Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

41BzWOZ+NrL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_While many people, myself included, may be enticed to pick up this book because of the author, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by Hanks’ writing and thoroughly enjoyed this book.  A series of short stories all united by one object, a type writer, he weaves each entry together into a cohesive narrative. I loved how each story begins with a black and white print of the type writer mentioned in the story. I found myself looking at each print in detail and noticing the intricacies and differences and becoming more intrigued by how each would factor into its story.  Sometimes the type writer would be mentioned in passing to elicit a feeling of nostalgia, sometimes it was the centerpiece of a story functioning as a gateway to a new path for a particular character. I loved how much detail Hanks incorporated into such a brief look at a character’s life. While most of the stories are standalone, there are a few that repeat characters. I really enjoyed the first story in the series, Three Exhausting Weeks, which examined the blossoming of a romantic relationship between two friends who are very different and how their new relationship affects their larger group of friends.  It was full of truth and humor.  I also enjoyed Welcome to Mars which has an entirely different tone.  Focusing on the relationship between father and son, Hanks created characters that had depth and flaws.  I really enjoyed Hanks’ writing.  It was clear and sharp and his stories were heartfelt, meaningful, and relatable.

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The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Lucy and Gabe meet in college in September 20lightwelost01. Young and idealistic their futures loom in front of them. This book is about love and the roads taken and not taken. Had it been up to Lucy she and Gabe would have been together forever, except that Gabe had things going on within him, things he felt he had to resolve from his upbringing. At first she thinks they can meld their careers but Gabe feels differently. As a photojournalist he goes to the most dangerous, war-torn areas in the world in the years after 9-11. Lucy stays in New York and pursues her dreams, but thinks and hears about Gabe as social media evolves. During the next thirteen years they lose touch, then reunite briefly even though Lucy marries and has 2 children. The words of this book are those of Lucy’s as she sorts through her memories of the love she cherished with Gabe. She questions her decisions, does a lot of what ifs and ultimately knows at the end, that she will always love him.

Nighthawk by Clive Cussler

cliceNighthawk, by Clive Cussler, is a great story according to my husband, Noah Book. Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are on their         A-Game as they search for the most advanced aircraft the United States has ever designed. The X-37 vanished somewhere in the South Pacific and both Russia and China have the technology to locate the plane, but the cargo it is carrying could be catastrophic to the entire world. From the Galapagos Islands to the jungles of South America, Kurt and Joe race against time and find themselves in life threatening conditions. Check out this action packed book and be prepared to ignore all those chores you need to do!

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Always by Sarah Jio


There is nothing like thinking back on the past, wondering if someone you broke up with was the one, and you made a mistake.

Kailey Crain has lost her true love Cade. Several years ago he disappeared after some disagreements and she never knew why. Nor did she try to find out.  She just figured he left her, cutting her completely out of his life.

Now, years later, she is engaged to the man of her dreams, Ryan.

One night her eyes meet the eyes of a homeless man on the street. It is her ex-boyfriend Cade, who disappeared many years ago. Now gaunt and thin he doesn’t even respond to his name.

Kailey cannot resist her connection for Cade. After she sees him, thoughts of him and finding him will not leave her mind. She is shocked and tells all of her friends. She does not tell her fiancée. She conveniently hides her search for Cade while Ryan is out of town, probably because she knows what she is doing stems from the wrong motivation. Whatever the motivation, she does find him and solves the mystery of why he disappeared. She also gets him help, and he recovers quite quickly.

Always flows along nicely, and the characters are likable. You truly pull for a successful ending. The ending is most acceptable to readers, and the story does keep you engrossed.

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

girlbeforeSo many books lately with the word “girl” in the title made me wonder about this one but I was soon immersed in this psychological thriller.

Predominantly about two women, Emma and Jane, both similar in looks and both haunted by personal tragedy, who years apart, meet a mesmerizing, secretive architect Edward.

Edward owns several real estate buildings and has an extremely rigid application process for potential tenants to go through. Sample questions are, would you sacrifice yourself to save ten innocent strangers? What about ten thousand strangers? If you pass his stringent list of questions, you may have the opportunity to interview with him, and he will make the final decision about if you get to rent the apartment.

Edward is a minimalist architect. The coveted apartment is a modern, tech-savvy, austere flat that is not allowed decoration or disarray. Why would anyone want to live in a place like this? Both women seem to desire and need a semblance of control in their lives after personal tragedies. Eventually though, flaws begin to appear.

The anonymous author, JP Delaney says the story was written from personal distrust of the apparently perfect lives he sees sometimes, saying that what is seen on the surface may hide holes in the heart. The book may be brought to the screen by director Ron Howard.

Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter

kickkThe Kennedy curse struck early and hard, with Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy. Kick was the fourth child and favorite daughter of her father Joe. At 24, Kick married Billy Hartington, future Duke of Devonshire, very much against her family’s wishes. Billy was a Protestant, and Kick – Irish Catholic. Her brother Joe was the only family member to attend her wedding. But marital bliss was short lived when Billy was killed in action in France, shortly after D-Day. Kick later began an affair with Earl Peter Wentworth Fitzwilliam, also a Protestant, married man, gambler and drinker. She was on her way to Cannes with Peter when he insisted the plane take off in turbulent weather. The plane crashed and both Kick and Peter were killed. Her father identified her remains, and she was buried in England.

Barbara Leaming writes a very detailed account of the glamour, wealth and tragedy that seems to follow the Kennedy family.

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The Runaway Midwife by Patricia Harman


It’s always fun to read about someone starting over in life. That’s one of the reasons we love books, to escape from the world we live in. Not saying that we are dissatisfied with the life we live, but reading offers opportunities to learn about other locations, lifestyles, and feelings. Hopefully we learn something from the adventures that our characters take.

In the Runaway Midwife, the main character is Clara. She is a caring midwife who enjoys her work but everything goes wrong at exactly the same time. Her marriage is sour, a pregnant friend she is caring for dies from a rare disease and Clara is blamed, and her daughter is basically out of touch on the other side of the world.

Clara reacts by escaping to Canada, our neighbor to the north. Because we live in Michigan, I saw several discrepancies in the novel that perhaps those who do not live adjacent might not see. It did not detract from the main story but compels me to note, out of awareness.

The island in Canada that Clara snowmobiles to is inclusive, and the people who live there year-round are an eclectic group of independent souls, friendly but not necessarily welcoming. That’s fine because Clara is hesitant to allow anyone to discover her true identity. Clara takes on a new name and rents a cottage with cash, first for the spring and summer, later extending through the year.

Interspersed throughout the novel is Clara’s awakening to nature and herself, you can sense the beauty and solitude of the island. Clara has a journal where she notes birds arriving back after their long sojourn of winter vacation in the south. There is her tentative attempt at friend-making at the hippie camp. There is caring and birth and dying. There is flirtation, mystery, crime and yes, love. The author does a good job of character development and dialogue and this allows the reader to flow along with the story. This book has a feel-good ending as well. In my opinion, readers will enjoy this book.


cookiesWith March Madness just round the corner, you might want to pick up Cookie Johnson’s biography, Believing in Magic. Cookie tells of her on-again, off again, relationship with local MSU hero, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Cookie reveals her fears, heartache and anger when her husband of 45 days tells her, and the world that he is HIV positive. Throughout their marriage of ups and downs, Cookie is resilient. Magic introduces her to a child from a previous relationship – Andre, and their own child announces that he is gay. Yet Cookie manages to rise to every occasion with amazing strength and solidity, advocate for ways to fight disease and establish a line of premium denim clothing. Her story is well written, and you will feel the happiness and sorrow that make up “Cookie”.

P.S.  Her given name is Earletha.

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Rita’s Review: The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

residenceNow that the election is over, and a new president is about to be inaugurated, you may find Kate Anderson Brower’s, The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House, very interesting. This book offers behind the scene interviews with White House staff members, both past and present.  Employees offer tantalizing descriptions of the first families and their relationships with them, describing how they accommodate and fulfill every need for those called to our highest office.

These employees are held to near impossible standards of privacy, and Brower emphasizes that longevity and continued discretion of these individuals indicates an unstoppable devotion to this institution. The staff describe tragic events in history that changed us all, but they also provide fascinating insight into those responsible for decision-making during those tragedies.

You may find yourself understanding and empathizing with the enormity of those charged with representing us all despite our own political views or assumptions.

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Rita’s Review: Among The Wicked

wickedIf you haven’t read any of Linda Castillo’s Amish series, you are really missing out. In Among the Wicked, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, is asked to go under cover as an Amish widow, in upstate New York. Kate was raised Amish, but left after a traumatic incident, and the sheriff feels that Kate can infiltrate the Amish community in his jurisdiction. A teenage girl is found dead and there are rumors of child abuse.The sheriff fears foul play, and the new Bishop is high on his guilty radar. This is no easy assignment, and Kate asks a few too many questions and finds herself in extreme danger. With no one to talk to or anyone to help, Kate must handle the situation with only her wits. What she uncovers will surprise you, and keep you reading late into the night. Castillo does not disappoint in her latest Amish mystery.

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