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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby, Jeremy Leggatt

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This extraordinary novel was written by Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a stroke leaving him with only movement in his left eye. His writing is poetic and quite wonderful, laced with humor and wit. His imagination was compared to the flight of a butterfly, at the same time feeling his body was a Diving Bell.

Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the Most Famous Horse in America by Charles Leerhsen

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Similar to Laura Hilldebrand's Seabiscuit, Leerhsen's tale of Dan Patch is about a horse who loved to run. Few folks are familiar with trotter/pacer racing but a hundred years ago it was more popular than thoroughbred racing. Leerhsen’s story includes the social history of the Ragtime era, small Midwestern farmers, big city con men, and rise of the trotters and pacers popularity into the racing world. Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the Most Famous Horse in America is truly an inspiring horse story of an underdog lame colt becoming a superstar champion in racing history. Good read!

 

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

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Fans of the Smitten Kitchen blog can rejoice in this cookbook by home cook Perelman. She cooks in a tiny New York City kitchen – although a friend told her upon move in that “ovens are for sweater storage.” Perelman’s love of cooking is apparent, with many photographs of both the process and finished product, with some innovative and some more classic recipes to try in your own kitchen, large or small.

Sentinel: A Spycatcher Novel

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Written by an ex-MI6 field agent, Matthew Dunn, this spy thriller exudes authenticity.  Trained to be the ultimate spy, Will Cochran is sent to Russia on a fool’s errand:  to find a deep cover agent who has betrayed the U. S. and wants to start a war.  Not only does Cochran face geographic and physical odds in Russia, political and economic tensions at home, he is up against the clock, and it is ticking!

The Inferno

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Dan Brown’s latest, The Inferno follows the pattern of Brown’s other thrillers.  There is an intellectual puzzle to be solved while baddies chase and threaten the good guys. The fate of the world is in Langdon’s hands and hands of the brilliant Sienna Brooks, who accompanies him. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, specifically “Inferno”,   is the key to deciphering an obscure message left by an obsessed scientist, Zorbrist, who is intent on saving the world by destroying it. The chase and race is on… through the streets, alleyways, secret underground passages, hidden doors and tombs of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul.

Along the way Langdon delivers a running commentary on the rich history of the Italian Renaissance, Christian, and Islamic art. The abundance of information can distract from the plot versus enrich.  I would recommend reading this book for the excitement of the chase, the clues and the underlying theme, but not the convoluted plotting.

 

Battle Ready: Memoir of a SEAL Warrior Medic

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Mark L. Donald joined the U S Marines straight out of high school as a way to escape his abusive father and avoid trouble with neighborhood gangs.  Given the work ethic installed by his mother and an innate competitive sense, he quickly earned a position on a Reconnaissance Team, the equivalent of a Navy Seal or Army Green Beret.  During the extensive training required for this team, he observed the Navy Hospital Corpsmen HM1 at work, and realized that this was what he was truly meant to do.  The story of his transition to a Navy HM1, during the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan War makes for a gripping read.  This book gives a great inside look at life on the battlefield and the devotion required of a true soldier.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

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This laugh-out-loud memoir takes readers through Kaling’s awkward childhood moments and her rocky start in New York to her success as a writer on the Office.   Her observations about men, body image, and life are both spot-on and humorous.  Those who enjoyed Tina Fey’s Bossypants will find this novel particularly enjoyable.

Rush of Blood

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I like Mark Billingham's Thorne series. This stand-alone murder mystery involves three British couples on holiday in Florida. This vacation takes a criminal twist when a young girl goes missing and is later found dead in a lagoon. The six Britons are suspects and Billingham keeps the suspense going. When another young girl is missing in England, the six who have returned from Florida are even more suspect. Great ending.

 

The Expats

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Kate Moore and her husband decide to accept a job offer in Luxemburg.   While her husband begins his new job and Kate spends more time with her children she must learn how to adjust to the daily life in a new country.  Kate begins to notice her husband’s suspicious behavior and also becomes suspicious of another American couple they have befriended.   As she begins to investigate she becomes nervous they are connected to her past.   Mystery lovers will enjoy this novel which keeps them guessing until the very end.

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