Author Archives: Brian Bonelli

“Racing the Devil” by Charles Todd

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Ian Rutledge is called in to investigate the death of a beloved Rector in a car accident on the remote coast of Sussex, when more bodies are discovered. Inspector Rutledge becomes the target of the killer as he gets closer to the truth. Charles Todd’s mysteries always satisfy, unlike some that you can solve by the end of the first chapter.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“Irena’s Children” by Tilar J. Mazzeo

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Irena Sendler, honored as one of the “Righteous Among Nations” at Yad Vashem, a modest Polish Catholic, led a team of Polish citizens to save at least 2500 Jewish children from the Nazis amid the atrocities of the Warsaw Ghetto and the destruction of the city of Warsaw. The author brings the story to life, and I was overwhelmed by the group’s courage, daring and sacrifice of their own safety against impossible odds.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“Star Wars – Aftermath: Empire’s End” by Chuck Wendig

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This is the final book of the Star Wars story which takes place after the Return of the Jedi. Members of the New Republic travel to the planet Jakku, where the remnants of the Empire are hiding, to destroy what is left of the Empire. In the meantime, Han, a very pregnant Leia and Mon Mothma, work together in an attempt to build a working government for the New Republic, but a traitor is conspiring against them. This is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and is best appreciated if the first two books are read beforehand.

Evaluation: 4 out of 5

“America’s First Daughter” by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

Book CoverThis book is historical fiction, written in the first person, as if Martha”Patsy” Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson’s daughter) were writing it. After the death of Jefferson’s wife, Patsy accompanied her father to Europe where he served as ambassador to France, and she served as hostess in the White House during his presidency. The book describes Jefferson’s relationship with his slaves, and even though he wrote that “all men are created equal”, he was reluctant to abolish slavery, although Patsy was very opposed to it. It is a very revealing book about slavery as a way of life in the American South at that time.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“Washington’s Spies” by Alexander Rose

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The book that led to a TV series of the same name is a fascinating look at the spy rings, based in the tri-state area, that helped the Patriots face down the British troops and win the American Revolution. Our region played a big part in this espionage, and it was fun to discover how important the areas around us were to this success.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly

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A luminous, eye-opening account of the unseen black women, called computers, who worked alongside the scientists and engineers who perfected the fighter jets during World War II, and the space rockets of the Space Race. This book should be required reading in every school in our country. In an era of segregation and deprivation, these women fought to win their place in a desegregated space agency that needed their skill, in spite of the color of their skin. This book was a thrill to read, and I recommend it highly.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“Star Wars – Aftermath: Life Debt” by Chuck Wendig

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This is book two of the Aftermath trilogy which takes place some years after the events in Return of the Jedi. The two major plot lines follow Han and Chewie as their work to liberate the Wookie home world from the clutches of the remnants of the Empire, while Leia and former Imperial hunter Norra Wexley, look to capture Grand Admiral Rae Sloane of the former Empire. This is a typical Star Wars book loaded with action and mayhem. Recommended basically only for fellow Star Wars fans.

Evaluation: 3 out of 5

“American Heiress” by Jeffrey Toobin

This book is a detailed narrative of the kidnapping of Patricia (Patty) Hearst, set mostly in California against the counterculture of the 1970s. The book describes how Patty gradually came to empathize with her captives, whom she called “comrades” (was she brainwashed?), and goes on to her trial for the crimes she committed (which included bank robbery and an accessory to murder), her time in prison, the commutation of her sentence by then-President Carter, and her eventual pardon by then-President Clinton. It is a very thought-provoking book. Did Patty receive preferential treatment because of her family affiliation?

Evaluation: 5 out of 5