Beth's Book Review

November 29, 2018

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani (Harper, 2015)   When I was a little girl, before there was colored television, sometimes I would watch a show where a beautiful, mature lady would enter a room through French doors, and greet her tv audience. The woman wore spectacular gowns ...

Read more »

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman (Harper Collins, 2018) Who would have thought that the “nymphet” of Humbert Humbert’s perverted fantasies in the famous Vladimir Nabokov novel, Lolita, published in the United States in ...

Read more »

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (Ballantine, 2013) Jodi Picoult is the Law and Order author of our times. She uses stories “ripped from the headlines” as seeds for her plotlines and, thus, presents readers with a framework in which to discuss important societal issues, such as school shootings, ...

Read more »

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (Penguin, 2016)   For those readers who love thrillers, Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, has the elements of a fine one. After all, stories about baby kidnappings are gripping as aficionados of the genre know. If the cops don’t get the stolen baby back ...

Read more »

The Liberators: America’s Witnesses to the Holocaust by Michael Hirsh (Bantom Books, 2010)   “It was bad. It was very, very bad,” said Jay Dakelman, a medic with the 3rd Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. He was describing to me the first moment that he stepped into a concentration ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

            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 ...

Read more »

            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 ...

Read more »

            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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »