Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Title: At the Water's Edge, Author: Sara GruenAt the Water’s Edge. Finished 4-7-16, rating 4.25/5, historical fiction, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Justine Eyre. 10 hours.

After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind.

To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war.

Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants.   from Goodreads

This was a slow but rich story about a young woman coming into her own during World War II. At first, the drunken, entitled trio of Maddie, her husband Ellis, and friend Hank, were so unlikeable that I’m sure some people stopped reading.  The self-absorption was just too much. Maddie and Ellis turned out of their wealthy Philadelphia home, headed to Scotland with Hank and his money.  They were going to find and record the Loch Ness monster, something that had brought shame to Ellis’s father.  As  they crossed the ocean headed toward the war zone instead of away from it, Maddie started to see more than just herself and her own needs.  To see her eyes opened to class, to war, to her husband, makes a very fulfilling journey.

We read this for book group and everyone liked it, most even more than Gruen’s Like Water for Elephants.  The discussion centered around Maddie’s growth, the World War II backdrop, Ellis and Hank’s relationship, and, yes, whether the Loch Ness monster is real.  As a counterpoint, Jason tried to listen to it and made it through two cds before giving up. There wasn’t enough going on for him.

April 26, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books | , | 13 Comments

Up From Slavery by Booker T Washington

IMG_5708Up From Slavery. Finished 1-13-16, rating 3.5.5, memoir, pub. serially 1900-01

Unabridged audio read by Andrew L Barnes. 7 hours, 30 minutes.

Booker T. Washington, the most recognized national leader, orator and educator, emerged from slavery in the deep south, to work for the betterment of African Americans in the post Reconstruction period.

“Up From Slavery” is an autobiography of Booker T. Washington’s life and work, which has been the source of inspiration for all Americans. Washington reveals his inner most thoughts as he transitions from ex-slave to teacher and founder of one of the most important schools for African Americans in the south, The Tuskegee Industrial Institute.

Booker T. Washington’s words are profound. Washington includes the address he gave at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, which made him a national figure. He imparts `gems of wisdom’ throughout the book, which are relevant to Americans who aspire to achieve great attainments in life.     from Goodreads

I picked up this 1968 paperback with a very retro cover years ago and added it to my Classics Club reading list last year.  I both read and listened to this one and was both inspired and somewhat bored by it.  Let’s break it down a bit.

Washington was born a Virginia slave.  His childhood as a slave wasn’t as awful as some I’ve seen portrayed in the movies, but impressive because he harbored no real resentment towards the whites.  He was still a kid when Lincoln freed the slaves and life changed drastically for his family.  They were now on their own and still together.  Booker, from a young age, was determined to become educated.  His desire and struggle for education was something, I think, that is inherent in all great men and women, and he was a role model.  Through his dedication he was able to start teaching others.  He somehow got himself to the Hampton Institute and enrolled even though he didn’t have enough money for tuition.  It is a true testament to valuing hard work that he was able to accomplish what he did.

When the time came that he was chosen to head the Tuskegee Institute, Washington had to build it from the ground up.  He became a spokesman for the college, and for African-Americans everywhere, by placing as much emphasis on labor as book learning.  I loved his ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ and black empowerment through education and hard work message.  This part of the book, once he became more national speaker than day-to-day director of the school, dragged.  And it was half the book, so you see the problem.  It was a rehash of his speaking engagements and travel and some of the press clipping about these speaking engagements.

I thought his insights into the African-American experience during and after the Civil War were engaging and wish the book had been more about that.  That being said, I am so glad I read it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, especially now that I’ve taken your expectations down a notch 🙂

This was my 9th selection for the Classics Club.  I need to get busy!


January 19, 2016 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | , , , | 7 Comments

The 9th Judgement, by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

The 9th Judgment (Women's Murder Club Series #9) by James Patterson: CD Audiobook CoverFinished audio 1-27-11, rating 3/5, thriller, pub.2010

Unabridged audio approximately 7 hours.  Read by Carolyn McCormick

Book 9 in the Women’s Murder Club series. (Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3) (Book 4) (Book 5) (Book 6) (Book 7) (Book 8)

There is a killer walking the streets of San Francisco murdering mothers and their infants in cold blood.  There is a jewel thief who robs houses while the owners are throwing dinner parties and has earned the nickname Hello Kitty.  And between these two stories is police detective Lindsay Boxer and a woman named Heidi with very poor judgement of people.

Lindsay is front and center in this latest installment with the other three members of the Women’s Murder Club having little to no effect whatsoever.  The storyline of the man killing mothers and babies in parking garages creeped me out more than it might have if I didn’t currently have a three-month old son.  The killer himself was horrible, but one-dimensional.  The storyline involving Hello Kitty was actually more interesting to me, but was more of a secondary plot than a full one.

This was pretty typical for this series.  A murderer, close calls, and friendship all told with a light hand so that it’s fun to listen to, but nothing sticks.  I think these are great for car listening because I have to pay so little attention to keep up.  I don’t know if I would have taken the time to sit down and read it although it doesn’t usually take long to get through one.  You know what you’re going to get with this series, and I followed along this time because I won the audio in a giveaway.  As I linked to my past reviews I noticed that I’ve rated every book in this series with a 3 or 3 1/2 which makes me think that if I didn’t continue with the series it would be no great loss.

This audio is from my personal library.

January 27, 2011 Posted by | 3 Star Books | , | 5 Comments