Thursday, September 15, 2016

Coming in October...


Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing by Jennifer Weiner
The New York Times best-selling author writes about her life [so far] with honesty, sometimes self-deprecation and humor, as she talks about growing up Jewish, overweight with a father who deserted the family when she was in high school, a mother who “came out” in middle age, Weiner’s time at Princeton University where she blossomed into the self-assured writer, her marriage and divorce, giving birth to her two daughters, her path to best-selling author even after walking away from a “big agent” when Weiner doesn’t life the changes she suggests for her first novel and how it feels to find out your father died of a drug overdose on the bathroom floor in his girlfriend’s apartment.  Weiner recounts growing up smarter but heavier than most of her peers and points to the moment (in high school) when she stopped trying to fit in and found out she really did fit in, just in a different way.  Often full of self-doubt, once Weiner realizes that she can’t control everything and can make decisions that are best for her alone (until she has her daughters) and doesn’t have to agree with or approve of other people’s decisions to still love them and be a part of their lives, as she is able to do with her mother who announces when Weiner is an adult, that she is a lesbian.  Weiner’s father is more difficult, but once she accepts what he is and that he made his choices because they were his choices and had nothing to do with her, she is able to move on and grieve his death. 
Full of wit and wisdom, Weiner feels good about herself---finally---and hopes she is able to project this positive feeling not only toward her daughters but to everyone’s life she touches.  This thoroughly enjoyable collection of essays will appeal to not only fans of Weiner’s novels but anyone who enjoys an engaging memoir.

Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge

In what may be her most personal case to date, Detective Inspector Helen Grace is called to a Southampton night club where she realizes she knows the victim who has been asphyxiated after what looks like a night of bondage; she quickly realizes that her double life may be revealed and all her secrets will come out, possibly ruining her career.  A second victim, one who holds Helen Grace’s secrets as well sends Helen to her superior Gardam to confess her connection to the victims, but in a final, very personal twist, Helen finds that she has been outsmarted by someone surprising and unexpected and finds her very freedom on the line.  Full of twists and turns, this latest entry into this series delves even deeper into Helen’s psyche than previous novels and leaves readers with a cliffhanger that will have them breathless until the next installment is released.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
In post-Civil War Texas, retired and widowed Captain Kidd ride from town to town earning his living reading newspapers to audiences full of those eager for news of the world.  In Wichita Falls he is offered a $50 gold piece in exchange for delivering ten-year-old Johanna to her people in San Antonia four years after being kidnapped by the Kiowa, living as one of their own since.  Kidd agrees to the 400-mile journey, meeting with difficulties he imagined and those he didn't, forming a unique bond with this unsettling young girl who is strong-willed and has no memory of her past being raised by European parents and their ways.  Johanna goes along with Kidd, if not unwillingly, reluctantly, but soon learns that she needs him for protection, food and shelter and comes to trust Kidd for her basic needs and eventually companionship.  Kidd’s initial reluctance fades as well as he learns to communicate with Johanna and comes to realize he may need her as much as she needs him, leading to a surprising decision in this gorgeously written novel with prose and sparse and precise as the barren Texas landscape through which Kidd travels.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult 

Ruth Jefferson has been working as a labor and delivery nurse in a Connecticut hospital for over twenty years.  She is stunned when a white supremacist couple tells her supervisor that they don’t want Ruth, or any other African American staff member to touch their baby; to Ruth’s surprise, her supervisor complies and a note is placed in the patient’s file.  The next day, baby Davis goes into distress and Ruth is the only personnel in the nursery at the time.   If she intervenes, she may lose her job; if she doesn’t, the baby may die.  Making a decision, Ruth performs CPR and participates in the team’s efforts to save the baby, efforts which ultimately fail.  What happens to Ruth next is unthinkable, as she is charged with the murder of the baby.  Arrested and incarcerated, Ruth finds herself in an unbelievable situation, a situation which she has certainly read and heard about over the years but never expected to find herself, or a family member in.  Public defender Kennedy McQuarrie takes Ruth’s case but tells Ruth that her charges have nothing to do with race, but rather her actions on the fateful night, but Ruth isn’t sure she agrees.  As Ruth, released on bail, tries to maintain a sense of normalcy for herself and her son, she, and Kennedy, and even her sister who has chosen to embrace her African American heritage, leading a different life than Ruth has chosen for herself, all begin to realize how race affects more things than the seemingly obvious, and the things they, and we, were brought up to believe may not be as cut and dry as they do at first blush.  Even the hateful father of the dead baby comes to realize that not everything is as it seems and that changes everything for everyone.  Picoult once again tackles difficult feelings and situations with an openness and honesty that leave no easy answers.  She is careful not to make too many assumptions and, and in a note at the end of the book, admits to shortcomings and pitfalls she ran up against writing about these sensitive topics and the attempts she made to overcome and understand them.  An epilogue at the end of the novel ties all ends up perhaps a little too neatly for some, but does offer hope and in some cases, even redemption.

Just Jennifer

Fortress by Danielle Trussoni

In her second memoir, the author of the religious thriller Angelogy recounts her marriage and the time she spent living with her family in a medieval castle in a small town, Aubais (which ominously rhymes with “obey”)in the south of France in a last ditch attempt to save her marriage.  Trussoni met her Bulgarian husband Nikolai during her time at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was completely swept off of her feet; Nikolai charmed Trussoni and her two-year-old son Alex and she readily agreed to marry him.  Visa and immigration issues led the couple to move to Bulgaria where they lived with Nikolai’s parents and Trussoni uttered her first Bulgarian words when she said “I do” at her wedding; already several weeks pregnant, Trussoni assumed the family would be able to return to the United States; not so: Trussoni, who was beginning to feel trapped, could return to the States (with her son) to give birth but her husband would not be able to accompany her.  Once their daughter was born, the small family never seemed to completely meld.  Nikolai had a daughter from his first marriage, a daughter her rarely saw, and though he was very attentive to his new daughter Nico, he and Trussoni where faltering.  Trussoni thought if the family was to start over together, maybe in a different country, things would be better and so she found a medieval castle in France, a castle with secret passages and secrets rich in history from the Crusades through the Nazi occupation of France. Instead of working its magic on the family, it seemed to have the opposite effect on Trussoni’s husband and eventually the two were living in separate sections of the castle sharing “custody” of their young daughter.  A divorce was inevitable and despite Nikolai’s best efforts, Trussoni was granted full custody of their daughter, another daughter Nikolai no longer has contact with.  Living in New York City, Trussoni is able to view this time in her life with a certain clarity, if not at times with a dreamlike distance, as if the experience happened to someone else, and tells the story of this chapter of her life, with a visceral honesty that can only come from a seasoned writer and observer.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Congratulations to...

...our Grand Prize Winners:
  • HQ: Lisa P.
  • NC: Augustmom
  • SC: Kayleen
  • Affiliate Libraries: lets read (Holland)

Clinton Cash

Author: Peter Schweizer
Stars: 5
Review by:bob

Very detailed ,,,,but fees were made to the Clintons by entities with matters pending before the US State Dept.

 

The Red Notebook

Author: Antoine Laurain
Stars: 5
Review by: KM


Truly, a gem. It's small, short and a sophisticated delicacy. Surely you do not wish to pass by a deftly penned quiet Parisian romance?
 

A Week in Winter

Author: Marcia Willett
Stars: 3.5
Review by: BookDancer

Reminiscent of Rosamunde Pilcher's works, centering on a beloved family home in Cornwall, this novel follows the everyday dramas, romances and secrets of several families.  I love "cosy reads" and this is one of them!
 

Johnstown: the Day the Dam Broke

Author: Richard O'Connor
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


The day in question was May 31, 1889 - when the mud dam holding up the waters of Conemaugh Lake in Western Pennsylvania split (after a deluge of rain) and the resulting flood destroyed the town below, leaving over three thousand dead. Efforts to repair the dam (which was often plugged with sticks) were fruitless but constant and there wasn't a resident in Johnstown that wasn't afraid of the monster. But many could not afford to leave, and as the area's prices were so low (kept that way as an incentive by the area mills) they stayed. And who plugged the dam with sticks, refused to do anything when he rains came and the dam spouted torrents? The wealthy members of the fishing club with their lakefront houses of course. They didn't have to look at the thing. They didn't get their houses flooded, or swept away when the dam burst. Or incinerated when a fire broke out amidst the ruins. They didn't have to worry about a bloody thing but at least many were smart enough to pack away and never return after the waters receded. Johnstown attracted its share of ghouls after, as well as angels like Clara Barton, and today the town has been rebuilt and stands somewhat as a memoriam to the floods of 1889 and a later (but heralded, and much less dangerous) one in 1937. Told via eyewitness accounts and very well presented.
 

Paradise of the Pacific: Approaching Hawai'i

Author: Susanna Moore
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A history of the Hawaiian islands, but sadly lacking in any real explanation as to how they were settled, which is how this gets bumped from a 5. Accounts of the early kings, issues with missionaries, dealing with the influx of problems as more and more persons try to enforce not only their lifestyle but also try to "civilize" persons already far advanced in many ways. And of course the decimation of the native population and species by the influx of imported diseases and poaching. Then, a bit too quickly explained I think, the annexation of Hawai'i. A very well done and thoughtful book, but often sad for showing how poorly humankind has treated itself and nature at times.
 

Big Dead Place

Author: Nicholas Johnson
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar

Two things that really annoy me are - irresponsibility and callousness. Sadly those are two personality traits common amongst persons apparently found running the Antarctic base station as well as managing it. The managers don't surprise me - although to find that the national science foundation takes away a shower curtain in a ladies room because of an unlisted but apparently very important reason is a bit off. What really ticks me off is all the work that I know I've put into the sciences, and that friends have, and we will never be as fortunate as some of the drunken schlubs that are able to hop from shooting puppies (and finding it funny) to skipping down there. One lady was hired because she drew penguins on her resume. Seriously. The author is one of the grunts, a day to day worker at the base, and he has his head on fairly straight, but some of these other people you just want to punch and it really takes away from the book.
 

Eligible

Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Stars: 4
Review by: Miss Lucy


This is a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. But it's so creatively done that it stands on its own as a contemporary novel.

But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present as if it Were the Past

Author: Chuck Klosterman
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Miss Lucy

This guy is brilliant. He even had me believing in the possibility that we could all be characters in a computer game (think Sims). I love how his mind works, although he says it doesn't serve him well on dates. I think he must be dating the wrong people if they don't appreciate the conversations they could have with this guy!
 

Savannah Breeze

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Good book. I read it in one day.

The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity

Author: John McManners (Editor)
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Good, but very in depth, almost too much so for general reading and better for reference. It is an extraordinarily well put together book and is a credit to the editor, but it is quite huge. It is also not written like a newspaper or general book with a reading level lower down and I think that one has to have an interest in this in order to really appreciate it.

Peril at End House

Author: Agatha Christie
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

Hercule Poirot, along with his beloved "hound dog" so to speak, Arthur Hastings, are on holiday at a seaside resort when Poirot turns his ankle and is assisted by the lovely young Nick Buckley. Miss Buckley is the owner of End House, the "going to rack and ruin" residence at the end of the cove and apparently leads a charmed life. While sitting right in front of Poirot and Hastings she laments the local wasps and flinches. Later, while remarking on Nick's stated three recent escapes from sudden death, Poirot finds number four - a hole in the hat she left behind and a bullet in the dirt. Discussing things with her friends, who at first think she is a great liar, they get the lot to come around. But then, a double tragedy. The noted flier, Michael Seton, is stated to have died while attempting to be the first to go around the world. Then, while wearing Nick's wrap at a party, her cousin Maggie is shot. Things jump the shark a bit at the end when the long lost spouse of a character suddenly materializes just to try to shoot the person, only to die in the attempt, but Poirot's efforts to find the killer are so in earnest that he even convinces Nick to play dead as part of the show.
 

The Fatal Shore

Author: Robert Hughes
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

This was another one of those good but in a sad way. History is not always a happy thing and our forebears were indeed often total jerks. Case in point - all 600 odd pages of this for the most part. Famously started (for the most part) as a British penal colony, at the time that idea was bandied about Australia had already been settled for 30 thousand years! Not that the Aborigines' rights ever mattered much to those in power. Neglected, raped, mistreated, it is really disgusting to hear some of the things they were put through even aside of having their children literally stolen to be raised elsewhere. But there were some examples of kindness here and there - people begging to be sent with their beloved spouse, persons who dealt well with the Aborigines, early settlers in Sydney.
 

The Ice Maiden

Author: Johan Reinhard
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

The author is an archaeologist that made a name for himself, and quite a bit of trouble, after he discovered a frozen mummy in the Andes. Dealing with local politics was one thing as well as the international scrutiny (he was however somewhat amused by witnessing a tabloid that said he'd violated an Incan curse)but he still had a mummy to preserve darn it, it is not like he'd make his situation worse by finding more mumm.... oh, crap. He found a lot more. A. Lot. Including a few babies. Putting aside some random and not needed moments on his personal life he does a fairly good job of explaining how the mummies were found, preserved, and eventually displayed along with the proposed ideologies that led the Incas to sacrifice their children.
 

Romanovs: 1613-1918

Author: Simon Sebag Montefiore
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar
What a pretentious name that is. Pretty pretentious book too. All puff and not much substance. There could have been a lot more but he fails on mostly every front - I wouldn't mind the occasional back and forth in the beginning if it had a point but it did not suit the figures then, especially Ivan the Terrible, some key ones (Rasputin, Nicholas II) were either written or characterized quite poorly, Stalin was another come to think of it - yes he wasn't a Romanov but he could have deemed more than the mention he got, and I think there were a few mistakes in the section on Catherine the Great as well as Peter.

Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt

Author: Barbara Mertz
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A very readable, open, and accessible account of the history of early Egypt. All sorts of topics are covered and the author does not for a bit give into sensationalism or pet issues - people were simply drawn a certain way in Ahkenaton's time for example - but still explains why. A lovely text that I wished got more attention today.
 

The Greeks: a Great Adventure

Author: Isaac Asimov
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A generalized history of the Greek civilization, presented in chronological order. It was very readable and gave a wide variety of topics, but had the very irritating quirk of showing the pronunciation for only certain names in it. And not all of them - place names and people, and it got really annoying fast and slowed the book down when paragraphs would show multiple instances of this. And if I find the yutz who dog eared the pages in here and underlined several passages - I will smack you.

The Castaways

Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Stars: 2
Review by: Barb

Not one of Elin Hildebrand's best stories in my opinion. I don't think that the characters were developed enough to keep them straight, and there were too many sub-stories thrown in from each character. I've read many of her books which were much better. Although I read the book to completion, I finished with a "Thank goodness, I'm done.'"
 

Number the Stars

Author: Lois Lowry
Stars: 4
Review by: Pam


Very good juvenile fiction book depicting the Jews escape from Denamrk to Sweden.
 

Yoga Hotel

Author: Maura Moynihan
Stars: 1
Review by: RGfundamental


Waste of time, paper, ink.

You and Me Forever

Author: Francis & Lisa Chan
Stars: 5
Review by: LZ99


Great book--perhaps nothing earth shattering, but a fresh perspective of marriage and God's plan for it. Written in a way that makes it so easy to relate and apply!
 

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

Author: Anna Quindlen
Stars: 2
Review by: LZ99

Perhaps if this book hadn't come so highly recommended, I wouldn't have found it to be such a disappointment. Sure, it's a memoir, so it doesn't have the typical "plot" of a fictional story...but it also lacked any sort of entertainment value. While it wasn't dreadful, it certainly wasn't the comical or entertaining read I'd hoped and expected it to be. :-/
 

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Author: Harold Kushner
Stars: 4
Review by: PMW


Helpful book when faced with life's tragedies or helping others who must do so. The author is a rabbi, but the book was recommended to me by a minister.
 

George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution

Author: Brian Kilmeade
Stars: 4
Review by: LateNightReader


This was a good introduction to the activities of the Culper Spy Ring. It does not read like a history textbook - thank goodness!
 

The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass
Stars: 4
Review by: LateNightReader


This was a fun read - I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. This book was not marketed to adults - I think this is a great read for a young adult. It was a pleasure to read and one that I could recommend to my niece without worrying about inappropriate details.
 

Lab Girl

Author: Hope Jahren
Stars: 4
Review by: Mostly Mohair


 Learned amazing things about plants and Hope's life story was very interesting too!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Author: Washington Irving
Stars: 3
Review by: Pam


Definetly not what I thought it was going to be.  I'm glad I read it simply because it's a classic.  This is a short story and not a novel.
 

Vinegar Girl

Author: Anne Tyler
Stars: 3
Review by: Just Ada


Subtitle:  The Taming of the Shrew Retold.   237 pages, very amusing.
 

The Old Man and the Sea

Author: Ernest Hemingway
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa


Such a beautifully written work of literature about an old man, Santiago, and his struggled capture of a Marlin.
 

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Author: Iain Reid
Stars: 3
Review by: libraryaimee


A compelling, fast read, but super weird and creepy!
 

Applesauce Weather

Author: Helen Frost
Stars: 5
Review by: Just Ada


Juvenile fiction.   Really worth the short time it will take you to read it.
 

A History of Private Life: Volume 2 (Revelations of the Medieval World)

Author: Georges Duby & Phillippe Aries
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A very in depth account of daily living of the Medieval period. Pretty much anything one can think of is covered (although I thought the parts on religion were strangely lacking) from the structure of families to how beds were made and kept. It focuses mostly on European persons, especially Western Europe and the United Kingdom.
 

The Fatal Impact

Author: Alan Moorehead
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Depressing but in a historical way. An examination of the impact outside colonization had on the North Americas, Polynesia, Australia and Antarctica. And it doesn't mince words. Indigenous natives are either slaughtered or fall to diseases brought in by person claiming to teach them love and peace. Scores of species are impacted due to overhunting, a few driven to extinction, and others nearly so. Entire cultures become practically eradicated as their belief structure is taken apart, with an example being several groups of Aborigines - who had their children simply taken away from them with the reason being that such "savages" could not raise them in a so called proper atmosphere, or with many other groups whose religious shrines or documents are destroyed for being allegedly evil and idolatrous.
 

Following the Barn Quilt Trail

Author: Suzi Parron
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


To answer the first obvious question the title refers to signs painted in the style of quilt patterns that adorn barns in a particular region. The author, her eventual husband and dog set out on their bus "Ruby" and visit several states to document the remaining trails. Good for those interested in either folk art or ethnology.

John Adams

Author: David McCullough
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


There are so many people in this to keep track of and thusly that is why it is rated a four. Elsewise it is a perfect biography of our nation's oft ignored second president - a man who held many roles as a founding father. Born into kind of lower middle class, he becomes a lawyer but is often seen as a hardscrabble sort due to his bulldog hold on his opinions and a lack of funds to make his way into upper society. He of course marries, the formidable "dearest friend" Abigail. (Who is also an oft ignored person and the book goes into quite a bit of detail of her life.) When the revolution interrupts their family's existence he makes a name for himself as a man able to accomplish often punishing tasks - such as the time earlier when he endangered his practice to represent the soldiers tried for the Boston Massacre (and got them off free). Although he wanted to be remembered as a simple farmer, his retirement after politics was anything but simple as the family farm became swarming with associated grandchildren and a daughter in law - the result of his daughter Nabby (Abigail) Adams Smith's regrettable marriage to a yutz and her early death from breast cancer, and the widow and family of his youngest n'er do well son. Dying on July 4th, he passed almost at the same time as his friend Thomas Jefferson (a man who turned on Adams politically years earlier) having outlived his beloved Abigail by some years.

The Man in the Brown Suit

Author: Agatha Christie
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar


When the archeologist / paleontologist father of Anne Beddingfield dies she is left with not only sorting out his debts but also the realization that she has no idea how to make her living. Not too many jobs are open for young women who can tell apart paleolithic implements. Anne runs afoul of a man the press entitle The Man in the Brown Suit, a shady character connected with several deaths in the area. Having a knack for writing thanks to handling her father's papers, and coming into a small amount of money, Anne spends the lot on a cruise ticket - the reason being that she believes the Man is also on it and intends to find him, all the while sending in newspaper articles to an eager area editor. Her tenaciousness gets her into trouble while in Africa but fortunately she has her brains, an unlikely friend in the guise of an over eager society dame, and the aforementioned Man to rely on (who, as it turns out, is not the bad guy after all and is merely following a much bigger personage himself).
 

Crooked House

Author: Agatha Christie
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar


When Charles, a well connected 30 something, meets Sophia Leonides, he proposes that if they are unattached at a future time they should marry. When the time comes Sophia suddenly turns him down, citing trouble within her family - the crooked house, so to speak, of Leonides and Associated Catering (the business that made them their fortune). Sophia's wealthy grandfather Aristide is found dead - poisoned, and Scotland Yard begins an investigation that turns up several more threads than they expected. Charles, being the son of a top official, hangs around the family as a sort of spy in the guise of Sophia's fiance. While there he gains a view he almost wished he never saw into the life of his soon to be in laws.

After You

Author: Jojo Moyes
Stars: 2
Review by: BKF


I enjoyed her first book, Me Before You. She should have stopped while she was ahead.

We Are All Made of Stars

Author: Rowan Coleman
Stars: 2
Review by: Just Ada


The entire book was about people dying.  Very odd.

Middlemarch

Author: George Eliot
Stars: 5
Review by: BookDancer

There's a reason why this novel keeps showing up on "Greatest Novels of All Time" lists. 2016 was the summer of "Middlemarch Madness," my ultimate beach read. And now I'm watching the wonderful BBC series based on the book.  Can't get enough!
 

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

Author: Amy Schumer
Stars: 1
Review by: Patti K


A bit too rough around the edges for me.  It may be enjoyed by someone younger who isn't bothered by the constant barrage of foul language. I shouldn't have been surprised by those since that's her "shtick". So in the end, my bad.
 

Lost Along the Way

Author: Erin Duffy
Stars: 5
Review by: Patti K

This was my first Erin Duffy book and it definitely won't be my last.
 

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Author: Atul Gawande
Stars: 5
Review by: Augustmom


The Author is a surgeon and writer.  He shares personal, medical, historical, humane, and general information from interviews with patients, medical professionals, and families about the end of life and decisions that are made about care.  The conversation with the medical professional and how they can best facilitate difficult conversations with patients and families is very helpful.  This book is part of a Frontline documentary.
 

Harmony

Author: Carolyn Parkhurst
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee


I loved this novel about a family who decides to sell all their belongings and move to the experimental Camp Harmony to help their oldest daughter's autism.  A very realistic portrayal of parents doing anything to help their children...including accidentally following a cult leader!
 

Lassie Come-Home

Author: Rosemary Wells
Stars: 5
Review by: JLB


Beautifully illustrated Children's book- up-dated version of an old classic.

Gone Again

Author: James Grippando
Stars: 4
Review by: Lin D


This was a new author for me...if you enjoy David Baldacci here's a book for you!
 

Treasure Island

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Stars: 3
Review by: Pam


This book is a classic, but too dry for my taste.
 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Stars: 5
Review by: Pam

So well written.  A classic.

Savannah Blues

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Stars: 4
Review by: Minnie


Good summer read. Very interesting information about the South and how there were rice fields and marshes run by big plantations.
 

Everyone Is Beautiful

Author: Katherine Center
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Really enjoyed book. I've never read her before.
 

Me Before You

Author: Jojo Moyes
Stars: 2
Review by:  BookDancer


I read this with a book group.  While the subject matter generated a great discussion, this was a very disappointing and predictable read.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Author: J.K. Rowling
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa


Even reading it for a second time, I am still bewitched by the magical world of Harry Potter.
 

Congratulations to...

... our Week #14 Prize Winners:
  • Anita
  • LZ99

Progress for the Summer of 2016

Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bookerfly

Bookerfly selects books at the North Branch library. ~from Ann Marie

Bookerfly

Bookerfly enjoying the butterfly fruit snack bar! ~from libraryaimee

Bookerfly

Bookerfly Visits the FOHCL Table at the Hunterdon 4-H Fair ~from Ann Marie

Bookerfly

Bookerfly Exercises Her Tastebuds at the Hunterdon 4-H Fair ~from Ann Marie

Bookerfly

Bookerfly visits her cousins in Long Island ~from libraryaimee

Bookerfly

Bookerfly gets her exercise visiting the antiques fair at the Warren County fairgrounds ~from Ann Marie

Oy, Joy!

Author: Lucy Frank
Stars: 3
Review by: RGfundamental


Sweet book for preteens about a NY family before the  advent of electronic media.
 

That Night

Author: Chevy Stevens
Stars: 4
Review by: Mostly Mohair


Well written "mystery" that provides a chilling example of  the spiral of misfortune resulting from perceptions of character and misunderstandings of intent.
 

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education & Was Shot by the Taliban

Author: Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb
Stars: 3
Review by: LateNightReader


This is a very interesting read. Throughout Malala's experience one learns about the history of Pakistan. History repeats itself when you see how countries can slowly lose their beliefs and identity through the actions of a small but vocal few. It takes the bravery of others to speak out as Malala did to share what is really happening.
 

 

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Author: Mitch Albom
Stars: 4
Review by: Shapoppa


This was a clever concept with the music theme, but as a fan of Albom, it was not my favorite book of his. It started slow, but in time I found I couldn't put it down as Albom really knows how to write chapter endings that make it difficult to not continue with the next chapter. Albom has such a unique style of writing which is why I wouldn't necessarily recommend that you skip this book either.
 

Most Wanted

Author: Lisa Scottoline
Stars: 4
Review by: Just Ada


Like most of her books it deals with a very current issue.  This story is about infertility and sperm donors.  Really kept me interested.

The Innocent Man

Author: John Grisham
Stars: 4
Review by: BKF


The true story of Ron Williamson, from Ada, Oklahoma, who was tried, convicted and sentenced to the death penalty (he spent 11 years on death row) for a murder he did not commit. It's a book that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence!
 

Southern Lights

Author: Danielle Steel
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Great book.
 

Security

Author: Gina Wohlsdorf
Stars: 4
Review by: libraryaimee


A super gory horror/thriller novel that takes place over the course of one night in the luxury Manderley Resort just prior to officially opening to guests.  Security cameras supposedly render it the safest place anywhere, but the security floor is infiltrated and things go very, very badly!  Heart stopping and addictive, but I had to skim some of the bloody scenes!

Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly

Author: Scott Nash
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee


Fantastic Children's book for all grown-up literature lovers!
Classic tales retold in short poetry verses...Jane Eyre is retold to the tune of Three Blind Mice, A Thousand and One Nights is re-imagined as a tiger catching a mouse, Moby-Dick is told to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Creative and funny!
 

North to the Orient

Author: Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa

A beautifully written book about the 1931 flight of Charles and Anne Lindbergh that started in New York and led them to Alaska, Russia, Japan, and China. Morrow-Lindbergh exquisitely crafts the story of the people and cultures they encounter at each stop. It's a thrilling tale of a flight into uncharted territories when politics didn't get in the way of man's willingness to explore the skies freely and be welcomed graciously by people who were just as fascinated with their journey.

Summer of My German Soldier

Author: Bette Greene
Stars: 3
Review by: Barb


This really is a book better suited to a young adult, or teenager, maybe even a young teen.
 

China Dolls

Author: Lisa See
Stars: 4
Review by: Barb


A good book to listen to, much like other Lisa See books.
 

Letters from Skye

Author: Jessica Brockmole
Stars: 4
Review by: Barb


Interesting.
 

Willful Behavior

Author: Donna Leon
Stars: 4
Review by: Chris L.


Who done it involving current whereabouts of WWII treasures in Venice. Leon touches on the ambivalence of second generation survivors and the ignorance of third.
 

The Poor in the Middle Ages: An Essay in Social History

Author: Michael Mollat
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


If this is an essay it is a really drawn out one. Good in small doses, but slightly repetitive in subjects overall it is divided chronologically - with the beginning segments in the fifth century. It takes a little while to actually get to the middle ages and by then various topics mostly centered around charity (donations, giving alms) are covered. Later on we get a look at the emergence of major charitable institutions, changing perspectives in business from the Black Plague, and sanctioned responses to handling poverty.
 

Killer Market

Author: Margaret Maron
Stars: 4
Review by: JLB


Good suspense novel.
 

*** FINISHED BOOK LINK ***

The website link for reporting finished books was accidentally taken down a day too soon.  It's back up for today only, so if there are any books you didn't get a chance to report, today's the day.

The National Parks: An Illustrated History (National Geographic)

Author: Kim Heacox
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Well presented, well written, and put together wonderfully, this celebrates the centennial of the park system. Pioneers to the conservation effort are profiled, as are related personages and what it took to get everything established. The events are presented as time unfolds relative to the original formation, and so the history and struggles to protect various areas are explained. A large book, not totally comprehensive, but a good read nonetheless.

The Seasons on Terry's Farm

Author: Terra Brockman
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Contrary to what the dust jacket tells you, this probably will not appeal to fans of EB White. Unless you have a fondness for both talking spiders and learning how to split garlic. One of several siblings whose family owns a farm (now mostly managed by her brother, Henry, and his family) the author presents a diary of sorts detailing what happens over a year. In some other books like this I have found that aspect really interesting, but her writing is too flowery at times and it appears to me that she has a problem with trying too hard to appear more complex than what her style really is. Some parts are nice - general descriptions of farmer's markets, what is seeded when. But it gets buried when being saddled with the really odd descriptions of peach juice and needless exposition on how the family makes their signs.

Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First Century Palestine

Author: Scott Korb
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


This is almost just as much of a Biblical analysis as it is social history. The point was to show how life would had been like in the time of Jesus, but a bit too often it got sidetracked into analyzing various verses and other tidbits instead of giving much history. Death, marriage, childhood rituals, and even a nice section on the taxation system are included however.

The Amistad Rebellion

Author: Marcus Rediker
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


I haven't seen the movie so I can't speak for how accurate it is, but apparently the basic gist is - in 1839 Spanish slavers kidnapped several Africans in their native neighborhood. After several days at sea and subject to their tormentors four of the slaves rose up and killed several of their captors. They took control of the ship, the Amistad, but not knowing how to sail they kept a man alive. He managed to fool them into thinking they were going towards Africa when really they were heading into waters frequented by ships of his allies. One spotted them, took over, and the mutineers were tried, but spared. Defended by John Quincy Adams, it was found that they were merely protecting their original freedom and were sent, in relative luxury, back to Africa.
 

Some Women

Author: Emily Liebert
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Great book.
 

Agent ZigZag

Author: Ben MacIntyre
Stars: 5
Review by: katza lover


I usually do not like to read anything about spies, but this book was entertaining, informative, and well written. It was on the New York Times Editor's Choice List in 2007, and I can understand this decision.
 

Cat's Cradle

Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Stars: 2.5
Review by: Tara C.


Of all the Vonnegut books I have read, this was my least favorite. I would definitely recommend Slaughterhouse Five, Sirens of Titan, or God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian. Cat's Cradle, although a fairly quick read, lost most of my interest about half way through.
 

The Nightingale

Author: Kristen Hannah
Stars: 4
Review by: mysterylover


Really enjoyed this book about life in France during WWII.

The Dog Who Knew Too Much (A Chet & Bernie Mystery)

Author: Spencer Quinn
Stars: 3
Review by: KM


Dogs and mystery stories, these books are always enjoyable.
 

Cold Mountain

Author: John Frazier
Stars: 3
Review by: LateNightReader


I understand that the amount of detail that the author used helps convey the long journey toward home, but sometimes the details were just long and I was ready to abandon the trip. That said, I did enjoy the storylines and how the characters developed.

Calling Me Home

Author: Julie Kibler
Stars: 5
Review by: Maureen


This was an excellent book.  You will not be able to put it down.  The ending was so sad, but so good.  This is a must read.
 

No Biking in the House Without a Helmet

Author: Melissa Fay Greene
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar


 Melissa and her husband Donny, a criminal defense attorney, think they have things settled when she finds herself pregnant at 46. What is a nice Jewish mom hoping for an empty nest to do? And how does the name "Gideon" sound? Sadly, she loses the baby almost instantly, but it awakens in them a then unspoken desire - although their children are getting towards the age where they will shortly be leaving the house, they want more. An impulse first takes Melissa to Bulgaria where they find the Romany born Christian (later "Jesse"). An expose she writes on the children of AIDS ravaged Ethiopia leads them to their lovely Helen. And then Sol. At that point, once again, they really thought they were done. But when one of their elder biological sons bonds with a pair of Ethiopian brothers, Daniel and Yoseph, out comes the paperwork for numbers 8 and 9. The problems of raising a multicultural family abound - although she readily admits that her family is now the athletic terror squad of their school district - as do a few language barriers and general homesickness for the kids who did have family behind. But as time goes on (and the sky mall products keep beeping away) they find a blended, happy medium. Just don't eat any of Helen's peppers.

Log Houses: Classics of the North

Author: Peter Christopher & Richard Skinnlis
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A nice book, but with very little meat. Just a general pictorial of various log houses, mostly fancy modern ones, of the northern United States.
 

A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up With George

Author: Kelly Carlin
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

Methinks that part of what she means by the title is that her father matured along with her over time. The only child of the late George Carlin, himself the son of a fractured relationship born to a middle aged mother, Kelly recounts her early childhood up to her father's passing. It is more her book than his I think - and she is forced to grow up very quickly to help deal with her father's various drug binges and being "chief Brenda wrangler" - watchdog of her alcoholic and pill addicted mother. Her parents slowly begin to control their demons somewhat just as she encounters hers - drugs and men (Leif Garrett wasn't too hot to be with, if anyone from the 70s is interested). She marries a drug addled nut although she knows it is the wrong thing to do, and endures years of hell before she finally leaves him and immediately meets her husband Bob. Their joy together as a unit is short lived however, as the cancer that runs in her mother's family swiftly claims her. George finds happiness with a new love but after years of hard drugs his heart is beyond repair and he shortly passes of heart failure at 71. She had her parents cremated and their ashes are scattered by herself, family and friends (after an appropriately expletive laden service) leaving Kelly behind to continue her dual career as counselor and Carlin ambassador.
 

Rare Books Uncovered

Author: Rebeca Rego Barry
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


I didn't give this a five for two reasons - one, a slight prejudice against comic books I felt was in here and two - she quoted he values of several books wrong. A nitpicky thing for sure but I like to be exact. Overall it was quite good and included the surprises that several encountered - Poe's anonymous first book in a junk shop, a Vatican relic for six and a half cents, a first printing of Frankenstein that turned out to be Byron's own copy gifted by Mary Shelley (seriously), a work of Shakespeare found on eBay, various first editions, rare comics, alternate editions, and even lost and found books reclaimed by family members over generations.
 

The Big Jump

Author: Richard Bak
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


An account of the efforts to be the first to cross the Atlantic. The prize of course went to Lindbergh, but several others came before him. Many were lost or injured, and on the day of his own leaving for France "Slim" was one of 3 people vying more or less simultaneously for the prize. He eventually landed in France, instantly making himself a celebrity for all eternity - much to his eternal regret. Paving the way for aviation as a modern convenience came at a cost, including his privacy, and this is about those who were lost and what it took to finally win. I always like hearing about Lindbergh spotting land and shouting "Which way to Ireland?" to a bunch of confused locals.
 

Jungle of Stone

Author: William Carlsen
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

OK, but oddly dissatisfying in a way I cannot quite place. Privileged American John Stephens begins exploring ancient ruins, in the beginning oddly enough as a way to preserve his declining health, and soon he uncovers hints of the Maya. Back at this time (1830s) it was thought amongst many idiots that only Anglo Saxons could build advanced cities (apparently they missed hearing about the Egyptians, well, ever) and he concluded that, if he could find the right artist capable of illustrating the things he saw, that not only would they make a great contribution to society but also a great financial windfall. Enter Frederick Catherwood, Sr., a hardscrabble Brit that agrees to his terms. Together they released an incredible book that went through several printings and exposed many to Mesoamerica. The effort however eventually came at a cost to both - continuing expeditions fractured Stephens' already perilous health, and after his passing Catherwood (whose marriage crumbled while he was absent drawing the ruins) himself met an early end.
 

Murder at Hazelmoor

Author: Agatha Christie
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


This was so dull I am not quite sure what was going on. One of her early books, without Marple or Poirot, it concerns the after effects of one particular seance. A group of friends are circled about when a supposed spirit raps out that they've just been joined by Captain Trevalyan - problm being, nobody in the group knew he was dead. One person volunteers to go find out and he does indeed find the Captain's corpse in his stately manor home. Skis are involved to figure out who really did it, and one character knew he couldn't have been blamed of what he was because he really had no wife. Yet he never shared that. A silly book.
 

Contraband

Author: Andrew Wender Cohen
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Terribly dull and quite different from what I was expecting reading the dust jacket. Instead of an examination of smuggling as to how it plays into the US economy and history like I thought instead the book is mostly concerned with the pitfalls of a particular groups of individuals generations ago trying to find new ways to evade old laws. They are of course caught, which is irrelevant more or less. Book heavily goes into, time and again, the stereotype of the period (late Victorian) that many Jewish persons were smugglers. You already said "no" once, you don't have to say it again. Although trying to make that point is a bit off when your central personae are all Jewish smugglers.
 

A Sea of Troubles

Author: Donna Leon
Stars: 5
Review by: Chris L.


Entertaining murder mystery in clannish fishing village off the coast of Venice. One of Commisario Brunetti's best.
 

Lost Along the Way

Author: Erin Duffy
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Excellent book.
 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
Stars: 5
Review by: BookWorm2


A fantastic return of the Harry Potter universe.  This play is as engaging and well planned as the original books.  This stage production should be marvelous.  Here's hoping it reaches the U.S.
 

The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place

Author: Jennifer McCartney
Stars: 2
Review by: doodoopuppy

Comical answer to the bestselling book The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. A quick, foul mouthed, funny read.
 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Congratulations to...

... our Week # 13 Prize Winners:
  • Noreen R.
  • Chris L.

Progress So Far

Click on image to enlarge.

Bookerfly

body surfing in Maui. ♥ ~from doodoopuppy

Bookerfly

James feeding birds....birds feeding on James ~from libraryaimee

Bookerfly


Bookerfly exercising mind AND body (see sneaker) in North Myrtle Beach ~from Augustmom

Bookerfly

Bookerfly exercising her eyes in North Myrtle Beach ~from Augustmom

Aqua Alta

Author: Donna Leon
Stars: 4.5
Review by: jamBob


Donna Leon is fast becoming my favorite author. Another clever mystery in Venice with deadly consequences. Aqua Alta means "high water" an unfortunate common occurrence in Venice after a storm.
 

My Name Is Mary Sutter

Author: Robin Oliveira
Stars: 4
Review by: BKF

Mary Sutter is a young, headstrong, midwife determined to become a surgeon, making her way through the turmoil of the Civil War, experiencing success and defeat, love and heartbreak. Overall, very well-researched historical fiction with a heroine far ahead of her time.
 

The Summer Before the War

Author: Helen Simonson
Stars: 4.5
Review by: Barb


I thought this book started kind of slow, at least for me, but as I got to the second part I realized that the beginning was necessary to set the stage and develop the characters. So, just sit back and enjoy the occurrences of the opening section to finish up satisfied.
 

The Things We Wished Were True

Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Stars: 4
Review by: Shapoppa


This book will be released 9/1/2016. It's the story of a small town where a near tragedy intertwines the lives and stories of the people who live there.
 

Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country

Author: Craig Pittman
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee


I wanted to skim this very dense book, but I was sucked into reading every word!  Pittman discusses why Florida always produces the weirdest news headlines...he goes back through Florida's history bringing to light all the sordid tales.  From USA Today & the National Enquirer, to Billy Graham & Bettie Page, alligators & nudist colonies, the book just grabs you and won't let you stop reading!  Fascinating, disturbing, hilarious! 
 

National Wildlife magazine

Author: Feb/Mar 2015
Stars: 4
Review by: Mary NK


OK, so I'm a little behind on my magazine reading. It's still interesting! I learned why native trees are better for birds than many decorative popular landscape choices; all the benefits of a swamp, and what surprising animals are sharing our cities.
 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Just Jennifer

New in September...

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton
Hamish Wolfe is serving a life’s sentence, convicted of killing four women, one whose body was never found, but claims to be innocent of all the killings.  He turns to famed defense attorney and true crime author Maggie Rose to tell his story and help him overturn his conviction, but Maggie is uncertain about even talking to Wolfe, never mind helping him prove his innocence.  Slowly, though, Maggie begins to visit Wolfe and in talking to the police involved in his investigation, she, almost unwittingly changes her mind as she is drawn into a cat and mouse chase but it becomes more and more difficult to determine who is the prey and who is doing the stalking.  The plot is so carefully put together that it is unlikely anyone will see the ending coming and many readers will find themselves turning to page one once all is revealed in this cunning thriller.

Stripped Bare by Shannon Baker
Kate Fox is very content in her life in the Nebraska Sandhills.  She lives on her husband’s family’s cattle ranch Frog Creek and has grown to all the tasks, including calving, involved in running the ranch while her husband Ted Connor is Grand County Sheriff.  Married less than ten years, the couple has no children, but are guardians to Carly, Kate’s teenaged niece whose sister Glenda was one of nine children in the Fox Clan who know almost everyone and everything in the county.  Carly, almost an adult, has been causing Kate some worries lately, but Kate chooses to let her find her own way until Kate receives a call from Roxy, Carly’s step-mother and high school sweetheart of Ted, that Carly’s grandfather Eldon has been murdered on his ranch, Bar J.  Ted has also been shot and is at the hospital and may never walk again.  Attending to her husband becomes Kate’s number one priority until she learns that Ted responded so quickly to the Bar J because he was in Roxy’s house, specifically her bed, in the house that is on the same piece of property as the Bar J.  Now Carly is missing which Kate thinks at first is just to mourn the death of her grandfather until she learns that Eldon was considering selling his ranch to a controversial developer, the ranch Carly will inherit in two weeks that Roxy controls until then.  Conflicted about her relationship with her husband, who is running for reelection, and concerned for Carly’s safety, Kate finds herself on the trail of a killer and in her search finds peace with what she knows she needs to do next in her life.  This strong heroine and her extended family will be an appealing new heroine and readers will be eager to learn what she’ll do next.

The Risen by Ron Rash
Forty-six summers ago brothers Eugene and Bill meet the beguiling Ligeia at a swimming hole in their small North Carolina backyard.  Events during that summer take an unexpected turn and have long-lasting effects on the two brothers, their differences even more pronounced than before.  As the swimming hole gives up the secrets it has held all these summers, the boys, now men, must come to terms with what happened that summer, how those events, and their recollections of them, shaped their lives.  Shimmering prose and a narrative with a dream-like quality make this a truly gorgeous book to be savored.

The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

Best-selling author Karin Slaughter returns to her Will Trent and Sara Linton series with perhaps her most shocking and chilling tale yet.  Atlanta Bureau of Investigations officer Will is called to a crime scene where an ex-Atlanta cop has been found dead.  Dean Harding was a mediocre, perhaps even dirty cop, and no one is surprised, nor saddened to hear of his death.  But medical Sara Linton finds that most of the blood at the scene is not Harding’s but a different type, and from the detritus found at the scene, most likely that of a woman, a woman who if is not found shortly will bleed to death.  ABI working with APD make two more startling discoveries:  the warehouse where the body and blood were found is about to be developed and ownership can be traced back to a basketball player who was investigated by Will and accused of a brutal rape only to have the witness not follow through with her story; a gun found at the scene can be traced back to Will’s estranged wife Angie.  Angie and Will grew up together in a children’s home together forming an unhealthy alliance, then marriage.  Angie has always been Will’s Achilles’ heel and though they have been apart for years he has never divorced her, but is ready to now that he is in a relationship with Sara, one that both think can be permanent.   Angie has been leaving threatening notes on Sara’s car and has broken into Will’s house more than once.  Now Sara learns more details about Angie’s stalking that sets her back on her heels and makes her question Will and their relationship.  Will knows he needs not to investigate this case, but he also knows he needs to find Angie and find out if she is dead so he can put an end to their relationship once and for all.  Fast-paced and intricate, The Kept Woman starts off at breakneck speed and doesn’t let up until the final shocking twists and a chilling ending that promises much, much more. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Power of Kindness

Author: Mac Anderson
Stars: 5
Review by: JLB


Shows how simple gestures have great impact on other people's lives.
 

A Butterfly Journey: Maria SIbylla Merian, Artist and Scientist

Author: Boris Friedewald
Stars: 3
Review by: Ann Marie


A biography of a woman artist and scientist, born in the middle of the seventeenth century. Copies of Maria's illustrations of butterflies and flowers are included.  This is a library book. Thanks to the public library it is available to everyone.

A Few of the Girls

Author: Maeve Binchy
Stars: 4
Review by: Just Ada


A collection of her very best short stories.   I remember how much I loved all of her works.
 

Friends in High Places

Author: Donna Leon
Stars: 4
Review by: Chris L.


As usual, crime and bribery are alive and well in Venice. However, Commisario Brunetti is unflagging in his efforts to thwart the perpetrators using his wits. One of the series' better episodes.
 

Orange is the New Black

Author: Piper Kerman
Stars: 4
Review by: Augustmom


An honest account of the author's experience with drug trafficking overseas and taking responsibility for her poor choices in her early 20's.  The author details her time in a Connecticut Federal prison.
 

My Life with Putter

Author: Diane Rastello
Stars: 3
Review by: Augustmom


This book is about the author's 14 year journey and unconditional love relationship with Putter a Black Lab dog that was a gift to her.  A good read for animal lovers and those who enjoy the small wonders of daily life raising and caring for a pet.
 

Freak the Mighty

Author: Rodman Philbrick
Stars: 5
Review by: LateNightReader


This is a wonderful story about two boys who become friends because of the weakness they have in their lives.  Philbrick gives his characters realistic voices which allow us to watch them develop as the story develops.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans & Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Author: Daniel James Brown
Stars: 5
Review by: Lin D


A great book about dedication & hard work getting to the Olympics. Especially as I watch this year's Olympic athletes.