Rowayton Library
October 2013              Reviews by Rowayton Library's Reader Advisor, Ruth Freeman

Some perfect Fall reading suggestions for you...

 

 

'The Daughters of Mars' by Thomas Kenneally is fascinating historical fiction. Two Australian sisters, both nurses, enlist at the outbreak of WWI and are sent to a hospital ship. The ship heads for the European theater via the carnage at Gallipoli where they are quickly introduced to the horrors of battlefield injuries. Lots of realistic details and well developed characters create an excellent read for historical fiction fans.

 

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'Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm Ravaged Hospital' by Sheri Fink is a devastating report on the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The hospital, ill prepared for the disaster, struggled to care for critically ill patients and arrange for evacuation. The hospital descends into barely managed chaos as power is lost and essential treatment becomes impossible to continue. The book focuses on the doctors and nurses who were most active in deciding evacuation protocols and dealing with critically ill patients who might not survive a move. This is a riveting book which dares to ask tough questions about triage, euthanasia and decision making under stress. 

 

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Clever Michael Sears has written a follow up to 'Black Fridays' called 'Mortal Bonds'. In this case a massive hedge fund has cratered, leaving nothing behind but debt, furious investors and a family anxious to find whatever money might be left, whether it legitimately belongs to them or not. Jason Stafford has an able crew of sidekicks and a challenging autistic son, fondly referred to as 'the kid'. This is a great page turner.

 

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The novel 'Early Decision' by Lacey Crawford covers the world of high end college admission s counseling. Helicopter parents, stressed out students and admission office politics are all laid bare by someone who worked as a private college admissions coach for 15 years. Vignettes of students from different situations shine a bright light on this tense time.

 

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What baker can resist 'The Cooks Illustrated Baking Book'? Aptly subtitled 'Baking Demystified', it clearly and concisely demonstrates baking techniques that have been exhaustively tested in their kitchens. We also just got 'The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook'. The subtitle is "Everything you need to know to become a great cook' and given its heft that looks to be the case! It's a very well organized, thorough book geared to the less experienced cook, but full of yummy recipes anyone would want to try.

 

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'Enon' by Paul Harding is a movingly written modern classic that is imaginative and deeply felt. It is a portrait of both a grief stricken father and the town which has been his family's home for generations. It is relatively short but devastating; the author is an expert wordsmith who describes complex feelings beautifully.

 

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'Longbourn' by Jo Baker is a look at the downstairs denizens of the 'Pride and Prejudice' Bennett family's home. The kitchen maids, butlers and footmen are wry commentators on the life of the Bennett's while they suffer similar life/love complications themselves. The author has clearly done her homework on the difficult and constant work done by servants of that time.

 

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'Countrymen' by Bo Lidegaard tells the inspiring story of the Jews who were rescued from Denmark during WWII when the SS deportation orders were issued. Denmark, unlike many other occupied countries, never considered its Jewish population to be other than Danish citizens, offered the full protection of the state. The physical rescue of the Danish Jews and their exile to Sweden was carried out in a very short period of time. The book has a number of first person histories from diaries and letters which give it vivid immediacy.

 

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Elizabeth George's new book 'Just One Evil Act', is called "A Lynley Novel" but features DS Barbara Havers in the more central role. The basic plot follows her often clumsy efforts to help her friend and neighbor Azhar search for Haddiyah, his missing daughter. She has been taken to Tuscany by her birth mother and then subsequently kidnapped. There is a complicated skein of betrayal, passion and historical circumstance that contribute to the actual crime. This is a doorstop of a book, probably only of interest to this author's most devoted fans.

 

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'Papa is a Poet: A Story about Robert Frost' by Natalie Bober and Rebecca Gibbon, is a charmingly illustrated young reader biography. Told in the voice of his daughter it covers their life in Derry, NH and England. Many of his poems are interspersed throughout the book and there is a section at the end devoted to some of his most famous verses. This is a wonderful introduction to poetry.

 

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