This is a witty story written in the epistolary style. We first meet Rosie Dunne as a 6 year old writing a note in class to her best friend Alex, inviting him to her birthday party. Through a series of notes and letters we see the close friendship and confidences they share. Soon they are teenagers and their friendship is as close as ever. Could this be a budding romance?
In the summer before their senior year, Alex’s father gets a new job and moves his family from Dublin to Boston. In an instant their lives are changed and Rosie is devastated. With her best friend gone, and adulthood on the horizon, Rosie starts acting impulsively. She quickly realizes that actions have consequences.
The years pass, and even though they are continents apart and lead separate lives, they continue to remain close. Then something happens that could dramatically change their lives again. Will this finally be their chance for romance or are they destined to remain friends forever?
The movie is available on DVD and stars Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.
P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
When Harry Met Sally by Nora Ephron
Eileen Gazzola, Huntington Public Library
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
Nearing one hundred years of age, Roseanne McNulty feels compelled to secretly record her life story as she remembers it. She keeps it hidden in her room at the Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital. Her co-narrator is Dr. Grene, a senior psychiatrist at Roscommon and keeper of a commonplace journal. Dr. Grene is tasked with determining which patients are to be transferred to the new facility and which can be released into the community. It is through his evaluation of Roseanne that their stories unravel and intertwine.
The Secret Scripture is set against the background of County Sligo, Ireland. Woven into the story are glimpses of the political and religious turmoil in Ireland during the 1920s – 1930s, especially the strong influence of the Catholic Church on daily life.
The book is both lyrical and descriptive. Religious imagery is sprinkled throughout. As the story unfolds itself gradually, the reader will become immersed in the story and lives of the characters. Be patient with the slow reveal and you will be rewarded.
Recommend this book to readers of historical fiction and Irish literature.
The movie stars Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave, Aidan Turner and Eric Banner. A release date has not been set.
The McNulty Family Series by Sebastian Barry
The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher
Fools of Fortune by Willliam Trevor
Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor
Sue Ketcham, B.Davis Schwartz Memorial Library, LIU Post
A Walk Among the Tombstones by Lawrence Block
Matthew Scudder, detective, ex-cop and recovering alcoholic, was called in to solve the mystery of who kidnapped, killed and tortured a drug wholesaler's wife. The investigation involved following the trail of several other gruesome crimes that had similarities to the current crime, making it look like serial abductions and killings.
The plot was well developed through the twists and turns of this dark mystery. The writing was easy to follow and quickly paced. There was good character development with Matthew, his girlfriend and some of the side characters and it was funny to read about the the technology that was current at the time the books was written in 1992. This is a good read for anyone who likes mysteries and isn't squeamish about the more graphic details.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is an oldie, but as it turned out a goody. I am new to reading the long-time author but am familiar with his reputation as a popular mystery writer. This book didn't disappoint!
The movie is available on DVD and stars Liam Neeson and Dan Stevens.
Steig Larsson, James Patterson
Wonda R. Miller, Hauppauge Public Library
Inferno by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon, Harvard University professor of Symbology, awakens to find himself in a hospital in Florence after a bullet narrowly misses his head. He has no recollection of the past 36 hours - the last thing he remembers is walking across the Harvard campus. The assassin, who works for a clandestine organization based on a luxury yacht somewhere in the Adriatic, is determined to complete her assignment while Langdon and Dr. Sienna Brooks flee through Florence to evade her.
Why is she trying to kill Langdon? He is in possession of codes masterminded by a scientist obsessed with the end of the world. Part of the mystery involves the scientist's passion for Dante Alighieri's epic poem, The Divine Comedy. The codes hold the key to a terrifying new scientific paradigm in the form of a virus that will be used either to improve the quality of life on earth or to destroy it.
Langdon and Brooks will flee through myriad secret tunnels and hidden passageways. With the landmarks of Florence as a backdrop, the narrative is a puzzler's delight of codes and symbols, with a treasury of art and history. And The Inferno itself becomes a major part of the mystery.
The movie is set to come out in October 2016 and stars Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones and Ben Foster.
For Religious Conspiracy and History:
Map of bones by James Rollins
The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry
The Confessor by Daniel Silva
For History, Conspiracy and Fast Pace:
Enigma by Robert Harris
The Last Ember by Daniel Levin
Grace O'Connor, West Islip Public Library (Retired)
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Alice Howland is only 50 years old when her mind begins to betray her. A lost name. A missed flight. A forgotten recipe. Each incident is brushed off as the side effects of menopause, sleep deprivation, even depression. But one day Alice becomes disoriented when running only a mile from her home. A visit to a neurologist uncovers a devastating diagnosis: early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Ironically, Alice is a professor of psychology at Harvard University specializing in linguistics. She is a beloved teacher, respected guest speaker and accomplished author. Her brain, which is responsible for her success and recognition in the academic world, is ultimately responsible for her decline. Not even her education or achievements can prevent the loss of her mental acuity and expression of language.
This book is simultaneously scientific and heartbreaking. The author’s doctorate degree in neuroscience lends itself to the jargon-filled descriptions of diagnosis, testing, treatments and drug trials. But the voice of this novel is Alice’s own. Through her perspective, we are offered an intimate, frightening glimpse into life with dementia. We feel her confusion, frustration, anger and grief. We are beside her as she loses her job, her independence, and the memory of her husband and children.
The heart of this story is Alice’s journey to define herself in a world that is quickly slipping away from her. While giving a speech at the annual Dementia Care Conference, Alice asks the audience “. . . is my identity something that transcends neurons, proteins, and defective molecules of DNA? Is my soul and spirit immune to the ravages of Alzheimer’s? I believe it is.” Although her memory fails her, she is still important, her life is still meaningful. She is still Alice.
The movie is available on DVD and stars Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth.
Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer’s by Thomas DeBaggio
Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nassar
Jill Wylie, Hauppauge Public Library
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
In 1952 New York City, Therese Belivet is a lonely 19-year-old semi-orphan who is working as a temporary sales clerk in the toy department of a large department store but she hopes to design stage sets. Therese’s boyfriend Richard is deeply in love with her, but she feels no chemistry with him.
Carol Aird, a cool and beautiful older woman, walks into the toy department one day and Therese is captivated. Therese bravely finds a way to track Carol down and eventually becomes a regular visitor to Carol’s suburban home. Carol is divorcing her snobby conformist husband Harge who has temporary custody of their daughter, whom Carol adores.
Carol and Therese embark on a cross-country trip which is ruined when they discover that Harge has hired a detective who has the goods on the two who have since become lovers. Carol is crushed and abandons Therese to return home guiltily.
Unlike pulp lesbian novels of that time period, the women are not completely ruined by their ‘deviance’ and the book ends on a note of optimism and even joy.
The story is character driven with a romantic and erotic tone with lots of high drama. Although the writing style is spare, the pace is intensifying. Give this book to readers of lesbian literature, people who like character driven, romantic and/or erotic works and fans of Patricia Highsmith.
The movie, Carol, is set to come out in December 2015 and stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Landing by Emma Donoghue
Love at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Jocelyn Ozolins, Shelter Island Public Library
Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
The Enigma is the true story of wartime derring-do by Alan Turing and his band of “boffins,” scientists and technicians who raced against time to find a way to decipher German naval communications as Nazi U-boats decimated British supply lines in the North Atlantic. Turing followed up with a digital version of the brain, a precursor to modern computers. While investigating the organic nature of the brain, he was outed as a homosexual and subjected to chemical castration to “cure” his illegal urges. Unable to profit from his invention, barred from further government employment as a security risk, and frustrated in his efforts to discover the organic structure of the human brain, he took his own life in 1954, at the age of 41.
Hodges, himself a scientist and a homosexual, wrote this definitive biography to keep Turing’s story alive. If you enjoy stories of scientific breakthroughs or the amazing allied victory in WWII, this is the book for you. Generalists will appreciate the sketches of contemporary British writers who were advocating social change and the references to European and American scientists who influenced Turing.
The movie is available on DVD and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center by Ray Monk
Rosalind Franklin and DNA by Anne Sayre
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel
The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson
Jackie Malone, Bellmore Public Library
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Told in distinct first person voices, those of four strangers who meet on the roof of a London building nicknamed Topper’s House, “A Long Way Down” is an intelligent, witty exploration of how life’s circumstances can easily overwhelm. Led to despair, Martin, JJ, Jess and Maureen had planned to end their lives that New Year’s Eve. They decide to postpone their suicides, and form a surrogate family of sorts. Their ensuing adventures, conversations, and deliberations are psychologically rich and filled with black humor. Tough questions are raised. As you’d expect, this is an emotionally intense read.
The movie is available on DVD and stars Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul, Rosamund Pike and Sam Neill.
Crash into Me by Albert Borris
The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule
Suzanne McGuire, Commack Public Library
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
When Louisa loses her job at the local coffee shop, she has no choice but to take what she can get from the local job bank. This leads her to becoming a home aide for Will, a grumpy quadriplegic, who not only wants nothing to do with her, but has plans to end his life in six months’ time. As Louisa and Will form a shaky bond, Louisa does everything in her power to try to change Will’s mind because what started out as a way to make money has turned into friendship and more.
Me Before You is well-written and draws the reader in not only to Will’s plight, but also to Louisa’s less-than- stellar home life. The reader can relate to both main characters thus understanding Louisa’s goal to “save” Will as well as Will’s goal to end a life that is completely opposite of the dare devil and traveler he used to be. Secondary characters such as Louisa and Will’s families, Louisa’s boyfriend and Will’s nurse are well drawn and round out a story about two people who meet when life has dealt each of them a hard blow. This book is good for book group discussions, people who like books about overcoming adversity and those looking for a good story and a little bit of romance.
The movie is set to come out in June 2016 and stars Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin and Janet McTeer.
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
Azuree Agnello, West Babylon Public Library
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathanial Philbrick
Philbrick’s encyclopedic coverage of the loss of the whaling vessel The Essex in 1820 is a riveting read and tragic in every aspect of the story including the wholesale slaughter of the sperm whales. The sperm whale had been plentiful in the waters surrounding Nantucket at the end of the 18th Century only to be hunted to near extinction in this part of the world. The whaling ships had to travel further and further away from home to harvest the whales which caused the men to be away from their families sometimes for years. The attack of an eighty pound sperm whale on The Essex and the ship’s ultimate sinking is the climax of the story and on which the ensuing suffering of the crew revolves. Captain Pollard ordered the three smaller boats to head for the Society Islands which were located approximately a week’s sail from the wreck. He was persuaded to head for South America by his First Mate Chase since the Society Islands were known to practice cannibalism. The irony of this fateful decision is not lost on the reader for weeks later when the survivors ran out of supplies they resorted to eating their shipmates as one by one they succumbed to starvation.
When the surviving members of The Essex returned home after almost 90 horrific days at sea they were received with embarrassed reserve for the natives had heard of the desperate measures the crew had resorted to and the Nantucketers were ashamed of the men who had resorted to “gastronomic incest” as one psychologist described the feasting on their shipmates to stay alive.
Philbrick covers not only the physical torment these men endured but also the devastating effect the experience had on their mental state. Captain Pollard, for example, hoarded food for the rest of his life; he would have fresh fruit and vegetables hanging in a net over his bed. Most notably this tale was the inspiration of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. In researching this story, Philbrick also discovered that there were many attacks on whaling ships by sperm whales and as Melville surmised the reader wonders if the whales were fighting for the survival of their species. Fortunately for the whales, the discovery of electricity made use of whale oil for lamps obsolete so the whales were able to rebound in numbers.
In the Heart of the Sea serves not only as a suspenseful and thrilling survival story authenticated with a myriad of primary sources but also as a history of Nantucket and the whaling industry. It won the National Book Award in 2000.
The movie is set to come out in December 2015 and stars Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson.
Escape From Antartic by Rick Groleau
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West by Ethan Rarick
Peggy McCarthy, Smithtown Public Library (Retired)
Serena by Ron Rash
Atmospheric—that would be the best word to describe Serena, which takes place during the depression in the timber country of North Carolina. The story opens at a railway station where George Pemberton is returning home after a trip to Boston. He’s with his new wife, Serena, whom he met and married after a whirlwind of an affair while away. Pemberton is in the lumber business and is determined to dominate the industry. That ambition is shared, and surpassed in fervor, by his new wife’s own ruthless desire. Pemberton envisions cutting down every tree in North Carolina; Serena aspires to cutting down every tree in the world—and nothing will stand in her way. The Pembertons’ disregard for nature and humanity, and their quest for power, is portrayed on the very first pages of this suspenseful, dramatic story.
Rash’s storyline encompasses suspense, ambition, and romance with such an absorbing effect that the reader will be stunned at the shocking conclusion. There are such beautifully detailed passages describing the natural beauty of the North Carolina mountains that you’ll feel yourself in those environs; a crew of workmen are utilized like a Greek chorus so effectively that you’ll feel their plight; and all the while, Rash portrays the complexity of desire, greed, justice, and revenge. An intriguing read, Serena is a literary example of good, old-fashioned storytelling and Americana. It will appeal to readers that enjoy immersing themselves in a historical setting reminiscent of the Wild West—when oversight was minimal and right often succumbed to might.
The movie is available on DVD and stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
The Reserve by Russell Banks (vividly portraying mountainous regions and class conflict)
Chemistry and other Stories by Ron Rash (contains the prequel to Serena called Pemberton’s Bride)
The Whiskey Baron by Jon Sealy (depicts ruthless actions taken by those with a desire for wealth and power)
Deborah Fermosa, Northport-East Northport Public Library
Wild: From Lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Wild, is Cheryl Strayed’s memoir in which she shares her hiking journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. In 1995 she is a 26-year-old woman who is emotionally battered and in a self-destructive mode. Four years earlier she watched her mother die within a few weeks of her diagnosis of lung cancer at the age of 46. Cheryl’s description of the intense sorrow and inconsolable state she found herself and the destructive pattern she followed that ruined her life is told in a matter-of-fact tone. After her mother’s death, Cheryl moved with her husband from city to city, taking waitressing jobs, eventually being unfaithful to her husband although she loved him, and doing heroin. One day while shopping for a shovel at an outdoor sports store, she saw a book called The Pacific Crest Trail and returned a few days later to buy the book. She was intrigued by the idea of hiking along the Sierra Nevada, of seeing the beauty and stretch of land and the personal challenge of hiking a trail for 1,100 miles alone. She hoped that by leaving everyone and everything behind and being completely alone, she would find the person she used to be.
This book tells of Cheryl’s physical and emotional journey as a long distance hiker. Cheryl purchased all the necessary equipment and researched a little about the Pacific Crest Trail, but her preparations in no way matched what was required for this hike. Her backpack was immense, so large that she nicknamed it “monster.” Her only defense again wild animals like bears and bulls was a high pitch whistle. She was the only solo female hiker and there are several times when the reader shares her fear when she crosses paths with strangers. Cheryl was also not prepared for the loneliness, thirst, hunger and physical pains she would endure on her journey.
The author’s hike took her from the Mojave Desert through California, and ended at the border of Oregon and Washington. She shares many of the real experiences of the trail such as waking up outside covered by frogs, losing her boot and having to make shoes with duct tape, the excitement of reaching a camp and drinking a Snapple or eating real food, of being mistaken for a drifter and the tremendous filth, body odor and physical difficulties a long distance hiker endures. One winces with pain when she loses toe nails and cringes with fear when she is alone with a stranger with whom she has hitchhiked. This is truly an adventure story but also a story of Cheryl coming to terms with the loss of her family. Strayed is the name the author chose as her last name when she divorced her husband because she felt like a stray, with no family or real home, wandering in the wild.
The movie is available on DVD and stars Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Into the Wild by John Krakauer
Myrna Velez, Brentwood Public Library
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan - including Judd's mother, brothers and sister - has congregated in years. There's a very good reason for their not getting together more often - they drive each other crazy! There is resentment, immaturity, dysfunction, a sister-in-law who's desperately trying to have a baby with a husband who refuses to be tested, loneliness and their mother. There is, however, a conspicuous absence: Judd's wife Jen, whose affair with his radio shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. The week quickly spins out of control as longstanding grudges surface, secrets are revealed and old passions reawakened. Then Jen delivers the clincher - she's pregnant.
The voice is character of Judd, we definitely hear the story through him. The audience would be the over thirty crowd and both men and women would enjoy this book. The pace moves quickly and it's hard to put down until you've finished reading it.
The movie is available on DVD and stars Tina Fey, Jason Bateman and Jane Fonda.
The Red House by Mark Haddon
The World without You by Joshua Straub.
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Kathy Carter, Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library (Retired)