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.

Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman

Where It Hurts
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Where It Hurts is a hard crime story.  It is tightly plotted and very descriptive with lots of information on its setting in Long Island, which made it a bit slow at times.  However, the characters and plot were so interesting that  it had me coming back to see how it would all play out.

This is the first book in a series featuring ex-cop Gus Murphy.  His son’s sudden death has thrown him into a deep hole of grief leading to the end of his marriage, problems with his daughter, and a menial job as a hotel van driver, living at the hotel and isolated from everything he knew. Then he is contacted by a man he regularly used to arrest and asked to look into the barbaric death of the man’s son.  Initially reluctant to do so, Gus slowly uncovers more and more details about those involved and as he does so, he also learns to deal with his personal grief and move on with his life.

I have never read this author before, but will look into some of his other popular series since I enjoy mystery.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

The Wright Brothers
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How did two bicycle mechanics teach the world to fly?

Prize-winning author David McCullough is just the person to answer that question.  Along the way, we learn about the private lives of the brothers.  Their skills were a perfect fit — Wilber was a genius and Orville was a mechanical wiz.  Together, they made history.

McCullough’s stories are always set in a rich, historical context.  The story takes us from their Ohio hometown, to the banks of North Carolina, to Paris and beyond.

I enjoyed the journey.  I’m sure you will, too.

The Great Bridge: the epic story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough

The Great Bridge
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One of McCullough’s early books, this is the amazing story of the planning and building of what would become, at the time, the world’s longest suspension bridge.  It’s a tale of tremendous optimism and accomplishment as well as a story of greed, political rivalry and corruption.

McCullough devotes a good portion of the book to the engineer behind the project.  But he sets his accomplish into a broader, historical context.  It is the tale of two cities — New York (Manhattan) and Brooklyn — their growth, development and increasing inter-dependence.  The engineering obstacles were enormous.  The construction obstacles more so – bodies were crushed and broken; danger was the constant companion of the construction workers.

It’s a fantastic story.  Give it a good read, then, take a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

The Alienist
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Caleb Carr is a military historian turned novelist.  In The Alienist, he employs his specialty to paint a stark picture of the underside of New York City, circa 1896.

An “alienist” was the popular term used for people in the then-budding discipline of psychology.  Carr’s main character uses his skills to develop what we now call a “profile” to find a serial killer, stalking the male bordellos of lower Manhattan.

Carr populates his novel with prominent people from the history of  NYC in the late 19th century.  Central to the story is Theodore Roosevelt, in his role as Police Commissioner.  You’ll also meet folks like author Jacob Riis and J. P. Morgan.

This is a police procedural which uncovers the complex social history of NYC in an era of rapid social change via immigration, the rise of a super-wealthy class, and class conflict.  Carr also pushes the social envelop by making a woman police employee a central character.

For a strong taste of life in New York in this era, read The Alienist.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
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I loved this quick read YA fantasy.  It reminded me of The Hunger Games series.  This fantasy world is divided into the Silvers and the Reds (based on the color of your blood).  The Silvers are the rulers with special powers, and the Reds are the slaves working day and night to ensure the comfort of Silvers.  The story centers on Mare Barrow, a Red, and this determines her identity.  She’s a thief from a large family, trying to survive in a cruel world.  Unexpectedly she is thrown into the royal palace as a servant.  But, in an instant, her life takes a new turn.  It is discovered that Mare bleeds Red, but  possesses a very distinct superpower — one that could overthrow the crown and the hierarchies of the Silvers and Reds.  Thus starts the battle for the power of the kingdom and for loyalties. . .  I just got the sequel to start reading, and I am looking forward to the adventure continuing.

The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

The Lost HeiressThe Lost Heiress by Rosanna White is right at the top of my “favorite books list.”  It is set in the Edwardian Era of England.  Brook, the main character, has never known where she truly belongs.  She was adopted by the woman who saved her from a carriage accident as an infant.  She was raised in Monaco’s palace by the prince.  Once grown, she longed to know where she came from. The death of her adoptive mother brought with it some secrets of her past.  Best friend and Duke, Justin, helped her find the family who thought her missing forever.  While her father accepted her right away, others were suspicious of her motives. Unknowingly, she has carried a curse that threatens to tear her from the family she has just found.  Will she learn to love and rely on those who betrayed her before?  You will just have to read it to see!  I literally couldn’t put this book down.  It had me completely captivated.  I liked it so much I purchased my own copy and have the next book pre-ordered!