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The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is not very useful in Africa. The book is an epic story of the family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
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.