This time of year is commonly referred to as the "Dog Days of Summer". If you are so lucky as to have a dog, perhaps you would like to curl up with you pet as you devour your Summer Read in the hammock or under the air conditioning. If not, curl up with one of these and enjoy your "Dog" Days of Summer.
Secret Service agent Ethan Burke is sent to the small Idaho town of Wayward Pines to search for two missing agents, Ethan comes to in a hospital with amnesia. Ethan finds out he was in a car accident and his partner was killed, as his memory comes back he finds out this picture perfect town isn't what it appears to be.
Ethan is unable to get his personal belongings back and can't contact his family or boss. Outwardly everyone and everything looks perfect until he tries to leave and finds the whole town fenced in by a 30 foot electrified fence, keeping who out or who in.
Ethan starts to realize that it was not an accident ending up in this town and the closer he gets to the truth the stranger and more deadly it becomes for his survival, suspenseful, break neck pace and a touch of horror and sci fi, the first in the Wayward Pines Trilogy. Blake Crouch has wriiten several other horror books and is just fun to read.
I first heard about Borgen through an NPR review and was immediately intrigued by the vivid description of Danish politics. It was Stephen King’s “favorite piece of pop culture in 2012” and hailed as the Danish West Wing……but better.
Borgen, the seat of Danish government, opens with an election and the surprise appointment of Birgitte Nyborg as Prime Minister. Birgitte and her family are thrown into the political spotlight and struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy. Other characters include Kasper Juhl, Birgitte’s cutthroat spin doctor with a dark past, and Katrine Fonsmark, the young news journalist pushing to get ahead while trying to maintain integrity. What is somewhat surprising, is the familiarity you will feel as Denmark addresses similar issues as the US—environment, youth crimes, immigration, and taxes. One of my favorite episodes addressed the issue of Denmark’s relationship with Greenland.
I binge watched all three seasons of this remarkable drama. As the characters’ lives develop and change you see the personal cost of politics and power. The critically acclaimed Danish drama is from the creators of the Danish versions of “The Killing” and “The Bridge” both of which have been remade for American television.
Fans of Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella may enjoy listening to Have a Nice Guilt Trip on audiobook, as I did, especially because it is read by the authors themselves. Who better knows where to place the right inflection and emphasis on words than the person(s) who wrote the book?
This mother and daughter team takes turns narrating essays they have penned; each one is on a different topic. Lisa has more chapters, of course, because she has lived longer and has more to say. Their musings are about the mundane and the profound and are a little Andy Rooney-esque but uniquely told from their perspective. Women will know what the authors are talking about and men, well, they can listen in and enjoy the writing style. Lisa does not disparage feeling guilty but embraces it. Francesca marvels at some of her good fortune, which prompts her to feel guilty – proving she is her mother’s daughter.
Humorous, poignant, big-hearted, self-critical and honest; each chapter is a look at life, odd situations, living near a nuclear power plant, the call of jury duty, trying to trim your dog’s toenails, new beginnings in New York City, vitamins, politics, puppies, auditioning swimsuits to take on vacation, celebrating friendships and relationships, and how we get through some of our ordinary and not-so-ordinary days. This is what our lives are full of, the big and the little, the mix of it all. I recognize myself in some of the stories, can relate to others, wish I could write a fraction as well as they do, and can feel the love in Francesca’s essay about her crusty but beloved grandmother, Mother Mary, who taught her that family is the heart of everything.
This title is available as a print book and an audiobook.
So, the World Cup is over and many of us are going through a bit of withdrawal. Maybe it's a good time for a quick read about some previous tournaments! George Vecsey of the New York Times is considered one of the first US journalists to start covering soccer seriously, and he's logged a lot of miles covering the eight tournaments (both men's and women's) of the title. The book is part travelogue, part memoir and fully enjoyable. There's enough soccer name-dropping (Maradonna, Zidane, Donovan!) to engage the enthusiast, but it's not overly technical, so it's fun for those who only pay attention when the World Cup rolls around. He also covers the various intrigues and controversies surrounding FIFA and the World Cup, such as a New Zealand delegate's sudden disappearance on the eve of the election that allowed Germany's bid for the 2006 tournament to win by a single vote over South Africa (which did go on to host 2010). Still, it's really the joy of the sport that comes shining through and Vecsey shows how he became more fond and knowledgeable of it as he trotted the globe to follow "the beautiful game."
Imagine losing one of your senses. Now imagine losing all except one. Now imagine that you lost all but the sense of touch when you were only two years old.
That was the unimaginable circumstance of the life of Laura Bridgman. What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins is a heart-rending, thought-provoking novel based on Laura Bridgman’s life and the lives of the many fascinating people who surrounded her. Laura Bridgman was taught to communicate at the age of seven by the use of alphabetical sign language pressed into the palm of the other person. Her teacher was Samuel Gridley Howe, husband of the poet and activist, Julia Ward Howe. Charles Dickens was a personal friend of the Howe’s along with Longfellow and Senator Charles Sumner.
Laura Bridgman was world-famous in her lifetime and was the teacher of Annie Sullivan. And although her fame for having no sense of sight, sound, taste or smell was soon eclipsed by Helen Keller learning to speak, Bridgman was no less an amazing woman for her lack of speech.
Elkins uses this phenomenal historical figure to craft a novel that is much more about isolation, love, and communication than it is about the individual in question. Her writing is lyrical but also a bit stark at times.
As Laura muses over her relationships she says, “Love, I think, is by necessity constructed of a ladder of lies you climb together.”
To learn more about the true Laura Bridgman visit the Perkins Institute’s website.
And to read about Laura Bridgman and Dickens’ other impressions of the United States check out American Notes: And, Picture from Italy by Charles Dickens.
An exceptional debut novel, Tiphanie Yanique's Land Of Love And Drowning is the lush, linguistically exciting chronicle of three generations of a family living in the Virgin Islands, facing an uncertain future as the islands become an U.S. protectorate in the early 1900s (yes, we have protectorates).
Starting with thee orphans of a shipwreck, a state that nicely parallels that of the political uncertainty of the islanders at the time, and continuing on to their descendants, the story details the family’s love affairs, curses, births, deaths, and triumphs over the succeeding generations. Steeped in a magical realism that nevertheless retains the confusion and foibles of real life, Land of Love and Drowning is an exciting display of a talented writer for whom great things are expected!
Books + Travel= Nirvana! Avid readers travel to quaint towns, dingy back streets, or breathtaking mountain tops every time they pick up a book. What if you actually went to the setting of the books you enjoy?
Author, Terri Peterson Smith’s non-fiction book, Off the Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways, invites us on several literary journeys.
Peterson Smith guides you through the basics, from choosing the group members wisely to budgets and the logistics of travel arrangements. Some of the book based excursions are day trips while others are more ambitious involving cross country plane trips. The chapters are well organized featuring 15 cities and numerous book choices, restaurants, hotels, and itineraries.
This book is well written, creative, and makes me want to “hit the road!”
Molly Ayer has lived with a number of foster families in her seventeen years. When she gets in trouble at school, her current placement is in jeopardy unless she makes the most of her community service assignment. As she begrudgingly helps the elderly Vivian sort through her belongings in a packed and dusty attic, Molly learns that Vivian has not always lived a comfortable life. Vivian was once a passenger on one of the many orphan trains that traveled west in order to provide children with a "better" life.
As Orphan Train unfolds, we find the two main characters growing closer to each other and realizing that despite their age difference they have quite a bit in common. As Molly grows more attached to Vivian and learns more of Vivian's past, she realizes that there may be something she can do to help her.
Told in alternating voices, Orphan Train was a quick read and a reminder of a lesser known part of American history. If you'd like to learn more about the orphan trains, make sure to check out these materials on the subject.
Would a great work of art be any less great if there was a little technical assistance involved? Computer graphics pioneer Tim Jenison had a fascination with the theory championed by David Hockney and Philip Steadman that the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer may have painted with the aid of a camera obscura, a special projection device that could have helped him reproduce sight lines and shadings with superhuman accuracy. In 2008, he set out to try and deduce just how that might have been done, with his friends Penn & Teller on hand to document the process (Teller directs, Penn narrates). For the next five years, Jenison worked out a process and spent countless hours devising mechanisms that he thought would allow him to make an almost exact replica of Vermeer's The Music Lesson, despite having no previous experience with painting. The film is a nerd's paradise, full of tinkering and speculation. It gets bogged down in minutae at times, but ultimately, it makes a great case that art and technology go hand in hand.