at Books And a Beat
showcases the books you ‘found’
and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list…
whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever!
(they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).
I’m presenting here the books we shared
at our last block Book Club meeting
– it’s a potluck book club,
meaning each member shares about his/her latest good read.
Awesome for diversity in books, lively conversations,
and your TBR getting suddenly taller!
1. The Bone House (Cab Bolton #1) , by Brian Freeman (2011)
presented by B.
Hilary and Mark Bradley are trapped in a web of suspicion. Last year, accusations of a torrid affair with a student cost Mark his teaching job and made the young couple into outcasts in their remote island town off the Lake Michigan coast. Now another teenage girl is found dead on a deserted beach. . . and once again, Mark faces a hostile town convinced of his guilt.
Hilary Bradley is determined to prove that Mark is innocent, but she’s on a lonely, dangerous quest. Even when she discovers that the murdered girl was witness to a horrific crime years earlier, the police are certain she’s throwing up a smoke screen to protect her husband. Only a quirky detective named Cab Bolton seems willing to believe Hilary’s story.
Hilary and Cab soon find that people in this community are willing to kill to keep their secrets hidden—and to make sure Mark doesn’t get away with murder. And with each shocking revelation, even Hilary begins to wonder whether her husband is truly innocent. Freeman’s first stand-alone thriller since his Stride novels is a knockout.
2. Last Dance, Last Chance and Other True Cases (Crime Files #8) , by Ann Rule (2004)
presented by J.
Dr. Anthony Pignataro was a cosmetic surgeon and a famed medical researcher whose flashy red Lamborghini and flamboyant lifestyle in western New York State suggested a highly successful career. But appearances, as this shocking insider account of Pignataro’s tailspin from physician to prisoner proves, can be deceiving — and, for the doctor’s wife, very nearly deadly. No one was safe if they got in his way. With scalpel, drugs, and arsenic, he betrayed every oath a physician makes — until his own schemes backfired. Now, the motivations of the classic sociopath are plumbed with chilling accuracy by Ann Rule. Along with other shocking true cases, this worldwide headline-making case will have you turning pages in disbelief that a trusted medical professional could sink to the depths of greed, manipulation, and self-aggrandizement where even slow, deliberate murder is not seen for what it truly is: pure evil.
3. Murder on the Eiffel Tower , by Claude Izner (2008)
presented by S.
The brand-new, shiny Eiffel Tower is the pride and glory of the 1889 World Exposition. But one sunny afternoon, as visitors are crowding the viewing platforms, a woman collapses and dies on this great Paris landmark. Can a bee sting really be the cause of death? Or is there a more sinister explanation? Enter young bookseller Victor Legris. Present on the tower at the time of the incident, and appalled by the media coverage of the occurrence, he is determined to find out what actually happened. In this dazzling evocation of late nineteenth-century Paris, we follow Victor as his investigation takes him all over the city and he suspects an ever-changing list of possible perpetrators. Could mysterious Kenji Mori, his surrogate father and business partner at the bookstore Legris operates, be involved in the crime? Why are beautiful Russian illustrator Tasha and her colleagues at the newly launched sensationalist newspaper Passepartout always up-to-date in their reporting? And what will Legris do when the deaths begin to multiply and he is caught in a race against time?
Murder on the Eiffel Tower is painstakingly researched, an effortless evocation of the glorious City of Light, and an exciting opening to a promising series of eight books featuring Victor Legris.
4. The Age of Revolution (A History of the English-Speaking Peoples #3), by Winston S. Churchill (1957)
presented by P.
The third volume of Sir Winston Churchill’s classic history. During the long period of 1688 to 1815, three revolutions took place and all led to war between the British and the French. The English Revolution of 1688 made a new enemy of an old foe; the American Revolution of 1775 saw the United States finally declare independence; and the French Revolution of 1789 reverberated across Europe for years to come. Who better to capture the character and vigour of Wellington, Walpole, Nelson and Pitt than the Prime Minister who led Britain to victory in Europe in 1945?.
5. In the Shadow of the Banyan, by Vaddey Ratner (2012)
presented by M.
For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus.
Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood—the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival.
Displaying the author’s extraordinary gift for language, In the Shadow of the Banyan is testament to the transcendent power of narrative and a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience..
6. Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein, by Jonathan Cott (2013)
presented by J.
Leonard Bernstein was arguably the most highly esteemed, influential, and charismatic American classical music personality of the twentieth century. Conductor, composer, pianist, writer, educator, and human rights activist, Bernstein truly led a life of Byronic intensity–passionate, risk-taking, and convention-breaking.
In November 1989, just a year before his death, Bernstein invited writer Jonathan Cott to his country home in Fairfield, Connecticut for what turned out to be his last major interview–an unprecedented and astonishingly frank twelve-hour conversation. Now, in Dinner with Lenny, Cott provides a complete account of this remarkable dialogue in which Bernstein discourses with disarming frankness, humor, and intensity on matters musical, pedagogical, political, psychological, spiritual, and the unabashedly personal. Bernstein comes alive again, with vodka glass in hand, singing, humming, and making pointed comments on a wide array of topics, from popular music (“the Beatles were the best songwriters since Gershwin”), to great composers (“Wagner was always in a psychotic frenzy. He was a madman, a megalomaniac”), and politics (lamenting “the brainlessness, the mindlessness, the carelessness, and the heedlessness of the Reagans of the world”). And of course, Bernstein talks of conducting, advising students “to look at the score and make it come alive as if they were the composer. If you can do that, you’re a conductor and if you can’t, you’re not. If I don’t become Brahms or Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky when I’m conducting their works, then it won’t be a great performance.”
After Rolling Stone magazine published an abridged version of the conversation in 1990, the Chicago Tribune praised it as “an extraordinary interview” filled with “passion, wit, and acute analysis.” Studs Terkel called the interview “astonishing and revelatory.” Now, this full-length version provides the reader with a unique, you-are-there perspective on what it was like to converse with this gregarious, witty, candid, and inspiring American dynamo.
7. Twin: A Memoir, by Allen Shawn (2010)
presented by W.
When Allen Shawn and his twin sister, Mary, were two, Mary began exhibiting signs of what would be diagnosed many years later as autism. Understanding Mary and making her life a happy one appeared to be impossible for the Shawns. At the age of eight, with almost no warning, her parents sent Mary to a residential treatment center. She never lived at home again.
Fifty years later, as he probed the sources of his anxieties in Wish I Could Be There, Shawn realized that his fate was inextricably linked to his sister’s, and that their natures were far from being different.
Twin highlights the difficulties American families coping with autism faced in the 1950s. Shawn also examines the secrets and family dramas as his father, William, became editor of The New Yorker. Twin reconstructs a parallel narrative for the two siblings, who experienced such divergent fates yet shared talents and proclivities. Wrenching, honest, understated, and poetic, Twin is at heart about the mystery of being inextricably bonded to someone who can never be truly understood.
8. Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, by Kate Clifford Larson (2015)
presented by P.
They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.
Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family. Major new sources — Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors’ letters, and exclusive family interviews — bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then — as the family’s standing reached an apex — the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the family’s complicity in keeping the secret.
Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.
9. The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia, by C.W. Gortner (Feb 2016)
presented by me
A gripping novel that follows the extraordinary life of young Lucrezia Borgia, the legendary Renaissance Pope Alexander’s beautiful daughter. Was she the heartless seductress of legend? Or merely an unsuspecting pawn in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and her own survival?
Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias became Italy’s most ruthless and powerful family, electrifying and terrorizing their 15th-century Renaissance world.
To this day, Lucrezia Borgia is known as one of history’s most notorious villainesses, accused of incest and luring men to doom with her arsenal of poison.
International bestselling author C.W. Gortner’s new novel delves beyond the myth to depict Lucrezia in her own voice, from her pampered childhood in the palaces of Rome to her ill-fated, scandalous arranged marriages and complex relationship with her adored father and her rival brothers—brutal Juan and enigmatic Cesare.
This is the dramatic, untold story of a papal princess who came of age in an era of savage intrigue and unparalleled splendor, and whose courage led her to overcome the fate imposed on her by her Borgia blood.
You can read my own review here.