The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster by Jonathan M. Katz

The Big Truck that Went byThis is a must-read for anyone who cares about and contributes to countries that have suffered some type of disaster. Written by an AP reporter who lived in Haiti before, during, and after the 2010 earthquake, it describes the many failures of disaster relief and reconstruction efforts. For example, providing free rice actually undermines the economy, putting Haiti’s own rice farmers out of business. Countries that boast about how much they’re contributing financially often do not come through with the money and/or include in those tallies forgiveness of debt, which really does not contribute to the disaster recovery. A final cap on the problem was cholera introduced to Haiti by UN workers, who then denied any wrong doing. A compelling, well-written, and well-researched book.

Reviewed by Vicki

The Strange Case of the Mad Professor: A true tale of endangered species, illegal drugs, and attempted murder by Peter Kobel

The Strange Case of the Mad ProfessorThis is a fascinating account of the life of John Buettner-Janusch, an anthropology professor at NYU who studied lemurs and also manufactured illegal drugs in his lab and later attempted to murder several people by poisoning. Kobel offers a complex profile of this man’s life and actions. It is a riveting story that includes discussion of academia, mental erosion, and myriad factors and choices that shape a life. Definitely worth reading!

Reviewed by Vicki

Not Dead Yet by Peter James

Not Dead YetThis is a well-written mystery that includes murder, celebrity, and well-woven intrigue. Several story lines run parallel and seem to be unrelated…until the end. Kept me reading and wanting more. I cared about the characters, who were fresh and deep and well-rounded with their own foibles. I would recommend this as a good, solid summer read.

Reviewed by Vicki

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

I Feel Bad About My NeckI just love Nora Ephron’s writing! Her observations are spot on and she is funny, funny, funny! (Remember, she was the author of “When Harry Met Sally.”) She is open about this strange activity of aging and its effects on our bodies that are sometimes pretty surprising, starting with how our necks change and why we wear clothing that covers them up. (Does this explain why Diane Keaton always seems to be wearing turtlenecks?) An easy read for an upbeat perspective on being an older woman.

Reviewed by Vicki

Younger Next Year: for women by Chris Crowley & Henry Lodge

Younger Next Year for WomenThis book is really life-changing. The authors describe how we have to age, but we don’t have to get old. One is a physician, the other a retired attorney who is also a patient who took this advice. Basically, its message is to exercise vigorously for one hour per day. It details the biology and evolution that support this “prescription,” and also provides personal motivation by a man who took this advice and “ran” with it. I’d recommend this book even to those who don’t enjoy exercise.

Reviewed by Vicki

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight BehaviorFlight Behavior discusses the world of butterflies as seen through the eyes of a housewife. It’s a simple story, well-told, with great character development. The underlying environmental message doesn’t manipulate the story of the main characters, but is not lost on the reader. I would recommend this (as well as all other) Kingsolver novels.

Reviewed by Vicki

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

This is the story of a happy marriageI love this book! Ann’s writing is lyrical and honest, and this autobiographical account of her love life and marriage is wise without being preachy. I highly recommend this book!

Reviewed by Vicki

Severe Clear by Stuart Woods

Severe ClearOk, here’s my rant. Although the storyline is interesting enough, character and plot development is two-dimensional and improbable. I could deal with all of that and give this a so-so review if it wasn’t for the pomposity of the author. At the end of the book in the author’s notes, he spends 3 pages telling readers not to write to him, not to bother him with story ideas, not to point out any errors in his books, etc. I guess I’m spoiled by Harlan Coben’s gracious remarks to readers, acknowledging that, without his readers, he would not be an author. I plan to never pick up another Stuart Woods book again.

Reviewed by Vicki

Darkness Sticks to Everything by Tom Hennen

Darkness Sticks to EverythingI’m not the biggest fan of poetry, but the title sucked me right in. And I wasn’t disappointed. These rich, evocative poems are fashioned from the simplest words. I am considering adding this thin volume to my carefully selected at-home library. If you want some gorgeous imagery, then this book is a must!

Reviewed by Vicki

Zoo by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

ZooThis apocalyptic-type thriller was quite engaging and well-written. There were some delightful sentences, such as “I was so broke, I couldn’t afford to complain.” The authors also developed the characters well. I would recommend this book as a good summer read.

Reviewed by Vicki