Recap of our Block Book Club August 2014 meeting
Recap of the titles we shared [synopsis from Goodreads.com].
1) The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme #11) by Jeffery Deaver (May 2014)
presented by A.
They call this butcher The Skin Collector: a tattooist with a chamber of torture hidden deep underground. But instead of using ink to create each masterpiece, the artist uses a lethal poison which will render targets dead before they can even entertain the prospect of escape . . .
Drafted in to investigate, NYPD detective Lincoln Rhyme and his associate Amelia Sachs have little to go on but a series of cryptic messages left etched into the skin of the deceased. As the pair struggle to discover the meaning behind the designs, they are led down a treacherous and twisting path where nothing is as it seems. And with the clock rapidly ticking before the killer strikes again, they must untangle the twisted web of clues before more victims – or they themselves – are next.
2) John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman (April 2014)
presented by J.
John Wayne was one of Hollywood’s most famous and most successful actors, but he was more than that. He became a symbol of America itself. He epitomized the Western film, which for many people epitomized America. He identified with conservative political causes from the early 1930s to his death in 1979, making him a hero to one generation of Americans and a villain to another. But unlike fellow actor Ronald Reagan, Wayne had no interest in politics as a career. Like many stars, he altered his life story, claiming to have become an actor almost by accident when in fact he had studied drama and aspired to act for most of his youth. He married three times, all to Latina women, and conducted a lengthy affair with Marlene Dietrich, as unlikely a romantic partner as one could imagine for the Duke. Wayne projected dignity, integrity, and strength in all his films, even when his characters were flawed, and whatever character he played was always prepared to confront injustice in his own way. More than thirty years after his death, he remains the standard by which male stars are judged and an actor whose morally unambiguous films continue to attract sizeable audiences.
Scott Eyman interviewed Wayne, as well as many family members, and he has drawn on previously unpublished reminiscences from friends and associates of the Duke in this biography, as well as documents from his production company that shed light on Wayne’s business affairs. He traces Wayne from his childhood to his stardom in Stagecoach and dozens of films after that. Eyman perceptively analyzes Wayne’s relationship with John Ford, the director with whom he is most associated and who made some of Wayne’s greatest films, among them She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Quiet Man, and The Searchers. His evaluation of Wayne himself is shrewd: a skilled actor who was reluctant to step outside his comfort zone. Wayne was self-aware; he once said, I’ve played the kind of man I’d like to have been. It’s that man and the real John Wayne who are brilliantly profiled in Scott Eyman’s insightful biography of a true American legend.
3) Personal Memoirs by Ulysses S. Grant (1885)
presented by R.
4) Madame Picasso by Anne Girard (published on Aug 26)
presented by me
A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can’t help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso’s life.
With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.
5) Moonlight Mile (Kenzie & Gennaro #6) by Dennis Lehane (2010)
presented by S.
Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Desperate pleas for help from the child’s aunt led investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. The pair risked everything to find the young girl—only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.
Now Amanda is sixteen—and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amanda’s aunt is once more knocking on Patrick Kenzie’s door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking, clever young woman—a woman who hasn’t been seen in weeks.
Haunted by their consciences, Kenzie and Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most. Their search leads them into a world of identity thieves, methamphetamine dealers, a mentally unstable crime boss and his equally demented wife, a priceless, thousand-year-old cross, and a happily homicidal Russian gangster. It’s a world in which motives and allegiances constantly shift and mistakes are fatal.
In their desperate fight to confront the past and find Amanda McCready, Kenzie and Gennaro will be forced to question if it’s possible to do the wrong thing and still be right or to do the right thing and still be wrong. As they face an evil that goes beyond broken families and broken dreams, they discover that the sins of yesterday don’t always stay buried and the crimes of today could end their lives.
6) Sherlock Holmes in America by Martin H. Greenberg (2009)
also presented by S.
Sherlock Holmes makes his American debut in this fascinating and extraordinary collection of never-before-published crime and mystery stories by bestselling American writers. The world’s greatest detective and his famous sidekick Watson are on their first trip across the Atlantic as they fight crime all over nineteenth-century North America. From the bustling neighborhoods of New York City and Washington, D.C., to sunny yet sinister cities like San Francisco on the West Coast, the world’s best-loved British sleuth will face some of the most cunning criminals America has to offer, and meet some of America’s most famous figures along the way. Each original story is written in the extraordinary tradition of Doyle’s best work, yet each comes with a unique American twist that is sure to satisfy and exhilarate both Sherlock Holmes purists and those who always wished that Holmes could nab the nefarious closer to home. This is a must-read for any mystery fan and for those who have followed Holmes’ illustrious career over the waterfall and back again.
7) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
presented by P.
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
8) Sleeping Beauty by Judith Michael (1991)
presented by J.
Anne Garnett was a brilliant Los Angeles divorce lawyer — tough, smart and untouchable. The vulnerable girl who had run away from her wealthy, influential family was hidden now behind the glossy facade of her high-powered career. Only the death of Anne’s beloved grandfather could bring her back to the town he had built — Tamarack, the Colorado playground of the rich and famous. Once there she would be drawn again into the tangled passions and fortunes of those who had betrayed her so long ago…
Embraced by a sister’s love, challenged by a man who offers her everything she could want, Anne is confronted once more by Senator Vincent Chatham, the charismatic man who still waits to destroy her. But Anne is no longer a frightened girl. She is a proud, beautiful woman who must release the paralyzing pain of the past and discover her power to win…in a battle for family empire, honor, and the richest treasure of all…a deep, abiding love.
9) The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch (2012)
presented by P.
At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, What is wrong with my husband?! In David Finch’s case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years after he married Kristen, the love of his life, they learn that he has Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and otherwise melt down in social exchanges, and his clinical-strength inflexibility. But it doesn’t make him any easier to live with.
Determined to change, David sets out to understand Asperger syndrome and learn to be a better husband—no easy task for a guy whose inability to express himself rivals his two-year-old daughter’s, who thinks his responsibility for laundry extends no further than throwing things in (or at) the hamper, and whose autism-spectrum condition makes seeing his wife’s point of view a near impossibility.
Nevertheless, David devotes himself to improving his marriage with an endearing yet hilarious zeal that involves excessive note-taking, performance reviews, and most of all, the Journal of Best Practices: a collection of hundreds of maxims and hard-won epiphanies that result from self-reflection both comic and painful. They include “Don’t change the radio station when she’s singing along,” “Apologies do not count when you shout them,” and “Be her friend, first and always.” Guided by the Journal of Best Practices, David transforms himself over the course of two years from the world’s most trying husband to the husband who tries the hardest, the husband he’d always meant to be.
Filled with humor and surprising wisdom, The Journal of Best Practices is a candid story of ruthless self-improvement, a unique window into living with an autism-spectrum condition, and proof that a true heart can conquer all.
10) Genealogy: Everything You Need to Climb Your Family Tree Without Falling Out (Beginner to Intermediate) by Katheryn Maddox Haddad (July 2014)
also presented by P.
Was your ancestor in World War II, World War I, the Spanish American War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, the Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War? All are explained and websites listed where to find their records.
Fraternal organizations provide surprise information on many ancestors: Grange, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, Elks, Knights of Labor, American Federation of Labor, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Moose, Freemasons, Shriners, Kiwanis, Lions Club and other such organization are discussed along with websites where you can find their records. Also, information on how to find the archives of old newspapers is given.
This book has something for everyone, whether beginner or intermediate.
HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THOSE?
WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?