New odysseyAn eye-opener of a book, an important and enlightening book to read for people like myself who did not totally grasp what is happening with the refugee crisis. Written by Patrick Kingsley, the migration correspondent for the London Guardian, the book reads like adventure fiction with people smugglers, deadly treks through the Saharan Desert, and dinghies overly packed with refugees floating through the seas to their deaths-except it is all true. 

Kingsley’s eyewitness reporting shows how deplorable their current conditions are and why they must leave their countries in the Middle East and Africa and equally how horrendous is the journey to find a future in European countries. There is a story of one specific refugee whom Kingsley often accompanies as he flees his native Syria which kept me wondering and hoping that he would make his destination out of such unimaginable adversity. This is an easy to understand and compelling book. What surprised me was how well educated many of the people are and how similar their lives are to ours except they live without any hope for themselves and families in their home countries wrecked by political chaos. A very humane and compassionate writing of a catastrophic crisis that does not appear to be abating.

GeorgiaHistorical fiction about the adult life of American painter Georgia O’Keeffe and her relationship with husband-photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Gorgeously written, the author reveals O'Keefe’s hopes and dreams, her disappointments and her joys. The book begins with her first meeting with her husband and brings us to her later years in Taos. As an art fan of O’Keefe, I loved this very intimate portait of the artist! “Tripp inhabits Georgia’s psyche so deeply that the reader can practically feel the paintbrush in hand as she creates her abstract paintings and New Mexico landscapes.” From USA Today review

Euphoria2Historical fiction of three anthropologists studying tribes in New Guinea in the 1930s and how the three interact not only with the indigenous people but with each other. This atmospheric story, providing vivid details of tribes living along the Sepik River of the South Pacific is based loosely on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. With exotic settings, intriguing characters, a romantic triangle, this stimulating tale is ultimately one of  self-discovery and self -destruction.

moscowIn 1922, 33-year-old Count Alexander Rostov is ruled an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and sentenced to house arrest for life in the Metropol, a grand luxurious hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, a man of grace and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and while he had lived in grand style for four years at the hotel he must now live in an attic room while Russia faces revolutionary changes. His confinement actually provides him far richer relationships and adventures than in his previous and purposeless life.

The story is filled with a group of memorable characters each of whom impacts and changes the Count’s life and is filled with wonderful thought-provoking observations of life. This is a character-driven novel-one to savor slowly One of my all-time favorite books! While I don't usually reread books this one deserves a second reading to uncover all of its layers of richness.

lab girl by hope jahren 275A memoir from a passionate paleobotanist, Jahren writes an engaging, elegant  and humorous account of her childhood in Minnesota, how she grew to love trees and plants, her early experiences in laboratory work, her battle with anxiety and depression, and the longtime friendship with her quirky, beloved lab partner, Bill. Jahren intersperses stories about plants with stories about her own life in a way that makes for a surprisingly mesmerizing read. This will have you looking at trees in a different way and even if you have no passing interest in trees, there is a lot here to keep you entertained!

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