Saturday, November 24, 2018

Coming in December

Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash
Anton Winter returns to his home in the famed Dakota apartment building in Manhattan in the fall of 1979 after his time in the Peace Corps left him with a near fatal bout of malaria.  His father, famed late night television host Buddy Winter is recovering from a breakdown he has on live television and son Anton is drawn into trying to revive Buddy’s career, networking with anyone who might be able to put Buddy back on TV, even that newfangled cable TV, taking John Lennon sailing to Bermuda, and hobnobbing at the Lake Placid Olympics, and hanging out with the Kennedy’s as Ted makes a run for the White House, all the while questioning his future with the gritty city streets a perfect nostalgic backdrop.

Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Live, and Food by Ann Hood
Writer Ann Hood grew up in an Italian American home where food played a central role in her life.  As a young bride and mother, and later as a single mother, food, cooking for her family, and the memories the food evokes becomes central in her life.  Each essay focuses on one of Hood’s favorite recipes, and or the memories of the recipe (including Gigo’s tomato gravy and meatballs), and become a frame for events, both happy sad, demonstrates that cooking is a lot like living: taking nothing, often disparate parts, and turning them into something full of love, warmth, and memories.

Not of this Fold by Mette Ivie Harrison   
In this fourth mystery, Linda Wallheim, wife of a Utah Mormon bishop, faces not only the daily responsibilities being a bishop’s wife entails, and the struggles of members of their ward, but social issues such as immigration and gay rights.  Linda’s friend Gwen has become very active in a nearby Spanish ward, and has become particular friends with a young mother of three, Gabriela, whose husband has just been deported to Mexico.  After Gwen receives a phone message from Gabriela, Gabriela’s strangled body is found at a local gas station.  In spite of her husband’s preference that Linda doesn’t get involved, Linda has a very strong sense of justice and plunges in to find Gabriela’s killer and to keep her friend Gwen safe.  At the same time, Linda worries about her youngest son, Samuel who is openly gay and on his mission in Boston where Linda knows he is being met with prejudice and homophobia.  Harrison, though Linda, tackles the tough social issues, and asks the hard questions of not on Linda’s faith, but the police, and society as a whole.  Even with her devotion to the church and family, Linda is unwilling to follow blindly, making her a strong, and admirable protagonist.  

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Coming in November

Nine Perfect Strangers Liane Moriarty
Nine guests, including struggling romance writer Frances Welty, descend on a wellness retreat Tranquilliam House, in rural Australia, for some rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation of their minds, bodies, and in some cases, their relationships.  The retreat is none like any other, with the hostess and owner Masha, a little too militant as she insists she knows best what each guest needs.  When things take an odd and most unsettling turn, the guests must turn to each other and find their own inner strength if they hope to survive. Complex characters and relationships with a touch of mystery, are staples of Moriarty’s are abundant here.

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny
Still suspended and under investigation for a drug sting that brought down major drug cartels, but allowed untold quantities of opioids on to the street, Armand Gamache is startled when he is summoned to a farm house along with Three Pines bookstore owner Myrna, and a third young man, a stranger to both of them, to be the executors of an estate of a woman none of them knew.  In the dead of winter, the three meet with a solicitor as they try and understand the seemingly odd choices the old woman made.  When a body is found in the same farmhouse, the woman’s choices seem prudent, but Gamache can never take things at face value and tries to reframe the events with new eyes.  As he does, her realizes he may need to also reframe his own story with the new eyes in order for things to reach their natural conclusion and for his, and his team’s, redemption.

Why Religion? By Elaine Pagels
This deeply personal book takes a look at what role, if any, religion and beliefs, play in modern life.  After the death of her young son, and loss of her husband a year later, Pagels, who has written numerous books on religion, turns her questions inward to try and understand, even make sense, of her grief, in this achingly bittersweet, heartbreaking, yet hopeful, memoir.

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