Life and Death in Shanghai

Life and Death in Shanghai Book Cover

Life and Death in Shanghai is Cheng’s first-hand account of her life during China’s Cultural Revolution. It is a haunting narrative of Cheng’s years of imprisonment for being wrongly accused of being an imperialist spy. During her imprisonment, Cheng never gave up and never gave in to lies and false denunciations. Her story is heartbreaking, courageous, and unforgettable.


Leviathan Book Cover

If you are curious about the steampunk genre-this is a classic example. This book takes place during World War I as Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated and the world goes to war. That is when the story takes a twist into an imaginary world. The conflict is between the Clankers, who create machines that run on steam, and the Darwinists, who create new species. Prince Aleksandar, whose people turn against him after his parents’ assassination, is a Clanker. He meets Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy working for the British Air Service. She serves on the Leviathan, a massive airship that crashes in Switzerland where the two teens cross paths. The story is exciting all the way to the end, when you will be left wanting to know what happens next.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond Book Cover

This is the story of Kit Tyler, a teenager struggling to fit into her community in the year 1687. After her grandfather dies, she must move from Barbados to the Colony of Connecticut to live with her aunt’s family. She is regarded suspiciously by the members of the Puritanical community, because she swims, and is headstrong. She befriends a Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond and soon the community suspects Kit may be a witch. The story brings the historical period of witch hunts to life, but it is also a story of love and family.

One Thousand White Women : the Journals of May Dodd

One Thousand White Women : the Journals of May Dodd Book Cover

A fascinating story about May Dodd, a bright and cultured young woman living in the late 1800’s who was ahead of her time. Through a government program called “Brides for Indians” she gets sent to live with the Cheyenne Indians and tries to adopt their culture while still being true to herself. The author does an excellent job of combining history with an intriguing and imaginative story that was easy to read and hard to put down.

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale Book Cover

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale envisions a near future where the Republic of Gilead (formerly the USA) is controlled by religious leaders after a theocratic revolution in response to the degradation of society. Women were strictly controlled, had no jobs or money, and were assigned to various classes, one of which was the handmaids. Because of low population levels from wars and toxic waste, handmaids were responsible for replenishing the population. This novel is told through the handmaid Offred and her experience as life as a woman in the new republic.

The Kitchen Daughter

The Kitchen Daughter Book Cover

Ginny Selvaggio, a twenty-something young woman who has Asperger’s Syndrome, finds great solace in cooking. After her parents meet an untimely end in an accident, Ginny discovers her ability to reach the dearly departed by preparing one of their handwritten recipes. The tale is engaging and helps the reader to understand the perspective of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Book Cover

This book is the autobiography of Gabrielle Hamilton, and her path to becoming a chef and owner of her restaurant in New York City at a relatively young age. Her unconventional path begins after her family begins to dissolve and she takes restaurant and catering jobs to survive. With an even more unconventional marriage, she has to learn as she goes about the restaurant business, family, and the balance between all of it that will define her life. This is a great book for anyone that appreciates food and the hard work that goes into the restaurant business.

The Solitude of Prime Numbers

The Solitude of Prime Numbers Book Cover

A beautifully written and thought provoking story of loneliness, love, and the weight of childhood experience – one reviewer said it is a book you will love in an instant. It is about 2 “primes” - misfits who seem destined to be alone, but recognize in each other a kindred spirit. Giordano is a 27yr old physicist from Italy who has received a prestigious award for this novel.

Until Tuesday : a wounded warrior and the golden retriever who saved him

Until Tuesday : a wounded warrior and the golden retriever who saved him Book Cover

A Captain in the US Army assigned to curtail arms smuggling at the border of Syria and Iraq, Montalvan returns home haunted by the war, in constant pain from a traumatic brain injury, physical wounds, and extreme PTSD, he got to the point where he couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs or face a bus ride to the VA hospital. He drank, he argued, and cut himself off from people he loved. He was sent an email from the VA about service dogs and them met Tuesday, a golden retriever trained to assist the disabled. This turned his life around. Told in his voice, Montalvan speaks about his feelings about the war, officials in the military and our government, and how he felt betrayed by them. Very compelling story in all of its aspects.

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010 Book Cover

Very interesting pieces that are well-written and informative. I had planned on reading just the stories that were interesting to me but actually read them all. If you have any interest in science and nature you won’t be disappointed.