In the Library · Jean R · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Sports

One Last Strike | by Tony La Russa with Rick Hummel

One Last Strikeby Tony La Russa with Rick Hummel
(William Morrow, 2012, 420 pages)

One Last Strike by Tony La Russa with Rick Hummel is the true story of Tony La Russa’s career in baseball with an emphasis on the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals championship season. In One Last Strike, La Russa explains his baseball philosophy, his management style, and his rise through the baseball ranks. La Russa has managed the Chicago White Sox, the Oakland A’s, and the St. Louis Cardinals. When he is eligible, Tony La Russa will be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In One Last Strike, La Russa explains some of the strategies, pep talks, and motivational techniques that he used to help the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series. He talks about specific decisions that he made in the 2011 playoffs. La Russa also details his decision to retire and his bout with shingles.

One Last Strike is a must read for a St. Louis Cardinal fan. It can also be enjoyed by baseball fans in general. One Last Strike is well written and includes photographs of some of the highlights of La Russa’s career. One Last Strike is worth the read.

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Graphic Novel · Humor · Julia P · Non-Fiction · Quick Read! · Relationships

Scenes from an Impending Marriage | by Adrian Tomine

Scenes from an Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine
(Drawn and Quarterly, 2011, 40 pages)

I don’t remember where I heard about this small graphic novel but I knew I wanted to read it. If you’ve ever gone through the process of planning a wedding you’ll relate to the stress/drama/fatigue included in these pages. Wedding planning is work, even when you try not to let it be. This collection of little storylines follows Adrian and his bride-to-be as they go through the process of planning their wedding. I feel like I smiled the whole time I was reading it simply because I related to what they had to deal with. This was a fun, light read.

Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Quick Read! · Relationships · Short Stories

This Is How You Lose Her | by Junot Díaz

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
(Riverhead, 2012, 224 pages)

I loved The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz so I knew I was going to read this collection of short stories that was recently published. The stories all revolve in some way around a young man named Yunior and they all touch on some aspect of love. Díaz’s writing has a way of instantly pulling you in and I enjoyed each of the stories included in this collection. I will say that I initially thought it was going to be more of a novel so I had to readjust the way that I was reading. A very enjoyable and quick read.

Audiobook · Award Winner · Fiction · Horror · Julia P · Page-Turner · Young Adult

Rotters | by Daniel Kraus

Rotters by Daniel Kraus
(Delacrote Books for Young Readers, 2011, 464 pages)

I had been hearing a lot about this book and the audiobook got pretty impressive reviews so I went for it. There were warnings it could be a bit graphic and that was definitely the case. The narrator did a great job bringing a wide variety of characters to life. I enjoyed the book, even if it was a bit dark for my taste, and I really appreciated the author’s writing style.

Joey Crouch has recently moved from Chicago to Iowa following the tragic and accidental death of his mother. He’s never had a relationship with his father and now he’s being forced into one. Ken Harnett isn’t the easiest man to get to know or get along with. His house is more or less a cabin in the woods and it’s filled with books and old newspapers. He has done nothing to prepare for Joey’s arrival. He has no phone, no computer – he’s a man who enjoys being cut off from the world. So Joey’s new life starts off roughly. He starts school ill-prepared and almost instantly makes enemies, becoming known as “Crotch” and constantly made fun of.

Harnett is known as the garbage man but he never seems to be seen doing that job. He’ll vanish and then reappear covered in mud. Joey finally tries to figure Harnett out and discovers that his real job is being a grave robber. This explains why he’s always covered in mud and has a distinct odor about him. Joey eventually learns that this is an ancient “profession” and that there are a number of other grave robbers, all of whom have their own territory. Joey is trained by Harnett and joins the fold of other grave robbers, but there’s a source of tension. A grave robber who had been partners with Harnett has become a little “off” and he poses a threat to the rest of the group, but Joey and Harnett specifically.

This is definitely a good book to read for this period close to Halloween. The tone of the book was pretty depressing and when you combine that with the grave robbing… it’s a dark book, but a unique story.

Fiction · Julia P · Quick Read! · Romance

Pride & Passion | by Charlotte Featherstone

Pride & Passion by Charlotte Featherstone
(HQN, 2011, 378 pages)

Sometimes you just need to pick up a romance novel… This was the first historical romance I’d read in quite a while and I picked it up primarily because I recognized Featherstone’s name as a well-known author in the genre. Pride & Passion is the second book in what I believe will be a trilogy.

Lucy Ashton has given up on the hope of love and is only looking for passion. After her former lover seemingly disappears she is left trying to keep from marrying Adrian, the Duke of Sussex, as her father wishes. Adrian is so reserved and calm, he lacks all the passion Lucy has been searching for. Or so she thinks…

Adrian has been pining for Lucy for years and he will do anything to have her. When they get mixed up in an attempt at blackmail it’s clear that Adrian will do whatever he must to keep Lucy safe. Both he and Lucy have secrets in their past that have led them to hesitate in believing they can truly have all they’ve dreamed of. But perhaps they’ll find they can have it all if they have each other.

This was a quick read that was enjoyable overall, but it didn’t compel me to check out the rest of the series.

Biography · History · Medicine · Non-Fiction · Page-Turner · Science · Ying L

Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted | by Gerald Imber

Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted by Gerald Imber
(Kaplan Publishing, 2010, 389 pages)

I watched a documentary on the history of modern surgery which led me to this biography of Dr. William Stewart Halsted.  This book knocked my socks off! The author, Dr. Gerald Imber, a plastic surgeon, did a great job of covering Dr. Halsted’s life and his brilliant medical career. Some of Dr. Halsted’s contributions (built on other medical giants, of course) were the introduction of surgical gloves, sterilizing operating tools/rooms, general and local anesthetics, gentle handling of tissues during surgery, emergency blood transfusion and the establishment of the first residency program in the United States. I found an impressive list of “The Accomplishments of Dr. William Stewart Halsted” from John Hopkins’ medical archives site. I liked how the book covered Dr. Halsted’s eccentric personality and his secretive drug addiction which was incited by experimenting with cocaine as a local anesthetic.

I also enjoyed reading the history of John Hopkins University and its hospital. There is great coverage on the funding of this preeminent medical school by the four founding doctors (they are referred to the “Big Four” at Hopkins): Halsted, Welch, Mall and Cushing.  The stories on other scientists and doctors and their contributions in the United States and the Europe are equally captivating. Dr. Imber makes the technical aspects of surgery fascinating and easy to understand.  I never had a dull moment reading this book.  Who knew it could be fun to read the history on surgical developments and innovations from the late 1800s to the early 1900s? Having said that, I have to say that the book title is a bit of misleading. But I still thoroughly enjoyed the Genius on the Edge. Next time I’m in Baltimore, I’ll be sure to visit the John Hopkins Welch Medical Library to admire the painting of “The Four Doctors.”

I have a whole new appreciation for modern surgery now. You would too if you learned how barbaric surgery was before all these advances. This is a well-researched and well-written book.  I highly recommend this to readers who are interested in medical history and biography. You don’t need a strong stomach for this book since there were only a few surgeries described in detail.

Fiction · Gwen B · In the Library · Quick Read! · Relationships

Friends Forever | by Danielle Steel

Friends Forever by Danielle Steel
(Delacorte Press, 2012, 308 pages)

Overview:

Five children meet on the first day of kindergarten. In the years that follow, they become friends and more than friends. Together, they will find strength, meet challenges, face life’s adventures, endure loss, face stark realities, and open their hearts. In this moving novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel traces their unforgettable journey—full of tests and trials—as three boys and two girls discover the vital bonds that will last a lifetime.

Friends Forever

Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy, and Sean—each bursting with their own personality, strikingly different looks and talents, in sports, science, and the arts. Each drawn by the magical spark of connection that happens to the young. At the exclusive Atwood School, on a bright September day, starting in kindergarten they become an inseparable group known to outsiders as the Big Five. In this rarefied world, five families grow closer, and five children bloom beside one another, unaware of the storms gathering around them.

I enjoy reading books by Danielle Steel.  She’s one of my favorites.  So, of course I couldn’t wait to read this one.  I pretty much know how she writes, so I wasn’t looking for anything to be different.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised though with this one – she definitely went another way.  I was glad to see it take a different spin from the way she usually writes.  At first I couldn’t really get into it, but as I kept reading, she really starting revealing some things and in my opinion, started bringing the story and characters to life.  To the point where I wanted to read more and follow their journey and see how things were going to end.  This was a quick & easy read, that was sad at times, but leaves you with a happy ending. Not as predictable a storyline as some of her other books. I thought it was well written and the characters felt real. I recommend it because it’s a story about hope, friendship, love, and overcoming the hardships of life.