“An Invisible Thread” by Laura L. Schroff

Book Cover
The author tells an inspiring story about how she, as a busy executive thirty years ago, befriended an eleven-year-old panhandler on a crowded Manhattan street. They met weekly for lunch, and she became a major influence in helping to turn his life around. She and the young man, who now has a family of his own, are still the best of friends, and he credits her, and rightfully so, for leading him to a life of productivity and respectability. The author is a Huntington native, and it was interesting to read about various familiar locations mentioned in the book.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“Below the Belt” by Stuart Woods

Book Cover

Attorney Stone Barrington is asked by his close friend, former US President Will Lee, to pick up a brief case filled with classified information. Stone soon finds his life threatened by those who seek the contents of the case. As the story unfolds, politics, power, and the super rich people who are entwined in both, become central to the plot. This is a typical Stone Barrington (the man who can never do wrong), easy to read, with an under tone of humor, type mystery. If the reader is familiar with past books, it’s more of the same.

Evaluation: 3 out of 5

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

Book Cover

This book graphically describes the horrors of slavery, and the cruelty and deprivations suffered by slaves at the hands of their masters. But the real twist in this book is that the Underground Railroad is a real railroad, with tracks, locomotives, station platforms, conductors, etc., and transports slaves as they try to escape to “free” states. The lives of the slaves are portrayed realistically, but other aspects of the book are figments of the author’s imagination.

 Evaluation: 4 out of 5

“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

Book Cover

The central character in this book is a curmudgeonly old man, recently widowed, who sets himself up as the overseer of his neighborhood, and is known as “the bitter neighbor from hell”. But when a young family with two small girls and an outgoing wife moves in next door, his world is turned upside down. Although the book has comical aspects, it also deals compassionately with serious social issues, such as grief, suicide, terminal illness, same-sex relationships, and more. I found it to be a very interesting read, and a thought-provoking discussion book.

Evaluation: 4 out of 5

“Turbo Twenty-Three” by Janet Evanovich

Book Cover

This is the latest comedy/mystery involving bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and her boyfriends Morelli and Ranger. Ranger’s private security firm is hired to install new security equipment in an ice cream factory. When two of the factory employees are murdered Ranger enlists Stephanie’s help to investigate. As is typical in any Plum novel, much mayhem and confusion ensue. It’s a silly but fun, easy read.

Evaluation: 3 out of 5

“Cross the Line” by James Patterson

Book Cover

Alex Cross and his partner Sampson investigate the murders of multiple criminals by a gang of vigilantes. At the same time, his wife Chief of Detectives Bree Stone investigates the murder of her former boss, his girlfriend and a disgraced former colleague. This latest Alex Cross novel is typical of those that came before it. Easy, action filled reading.

Evaluation: 3 out of 5

“No Man’s Land” by David Baldacci

Book Cover
This is Baldacci’s latest novel centered on Army CID agent John Puller.Puller, his brother and friend Veronica Knox investigated the disappearance of Puller’s mother which occurred 30 years earlier. The investigation stumbles upon classified experiments on humans and selling government secrets. This was another intriguing plot written by a master of the genre that I had a hard time putting down.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Book Cover

This is a historically accurate novel about the nine-man rowing team from the University of Washington, and their spectacular win of the gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, during Hitler’s Nazi regime. These were all young men from working class families, and they took the world by storm with their dedication, perseverance and determination, as they rowed to victory over more prestigious schools. This was truly a heart-warming and inspirational story of nine outstanding athletes, all of whom went on to lead productive lives, and some of whom lived to see the 21st century.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“After You” by Jojo Moyes

Book Cover

This is the sequel to the novel (and movie) Me Before You and is best appreciated after the reading the first book or watching the movie. Caregiver Louisa Clark struggles to move forward with her life after the death of the man she was hired to assist. This is a story of learning to cope with profound grief and the impact of a loved one’s death. It is a bit over the top at times, but does an excellent job of allowing the reader to share in the emotional healing process.

Evaluation: 4 out of 5

“Small Great Things” by Judi Picoult

Book Cover

An African American nurse is put on trial for murder of a baby of a white supremacist couple who dies in the hospital a few days after birth. Although this book is technically about a baby’s death, it’s real focus is the racism that still exists in our country, both overt and insidious. The story is told from the different points of view of the main characters. It is emotionally charged and well written. I had a hard time putting it down.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5