Beth's Book Review

August 17, 2018

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

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 ...

Read more »

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper with Danny Pellegrino (St. Martin's Press, 2017) It's hard to go on a serious diet, one on which you expect to be successful and maintain a loss. Fortunately, in his new book Super Carb Diet, Bob Harper has given the weight watching world a sensible new diet plan to ...

Read more »

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs (Bantom,2017) How does a writer of a beloved series like Harry Potter or Temperance Brennan break out of their readers' expectations and try something new? For J.K. Rowlings it was the novels penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith; books about a maimed and very ...

Read more »

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic, 2012) (target audience, Young Adults)   When my daughter, Shauna, was six years old, we took her to see her first Broadway production; a revival of The Wiz starring Stephanie Mills. I knew that it was the last time Mills could get away with playing ...

Read more »

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory (Touchstone, 2017) Yesterday my cousin, the daughter of my mother's sister, called me from California where she lives, and hit me up for money. This is not the first time she has asked me for money, and not the last, I am sure. She grew up the daughter of a ...

Read more »

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb (Atria Books, 2017)   Sharyn McCrumb is, quite simply, an American gem, and one of my favorite authors. From her books set in Appalachia with strange characters who remind us of our pioneer past, to St. Dale, a masterpiece about the legendary car racer, ...

Read more »

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Press, 2003) In the song “The Schuyler Sisters” from the Broadway musical Hamilton, sister Angelica sings, “ I've been reading 'Common Sense' by Thomas Paine. So men say that I'm intense or I'm insane, You want a revolution? I wanna a revelation . . .” ...

Read more »

The People Versus Alex Cross by James Patterson (Little, Brown, 2017)   Alex Cross, subject of James Patterson's 25th book in this venerable, fast paced detective series, is in big time trouble again. Even though his great nemesis is dead, Gary Soneji has a way of plaguing Alex from the ...

Read more »

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (Vintage Books, 2015)   I loved In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. Set in Elizabeth, NJ in the early 1950s, the landmarks, famous people of the era, name brand products, and cultural background are so familiar to those of us who grew up in Central Jersey ...

Read more »