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There's a good chance that you've seen the hit movie starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, but this is definitely one of those occasions where the book far outshines the cinematic version.
The Hunt for Red October was Tom Clancy's debut novel. Up until that point he was an insurance salesman; he wrote novels - including Red October - in his spare time.
Apparently the practice paid off, because this adventure/thriller is terrific.
The story centers on a Soviet (yes, the book is set in the 1980s, when the USSR was still a superpower) submarine commander, Marko Ramius. Ramius is bent on revenge against the Soviet regime that he feels contributed to the death of his wife. Plus, he's fed up after watching a lifetime of injustice, including the activities of his father, a dedicated communist.
Ramius commands his nation's first super sub - the Red October - when it is launched. The submarine is fitted with a new, stealthy form of propulsion (a "caterpillar" drive) that renders it practically invisible to enemy detection; it conceivably could cruise right up to New York City without America's defense network knowing anything at all.
But instead of running through the usual tests and scripted war games, Ramius plans to defect, and to turn this new, deadly war machine over to the United States. Before doing so, however, he sends a letter to the head of the Soviet navy, outlining what he has in mind.
The result is a wild chase through the Atlantic. The Russian military wants to destroy Ramius and the ship before he can turn it over, and the Americans want to find the Red October to keep it for themselves.
Clancy introduces us to CIA analyst Jack Ryan, who would become a continuing character in other books. In The Hunt for Red October, Ryan is the man who must convince the White House that Ramius isn't trying to launch nuclear weapons; he's trying to hand over the greatest military prize ever.
Sleepless in Seattle. Julie and Julia. When Harry Met Sally. Who doesn’t love Nora Ephron?! Romance and humor are the constant champions in all of her stories, making a fan of nearly every soul that encounters her work. Having said that, Heartburn is different kind of rom-com, based on Ephron’s own life. And before you categorize it as sappy and generic, allow me to explain…
“Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead”
by Dr. Brene Brown
Reviewed by Jane
Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past twelve years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.
That sounds kinda dry, right? But, really, how many of us feel as if we’re not living our authentic life? That we’re really not being who we want to be? Judging by the humongous number of self-help books that are published every year, it’s a lot of us.
The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
By Christopher Moore
Reviewed by Dom
Christopher Moore books are not for everyone, that’s for sure. Some people are offended by his take on certain subjects, and some just don’t share his particular sense of humor.
His work resonates with me, though. I list his most famous title, Lamb, in my top five of favorite books ever. One of the characters from that book, the archangel Raziel, makes a return visit as the titular character in this month’s book club selection.
The Graveyard Book
By Neil Gaiman
â¨ Reviewed by Dom
Every October we select a book that’s either creepy or downright frightening. This year I thought it would be interesting to choose a book set in a graveyard, one that’s filled with eccentric characters from a variety of eras.
Neil Gaiman wrote The Graveyard Book for a young adult audience, but it’s enjoyable at any age. It’s a story about a little boy - only 18 months old - who barely escapes when a vicious killer known only as “Jack” murders his family. (I know, not your usual “sunshine and puppies” tale for kids, but give it a chance.)
Like many other teens, I was assigned to read Brave New World in high school. It made an impact on me at the time, but nothing compared to the blow it delivers (mumble mumble) years later.
Orwell’s 1984 seems to have generated more attention than Huxley’s classic, but Brave New World predated ’84 by almost twenty years. Some call it satire, some call it prescient science fiction, but almost everyone calls it chilling.
Imagine a world where children are created in laboratories, and then programmed to be happy and content with their caste and their career. Nobody has a desire to try anything new, to think anything contrary, or to question the way everything is.
I pride myself on reading several genres of books - thrillers, mysteries, biographies, business books, sci fi - and yet I'd never picked up a western. It was my son who said, "You enjoy watching movies that are westerns; why not a book?"
I'm glad I took his advice, although I'm not sure I should've started with Lonesome Dove. I'm afraid that after this no other western novel will be able to cut it. Lonesome Dove is that good.
Let's start with the fact that the book is massive - my copy is a little over 850 pages. And yet you glide right through, with absolutely no dull moments or places where the story drags. That in itself is a credit to McMurtry's skills, and goes a long way in explaining why this 1985 classic picked up the Pulitzer Prize.
Set in the late 1800s, the story begins in the tiny town of Lonesome Dove, but then covers a cattle drive from south Texas to Montana. There are several riveting characters, beginning with the tandem of Woodrow Call and Augustus (Gus) McCrae, two former Texas Rangers who could not be more different from each other. In an unusual style, McMurtry tells the story through multiple points of view - something I normally would find confusing, but which somehow works quite well in this writer's hands.
Even the smaller characters come to life in a vibrant way. More than anything, you get a feel for the hard lives these people lived, where something as simple as a cool drink of water often seems like a gift. Plus, the back story on the primary characters is fascinating, and likely explains why such a long book reads so quickly.
So, if you're like me, and have never waded in to the western novel world before, this would be a great opportunity for you. Lonesome Dove is truly an American classic, and should find a spot on your bookshelf soon.
Pick it up for 20 percent off during the month of February at all three Denver-area locations of The Tattered Cover Book Store. Just ask for the Dom and Jane Book Club.
Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
By Dr. Richard Pitcairn
--reviewed by Jane London
I've often mentioned on the show that I make my dogs' food and over the years, I've received a lot of emails and Facebook messages asking how I make their food. I always tell them "get this book".
I'm a huge proponent of the idea of food as medicine for humans. Â So many of the chronic illnesses that are such a huge drain on quality of life, could be avoided with a better diet based on whole, fresh food. Â The same goes for our animals. Â In nature, dogs and cats would not subsist on the same dry kibble, day after day, year after year.
So, here is the book that I've been using and recommending for years that it's full of really good information if you want to take a more holistic approach to your pet's wellness.
When we lived in Ohio, years ago, I had two Jack Russell Terriers, named Feta and Samson. Â Starting in the spring, Feta would get such bad allergies that she would chew the hair off her feet. Â Medication didn't work and I didn't want to load her up with benedryl everyday, so I started doing research into how diet affects dogs and that's when I discovered Dr. Pitcairn's book.
Once I started making their food, with his recipes, Feta's allergies disappeared, as did Samson's ever-present stomach issues. Â They both lived to be 16. Â I'm still using his recipes with my current dogs, Chili and Junior. Â Chili is almost 11 and in perfect health and Junior is a very hardy and robust 2 year-old. Â They rarely visit the vet, other than for routine maintenance:)
The book also has homemade diets for cats, since I know a lot of you are devoted cat owners.
I always advise folks to read the entire book. Â It lays out a whole plan as to how to keep your pet healthy, happy and well-adjusted, including a very important section on vaccinations. Â There is a body of research suggesting that too many vaccinations can be responsible for a whole host of chronic (and expensive) health issues. Â READ THIS CHAPTER and make your own choices for your pets.
The recipes all contain readily available ingredients; you can make large batches and freeze it. Â Honestly, I've done it for so long that I can whip up about a week's worth of food in about 45 minutes and that includes vacuum sealing it and tossing it into the freezer.
I'll be honest. There are other books about raw diets for your pets and I would encourage you to explore all of them to find the one that best fits your philosophy and lifestyle, but if you're new to the holistic approach to pet health and wellness, this is the book you should start with. Â Mine is dog-eared from looking things up and it's served me very well through 4 dogs and a couple of cats (so far).