H.W. Brands always seems to bring to light lesser known people or events. We all know about the founding fathers of this country but give little time and energy to the next generation of statesmen who had to keep the fledgling country going and balance the many different visions of democracy. John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster were all very intelligent, well-respected and very verbal politicians. All had White House aspirations but lost the office to others and all of them maintained very visible Washington profiles. The three men came from different parts of the country which held to different beliefs. Post-revolutionary Washington was just as volatile, loud and fraught with political strife as today and these three men were at the forefront of one of the greatest and disturbing question - how to handle those who wanted slavery to continue with those that didn't. This debate would last through several presidencies, numerous proposals and for Calhoun, Clay and Webster, a lifetime of debate. This book is well researched and in character with his other books, filled with interesting side stories to give you the necessary background. Instead of just spouting facts and figures, Brands makes history come alive.
Politics, an unsolved crime and a group of people who might know the truth but have little power are what makes up this timely story.
It gets a bit jumbled when you are going from the current day back a decade or more and then reading bits of a play throughout. The story is very similar to what we are seeing in the "Me Too" movement so even though it takes place on a small island with a shaky government instead of Washington or Hollywood, the similarities are clear. A group of not powerful Davids take on a Goliath powerful Senator.
Nine people check in at Tranquillum House to change their lives - ok, maybe just tweak a few things but these nine strangers come together for a week at a highly recommended health resort. Some are married, some not, some are older, some not, but all come with baggage and what they see as flaws. What harm can a week of well-balanced meals, light exercise, yoga and some great spa treatments do? Boy, were they wrong as none of them expected to end up at this expensive resort with a psychopath. Liane Moriarty captures the best and the worst of people as well as what we all fear the most and rolls it up into one big totally crazy mess. I haven't laughed, cried and slapped my forehead with a "did that really just happen moment" in a long time.
This western is told in two ways. One is the very authentic voice of a prisoner retelling events and his confession to his army jailer and the other is the account of the events that led up to the arrest and shortly after. The setting is the Dakota Territories after the Civil War and what is left of the U.S. Cavalry establishing forts in the West is not the cream of the military crop. Once again we are reminded that America was and still is, a melting pot and this is the American West from an Irish immigrant's perspective. The viewpoint of the army with its cultural mix, the racial hatred and bitterness that was still present after the Civil War, the religious intolerance, and the degradation of the Native Americans all factor into this brutal and honest tale. The author, who is Irish, has captured a slice of life of the lost people of the American West trying to start over, still searching for the streets of gold and good fortune and still finding the same brutality and injustice they faced in the old country. It is a gut-wrenching and heartbreaking tale mixed with moments of tenderness.
This feels more like the Stephen King stories penned under the name Richard Backman than a hefty novel by the horror king. It is really more of a slim novella and one that is so sweet and such a quiet story you might have to check the cover like I did to make sure it really was written by Stephen King. The setting is our beloved Castle Rock, filled with unusual characters but also very likable people. The main character is a quiet man who visits his retired family doc to solve an extreme problem. Scott is losing weight every day and no matter what he wears or how much weight he holds while on the scale the outcome is the same. Suddenly an ordinary man is not so ordinary and he gets a lesson in tolerance when he starts to see how his condition may make the townspeople see him differently.
Stephen King is a master of taking ordinary people who we identify with and placing them in extraordinary conditions.
It started out as an awkward family birthday celebration but quickly spun out of control when Paul's parents become ill, his father clinging to life as the waters of the Seine River climb over the banks at an alarming rate and Paris prepares for a disaster. Paul is a famous photographer and the son of a tree expert who is akin to "the tree whisperer" also famous and part of a truly dysfunctional family. While Paul communicates his true feelings through his camera he is unable to share the most private parts of his life with his family. A moment of disaster will either bind this family or scatter it to the wind once and for all. A true rainy day read about coming to grips about who you are and who you love and a lesson - silence is not golden.
Hulda is an Icelandic cop who is being pushed out of her job early - well, at 64 she considers it too early. She is given a couple of weeks and is released from all her casework but her boss throws her a bone by letting her look at dead cases and it is the one of a young Russian asylum seeker that was deemed a suicide that has Hulda's interest. She is determined to add up all the little details that were overlooked by her colleague and in doing so, makes herself a nuisance. We get a glimpse of her bulldog reluctance to let it go and how her unusual upbringing adds to her feelings about this case. There is a constant reference to how remote the Icelandic landscape is and you realize that there are so many places a killer could hide or hide a body. Time may be running out for Hulda. Grizzly Scandinavian noir thriller with a likable "not ready to retire" heroine - Hulda is the Agatha Christie of Iceland.
A very naive young woman falls hard for an older widowed Senator who comes with baggage- a bratty teenager and a mansion. Not only must she adjust to a life of leisure and privilege, but she must also tackle the toughest job of all, that of trying to help Dani get over her mother's death and guide her into making better choices by being the perfect Stepmom. It is a complete reversal of her hard-working modest life in the islands working the tourist boat trade plus she feels in the shadow of Max's beautiful, competent dead wife.
Creepy mystery, romance and a strong character that scores an A-plus for great Stepmom - this is a fairy tale romance that you hope will end with a happy ending and you are always a bit off-balanced.
Xanthe has the gift of learning about an object's history just from holding it so when she picks up an antique silver chatelaine she knows she must have it at any cost. She and her mother are going through hard times and have decided to start again in a small English village and open an antique store. Xanthe's only concern is her mother's health and making sure the shop is a success until she meets up with a very insistent ghost who makes Xanthe an offer she can't refuse. It is a good thing that Xanthe is an old soul and wears period clothes because she is whisked away into the early 1600's to help rescue a serving girl that has been wrongly accused. The little village is delightful and full of well-meaning quirky characters plus there is the knowledge that she is her mom's only helpmate but there is also someone on the other side that wants Xanthe to stay. A must for all those Outlander fans or anyone who enjoys the trials of time travel. An open-ended ending leaves room for the possibility of more books to come.
A man is dead- a bad man who captured children and buried them alive. Florence should be one happy policewoman as she is the one who broke the case all those years ago but now she has a nagging feeling that the killer could still be out there. We jump between young Florence as the only female working this horrific crime that will rip her small town apart and years later when she returns with her teenage son in tow to attend the funeral and put things to bed. There isn't time to breathe in this thriller as the tension builds from the first page and it isn't until the very end that you realize you have been holding your breath the whole time. Secret killers, spooky nights in graveyards and witch covens operating under the full moon make this book a powerful one-sitting knockout thriller.
I love to read good books and share the new books that are available and those that are coming soon