Sunday, June 5, 2011

May Books

*Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian's looks at the way the smart and privileged cope when luck turns against them. Dr. Charlie Pepper moves his family to San Francisco to start Nimbus Surgical Devices, just in time for the 2008 market crash. While he scrambles to find funding, Lena tries to cope with a premature infant with multiple health issues, a young son, and her own dysfunctional family. They are teetering on the edge when Charlie is offered support from Lena’s uncle Cal, the man behind her father's failed business. “Edgarian is in fine form, giving readers a well-told story with characters of great depth and complexity, but it is her crystalline writing and the unique narrative tone that elevates this the most.”

*Hector’s Search for Happiness by French psychiatrist, Fran├žois Lelord, is a charming, whimsical fable around Hector's pursuit of the elements that comprise true happiness. Written with fairy-tale simplicity, the story takes the psychiatrist on a trip around the world to learn more about what makes people both happy and sad. His observations result in keen nuggets for attaining joy in life. The book is profoundly and deceptively simple and engaging.

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekke is “beguiling, compelling, challenging, and riveting.” Danny is a Bosnian trying to escape memories of a tragic war that took his mother's life, currently serving as a priest and as an avenging angel who shows powerful, evil men the error of their ways. Renee is the frail, helpless victim of one such man who now lives to satisfy justice by destroying him. But when Danny and Renee's paths become entangled, everything goes awry in a suspenseful, engaging manner.

A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block is not one of the author’s best 50+ novels. After being forced out of the NYPD, Matthew Scudder has given up drink and takes the reader on a tour of most of NYC’s AA meeting places after a fellow 8-stepper is killed while attempting to atone for past sins. Scudder solves the mystery, stays sober and manages to bore me more than any of Block’s previous books.

* The Next Decade by George Friedman compares the position of the United States today to that of Britain in 1910, and argues that the U.S. is an "unintended empire" and that its president is a "global emperor," because of the size of the country's economy. Friedman argues for an end to a reluctance to entangle the country in global affairs. He examines the past strategies of Presidents Bush and Clinton and stresses what President Obama and his successor must do about terrorism and technology to foster relations with the Middle East, Europe, the Western Pacific, Latin America, Africa, Israel, Iran, and Russia. He doesn't play favorites, criticizing their policies and comparing them with presidents who possessed more Machiavellian attributes. While his ideas are well-researched and compelling, Friedman makes some leaps of logic that some readers (including myself) can find confusing.

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