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The Elephant Keepers' Children

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The setting is the imaginary island of Fino off the coast of Denmark, where the world’s religions live together peacefully.  Father is a vicar and Mother is a fine artist. For the second time in the lives of the three siblings, Hans, Tidle and Peter, their very eccentric parents disappear.  The youngest, fourteen year old Peter is the narrator. From his precocious view point he describes the weird circumstances and incredible adventures they have finding their parents, while the rest of Denmark is trying to corral them to keep them out of harm’s way. There is a lot of satire, laugh out loud moments and a satisfying ending.

Patron Saint of Lost Dogs

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Nick Trout, a veterinarian, writes a delightful story for pet-lovers.  Estranged from his father, the vet pathologist Dr. Mills, returns to his hometown after a fourteen year absence.  His father's much beloved veterinary practice, which he has left his son, is now debt-ridden and about to be taken over by the bank.  Dr. Mills had hoped to sell the business and flee back to his southern retreat, ignoring the past and its memories. Now he’s forced to either give up the business or make an effort to see patients in order to keep it at least temporarily afloat.  That might involve getting too close for comfort.

Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons

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Mr. Rosenblum is a Jewish refugee who fled to England from Germany before the outbreak of WWII.  He longs to be accepted as a true Englishman.  As a profitable businessman, he buys the correct Savile Row suit, a Jaguar, and shops at Fortnum & Mason.  But his Jewish background prevents his membership into a golf club, for him the ultimate sign of an English gentleman.  In desperation he decides to build his own golf course which proves to be a greater endeavor than anticipated.  The character is exasperating at times, but heartwarming overall, especially when you learn the author is writing about her grandfather.

Right Rose, Right Place by Peter Schneider

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Anyone can grow a rose; success is dependent on the correct garden placement.  Lucky for us the author’s rose garden is in Ohio.  Peter Schneider grows over 1200 roses in his garden, all are recommended for northern and Midwestern gardens.  All levels of rose gardeners will enjoy this well written, detailed, and beautifully illustrated book.

Unsinkable: A Memoir by Debbie Reynolds

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A youngster during movies ‘Golden Age’, Reynolds writes a wonderfully funny & heartfelt memoir of her trials, tribulations and friendships.  She shares her children, Carrie and Todd Fisher, personal problems, as they struggle with their own successes as well as their famous parents.    Her disastrous marriages brought her to bankruptcy, but she never despaired- and that’s the heart of this story, how her spirit, talent and personality kept her from sinking.

"My Mother was Nuts" by Penny Marshall

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Comedian/director Marshall writes very openly on her life experiences growing up in the Bronx, getting pregnant and married young in New Mexico, her marriage to Rob Reiner, friendship with Carrie Fisher, and relationship with Art Garfunkel.   Marshall revisits tough subjects like abortion, drugs, lack of mothering skills, and her now fading health. Great stories abound of her time spent on TV shows, movies, and her career as a movie director.  Marshall's humor is how she gets through the difficult stuff and lives with a simple motto: “try hard, help your friends, don't get too crazy, and have fun.”

"The Dinner" by Herman Koch

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It begins with dinner at a high-end restaurant in Amsterdam. Two brothers, Paul and Serge, and their wives meet to discuss their teenage sons. It is quickly apparent this is no ordinary discussion.  What have the cousins done? What is to be done about it? Slowly the tension builds and the reader becomes anxious as the story unfolds. The ending is a stunner!

"The Hypnotist's Love Story" by Liane Moriarty

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The hypnotist has finally started dating someone that seems like he could be “the one.” He tells her on a date that he has a stalker and she finds herself fascinated rather than disturbed. This story is told from the point of view of two characters, one of whom is the stalker. The author has such a way with character development that it's easy to sympathize with the stalker and you find yourself liking her. Moriarty seems to be able to capture the most complicated of human emotions and motivations in a simple and accessible way. There are no black and white issues in her books and the truthfulness of that really shines through. This was a very enjoyable read.

"Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis" by Timothy Egan

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This is the biography of Edward Curtis, a talented photographer.  His obsession was to photograph and document the American Indian before destruction of their ways. Egan writes is a riveting story of how Curtis spent ten years, sacrificed his marriage and family, finances and health to produce a twenty volume work The North American Indian. The photographs at the end of each chapter are a good accompaniment to the text.

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