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Review Date: 7/23/2014
The author mentions that she kept a diary and that she has always had an extraordinary memory (obvious with all the dialogue she had to memorize as a very young actress). Add in her access to letters belonging to her mother, and the result is an autobiography with amazing memory details going back to toddlerhood.
Shirley's book is an interesting glimpse not only into her life but also into the movie industry under the contract system. Many actors and actresses and studio heads are discussed as seen through the eyes of a little girl and later as a teenager and adult. Shirley Temple fans should find her autobiography pretty entertaining.
Review Date: 1/4/2018
A teenaged track star and her younger brother go for a run while on a vacation with their parents in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. An incident occurs, the boy is found in the woods badly wounded and his sister is missing. Descent by Tim Johnston is a novel that kept me up late at night so I could read "just one more chapter." But then I would read another chapter or two after that...you know how that goes! The mystery of what happened to the sister is intriguing, of course, but also interesting is the way each of her family members handles her disappearance. Worth the read!
Review Date: 1/12/2017
Ever since viewing a documentary on Sir Ernest Shackleton's ordeal after losing his ship to packed ice in Antarctica, I have wanted to learn more details. I chose this book which was published in 1959 and written by a man who still had access to a few surviving members of Shackleton's 1914 expedition. This story of survival is truly amazing, right up there with Louis Zamperini's WWII nightmarish journey. How Shackleton worked to keep his crew and expedition members out of harm's away with each new danger is an astonishing tale, as is the optimism expressed by his men in such horrendous circumstances. Highly recommended reading!
Review Date: 11/12/2016
It's been a half century since I first read Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury's vision of a future where citizens become more enchanted with TV walls than books seems somewhat prophetic. But his fictional government takes a drastic step and bans all books. Most civilians couldn't care less, their interest in the printed word long ago snuffed out by their weakness for large, mounted semi-interactive televisions with inane programming. Homes become fireproof, and in Bradbury's future world, the fireman's job is burning books and the houses that contain them, sometimes with the book owners inside. Bradbury has said that book paper first burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit, hence the title.
In the 50th anniversary edition I just read, there is an interview with Bradbury, who died in 2012. He complains that many times this book was planned to be re-published after censoring for language, political correctness, etc. He claims that if we are not careful, we could head down that same path to literature void of all meaning.
Fahrenheit 451 is sixty-six years old now, but its message is still loud and clear. It is an easy read and worth a second look.
Review Date: 4/8/2015
Hard to put this book down!
Review Date: 2/9/2016
This 11 year old grew up in an apartment building full of drug dealers and addicts just a few blocks from Times Square. His mother was the head dealer in the building. He was hungry 24/7 and had to beg for change for food. The author, a successful sales exec, almost ignored him, but walked back, took him to McDonald's and developed a lifelong friendship with him. This book is the result of that change of mind on a busy New York street. It opens your eyes to a world that is hard to fathom, a world without hope. What a difference one person can make to someone living in that world.
Review Date: 1/29/2017
People without a good knowledge of the liberation of Paris during World War II may not realize how important the French Resistance was in freeing the City of Light from the cruel grip of Nazi Germany. For four years, Parisians were starved, beaten and killed during the Nazi occupation of their beloved city. In August, 1944, the French Resistance, one faction led by Charles de Gaulle and one led by the Communists, marched into battle on the German-held streets of Paris, determined to get their city back.
This book, researched for three years by its authors Collins and LaPierre, reveals the behind-the-scenes thoughts and actions of the major, and minor, players, some of whom were still alive at the book's writing and available for interviews. We are introduced to Nazi generals and soldiers, to French Resistance leaders and followers, to American generals and the soldiers under them, to the hated collaborators, to French citizens living in fear and misery under the Nazis, and to Adolph Hitler who plans to completely blow up Paris if his military cannot keep the city from being returned to the French people. If you want to know more about the liberation of Paris than seeing the images of American soldiers being smothered by kisses from pretty Parisian girls, this is the book for you!
Review Date: 5/28/2016
Have you ever gone to a movie that was bad from the start, but you stayed until the end due to the cost of the movie or the hope that the movie would get better? This book is like that movie, at least for me. I felt like I was trying to "get through it" due to picking it for my Reading Challenge: a book translated from another language. In spite of the title, I found very little real love in the book and very little to love about it! The protagonist ---(SPOILER ALERT!)---has sex for years with a minor child he was supposed to be protecting, he leaves a painted message on a married lover's abdomen that causes her murder by her husband, he moves from one loveless affair to another with only narcissistic involvement, and he pathetically whines and pines away for an unrequited love for about 50 years. I can't believe this book was: (a) written by a Pulitzer Prize winner, and (b) chosen for Oprah's Book Club. Total waste of my time. (less) 
Review Date: 9/25/2017
Zakia was expected to marry someone her father chose for her. Afghani women are considered to be property that can be traded, sold, raped or killed at the whim of the men in their families. Falling in love with someone not approved by a father can be a terrifying experience. Zakia and her neighbor Ali loved each other enough to run away and live in hiding for years, with her family giving up their farm in order to hunt for them and kill her.
Author Rod Norland is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the New York Times who was stationed in Afghanistan for years. He became very involved in Zakia and Ali's life, trying to help them escape. Although his book at times drags with unnecessary details, the in-depth discussion of human rights, or the lack of them, in Afghanistan is interesting and sadly enlightening. Yes, life under the Soviets was much better for women, and it was slowly improving after American removal of Taliban control. But judges and prosecutors often ignore the new laws, and women are still expected to stay home, unschooled and dedicated only to the happiness of the men who own them.
The author discusses honor killings and other abuses taking place in today's Afghanistan. I expect this book to be made into a movie.
Review Date: 10/5/2016
Helpful Score: 2
Sometimes you read a book and it's pretty much forgotten within a month or two. Sometimes you read a book and you know that its characters will stay with you forever, as if you knew them personally and cared about what happened to them. This is how I feel about Isabelle and Vianne, two sisters facing the cruelties and challenges of living in WWII Occupied France. One is highly motivated to work with the French Resistance and bravely helps downed British and American airmen. The other must share her home with two different Nazi officers, one somewhat kind and the other cruelly sadistic. The sisters each assist the Allies and Jewish families in their own courageous ways. Highly recommended reading!
Review Date: 7/29/2016
I read this book before giving it to my granddaughter, ten years old. I always try to do that to avoid unknowingly giving a book with inappropriate references. Number the Stars does a great job of describing what it was like to be a 10 year old Jewish child during the Holocaust, in this case, Denmark. The book is meant for children from 4th to 8th grades so does not engage in horrific discussions of the genocide being committed throughout Europe during WWII...just vague references to murderous Nazis and ongoing events of suspicious nature. The book by Lois Lowry has won numerous awards, including the Newbery Award, is now considered a children's classic, and is ranked in the top 100 of best books for children.
Review Date: 8/24/2016
This concise history of the 1920's in America was very informative. The author touches on many aspects of life at that time: political (especially Presidential politics), economic, fashion trends and so on. Covered in detail is something we all learned about in school: the Teapot Dome Scandal. I feel I know much more now about that era than what movies and TV shows have shown.
The book was written in 1931, and, unfortunately, this edition was printed at that time and uses the tiny font that may make reading uncomfortable for many readers.
Review Date: 9/14/2017
Summer, 1961...a small town in Minnesota is shaken to the core by tragedy. A small boy, an itinerant and, later in the summer, two more victims are all found dead. The book's narrator, a 13 year old pastor's son named Frank, does some sleuthing on his own accompanied by his little brother. As I neared the end of the book, knowing questions were about to be answered, I found it hard to put down. In 2013, Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger, received the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition for the best novel published that year.
Review Date: 12/21/2016
Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands might be of interest to readers who spend time in Hawaii. The author discusses our 50th state from the landing by Captain Cook to the day Hawaii acquired statehood. Many generations of native islanders and "haoles" had to endure much chaos and political unrest during the times of Hawaii's royalty and later as an American territory. The book is well researched...it has a 75 page bibliography! Some chapters are slow, like those dealing with legal battles or union troubles, but I ended the book with a much better understanding of what living on the islands was like before August 21, 1959.
(P.S. Have a map of the islands handy as the book has not one map to help you navigate the locations of the places and events detailed!)
Review Date: 10/16/2017
I enjoyed watching Christopher Reeve onstage ("Summer and Smoke)" and in the movies, (a favorite-"Somewhere In Time"). I don't know why I waited until now, several years after his death, to finally read his book, Still Me, written three years after he became a quadriplegic. Better late than never.
I knew of Reeve's pre-accident activism for the environment and of his saving the lives of 77 actors in Chile. And I knew of his post-accident activism for spinal cord injury research and health insurance reform. But after reading how difficult it was for him to accomplish his hard work while paralyzed from the second vertebrae down has increased my admiration for a man who died way too soon. It took three hours and three medical personnel every morning just to get started on the day. He knew his wealth allowed for him to have much better care than the average American. He worked on health care reform while beginning new endeavors at directing, writing, producing, and acting from a wheelchair with vent-assisted breathing, not to mention still being a great dad to his children. His wife Dana, who died two years after Christopher from nonsmokers lung cancer, taught us all about unconditional love. This book gave me insight into the daily courage of those with useless arms and legs trying to live a productive life. A worthwhile read.
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