Beth's Book Review

October 4, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Anchor Books, 2013)   Crazy Rich _________________. Fill in the blank with almost any ethnicity on the face of the earth, and the story will probably be similar from culture to culture. At the economic apex of every society one can expect to have the ...

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The Race to Save the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport (St. Martin’s Press, 2018) On July 18, 1918, amidst the backdrop of the First World War and violent revolutions occurring within Russia, the entire Imperial Romanov family was executed while in captivity. As the 100th anniversary of the horrific ...

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The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (Bantam, 2016)   Just a few months ago I published a Retro-Review of In Cold Blood, written by one of the greatest 20 century American authors, Truman Capote. For those of us who remember seeing the more than eccentric writer, who was chased by ...

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The Clean 20: 20 Foods, 20 Days, Total Transformation  by Ian K. Smith, M.D. (St. Martin’s Press, 2018)   Dr. Ian K. Smith has written a delightful and easy to digest new book, The Clean 20: 20 Foods, 20 Days, Total Transformation. Unlike many diet books that are mired in technical language ...

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The Rooster Bar by John Grisham (Dell, 2018) Three law students, Todd Lucero, Mark Frazier, and Zola Maal, are about to start their final semester of the not so prestigious Foggy Bottom Law School in Washington, D.C. However, the shocking suicide of their friend, Gordy, who has been driven to a ...

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Gods of Wood and Stone by Mark Dionno (Touchstone, 2018)   The two protagonists of Mark Dionno’s brilliant first novel are as different as two men could be in most facets of their lives. Joe Grudeck is a recently retired pro-baseball player, on his way to the Hall of Fame; Horace Mueller is a ...

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The Outsider by Stephen King (Scribner’s, 2018) He’s the Boogeyman who hides under your bed or in your closet when you are a child. Sometimes he lurks in the dark attic of your home, so it’s a place that you avoid at night. He is Big Foot who skulks the woods in Alaska, or he is Grendl, brought ...

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All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffen (Ballentine Books, 2018) How much is “too much” to give our children when raising them today? When we buy them the latest pair of sneakers, a cell phone when they are ten years old, or give them an expensive car when they turn seventeen, what are we teaching ...

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Camino Island by John Grisham (Dell, 2017) John Grisham is a very good story teller. His writing style is engaging, characters are usually well draw. But, somehow Camino Island, published in 2017, falls short of the rest of Grisham's work, and seems amateurish. The novel begins with the heist ...

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People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little (Dog Ear Publishing, 2015)   Rich Little is a national treasure; a living encyclopedia of movie stars, comedians, and former presidents all wrapped into one dynamic package. Recently, my husband and I had the good fortune to see ...

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Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2003)   If a summer romance novel is what you are craving to read as you sit by the pool or beach, Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia is a perfect choice. Set in 1950 New York City, the novel is about a young woman, Lucia Sartori, who is ...

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The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure by Mike Blue (Available on Amazon)   Imagine that you could just say, “Chuck it,” and walk away from the bonds that keep you tied to what Mike Blue, author of The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure, defines as the restrictive ...

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Koko's Kitten, Koko's Story, The Eduction of Koko all by Dr. Francine Patterson   Last night when I heard about the death of Koko, the lowland gorilla who was educated to communicate through American Sign Language by Dr. Francine Patterson, I went numb with grief. I have followed the life of ...

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The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)   A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I ...

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When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015) Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with ...

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            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually ...

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            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in ...

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            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last ...

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)   I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that ...

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Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)   How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless ...

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The Truth About My Reading I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course ...

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The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (Washington Square Press, 2016) For each of the twelve million victims murdered during World War II there is a gutwrenching story to be told. I have read hundreds of memoirs, biographies, plays, and novels that recount the stories of the martyrs; some are ...

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The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central, 2014) Jack the Ripper. The Boston Strangler. The Texas Watchtower Killer. The Zodiac Killer. The Angel of Death. The Butcher. BTK. The police and the press have a long history of dubbing serial killers with names that catch the attention of ...

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Queen Mary and the Cruiser by David A. Thomas and Patrick Holmes (Naval Institute Press, 1997) “Had the forenoon watch and after eating went out onto the fo'c'sle. Just arrived at the top of the ladder by the PO's heads when the wave hit me---waist high---and knocked me over. Looking ...

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)   In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions ...

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This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned ...

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Lilli De Jong by Janet Benton (Doubleday, 2017)   “It's said that every woman's painful labor is God's punishment. Eve ate an apple, and God pours wrath on every mother. So the Bible tells it.” (p.320) The story of Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden, which is the Biblical ...

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Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb (Altria, 2015)   Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there. That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn't a game after all. It really was magic, but magic has rules, and she broke ...

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Together: A Journey for Survival by Ann S. Arnold (Avalerion Books, 20160)   At the March meeting of the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust, Mark Schonwetter, a survivor of the horrors of the 1930s and 40s, and his daughter, Ann S. Arnold, introduced the Commission to Ann's publication of ...

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The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb (St. Martin's Press, 2010)   Years ago, when I attended my first Malice Domestic convention, I met Sharyn McCrumb, author of three beloved series, including the Elizabeth McPerson, the Ballad, and the St. Dale series. Malice Domestic, which ...

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