Escape Clause by John Sandford

October 20, 2016 by


This novel has everything you could want in a Virgil Flowers book. A plot with a couple of twists, lots of local Minnesota touches, humor, and great dialogue from some of my favorite characters. There’s even a little cameo from Lucas Davenport (yea!). This is the 9th book in the V. Flowers series and it hits all the high points.  Every time I read one of John Sandfords novels – I feel like I’m meeting up with a bunch of old friends and can’t wait to find out what they’re up to now!


Delicious by Ruth Reichl

October 12, 2016 by


This book starts as a simple story about twenty-something girl running from a tragic past and landing a job at a premier cooking magazine. But it quickly transforms into a mystery and character study with an incredible cast of quirky folks.  The history with WWII as the background was fascinating. The discussions about food rationing, and the subsequent recipes, was very interesting.  The letters exchanged between James Beard and a young girl were such a great part of the story. The story was unpredictable with its many fun twists and turns, and was a great read. (I actually listened to the audio of this and the narrator was great.)  I didn’t want this story to end.  Make sure you have some snacks ready as you read this – the food descriptions are amazing!

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

October 5, 2016 by


Lab Girl is a fascinating memoir by scientist (paleobiologist) Hope Jahren. It is beautifully written, and gives a vivid glimpse of what it is like to be a woman running an academic science lab. You feel her frustration at the constant struggle to obtain funding, the joys of her scientific discoveries, and her complicated and fascinating friendship with her friend and lab partner. She also offers a vivid picture of what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder, and how she navigates her work and motherhood and marriage. I particular love the way she interweaves the stories of the trees she studies into the story of her life. Highly recommend.

Guilty Minds by Joseph Finder

October 5, 2016 by


Another great thriller from Joseph Finder. This the 3rd in the series with Nick Heller back at the helm. I really like Nick and think he is a great character, smart, street wise and always out to find the truth. Nick is a private investigator based in Boston and his latest case involves a person/persons who are trying to discredit a Supreme Court Justice. Thrilling and highly addictive, this is a real page turner.

The Fireman by Joe Hill

October 4, 2016 by


The Fireman by Joe HillGood horror novel! It’s set in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where it becomes apparent that there is a world-wide outbreak of what is called dragonscale, an infection that creates mystical gold-flecked patterns on a person’s skin but ultimately burns the infected person to death.

Joe Hill, a local seacoast author, captures the adventure in this horror story, the humanity in an oppressive society and the heroism of a woman fighting to survive and protect those she loves against all odds. Disturbing and emotionally intense, this page-turner kept me mostly coming back for more (and reading all the way through the acknowledgements for a little extra surprise!). I hit a wall about half way through for a large section but was glad to get back into it.

I especially enjoy Hill’s use of witty language interspersed with the weighty plot. He throws in a cleverly placed reference to one of his previous novels as well for those who have read other works of his.

I recommend this book for readers who like a story that tells of a personal journey in a thrilling setting, such as The Stand or The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King, Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, or The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

October 3, 2016 by


This is a memoir of life in Appalachia in the 20th Century and overcoming the odds. The style is accessible, candid and concise. The characters are relatable, flawed and complex. The tone of the book is serious and impassioned and it gives a strong sense of place. The book is fast-paced and covered lots of ground. I read it in one sitting.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

October 3, 2016 by


This absorbing, character-driven novel draws you right in to the interwoven stories of the Keating and Cousins families. The focus is really on the lives of the children and how an affair between the mother in the Keating family and the father in the Cousins family changes their lives. The characters are vividly drawn and the writing is deceptively simple and very engaging. You never know what you are going to get with an Ann Patchett novel but it is always worth your time to find out.

The Spellman Files and Curse of the Spellmans, by Lisa Lutz

July 28, 2016 by

[Lesley] These books are so fun! I love the voice of the main character, the quirky lives of the Spellman family (who embody the PI life on the job and off), and the not-really-a-mystery nature of the story. I took the first book on vacation and it was perfect — light and funny but well written and engaging. You can’t help but like the hapless Isabel Spellman and her family. I am definitely going to read the rest of these!!

JFK’s Forgotten Crisis by Bruce Riedel

March 11, 2016 by

[Bill Littlefield]

If you are like me you have a certain degree of snugness, admit it. And so when, be honest, the unexpected surprises you and you have that “uuunnnhh” moment, you are not so smug. Recently, in January this year, that was me with a new book by Bruce Riedel, about the Sino-India war of 1962.

This was as big a situation for about one half of humanity as was the Cuban missile crisis was for the other half. And it is as the title reminds us fifty-three years on, it is forgotten. Bruce Riedel is an excellent writer who in one slim volume takes us back in time to the fall of 1962. And in India, Pakistan, Peking, Moscow, Washington and London and reintroduces us to Nehru, Mao, Khrushchev and last but hardly least, that most excellent diplomat and Canadian born Harvard faculty member John Kenneth Galbraith who as American ambassador to India almost singlehandedly maneuvered to extricate the United States as well as India form an almost certainly fatal situation for the world’s most populous democracy.

Proving true the observation that French President Charles de Gaulle had made in a conversation to JFK in 1962, that it was not Soviet Russia which was the greatest threat to the West, it was Communist China. I believe that De Gaulle was [and still is] correct. The PCR, that paradoxically fascist / communist / state capitalist / single party state whose single minded obsession remains the wiping away of the stains of the “century of shame”, of its weakness in the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries and to return China as the great power of the world, that of “The Middle Kingdom”, as China once was. This obsession has brought the PRC to a within whisker of that dream, but at a fearful cost in pollution, overcapacity, and the equal danger of an unsustainable shrinking population.

These events are fifty years into the future, and in 1962 China could [and did] challenge India. But it could not challenge the USA. In 2016 I am not so sure. This is the story of how Mao sought to and succeeded in humiliating Nehru and India, by proving with this war, that it was China and thus communism which was superior and thus not India and thus not democracy. And he did just that.

1962, a mere six years after the Suez Crisis, the humiliation of Britain, France and Israel by the mere hint of the displeasure of the USA had changed the geopolitical calculus. Those countries were then far too weak to present an effective opposition to what was then thought to be a monolithic communist bloc. With fifty-four years of hindsight we now know better, this bloc was anything but monolithic. And the antipathy between Soviet and Chinese communism would soon result in a rapprochement between American and China against Soviet Russia in 1972, but not just yet.

This lack of appreciation of Asian power politics continues to have implication today. As the American misconception of a binary world order would today seem to be almost touchingly simplistic, bordering on naiveté, British and French diplomacy excepted.

This is an excellent book with a great deal of useful information and it is well written, I recommend it highly. And it is here at the WML for you to enjoy.






My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

March 4, 2016 by

lucy[Lesley] I enjoyed this book very much. The title character is striking in her honesty, self-awareness, and even her uncertainty. As another character in the book says, her story is a love story — about love in all of its complexity, beauty, loneliness, and pain.

I listened to this on audio and the reader was excellent — not an easy task. The language is very plain but evocative and I felt the reader balanced the understated emotional content very well.

The library has this book in print (F STROUT, E), on CD (CD BOOK STR), and for download (ebook and eaudio) through OverDrive.