Friday, February 14, 2020

Follow Me to Ground

Cures. Will the Earth heal us? In her debut novel titled, Follow Me to Ground, Sue Rainsford creates a setting where short or long periods buried in the ground cure people. Protagonist Ada and her father provide healing to the people who come to them, who they call “Cures.” Ada lives with her father at the outer edge of a village, and they are neither inside nor outside the community. The sick are pleased to be healed. Ada is caught between working with her father and finding love with a man. What does it mean to be a woman? Is burying in the ground a prelude to resurrection? Fans of literary fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy this unusual novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Follow Me to Ground from amazon.com.

Year of the Monkey

Artist. Treat yourself by spending time reading Patti Smith’s memoir titled, Year of the Monkey. This multi-dimensional talented artist offers readers her memories, dreams, impressions, and experiences of 2016. We travel with her during this year and thanks to her poetic language, we feel what she felt. Thanks to her photographs, we see a few of the things that her artistic eye captured. Most of all, we get to admire a talented artist use many of her skills to try to reveal herself to us and to help us reveal ourselves to the world. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Year of the Monkey from amazon.com.

This Is Happiness

Change. Change is in the air in the rural Ireland town of Faha, and not just because the electricity is coming. Niall Williams pulls readers into Faha and its people in his finely written novel titled, This Is Happiness. Williams writes beautiful sentences that capture the setting and the people in ways that may lead a reader to underline or reread. Since the next sentence is usually as good as or better than the last, this can become rhythmic and we begin to feel as if we are in Faha among these fascinating people. Fans of literary fiction are those readers who will enjoy every hour spent in Ireland on the pages of this finely written novel. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase This Is Happiness from amazon.com.

It Shouldn't Be This Hard to Serve Your Country: Our Broken Government and the Plight of Veterans

Politicals. Dr. David Shulkin has first-hand experience of the exercise of political power, and that’s what he writes about in his book titled, It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country: Our Broken Government and the Plight of Veterans. After success as a physician and in health administration roles, Shulkin joined the Obama Administration in 2015 as Under Secretary for Health in the Department of Veterans Affairs. His focus was on veterans and he is proud of his accomplishments. President Trump asked Shulkin to stay on in government to become Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Before long, Shulkin experienced the vise of political power squeeze him. A Florida pal of the president’s became a regular point of contact, and a group of “politicals” ran a parallel policy operation within the VA with their focus on privatization. The title describes the tone of the book, and veterans will read this and understand the threats they face from the exercise of raw political power at the VA. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase It Shouldn’t Be This Hard from amazon.com.

The Peppermint Tea Chronicles

Kindness. I admit to being a tea snob, and I can’t think of a more vile concoction that peppermint tea. I’m also a fan of Alexander McCall Smith’s writing, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading his latest compilation of pieces about the recurring cast of characters from 44 Scotland Street that were serialized in The Scotsman. The new book is titled, The Peppermint Tea Chronicles, and kindness abounds providing pleasure to fans of this series. Irene remains absent, to the delight of Stuart and Bertie. Lots of big and little things are happening to every member of the cast of characters, and fans will close the last page with a sigh as we await the next installments. Readers who enjoy fiction that lifts one’s spirits can start with this book and become enchanted and ready to read the series. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Peppermint Tea Chronicles from amazon.com.

Religion As We Know It

Brief. Jack Miles has written a lot about religion, and his latest book titled, Religion As We Know It, may be the briefest and most accessible. While he points readers toward The Norton Anthology of World Religions, for which he is general editor, it seemed to me that he’s using this little book to include things he couldn’t write in the anthology. Readers with a general interest in religion are those most likely to enjoy this book. Rating: Three-star (It’s ok) Click here to purchase Religion As We Know It from amazon.com.

Westwind

Prescient. Ian Rankin wrote the novel, Westwind, in 1990, but it was first published in the United States in 2020. This is a thrilling story of alliances and betrayal that stands up well thirty years later, and in many ways was prescient about today’s world. While this novel is nothing like the author’s Rebus series, the plot is entertaining, the characters interesting and the story plausible. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Westwind from amazon.com.