Dreamland, by Sam Quinones
A 2015 book, Dreamland covers the very timely and vexing issue of drug use and the illegal drug trade in recent American history. Sam Quinones is a journalist who has written this very insightful, meticulously-researched and very readable history of the rise of the pain-pill industry in 20th Century America as well as the growth of the heroin problem currently present in many American cities, both large and small. These two issues are connected and Quinones clearly shows how and why. With heroin, Quinones traces the origin of its recent American distribution to families from the Mexican state of Nayarit. Meticulous in their organization, these groups of heroin sellers have established control of its sale throughout the United States. Through interviews with these family members and the sellers they have recruited, Quinones details both how these folks have become involved in the drug trade and why they do it with great enthusiasm. Writing with great knowledge about the terrible issues involved with drug addiction, Quinones gives the reader great insight into this huge problem as well as various steps cities, states and private institutions must take to effectively combat drug addiction. Dreamland is a great book to read about this very current problem in American society and is highly recommended.
Dreamland, by Sam Quinones
The Heist, by Daniel Silva
Fans of Daniel Silva keep growing in numbers and with The Heist, published in 2014 and number 14 in Silva's Gabriel Allon series, it is very easy to see why. As long-time readers of this series know, Gabriel Allon is a highly esteemed restorer of art works painted by the brilliant masters of European art. Yet, he also has another job as an agent of the Israeli government who becomes involved in international matters which can threaten the Israeli state and other issues. In The Heist, Allon's pal Julian Isherwood drags him into a nasty situation when Isherwood discovers a rogue art dealer who has been flayed and hung in the hall of an Italian estate. To prove Isherwood is innocent of any involvement with this brutal crime, Allon insulates himself into the mysterious world of art thieves who deal with extremely valuable paintings that have been stolen and sold on an international black market. Once again, Silva proves himself to be the master of international intrigue as the reader follows Allon untangling a vicious and dangerous web involving Middle Eastern politics and the murky, dangerous world of stolen art. As always in this series, the personal life of Allon comes into the plot and he is a terrifically wonderful character, who becomes a trusted friend to the reader as he races across Europe to find a solution to the crimes he uncovers. As a suggestion, the reader who has never read any of Silva's books involving Allon might enjoy this character and Silva's series featuring him the best by reading the series from the first book. The Heist is highly recommended as a great reading experience.
While I was looking for a downloadable action-packed movie on Hoopla recently, I came across The Contract starring John Cusack and Morgan Freeman. When a father and son decide to re-connect on a camping trip, they run into a mysterious man (in handcuffs) , who is being pursued by the police and a group of mercenaries. Since the father is an ex-cop, he decides the man is a criminal, and decides to turn him over to the police. They start to head back to their starting point. The group meets a couple on the trail, who they talk into coming back with them to avoid the ex-soldiers. However, when they see someone killed in a parking lot, they decide to go back into the forest to avoid a similar fate. Staying one step ahead of everyone, they happen upon a deserted cabin. A fire fight ensues, and the mysterious man suddenly becomes a target - even though the mercenaries are supposed to be rescuing him. The man escapes with the son as a hostage. When the ex - cop finds out the President is going to visit the small town in Washington state, he thinks the mysterious man was sent to assassinate the Chief Executive; but there's a twist. You'll have to view it to find out!
Gone for Good, by Harlan Coben
This reviewer is new to the works of Harlan Coben, who is a highly popular crime writer and what a great read his Gone for Good is! The basic story is fairly simple in that Will Klein, whom the reader meets as an adult, totally adored his older brother Ken as they grew up in a New Jersey suburb of New York City. However, after Ken was accused of murdering the daughter of a neighbor, Ken totally disappeared. Eleven years after that crime, Will is still haunted by memories of Ken and is convinced he was innocent of any crime. After his Mother, who firmly believes Ken is innocent and still alive, dies, Will sets out to find some answers to his family questions. This story has many twists and turns and makes for a wonderful reading experience. Gone for Good shows why Coben is so widely read and is highly recommended.
The Bone Tree, by Greg Iles
The Bone Tree is the second volume of Greg Iles's fictional trilogy about Penn Cage, who is a character in several of Iles's books and currently Mayor of Natchez, Mississippi in The Bone Tree. His battles with the Double Eagles, a left-over remnant of the KKK, began in the first volume of this trilogy, Natchez Burning, and continues in this volume. They are truly an evil bunch of criminals bent on maintain their power in the modern South. Penn's father, Dr. Tom Cage, has been accused of the murder of a former nurse in his office. As in Natchez Burning, the Double Eagles are involved with Tom Cage, the nurse victim, and other segments of contemporary life in Mississippi and Louisiana. Many of the characters from Natchez Burning populate The Bone Tree as Iles weaves a spellbinding tale in this second volume.
The Bone Tree is a truly wonderful book. It is highly recommended that Natchez Burning be read before The Bone Tree so the reader can really be captivated by Iles's skill as a writer. He creates a totally-engaging tale of the modern South and this reviewer is eagerly anticipating the third and final volume of this trilogy.
Elvis and the Underdogs, by Jenny Lee
Benji Wendell Barnsworth is a small ten-year-old boy with a big personality. Born premature, Benji is sickly, accident-prone, and at the hospital so often he even has his own punch card. So when Benji wakes up one day from a particularly bad spell, his doctors take the radical step of suggesting he get a therapy dog. But when a massive crate arrives at Benji's house, out walks a two-hundred-pound Newfoundland who can talk! And boy, is he bossy!
Pilgrims: A Magic Tree House Fact Tracker, by Mary Pope Osborne
Track the facts with Jack and Annie!
When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure in Magic Tree House #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday, they had lots of questions. What was it like to sail on the Mayflower? Why did the Pilgrims choose Plymouth? How did they survive in their new home? What did they really eat at the first Thanksgiving? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts.
Filled with up-to-date information, photos, illustrations, and fun tidbits from Jack and Annie, the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers are the perfect way for kids to find out more about the topics they discovered in their favorite Magic Tree House adventures.
Critics have likened Touchback to Field of Dreams since this downloadable DVD from Hoopla deals with travel back in time, and the characters seem to be able to change the past. The main character, Scott, was injured in a high school football game, resulting in a permanently damaged leg. He loses an opportunity to go to Ohio State University on a scholarship, and decides to become a soybean farmer. When things go wrong, he attempts to commit suicide so his wife can collect the insurance. He wakes up to find himself back-in-time with no injury. He's determined to avoid the career-ending injury, attend college and move out of his small hometown; but he discovers this may not be as easy as he thinks! On his journey, he finds out a lot about his life and how it affects others around him.
James Stewart: The Truth Behind The Legend, by Michael Munn
I've always admired the acting of Jimmy Stewart. He seemed to have a great range of acting, portraying lawyers, bankers, military officers and cowboys. My favorite Christmas movie is It's A Wonderful Life. I've always been curious about his personal life, so I decided to download the electronic book James Stewart: The Truth Behind The Legend by Michael Munn. I discovered many things about him that I didn't know.
Stewart grew up in a typical middle class family in Pennsylvania. One of his hobbies was the accordion, as well as putting on shows for friends and neighbors with his sisters at a very young age. He didn't set out to become an actor, but was pushed into it by a friend. Stewart eventually "got the bug" and started performing in plays and movies. He was known for his exploits with the opposite sex. Surprisingly, he became good friends with Henry Fonda - his political opposite! When he discovered the Mafia had infiltrated Hollywood, he vowed to drive them out. He took up flying, which helped him get into the Air Force during World War II. He was a true leader of his squadron, and received several awards for his bravery. After the war, he took up some clandestine work for J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. This strained several of his relationships in Hollywood.
Stewart had roles in many good and not-so-good films. He was not immune to tragedy, as he lost a family member to war, and grieved for many of his associates who passed away before him. Nonetheless, he was the consummate professional, continuing to hewn his craft.
This book is full of anecdotes about one of America's favorite actors. It's well written and easy to read. If you want to get some insight into the life of movie stars, this is the book for you!
Recently, I downloaded the movie DVD Flyboys from the Library's Hoopla database. It's the story of several young Americans who go to France and volunteer to fight the Germans. One is trying to escape the law, one has lost a ranch, one is trying to impress his father, and one wants to become a pilot for the US Mail Service. One pilot becomes romantically involved with a local girl. It's a motley crew of Americans in search of themselves. Regardless, they become the first French fighter pilot squadron. It also emphasizes the plight of the French people, who must live with the threat of war and destruction day after day.
The storyline is excellent, and there are many great special effects. I was very impressed with the acting. It's an exciting, historical movie that I'm sure you'll enjoy.
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, by Sheila Turnage
Small towns have rules. One is, you got to stay who you are -- no matter how many murders you solve.
When Miss Lana makes an Accidental Bid at the Tupelo auction and winds up the mortified owner of an old inn, she doesn't realize there's a ghost in the fine print. Naturally, Desperado Detective Agency (aka Mo and Dale) opens a paranormal division to solve the mystery of the ghost's identity. They've got to figure out who the ghost is so they can interview it for their history assignment (extra credit). But Mo and Dale start to realize that the Inn isn't the only haunted place in Tupelo Landing. People can also be haunted by their own past. As Mo and Dale handily track down the truth about the ghost (with some help from the new kid in town), they discover the truth about a great many other people, too.
A laugh out loud, ghostly, Southern mystery.
My Name is Sangoel, by Karen Lynn Williams
Sangoel is a refugee. Leaving behind his homeland of Sudan, where his father died in the war, he has little to call his own other than his name, a Dinka name handed down proudly from his father and grandfather before him. When Sangoel and his mother and sister arrive in the United States, everything seems very strange and unlike home. In this busy, noisy place, with its escalators and television sets and traffic and snow, Sangoel quietly endures the fact that no one can pronounce his name. Lonely and homesick, he finally comes up with an ingenious solution to this problem, and in the process he at last begins to feel at home.