Friday, July 31, 2009

Recommendations from Julie

Sanctuary by Ken Bruen
Jack Taylor is back, climbing on and falling off the wagon. Now he has to rescue a child and save himself from a murderous ex-nun. This book offers new developments in his life—I will definitely be reading the next Jack Taylor novel.
Ken Bruen's website.

Cracker Bling by Stephen Solomita
The main character is a kid who's just gotten out of prison & immediately falls in with some bad people. On the other side is an alcoholic cop who is physically falling apart. The two become accidental partners in the case & form a rather interesting team leading to a surprising ending. I enjoyed this one.

Firewall by Henning Mankell
Henning Mankell is a great writer! I love that he combines a great mystery, police procedural & social commentary all in one book. This one has to do with an international terrorist plot involving banks. The deaths are gruesome but Wallander & the secondary characters all evolve making for a great series. Mankells' series is the best to come out of Sweden since the great Martin Beck series by Per Wahloo & Maj Sjowall.
Henning Mankell's website.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Recommendation from Macaire

Financially Ever After:
The Couples’ Guide to Managing Money

by Jeff D. Opdyke

Whether tying the knot or deciding to cohabitate, hammering out financial issues is a major part of setting up housekeeping. Opdyke, the Wall Street Journal’s Love & Money columnist, covers a broad range of topics in a plain, no nonsense fashion that is accessible even to those who have never cracked the spine of a personal finance book.

Beginning with Section One “Money Matters Before Marriage,” Opdyke outlines the ten questions every couple must ask, and why. These cover everything from discussing each partner’s financial history and aspirations to who needs a prenup and who buys the engagement ring. Section Two covers "Money Matters After Marriage," including budgets, debts and savings. Opdyke gives a lot of space to the topic of money and emotions, the big sticking point in many relationships.

Overall, this is a good primer and starting point for conversations that are important to have whether you are merging households for the first time or the fifth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Great Books for Summer . . . reviewed by Suzanne

Here are two excellent and satisfyingly chunky books. They are available in paperback editions you can take with you whether you read at the beach, in Paris, or in your backyard.

PART TWO: Nonfiction

Gandhi and Churchill
by Arthur Herman

This fascinating history made me painfully aware of my almost total ignorance about India’s history. Herman has written an excellent revisionist account of the lives of these two mythic individuals. Reading this, they became considerably less mythic. Gandhi was a racist (while in South Africa he tried to convince the British to give Indians the same status as whites, but he considered black Africans not their equals), and Churchill had a giant ego and refused to acknowledge his mistakes (including the disastrous Gallipolli campaign of WWI). Don’t let the length of the book dismay you. It’s well worth the investment in time it takes to read.
Read the Commentary Magazine review.

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer
Unless you are a fan of Dick Cheney, this book will raise your hackles. If you are a Cheney devotee, you might want to skip it, since he does not come off very well in this account of the methods used to pursue the “war on terror”. I learned that there was much more to the horrors and abuses of "enhanced interrogation" at Guantanamo and the "black sites" overseas than the news accounts covered. This is a tragic book; it made me very sad to learn the extent to which individuals in the government, military and CIA lied and covered up to subvert the constitution. There's so much evil in the story; however it was heartening to learn about the heroic efforts of some lawyers, military people, and FBI agents who protested the use of torture and tried to get it stopped. This is a superb choice for anyone interested in politics.
Read the New York Times review.