Parker’s Picks, February 2010



13 ½,   by Nevada Barr

First of all, I read this book in one day!! That’s how exciting it was! The story begins with nine-year old Polly experiencing a nightmare which is sadly real. Polly gleans from this event, an excellent understanding of survival skills as an adult & mother. Next, advance to another main character, Dylan “The Butcher Boy.” He is charged with axing his parents and sister to death. His brother, Rich, badly wounded, survives the ordeal. Abruptly the story switches to the Marchand brothers, Marshall and Danny. Eventually all of these characters and their stories tie in together for an action-packed, exciting, thrilling ending!

The 13th Hour: A Thriller, by Richard Doetsch

Amazing book!! It starts with the 13th chapter and ends with the 1st chapter. I loved the writing concept of the story. Nick Quinn is accused of killing his wife, Julia. As he is being interrogated by two detectives, they leave the room and in walks an elderly well groomed gentleman. He gives Nick a gold watch, a letter, and the opportunity to undo his wife’s death! Nick takes the offer and his journey back in time begins.  I highly recommend this book. It was the first book I read in 2010!

31 Hours, by Masha Hamilton

Jonas’ parents, girlfriend, and sister haven’t heard from him in some time – they fear something is amiss.  21 year-old Jonas is in hiding in New York City. He is reflecting on his change to Islam, his time spent in Pakistan, and the event he will partake in 31 hours. This is a page turner! If you are in a book club, it was recommended by as a one of their choices for Best Book Club Selections of 2009.

Half-Broke Horses: A True Life Novel, by Jeannette Walls

Another stellar book written by the author of, The Glass Castle!  Even though Walls tried to originally write it as a biography of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, the information was too sparse that she changed it to a novel. What a woman Lily was! She was strong-willed, decisive, and determined. Follow her life’s journey in the early 20th century growing up in the west as a young girl, her years as a teacher, living on a cattle ranch, and learning to fly a plane. Most amazingly, at the age of 15, Lily travels 28 days by herself on horseback to her first teaching job!!

Heaven Looks A Lot Like the Mall, by Wendy Mass

A student recommended I read her copy of this book and I’m so glad I did! 16-year-old, Tessa, gets hit in the head by a dodge ball and has a near death experience. Tessa thinks she is in heaven which resembles her local shopping mall! On her journey she is meets a young man (with a drill bit in his head!) who escorts her.  If you are a fan of the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” you will see some similarities.  Tessa reads a message written to her, taped on a counter as she first arrives: “Tessa Reynolds (that’s me!). Welcome to The Mall of Heaven. Hang on to the ride of your life. – The Mall Manager.” This is a book in verse which will appeal to many readers. It’s a reality check of life for Tessa. Enjoy!

Homer and Langley, by E.L. Doctorow

I found this to be a fascinating and captivating fictional account of Homer and Langley Collyer. They lived as recluses in their Fifth Avenue mansion. Homer was blind and Langley was somewhat mentally unbalanced because of his exposure to mustard gas during World War I. I kept thinking of Edith “Big Edie” Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter, Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale, who were relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. They too lived as recluses who once were rich like the Collyer brothers. The story follows their lives through the 20th century. Such a sad account but it kept me captivated!

The Last Child, by John Hart

What an excellent book by author John Hart! This is one book you won’t be able to put down. I was drawn into the story right away. Johnny Merrimon’s twin sister, Alyssa, disappears one day. This turns Johnny’s world upside down. His father leaves because his mother blames him for Alyssa’s disappearance and his mother begins to shut life out. Johnny takes it upon himself to search for his sister in places that could cause him great harm. There is one person who is there to help and protect him, Detective Clyde Hunt. He is also still looking for Alyssa as well. Johnny and Clyde work individually to find out what happened to Alyssa. Fantastic book to begin in 2010!!

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, by Tiffany Baker

One of the best books I’ve read! You will be captivated by the main character and heroine, Truly Plaice! She is a survivor and makes the best out of life’s challenges that are sent her way. Truly is born large and continues to grow because of an overactive pituitary gland.  She is made fun of by many and at the same time loved by many as well. The town of Aberdeen almost seems like a magical place as you read about the history of the town.

Everything in the world has its two faces, however. Weeds sometimes blossom into artful flowers. Beauty walks hand in hand with ugliness, sickness with health, and life tiptoes around in the horned shadow of death. The trick is to recognize which is which and to recognize what you’re dealing with at the time. At any given moment, you can tip the balance just a little, one way or the other, if you’re paying attention…”

I actually did NOT rush through this book because I didn’t want it to end!

Making Toast: A Family Story, by Roger Rosenblatt

This was a GoodReads First-Reads Selection…and what an excellent book! I don’t know where to begin raving about it. It’s a memoir of Roger Rosenblatt’s 38-year old daughter, Amy, who died suddenly from a heart problem. Roger and his wife move in with Amy’s husband, and their three young children. What special people Roger and his wife Ginny were to not even hesitate to come to the aid of their son-in-law! I cried in so many parts of the book. Roger shares his family’s life and celebrates Amy’s life and her legacy. Roger would post a “Word of the Day” for the two older grandchildren in the morning. What a smart way to introduce words and how they could relate to the grandchildren. One of their family customs was to always say, “Love you” at the end of a phone conversation. I was so touched by this because it is one of our family traditions as well that we have passed onto our three daughters. Lastly, on Amy’s twenty-first birthday, Ginny wrote her a letter. Again I was brought to tears by her wish for her daughter. I thought of my three daughters as well. “I wish you work that matters. I wish you the joy of great love in marriage. I wish you the beauty and fulfillment that comes from being a mother.” Pick up this wonderful heartfelt book!

Pop, by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman has written a superb coming of age novel which deals with the issues of football, making choices, and the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, in Pop.  The story deals with high school football player, Marcus and his relationship with his friend, Charlie, who is a retired NFL football player. Charlie was named, “the King of Pop,” because when he hit opposing players he used power-packed jolts. Charlie works with Marcus and it pays off on the football field! Marcus notices though that something is wrong with Charlie.


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