I’ve got sand in all the wrong places by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

I listened to the audiobook on a trip up and back to Massachusetts. I’ve read a bunch of Lisa Scottoline’s books (she’s a lawyer who writes really cool mystery books), so I thought I’d try this.  She’s written a series of books with her daughter and I wanted to check it out. They take turns with the chapters and they talk about their lives alone and together and all kinds of stuff that happens in between. I enjoyed this, as a lot of it reminded me of my daughter and me. Now I may look for their other books, since I enjoyed this one.  Request a copy.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

I listened to this as an audiobook, and it ultimately took me about 2 months to finish it, and I still can’t believe Lin-Manuel Miranda took this giant book on a tropical vacation to read!  That being said – it’s one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.  The life that Alexander Hamilton lived and the accomplishments he was able to achieve in his relatively short life are absolutely mind boggling.  His influence is still felt today in our financial world near and far.  A life truly cut too short.  What a loss to our country, but we are to this day indebted to him and his ideas.  Listen or read this book – it will floor you!  Request a copy.

What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

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A patron at the library recommended this to me…it’s a story about a woman unable to have a biological child of her own who makes a split decision one day to kidnap a child.  She convinces everyone that she adopted the child and raises the baby girl as her own. Things start to unravel as the daughter, now in law school, discovers the truth.  Brings up lots of questions and no easy answers.

Falling : A Daughter, A Father, and A Journey Back by Elisha Cooper

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A lovingly written book by a father about his 5-year-old daughter and her unexpected diagnosis of cancer.  The author of this book is himself an author and illustrator of children’s books (that I now have to look for in my own library).  In this book he deftly straddles all of his hopes and fears for his family and really paints quite a picture of the realities of living (and not dying) from cancer.  A book of survival and what it means to try and find a new normal.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

the-sky-is-everywhere
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Another book from the YA section of the library and it’s a really good one. The subject matter deals with the death of a teenager (not sure why I’ve gravitated toward these books lately), but I did not find it depressing at all. In fact, this is another book that I felt dealt with this subject in a very realistic way. All involved survivors are grief stricken, but there are moments of humor as well. Added to the mix are the feelings of the main characters as they navigate through high school and budding relationships . I enjoyed this book and will look for others by this author.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

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This was my end of summer book to read.  It didn’t take long at all to get through.  You would find it in the YA section of the library but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek it out as an adult reader.  It deals with a serious subject matter with great humor.  I felt that the three main characters — Greg, Earl, and Rachel — were appropriately portrayed as teenaged.  They were not as unrealistic as the characters in The Fault In Our Stars.  I also felt that the author dealt with the relationship the kids had with their parents in a very mature and realistic manner.  I also appreciated that the demise of Rachel was not a long, drawn out affair.  For anyone who might not want to read the book, there is a movie that was made.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

wide-sargasso-sea
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My summer pick for a classic I’ve never read was Wide Sargasso Sea.  I’m surprised I hadn’t read it, as it’s the story of the woman that marries Mr. Rochester, yes, that Rochester from Jane Eyre.  The book tells the story of Antoinette, born in Jamaica to ex-slave owners.  Eventually her father drinks himself to death and her mother exhibits signs of insanity.  Antoinette is cared for by the nuns at her convent school and occasionally by her Aunt Cora.  Mr. Rochester, while never directly named in the book, arrives on the island and marries Antoinette without really knowing much about her past.  This book was a richly detailed story full of secrets and superstitions as well as deep-seated resentments, especially of the ex-slaves toward the white aristocracy.  So glad I picked this to read this summer.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

when-breath-becomes-air
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This was a beautifully written and poignant book written by a brilliant and sensitive man.  He was also a man faced with a terrible diagnosis in the prime of his life yet the way he chose to live his days was a testament to his will to live his life on his terms. It brought me to tears, but also showed me that the power to live and love and be loved is so strong.  That is the legacy that Paul Kalanithi left behind.

Hamilton : The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Hamilton
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My love affair with all things Hamilton continues as I finally got this audiobook from the library.  If any of you out there love actors and performers and hearing about how they get their ideas, then you’ll love this audiobook.  An added plus is that Mariska Hargitay is the narrator.  The story of how Lin-Manuel Miranda brought the story of Alexander Hamilton to the Broadway stage is really riveting, and just reinforces the genius of Miranda.  Staying true to himself and all his musical influences while being so aware of how it would translate on the stage is just awesome.  A huge thumbs up for this.

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars) by Ian Doescher

Shakespeare's the Phantom Menace
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Well this was certainly fun to read!  It’s the Star Wars story written in Shakespearean iambic pentameter.  Very cool.  I was able to fly right through this.  As a lover of Shakespeare, I found  this a very cool way to read the first story in the Star Wars saga. The illustrations are beautiful as well.  Just an all around fun book, and for sure I’ll keep going with this series.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep
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I took a long break from Stephen King, so when I heard that he was writing this book I was very excited.  The Shining was a great book, so I was intrigued as to how he would pick up the story of Danny Torrance all grown up.  This book did not disappoint me at all.  Dan struggles with a drinking problem just like his Dad did in The Shining.  As he struggles with that, he’s suppressed his “shine.”  His friend from the Overlook Hotel, Dick Hallorann, makes a return visit in this book, and he serves as the conduit between past and future.  Since Dick cannot be with Dan to face these new demons, a new character arrives on the scene that has the “shine” even stronger than his own.  The monsters in the story are appropriately creepy and scary.   I would recommend this sequel If you’re a King fan, and especially if you loved The Shining.

A Common Struggle by Patrick J. Kennedy and Stephen Fried

A Common Struggle
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This book was so wonderful on so many levels.  I thought Patrick Kennedy was very brave to write it – and I absolutely understand why it was written after his father’s passing.  The way he grew up hearing from his dad and very extended famous family that we keep everything in the family and don’t air our dirty laundry helped to keep him from truly confronting and defeating his own demons.  The authors do a great job in giving information about how our healthcare system and government succeed and fail at treating people with mental illness and addiction.  Ultimately this is a book about successes and failures, but mostly about hope in dealing with these two very important issues.