Tag Archives: Brief Book Review

Books from the New York Times Best Seller’s List January 2014

  How Lucky You Can Be by Buster Olney

Where can you find a good book when you are looking for one?  The library has hundreds of books, but which one should you choose?  One option is to read reviews (like this one) or to wander through book lists, like the New York Times.  This will give you a good idea of what books are being read and enjoyed by others.  Our club decided to pick books from some of these lists.

​The book How Lucky You Can Be was written by Buster Olney, an ESPN announcer.  It is subtitled “The Story of Coach Don Meyer.”  Coach Meyer is the most famous coach that you never heard of… but other basketball coaches around the country know about him.  He devoted himself not only to his teams but also to teaching the art of coaching to anyone interested in the game he loved.  This is much more than a sports story.  It is the story of a dedicated man who at times neglected his family to achieve greatness in his field, passing the legendary Bobby Knight in career wins with over 903 victories, the most by any coach in history at that time.  It took a tragedy for him to express the love he had for his family — wife, children, and his players.

​ Don Meyer had been a college player at Northern Colorado and a head coach for years at David Lipscomb College and Northern State University.  His success was tremendous, but this story really begins on a lonely stretch of two-land road in South Dakota.  While leading a caravan of cars, taking his players on a team-building retreat, Meyer fell asleep at the wheel.  His car veered into an oncoming tractor-trailer truck.  The Coach was crushed, and it was feared that he would die from his injuries.  At the hospital, doctors prepared his wife because they were certain he would not make it through the surgery.  After five hours, Meyer survived but lost part of a leg, his spleen, and had numerous other injuries.  Meyer said that the accident was the best thing that could have happened to him.  He equated it with an angel providing him with a message.  The doctors found that Meyer had terminal cancer.

​ The story describes how this driven coach, who did not want to give up coaching basketball, rose to face the greatest challenge of his life.  He reassessed his life and his relationships.  His three adult children describe the changes that he under went.  Meyer now expressed himself, particularly his emotional self.  He did not hold back telling his children, his wife, or his players how much he loved them.  This tragedy actually has made their family even closer.  This is the story of a man who’s belief in God, his religion, his family, and his team— both coaches and players– gave him the strength to come back to coaching and to fight the lose of a leg and the cancer.  This would be the toughest battle of his life.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly, not only for basketball fans, as an inspirational story of a man fighting to overcome tremendous odds.  (5 of 5)

Other books from book lists rated by different club members:

Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos

Part love story, part meditation on finding spiritual peace in the midst of crisis.  It is a beautifully written, tender and passionate story of a man trying to put his life in perspective.  (4 of 5)

  Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss

A funny, informative nonfiction book with excellent examples of misused punctuation. (5 of 5)

  The Hundred Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson

The story spans the 20th century with a character similar to Forest Gump.  (4 of 5)

 The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Multiple story lines and strong women tell the story of World War II.  (5 of 5)

    Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Thought provoking historic novel about women being held back by authoritive men.  (4 of 5)

     Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Published in 1932, a thought  provoking novel anticipates developments that have profoundly changed society.  (4.5 of 5)

 The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

This tale shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during the season of miracles.  (5 of 5)

 God is not Mad at You by Joyce Meyer

A book that explains the relationship between God and man.  (5 of 5)

     Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews

‘Tis the season to be jolly – a funny novel with a heroine who rounds up stray animals of all sorts as well as a killer.  Duck the Halls! (5 of 5)

    Nighttime is My Time by Mary Higgins Clark

A riveting novel of psychological suspense that depicts the mind of a killer. (4 of 5)

The Club Members rating these books:

Pat Gombita, Mona Herrell, Pat Kuna, Lee Ann Schrock, Julie Shultz, Bill Simmons, Deb Stewart, Barb Swanson, Linda Troll, Patti Tullis and Rae Ann Weaver

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Biography, Crime, Fourth Tuesday Book Club Books, Historical, History, Humor, Inspirational, Inspirational, Murder, Mystery, Personal Insights, Religion, Sports, Sports/Entertainment

Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer–America’s Deadliest Serial Murderer

green river running redby Ann Rule

 Reviewed by The Fourth Tuesday and Mystery Book Club

            We all have a book on a bookshelf that is collecting dust.  It calls to us, and we want to pull it   down and read it.  A variety of reasons keep it on that shelf.  We have been too busy, we have to read something else, or we are just too tired to read right now… maybe tomorrow.  Our club decided to dust off those books and share with others what we finally found.

Ann Rule is famous for writing about true crime.  Her two most well known books tell of her work with the police in her backyard of Seattle, Washington.  Her personal knowledge and contact with the serial killers in both cases makes her books very personal accounts.  This book presents the facts and emotions around the “Green River Killer,” perhaps the most prolific serial killer in history.  He is serving 48 life sentences in prison.  This serial killer recently took part in an interview with the media admitting that he has killed nearly twice as many women as are now credited to him over a period of nearly two decades.

The author dedicated a large portion of the book to the young women that the Green River Killer murdered.  This means that the reader must spend a great deal of time learning about dozens of the Green River victims.  Rule describes their lives, included the rejection, the abuse, and often the sadness that drove most of them to prostitution.  A missing or murdered prostitute does not create as much urgency in a community that another type of murder might.

Although the book jumps back and forth between the victims, creating accounts that are somewhat confusing, the author deals with each individual–both victim and perpetrator—fairly.  It is sad and amazing that such a horrible killing machine actually existed.  This book is eye opening in many ways and an interesting true crime read.  I would recommend it.  (4.5 of 5)

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Filed under Adult Non-Fiction, Fourth Tuesday Book Club Books, Mystery, Tragic Events

Dillon Dillon

Dillon Dillon.

by Kate Banks

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright 2002

Who ever heard of someone having the same first and last name? For some strange reason Dillon Dillon’s parents decided to do that to him, but he isn’t sure why.

Dillon likes to believe in the impossible. He enters cereal box contests in the hopes of winning big and he likes to wonder about the “what if’s”. (Like what if he was part bird?) Dillon has always felt a little different like something isn’t quite right, especially given his name. On his 10th birthday, which always falls during their summer vacation at the lake, he finally asks why he was named “Dillon Dillon”, and the answer he gets will turn his world inside out. The rest of that summer Dillon spends watching and interacting with a family of loons and he sees his life played out in theirs.

This is a spellbinding book for children ages 9-13 about family relations, what’s in a name, and what makes us who we are.

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Filed under Families, Junior Fiction, Loss/Death, Nature/Animals

Kerplunk!

Kerplunk!

By Patrick F. McManus

Published by Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2007

“Always listen for the kerplunk.” This was the first bit of fishing advice that Patrick McManus remembers, and it was an important bit of advice too. At six years old, and barely tall enough to see over the weeds at the river bank, without the “kerplunk” he could be sure that his line hadn’t landed in the water.

Thus begins the book “Kerplunk!” a collection of humorous short stories originally published in Outdoor life magazine. In his columns McManus shares his love of the outdoors by sharing some of his many trips through it. McManus adeptly and entertainingly shares his outdoor adventures and misadventures. He shows why camping in comfort takes the fun out of being outdoors, why fly fishing is not a stress reducer, how boat trailers cause divorces, and why February is the most depressing month of the year.

If you are an outdoorsman, or if you’re related to one, you will find this book very entertaining, and you might just find the secret to being a great fisherman or hunter in these pages as well. Of all the things you might learn though, you’ll learn that you don’t have to be a great fisherman or hunter to be an outdoorsman, you just have to enjoy being out in nature.

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Filed under Adult Non-Fiction, Columnists, Humor, Nature/Animals, The Great Outdoors

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

By Chris Crutcher

Published by Harper Tempest

Copyright © 1993

Is the world good or is the world bad? I guess it depends on who you ask and how far they look. For people like Sara Byrnes and Eric Calhoun it’s not always such a great place. Eric and Sarah Byrnes have been social misfits since they were young children; him fat and her terribly scarred.

For Eric being on the high school swim team has helped him lose weight and become more accepted, but there is nothing Sarah can do about her Scarred face and arms. Sarah Byrnes is still Eric’s best friend though, and now she is in the psychiatric ward of the hospital in what seems to be a catatonic state. The real puzzle is why she is there, and finding out can be the difference between life and death. Sarah Byrnes current emotional state and inability to trust anyone, even her best friend, makes it really hard to help her before time runs out.

While Eric is struggling to reach and help Sarah Byrnes, competition for supremacy of body and mind is heating up on the swim team and in his Contemporary American Thought class with Mark a fellow swimmer and student who is not quite stable.

The Author does a wonderful job of getting us into the minds of our main character, and through him helping us to understand the supporting characters and their backgrounds. He also tackles some hard subjects like religion, abortion, and suicide. A young adult novel obviously is not going to answer or solve these problems but it will cause adolescents to think critically about these issues. The mystery remains though, what happened to Sarah Byrnes and what is going to happen to her. It is definitely worth the read to find out.

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Filed under Abuse/Bullying, High School, Mystery, Obesity/Over Weight, Psychological, Young Adult Fiction

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

By Jane Yolen

Illustrated by Mark Teague

Published by The Blue Sky Press

Copyright © 2000

Are you having trouble putting your child to bed? Or do you have a child who loves dinosaurs? This book is wonderful because it helps parents with bedtime in a fun and enjoyable way using a subject (dinosaurs) that isn’t normally associated with bed time. The text is simple and the illustrations are a little cartoony and fun.  In addition Mark Teague has hidden the dinosaur’s name in each illustration which is wonderful for the young dinosaur enthusiast who can have fun looking for the name. I highly recommend this picture book.

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Filed under Children's Picture Books, Dinosaurs/Archaeology, Family, Growing Up, Nature/Animals