Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Story Description:
Baker Publishing Group|August 1 2013| Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-8007-2246-3
The red warning light on her car dashboard drove Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico.  But as she encounters the people who make Last Chance their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights.  These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life for Lainie’s comfort – especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed. 
Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the dramas of small town life.  An old church lady who always has room for a stranger.  A handsome bartender with a secret life.  A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son.  Could Lainie actually make a life in this little hick town?  Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere? 
Cathleen Armstrong pens a debut novel filled with complex, lovable characters making their way through life and relationships the best they can.  Her evocative descriptions, observational humor, and talent at rendering romantic scenes will earn her many fans. 
My Review:
Lainie Davis was running away from Long Beach and away from her friend, Nick and his crazy world of drugs and dealers.  That whole life was turning him into a “frightening stranger.” 
Driving for three days now, Lainie was getting tired.  Around midnight a warning light of some type began flashing on the dashboard of her car.  She didn’t want her car breaking down now with only two-hundred miles left to her destination of El Paso, and she’d be there by morning if her car held up just a little bit longer.  But, it was not to be – Lainie’s car broke down in Last Chance, New Mexico.  The sign said there were only 743 people in this town. 
Once out of her vehicle, Lainie realized she was in front of a bar called the “High Lonesome Saloon” and the good thing was that the open sign was still lit in the window.  When she entered there were only the bartender and one customer seated.  The bartender greeted her but informed her it was only 15 minutes to closing time so Lainie just asked for a cold soda.  She explained to the man her car had broken down and was now sitting in the middle of his parking lot and if he wanted it moved he’d have to help her push it.  The man told her not to worry about it for overnight and that in the morning “Manny from Otero Gas and Oil” could give her a hand with it.  He informed her that Manny opened around eight, so she asked where she could stay until then. 
The bartender informed her there was only one motel in town and it was closed as the owner was away until Friday.  So Lainie had no choice but to sleep in her car until morning, not something she really wanted to do but had no choice.  She grabbed a pillow, hunkered down and fell to sleep. 
When Lainie woke up the sun was finally up too which relieved her anxiety.  Across the road she saw a Dip ‘n’ Sip and decided she needed coffee. 
When she entered the restaurant, the waitress said: “Honey, you didn’t sleep in that car did you?”  Lainie asked if there was somewhere she could freshen up and the waitress did her one better by providing her with a place to shower in the back.  Lainie was so grateful.  Nothing felt so good as that shower, she felt like a brand new woman.  She pulled clean clothing from her backpack and although a little wrinkled, served the need just perfectly. 
As she searched in her backpack, she felt a bulge in the lining and yanked the bag open wide, she held it to the light and discovered a slit just wider than her hand cut under the zipper.  Her fingers felt numb as she worked her hand through the slit and down the side of the pack.  She knew what she had before she pulled the plastic bag of crystals into the light. 
One of Nick’s friends had bragged and shown him a similar bag in their living room and told him what they could get for it once it hit the street.  She and Nick argued after he left and Nick promised he’d never see those friends again, and the day came Lainie came home to see them pulling away from the curb, she knew she had to leave.  She had put nearly a thousand miles between her and Nick, but when she pulled the drugs from her backpack, it was if he had shoved his way into the room too.  Her dream of letting him go, of moving on, was over.  Nick would already be looking for her, and he didn’t give up.  Her hand was shaking as she shoved the plastic bag back behind the lining again, way down this time, clear to the bottom.  Somehow she needed to get rid of the drugs but she’d figure that out later.  The waitress would soon check up on her if she didn’t get back out there. 
Fayette, the waitress gave Lainie a smile.  She climbed up onto a stool at the counter and perused the menu.  She had a biscuit and coffee.  Fayette insisted she also have eggs and sausage and Lainie gave in, agreeing with her. 
Lainie inquired to Fayette about the best possible way to get out of Last Chance as she really had to get to El Paso today.  Fayette informed her there was a bus that went straight through San Ramon two or three times a day it was about 20 miles from there, but someone was always heading up there and she could try and find someone to give her a ride.  If that failed, Fayette said she could take her up herself after the restaurant closed.  But the only bus leaving that late wasn’t until nearly midnight which would get her into El Paso at 2:30 in the morning. 
Lainie went to make a phone call to her friend, Lindsay to see if she could pick her up at the other end.  Lindsay then informed Lainie that Nick had phoned her and seemed pretty sure he’d find her there.  Lainie was panicked and asked what she’d told him.  Lindsay said tht she told him she hadn’t heard from Lainie in months, but wasn’t totally sure he’d bought it.  Lainie told Lindsay that she’d better not come then for awhile.  Lainie instructed Lindsay that if Nick was to contact her again, NOT to tell him she had spoken to her.  “Just say you never heard from me.”
Lainie sat down with her hands covering her face on her backpack when she felt Fayette put her hand on her shoulder asking if she was alright.  Lainie returned to the restaurant, at her sausage and eggs with some green chile for the eggs. 
What is poor Lainie going to do now?  How will she get to El Paso  Will she even get to El Pas or will she stay and try to put down roots in Last Chance? 
Welcome to Last Chance was a phenomenal debut novel!  Well-written with a great story line.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”


Story Description:
Baker Publishing Group|August 1, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7642-1001-3
Judith Miller’s Novels Offer a Fascinating Look inside the Amana Colonies.
Joining the communal society of the Amana Colonies isn’t what Jancey Rhoder planned for her future but when unforeseen circumstances force her family to make some difficult decisions, she chooses to give up her teaching position in a Kansas City orphanage and move with her parents to Iowa. 
Her besotted suitor, Nathan Woodwoard, isn’t at all happy about the move and is determined to get Jancey to change her mind.  And Jancey herself isn’t sure what she’s gotten herself into when the simple life of the Amana Colonies means she’ll be assigned a job and may have to give up teaching for good.  Will Nathan woo her back to the city, or will she be forever changed by the mysterious events and new relationships that await her in the quiet villages on the Amana Colonies – and decide to make this unique place her forever home? 
My Review:
Jancey Rhoder was very happy with her volunteer job teaching the children; six boys and four girls, ranging in age from five to ten years.  All the children loved Jancey as much as she loved them.  All the children were orphans of the Kansas City Charity Home. 
During her off time, Jancey dated Nathan Woodward  - he hoped to marry her one day in the near future.  She still lived at home with her parents but her mother was very unwell and dying.  Jancey helped her father with caring for her as best she could. 
One evening father said that he and mother needed to speak to Jancey about something and it sounded serious.  He started off by saying that they’d already made a number of changes to the house in order to accommodate her mother’s declining health.  The current sitting room had once been a guest bedroom, and they’d even moved the dining table to one end of the room in order to eat their meals together when Mother couldn’t navigate the stairs.  At this point, Jancey was wondering what else her father could possibly say, then he dropped a bomb – they were moving to Iowa!!!!  Jancey’s mother wanted to move back to the Amana Colonies where she had roots from years before.  To say the least, Jancey was shocked – what did this mean for her?  Will she stay in Kansas and continue to teach?  Where would she live?  How would she support herself?  What about Nathan?  Should she go to the Amana Colonies with her parents?  What about her mother’s declining health, could father care for her on his own without her?  Oh dear, Jancey had so, so many questions to answer but answer them she does. 
A Simple Change was a most interesting read.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”


Story Description:
Baker Publishing Group|August 1, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-8007-2093-3
Rose Schrock is a plain woman with a simple plan.  Determined to find a way to support her family and pay off her late husband’s debts she sets to work to convert the basement of her Amish farmhouse into an inn.  While her family, especially her cranky mother-in-law, is unhappy with Rose’s big idea, her friend and neighbor, Galen King, supports the decision and he helps with the conversion.  As Rose finalizes preparations for visitors, she prays.  She asks God to bless each guest who stays at the Inn at Eagle Hill.  As the first guest arrives and settles in, Rose is surprised to discover that her entire family is the one who receives the blessings, in the most unexpected ways.  And she’s even more surprised when that guest decides to play matchmaker for Galen King. 
With her signature plot twists combined with gentle Amish romance, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites readers back to Stoney Ridge for fresh stories of simple pleasures despite the complexity of life.  Fisher’s tale of God’s providence and provision will delight her fans and create many new ones.  Welcome to the Inn at Eagle Hill. 
My Review:
Rose Schrock walked along the creek bordering the Pennsylvania farm and climbed the hill.  It was February and she wore her husband’s huge old coat.  Her golden retriever, Chase, trotted along behind her.  When Rose reached the top of the hill, she sat back against a tree and surveyed the peaceful, lovely, and calm farm below. 
Rose had been raised not to complain, so she didn’t but so many things had gone wrong over the past little while that she was having a hard time dealing with everything.  Her mother-in-law, Vera told Rose: “you can’t expect mercy” and she didn’t, she just wished things would happen slower or one at a time so she could deal with them. 
She needed to get back down the hill to wake her kids.  Her boys were very hard to wake up but her girls would already be up.  They were very helpful to Rose doing whatever chores needed to be done without complaint.  But before she left the hill she had a prayer to say.  She told God she was tired out, that she had four fatherless children – five actually if she knew where the oldest boy had run off two – an addle-minded mother-in-law and barely thirty-six dollars left in her bank account, and that she was fresh out of backbone and fight.  She asked God for a Plan B. 
Rose reflected on how things could change so drastically.  She used to have so many plans, she had enough money and seven months ago she had a husband, but now Dean was gone too. 
Thirteen-year-old, Miriam used to like visiting her grandmother’s farm, it had seemed like an adventure to adapt to the lifestyle of the Old Order Amish.  But living someplace was different than visiting and, Miriam felt she came from a different world.  She was raised in a Mennonite church in a large town in Pennsylvania – where her family had electricity and drove a car.  Here, it was quiet.  No electricity, no car, not even normal lights – just a kerosene lantern hanging from the ceiling, which hissed and gave off a flat white light.  It was all different, and all new to her. 
Eight-year-old, Sammy was a curious and nosy little boy.  He was small and stocky and always told the truth.  Sammy was Miriam’s favourite brother although she would never tell anyone that.  Her ten-year-old brother, Luke had his good points.  He was funny, smart and a bottomless pit of good ideas to do on a Sunday afternoon, but he had a sneaky side to him, like Tobe, the oldest in the family. 
Delia Stoltz was married to Dr. Charles Stoltz, a prominent neurosurgeon, their only child was in his last year of vet school at Cornell and wanted for nothing. 
Delia was running late for her doctor’s appointment but when she arrived she could tell that something was bothering Dr. Zimmerman.  When she sat down in his office, he told her: “you have cancer.”  The biopsy on the breast tissue he’d done had come back positive.  She doesn’t even remember driving home.  When she arrived, Charles was standing there with his bags packed, she must have forgotten he had a business trip until he spouted: “I’ve fallen in love with someone else, I’m sorry, honey.  I’m moving out.”  Delia didn’t even have time to tell him she had cancer – Charles was gone and out the door. 
Rose was in the grocery store when she overheard a tourist couple commenting that there was no where to stay in town.  No hotels and no bed and breakfasts.  It suddenly dawned on Rose that she had her Plan B!! 
The basement of the farmhouse was finished off with drywall and had an exterior entrance.  She could cook breakfast for guests and make some money on the side.  It wouldn’t bring in enough money to totally support the family but it sure would help. 
Delia Stoltz was at home waiting for a call from the doctor’s office to hear the results from yesterday’s lumpectomy, waiting to hear if the margins were clear.  The phone rang but it wasn’t the doctor, it was Robyn Dixon, the daughter of the Charles’s attorney – Charles was filing for a legal separation and Delia was asked to be at a meeting tomorrow at two o’clock. 
The following day, Delia was on her way to the lawyer’s office for the meeting when she stopped for gas.  She couldn’t get the hose into the car properly and broke down in tears.  A kindly woman approached to assist her.  Delia apologized to the woman and swallowed back her tears saying: “I’m sorry.  I’ve just had too much on my plate lately.” 
The woman said she understood completely and told her that she and her husband often headed to Amish Country to breathe in some fresh air and relax.  The woman told Delia about Rose’s place.  Delia decided right then and there that’s where she was going after seeing Charles kiss Robyn Dixon in the parking lot of the lawyer’s office. 
Delia, Rose and the whole family are going to get a lot more out of Delia’s visit than they bargained for – learning that you need forgiveness, love, faith, and redemption.  This was a beautiful story of love and unexpected things.  You’ll love the atmosphere at the Inn at Eagle Hill.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Story Description:
HarperCollins Publishers|May 27, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-44341-082-3
Bestselling author Tish Cohen returns with a story of one woman’s love for her child and the courage it gives her to face her biggest fear. 
As the owner of the upscale children’s boutique Pretty Baby, Eleanor Sweet is surrounded by gleaming strollers, organic cotton onesies and roundbellied expectant mothers.  It’s a serene atmosphere of new beginnings –but for the graffiti-splattered record shop next door and Eleanor’s fierce desire for a baby of her own.  Her wish is finally granted in the form of Sylvie, an orphaned baby en route from earthquake – stricken Baja California.  But when Eleanor’s husband unexpectedly gets cold feet and backs out, her dream of adopting Sylvie is at risk. 
Adopted herself, Eleanor has always been reluctant to search out her birth mother, afraid of what she might find.  But she is determined to save the adoption and give Sylvie the family she deserves.  Eleanor hires Isabelle, a search angel, to find her birth mother.  What Eleanor discovers about love and family isn’t what she expects, but it gives her a new understanding of what it means to be a mother. 
My Review:
Eleanor Sweet and her emergency room physician husband, Jonathan are in the process of adopting Sylvie.  A little baby left without a mother after a devastating earthquake in Baja California.  The morning they are getting ready to hop into the taxi cab to head to the airport to pick up their baby girl, Jonathan backs out of the deal.  By the time Eleanor finishes arguing with Jonathan the taxi has gone and they’re going to miss their plane.
Jonathan decides this isn’t what he wants and he doesn’t just mean adopting a baby, he’s also not sure he wants the marriage anymore.  He ends up moving out and leaves Eleanor on her own.
Eleanor isn’t worried about supporting herself as she owns the best baby product store in the country called “Pretty Baby”, an upscale children’s boutique.  She sells the most scrumptious children’s and baby things ever described and while reading I could picture the inside of that store in my mind’s eye, perfectly. 
After much thought and not willing to give up on her dream of becoming a mother, Eleanor hires a “Search Angel”, Isabelle,  to help her find her own birth mother.  Eleanor herself was adopted.  Isabelle is a real character unto herself and you’ll get a million laughs at her quirkiness. 
The woman at the adoption agency, Nancy, has Eleanor attend some additional classes and has her fill out some extra paperwork now that she is adopting a single Mom rather than a family and all goes well.
Isabelle begins the search for Eleanor’s birth mother but she doesn’t exactly find what she was expecting.  I guess we all build up various scenarios in our minds about how things will go and how they will turn out and time and again we’re disappointed.  At least it wasn’t a total bust for Eleanor.  Although she was hoping to learn about families and love she was disappointed on that front but she did learn what it means to be a mother. 
 The Search Angel was a beautiful, feel-good story that every woman should read.  Whether you’re in the process of adopting, having your own children, or even not having any children at all, you should read this lovely story anyway.  It’ll just make you feel good. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Story Description:
Algonquin Books|April 30, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-61620-079-4
In the middle of a terrifying air raid in Japanese occupied Taiwan, Saburo, the least-favored son of a Taiwanese politician, runs through a peach forest for cover.  It’s there that he stumbles upon Yoshiko, who descriptions of her loving family are to Saburo like a glimpse of paradise.  Meeting her is a moment he will remember forever, and for years he will try to find her again.  When he finally does, she is by the side of his oldest brother and greatest rival. 
Set in tumultuous and violent period of Taiwanese history – as the Chinese Nationalist Army lays claims to the island and one autocracy replaces another – and the fast changing American West of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, The Third Son is a richly textured story of lives governed by the inheritance of family and the legacy of culture, and of a young man determined to free hiself from both.
In Saburo, debut author, Julie Wu has created an extraordinary character who is determined to fight for everything he needs and wants, from food to education to his first love.  A sparkling and moving story, it will have readers cheering for a young boy with his head in the clouds who, against all odds, finds hiself on the frontier of American’s space program. 
My Review:
In 1943 the Americans bombed Taiwan and it was during those bombings that Saburo met Yoshiko.  Saburo was only 8-years-old at the time. 
Saburo had six brothers and sisters and they were all afraid of their father who was a domineering man with massive fingers and who smoked cigarettes.  The mere sound of his footsteps would send all seven children scattering throughout the furthest reaches of the house.  In the evenings their father would translate the imperial broadcasts from the radio to the children.  All the kids understood Japanese.  “Taiwan had been a Japanese colony since 1895.  Japanese was their official language, and even our family name, Tongo, was Japanese.”  But when they were at home they all spoke Taiwanese and were descendants of Mainland Chinese, and only their father understood the subtle nuances of Japanese language and culture that gave meaning to the official broadcasts. 
Saburo was constantly being compared to his oldest brother, Kazuo.  His appearance and intellect was so much like his father.  Kazou sat on the floor beside their father copying out columns of kanji onto sheets of rice paper.  Kazou’s handwriting was much better than Saburo’s, a fact his mother was at all times eager to impress upon him.  Basically, Saburo was not treated very well by his family, he was like the black sheep. 
By the time the Tongo family were advised to evacuate, Saburo’s parents had already made plans to move to a house north of Taipei, near the farm where his mother had been raised. 
One afternoon while sitting in school, ignoring his teacher’s lecture, Saburo thought about the fact that he was the third son, and he recognized how different he was from his brothers.  He felt different from all the children sitting around him in the classroom as well.  Saburo was staring out the window looking at the sky and the clouds when he suddenly saw three tiny spots moving toward the school.  He jumped up from his seat yelling: “Look!”  The teacher went to get her stick to strike him for his outburst but at the same time the air-raid siren went off.  The entire class erupted in cries of alarm and hurried to their places in line.  It wasn’t the first air-raid and they all knew what to do.  Some Japanese bureaucrat had decided that the best thing for schoolchildren to do was to run home. 
The siren wailed and the children ran holding their writing boards over their heads.  Saburo had seen the planes during previous air-raids and today he had seen the planes for himself and could hear the bombs and machine gun fire quite close by.  The last thing he wanted to do was leave the shelter of the school but the principal came outside to lock-up and began shouting at him to leave. 
Saburo ran to the woods at the back of the school and made his way along a path there.  As shells exploded on the railroad tracks and bullets sprayed the roofs of houses and schools he made his way from tree to tree.  Then he heard the very distinct cry of a young girl. 
Saburo ran toward the sound and found one girl helping another one up.  They both looked to be about 8-years-old, with matching school uniforms and the short, severe haircuts required by the Japanese school system.  The one girl had fallen and her knee was bloodied, but they were both holding their writing boards over their heads as they’d all been taught to do during air-raids. 
The girl that Saburo liked was, Yoshiko he thought she was beautiful.  As they ran together through the field, an American plane was headed straight for them with bullets flying.  Saburo thought for sure the two of them would be shot down like animals slaughtered in a field.  They managed to escape and came out of the field to a bank of stores.  Yoshiko’s brother found her and rode her home on his bicycle.  Saburo felt abandoned and alone until Yoshiko rubbed his head and told him he was a “good boy”.  She had just given him the first tender moment of his life. 
When he arrived home late, his mother was waiting with a bamboo switch to beat him with.  The pain of the first blow knocked him to his knees – the blunt force of the main branch against his side, the sharpness of the little twigs cutting into the skin between his shirt and the waistband of his shorts.  The beating continued and continued until at last she was exhausted.  Most days Saburo was beaten for being late for dinner but he couldn’t help himself for he loved the outside so much.  No one at home loved him anyway and Kazou was the favoured son who could do no wrong.  His mother NEVER beat any of his sisters or brothers, even if they came home late. 
Saburo decided that day that he would search for Yoshiko, to find her one day and marry her.  And, that is exactly what he did.  Meeting up with her again years later, he learned she was involved with his hateful brother, Kazou.  Can he win her back, pass a university entrance exam and complete his dream of going to American to get an education? 
The Third Son pulled me in from the very first page and I didn’t stop reading until I’d turned the last page.  This is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds, having faith in one’s own self, having the confidence to push the envelope further and further to obtain your goals, a story of love, redemption, and a love between two people that spans two continents showing that faith and hope are important values to use in our lives. 
Julie Wu’s debut is going to be a huge hit, I just know it.  This was a heartbreakingly beautiful and wonderful view of love and history and a rare must-read treat!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Story Description:
Knopf Doubleday|July 16, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-385-53554-0
New York Times bestselling author Alex Kava returns with another action-packed thriller featuring special agent Maggie O’Dell who is on the hunt for a “truck stop” serial killer. 
Tired travelers and weary truckers have stopped at rest areas on the nation’s highways for decades to refuel, grab a bite to eat, and maybe get some shut-eye, but one man’s rest stop is another’s hunting ground.  For decades the defenseless, the weary, and the stranded have disappeared along the highways and byways, vanishing without a trace, but these seemingly unconnected incidents are no coincidence, and a madman stalks the freeways. 
When FBI special agent Maggie O’Dell and her partner, Tully, discover the remains of a young woman in a highway ditch, the one clue left behind is a map that will send Maggie and Tully on a frantic hunt crisscrossing the country to stop a madman before he kills again. 
As the body count rises and Maggie races against the clock to unmask the monster who’s terrorizing the nation’s highways, she turns to a former foe for help since he seems to know just what the killer’s next move will be.  As she gets closer to finding the killer, it becomes eerily clear that Maggie is the ultimate target. 
My Review:
Maggie O’Dell has gotten herself into quite the pickle this time around.  She and Tully think they’re dealing with a serial killer killing random women and men along the truckers way.  But the killers ultimate prize that he’s really after is our own dear, Maggie O’Dell.
When the serial killer leaves a map for Maggie to follow she ends up in a forested area that just seems a tad bit too dark and secluded.  Will Maggie make it out alive and is this the end of our precious Maggie O’Dell series??
Stranded was a fast-paced read and I read it in one sitting.  I was dragged in and towed along until I’d turned the very last page.  What a rollercoaster of a ride folks, don’t miss it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

SECOND SUNS: Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives (DAVID OLIVER RELIN)

Story Description:
Random House|June 18, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-4000-6925-5
From the co-author of ‘Three Cups of Tea’ comes the inspiring story of two very different doctors – one from the United States, the other from Nepal – united in a common mission: to rid the world of preventable blindness. 
In this transporting book, David Oliver Relin shines a light on the work of Geoffrey Tabin and Sanduk Ruit gifted ophthalmologists who have dedicated their lives to restoring sight to some of the world’s most isolated, impoverished people through the Himalayan Cataract Project, an organization they founded in 1995.  Tabin was the high-achieving bad boy of Harvard Medical School, an unaccomplished mountain climber and adrenaline junkie as brilliant as he was unconventional.  Ruit grew up in a remote Nepalese village, where he became intimately acquainted with the human costs of inadequate access to health care.  Together they found their life’s calling: tending to the afflicted people of the Himalayas, a vast mountainous region with an alarmingly high incidence of cataract blindness. 
Second Suns takes us from improvised plywood operating tables in villages without electricity or plumbing to state-of-the-art surgical centers at major American universities where these two driven men are restoring sight and hope to patients from around the world.  With their revolutionary, inexpensive style of surgery, Tabin and Ruit have been able to cure tens of thousands – all for about twenty dollars per operation.  David Oliver Relin brings the doctor’s work to vivid life through poignant portraits of patients helped by the surgery, from old men who cannot walk treacherous mountain trails unaided to cataract-stricken children who have not seen their mother’s faces for years.  With the dexterity of a master storyteller, Relin shows the profound emotional and practical impact that these operations have had on patient’s lives. 
Second Suns is the moving, unforgettable story of how two men with a shared dream are changing the world, one pair of eyes at a time. 
My Review:
I really don’t have anything to add to the story description above other than this was one well-written, fantastic read!  What these two doctors’ have managed to accomplish is truly remarkable and to think of the  hundreds of thousands of people they have helped is truly staggering.  I couldn’t imagine being a child and never having seen my mother’s face.
Don’t miss this one, it is truly one phenomenal story.


Story Description:
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd|May 9, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-44341-829-4
A raw and ground breaking journey to the depths of addiction, from the author of ‘Our Daily Bread’, long-listed for the Giller Prize. 
Colleen Kerrigan wakes up sick and bruised, with no clear memory of the night before.  It’s Monday morning and she is late for work again.  She’s shocked to see the near-empty vodka bottle on her kitchen counter.  It was full at noon yesterday, surely she didn’t drink that much last night?  As she struggles out the door, she fights the urge to have a sip just to take the edge off.  But no, she’s not going to drink today. 
But this is the day Colleen’s demons come for her.  A very bad day spirals into night as a series of flashbacks take the reader through Colleen’s past moments of friendship and loss, fragments of peace and possibility.  The single constant is the bottle, always close by, Colleen’s worst enemy and her only friend. 
In this unforgettable work, acclaimed novelist Lauren B. Davis has created as searing, raw and powerful a portrayal of the chaos and pain of alcoholism as we have encountered in fiction.  Told with compassion, insight and an irresistible gallows humour, The Empty Room takes us to the depths of addiction, only to find a revelation at its heart: the importance and grace of one person reaching out to another. 
My Review:
Colleen Kerrigan is a severe alcoholic.  Her entire world is centered around booze and she gets herself absolutely plastered to the point of vomiting.  She drinks mostly vodka but will imbibe in wine and other spirits as well. 
Colleen worked at the university and kept bottles in the bottom drawer of her desk so she could grab a few “sips” throughout her work day.  Due to her excessive drinking she was constantly late for work and lately had been forgetting to complete some of her job assignments as well. 
She didn’t have a lot of friends but those she did have were not alcoholics like her.  Colleen’s mother was still alive and living in an assisted care home.  The relationship between Colleen and her mother was riddled with tension and mistrust.  She grew up watching her parents drink so she came by it honestly.  Her mother was constantly threatening suicide and spent a lot of time telling Colleen what a loser her father was. 
The story takes place over one day of Colleen’ life – she wakes up on a Monday morning extremely sick, bruised, and with no memory of what took place the night before.  As she stumbles around she is very surprised to see an almost empty vodka bottle on her kitchen counter and can’t believe she would drink that much in one night.  She is going to be late for work again and as she gets ready she promises herself that she will NOT drink today. 
However, little does Colleen know that today is the day that her life choices will finally catch up to her.  As a very, very bad day spirals out of control and into the night, a series of flashbacks takes us through Colleen’s past.  The one and only constant through it all is the booze, for it is truly her only friend and worst enemy. 
The Empty Room is a gripping story and reads like a memoir.  I would highly recommend this book for book clubs, it would make for some very interesting conversation considering what happens to one’s life when one chooses to allow an outside force to take over their entire life.


Monday, July 8, 2013


Story Description:
Scribner|September 10, 2013|Advanced Reader’s Edition||ISBN: 978-1-4516-4560-6
The spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity in Somalia – a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace. 
At the age of eighteen, Amanda Lindhout moved from her hardscrabble Alberta hometown to the big city – Calgary – and worked as a cocktail waitress, saving her tips so she could travel the globe.  As a child, she escaped a violent household by paging through National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales.  Now she would see those places for real.  She backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each experience, went on to travel solo across Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan.  In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a TV reporter.  And then in August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia – “the most dangerous place on earth” – to report on the fighting there.  On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted. 
An astoundingly intimate and harrowing account of Lindhout’s fifteen months as a captive, A House in the Sky illuminates the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of her young guards and the men in charge of them.  She is kept in chains nearly starved, and subjected to  unthinkable abuse.  She survives by imaging herself in a “house in the sky,” looking down at the woman shackled below, and finding strength and hope in the power of her own mind.  Lindhourt’s decision, upon her release, to counter the violence he endured by founding an organization to help the Somali people rebuild their country through education is a wrenching testament to the capacity of the human spirit and an astonishing portrait of the power of compassion and forgiveness. 
My Review:
If you read the above ‘Story Description’ you’ll have an exact idea of what this wonderful memoir is about.  I only want to add that Amanda Lindhout has to be one of the most courageous women I’ve read about in a long time.  The unspeakable abuse she endured day after day for fifteen long months is truly harrowing.  To be trussed up like an animal and suspended from a ceiling for forty-eight hours at a time is totally unfathomable to me but she somehow survived by escaping to her “house in the sky” where she watched the woman below her being tortured.
One of the guards was particularly gruelling in his abuse and punishment and raped her on an almost daily basis and how she ever endured that I’ll never know, regardless of her ‘house in the sky.’  She had to separate her physical self from her emotional self in order to deal with the horrifying things that were happening to her and they were brutish and inhumane in every way conceivable.  I cried while reading several passages in this book and my heart went out to this young woman who showed such strength and resilience in the face of such brutality.
Although she suffered unbearable abuse and torture, she still had the passion and compassion at the end of this horrendous journey to set up educational help to aid Somalia in reordering their country.  It takes a very, very special person to be able to do that.
This book affected me on so many levels, emotionally and spiritually mostly.  I honestly and sincerely don’t believe I could ever have survived what this young woman did.  I would have died in captivity long before the fifteen months was up.  Amanda, you are a true testament to what the human body can withstand and a true testament for other woman to show strength and courage in the face of such horrible adversity.  I am so very sorry for what happened to you and thank you for having the courage to share your most intimate story with us.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget you and your story.
Thank you to GoodReads for sending me a copy of this book which I won in their contest.  I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this book for the world and will be keeping it as part of my permanent collection.