Andi’s boyfriend, Bill, who comes across as a little too rough. How about Clooney, Andi’s uncle, who spends his time looking for treasures in the sand? We can’t leave out Cilla, the lady that keeps an eye on every one and every thing going on in Seaside. Mary P is the wise one and former owner of the café. There are other locals, plus the outsiders that come in to take part in this great story.

Now, on to Carrie’s favorite customer, Greg Barnes, a very handsome man who makes Carrie’s heart do the “Snoopy Dance” every time she sees him. All Carrie really wants is for Greg to notice her, to let her know that he knows she is alive. But after three years of their daily encounter, is there really any hope? It takes a murder to get their romance on the move. When Jase is found murdered and Andi is missing, Greg and Carrie are pushed together to solve the mystery and that’s when Greg realizes, Carrie is definitely alive. That doesn’t mean the romance is in the bag though. They both have pasts that haunt them, keeping them in and out of each others reach. There are several unexpected twists to keep your mind engaged even when you reluctantly have to put this book down.

Rose in a Storm by Jon Katz

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Jon Katz has written a number of books about dogs which have garnered great reviews. Finally, I have taken the time to read one of them. Rose in a Storm is told from the third person, mainly Rose’s point of view. As we see how she thinks and responds to a major crisis on her farm, a massive snow storm, we fall in love with this faithful dog. The intelligence of the border collie breed is never doubted, and Jon Katz wants us to imagine how this ‘working dog’ perceives and faces such a huge threat to her world. Rose in a Storm is a wonderful story and I look forward to reading Katzs’ other non-fiction animal stories.
Enjoy videos of the Bedlam farm animals on the Jon Katz blog.

The Dog Who Came in from the Cold

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I’m always excited for the next Alexander McCall-Smith novel; some more than others. I enjoy his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, but his newest series is even more fun. Corduroy Mansions was published about a year ago, and now I’ve just finished The Dog Who Came in from the Cold, his second in the Corduroy Mansion series.

His international settings are one reason I enjoy his books. We need to learn how others all over the world think, and McCall-Smith certainly wants to have us contemplate why we do as we do and think as we think. He always has a philosophical discussion that challenges me.

A pimlico terrier named Freddie de la Hay, stars again. This time he is recruited to be a spy for Scotland’s espionage group, M16. The evil cigar-smelly Russians are not Freddie’s favorite people. Soon they discover that Freddie has an extra heavy collar and his hidden mic is discovered. What is to be the fate of Freddie?

Doctor Who

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Interested in time travel and exploring the galaxy? Check out the DVD series Doctor Who. This adventure and humor-filled series from BBC was revived in 2005 after the first series was shown on British television from 1963 to 1989. The Doctor travels through time and space in his ship the Tardis–a blue police box–exploring new worlds and saving the Earth from alien threats. His travelling companions from Earth, beginning with Rose, are curious and adventuresome and offer the Doctor insights into human feelings and relationships. The Doctor delights in showing them the wonders of the universe. The Doctor’s character is fascinating–humor, excitement and frenetic intelligence are combined with bravery and wisdom. The element of time travels offers the characters the opportunity to interact with the likes of Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie. The show has won many British television awards and is currently in it’s 6th season on the BBC. Seasons 1 through 5 are available for check out at Manhattan Public Library. Other delightful BBC series available include Ballykissangel and Monarch of the Glen.

The Perfect Blend by Trish Perry

>Steph Vandergrift is floundering. She burned some bridges in Baltimore when she quit her job and left her friends and family to move to Middleburg and elope with Rick Manfred, the young attorney who stood her up at the altar. Now she needs to find a job and a place to live until she can get herself back on her feet. When Milly, the kind woman who owns Millicent’s Tea Shop offers her a short-term position, it’s the answer to her prayers.

Kendall James, a handsome Middleburg business owner, meets and begins pursuing Steph, a source of great confusion for her. Just when she starts feeling ready to consider a relationship with Kendall, her A.W.O.L. fiance turns back up looking for a second chance.

With wonderful secondary characters, a cozy small town setting, and a sweet romance, Trish Perry has written a winner in The Perfect Blend. The second book in the Tea Shop series, Tea for Two, is already out and available at the library.

The Whistleblower by Kathryn Bolkovac

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The movie Whistleblower starring Rachel Weisz hits theaters this weekend, based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a former Nebraska police officer who ended up revealing an international human trafficking scheme. If you’d like to get her entire story, check out her book by the same title.

The Whisteblower is a story of a woman with true compassion and a desire to protect human rights. Kathryn took a job with a security company supporting the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosina, but did her job a little too well and uncovered information that lead to her being fired and having to flee the country. Fortunately, she had already collected the evidence required and her diligence resulted in a tribunal that exposed the truth and a court victory.

Full of disturbing details and intrigue, Bolkovac’s story will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Iron House by John Hart

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John Hart’s latest novel, Iron House, is an intense, taut thriller with non-stop action and suspense. Michael and Julian are brothers who are growing up in Iron House, an orphanage where abuse is common and fear is ever-present. As the oldest, Michael is Julian’s protector. After a violent incident, Michael is forced to flee the orphanage and they go on to live very different lives–Julian is adopted by a wealthy family and Michael is forced to flee the orphanage. He survives by his wits and strength on the brutal streets of New York and is eventually taken in by a mob boss. The mob becomes his family and he is trained to be a hit man. Michael meets and falls in love with a woman who has no idea about his background and he tries to leave the violent life he has known. But walking away from the mob is not easy, and all that Michael cares about is threatened. There are plots and subplots and twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end. This is a thriller, but also a story about love in its many forms and about the longing for family and belonging that we never outgrow. Themes of trust, forgiveness and redemption are woven into the story along with action and suspense. Readers need to be aware that there is a high level of violence in the fast-paced story line. Be prepared to stay up late into the night reading this novel–it is one that you won’t want to put down! Hart has won two Edgar Awards for his previous books Down River and The Last Child.