Archive for the ‘Book Talk by Julia’ Category

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

(Find this book in our catalog)If this book were to be made into a movie it would be a romantic comedy, but it is much more than that. It is the story of Don Tillman, a genetics professor who is socially inept & has Asperger’s like symptoms. He is highly intelligent, focused, & seemingly unemotional, but feels he should have a wife. Therefore he starts The Wife Project. He designs a detailed questionnaire to put out on the internet or give to possible candidates. This leads to all sorts of situations, but things get really complicated when he meets Rosie. She is rebellious, non-conformist, erratic, with issues of her own. She is everything Professor Tillman is not looking for, yet they become friends. What will happen when Don starts The Rosie Project? With a lot of laugh aloud humor & a touch of pathos, this is a fun & engaging read. Read it when you need a boost of happy. It is very satisfying to see how Don changes throughout the novel.


Posted by Julia

The Martian by Andrew Weir

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

(Find this book in our catalog) This brilliant debut novel, though classed as science fiction, will appeal to a larger audience than just those readers who enjoy the science fiction genre. It is a story of survival in one of the most inhospitable environments, Mars. Mark Watney, engineer & botanist, is left on Mars, presumed dead, when the rest of the mission evacuates the planet. The reader cannot help but be engaged by the charming, humorous, determined Watney. We share his hopes & fears, & as the tension mounts & his days on Mars count down towards the end, we cannot help but root for this hero. Mark is a great character, his creativity & positive attitude in the face of adversity make you want him to survive, but will he, when so many things can go wrong. Thrills, suspense & real science combine in this wonderful story of humanity & survival.




The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

(Find this book in our catalog)Released in January 2013, The Aviator’s Wife is the story of Anne Morrow, the wife of Charles Lindbergh.  The book follows their courtship and marriage, the kidnapping of their child, Charles’ affairs and both the happy & sad times from Anne’s point of view.  Anne is a relatively innocent young woman who becomes enamoured of the famous flier.  Under Charles’ tutelage, she becomes an accomplished aviator and navigator in her own right and flies solo.  Life with Charles is never easy, however.  Anne must find her own way through life if she is ever to find happiness.  With an eye to historical detail, Benjamin examines the relationship and times of the Lindberghs, and may provide the reader with a new insight into this period in American history.

Ms. Benjamin has always been an avid reader. Although she had written previously, she discovered her writing forte with her books Alice I Have Been and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. See her website.

If you are reading for a book group, you might consider these themes: Traditional/Cultural roles of men & women, Fame/Hero worship, The Press- positives & negatives, Dealing with the loss of a child, Anti-Semitism.

Posted by Julia


Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

(Find this book in our catalog)  When some artifacts go missing, archaeologist Lina Taylor is drawn back to her home on the east coast of Mexico. She is accompanied by ex-immigration officer Hunter Johnston. As they search for the artifacts, they begin a relationship that grows as steamy as the jungle around Lina’s home. The tension,  anticipation & danger escalate the nearer they get to the artifacts, &  reach a pinnacle on the night of December 21, 2012, when the Maya celebration for the end of the world demands the rise of the god Kawa’il. If you are looking for a novel with passion, adventure & thrills, this is it. It is a fast, absorbing read that keeps the action going to the end. Anyone who has traveled in the Riviera Maya area will appreciate the setting & Maya culture. See Ms. Lowell’s latest novel, Dangerous Refuge, read her biography & look for more information on the author & her books.

Posted by Julia

The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog)  This international bestseller is a fun & funny satire that begins when Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window at the Old Folk’s Home where he lives. He is escaping the 1ooth birthday party planned for him by the home’s director. Still wearing his slippers, he makes his way to the bus station where, by stealing a suitcase, he sets in motion a series of events that will include a number of murders, some new friends, a whole pile of money, an elephant, and a trip to Bali. He will also reveal to his new friends the many episodes of his life, including that he was an explosives expert with a taste for vodka. Author Jonasson, cleverly ties Allan to historic events from his birth in 1905, to his present predicament in 2005. Allan is loveable, his friends are unusual, & the characters he meets are mostly unaware that both he & the author are making fun of them. Brilliant, unique & with a fresh take on history, this is a novel that will interest & amuse anyone.

With over 3 million copies sold worldwide, Swedish author Jonasson has a debut hit. He is a former journalist and had his own production company until he felt the need for a change & decided to write his first novel. As he says of Allan, It’s Never Too Late to Start Over. Jonasson lives in Sweden with his son, a cat & some chickens. His second book, The Illiterate Who Could Count, will be published in 2013.

Click here for article:  is the author’s website.

Posted by Julia

Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog)  Sheldon Horowitz, an elderly widower moves to Oslo, Norway to live with his granddaughter & her Norwegian husband, Lars. While there he rescues a young boy from a murderer & sets off across city & country to try & reach the safety of a vacation cabin. Sheldon is a cranky old man who lives as much in the past as the present; haunted by his experiences it often seems that the past is more real to him.  This exciting, poignant & thoughtful novel is the first of writer Miller. He highlights cultural & political life in Norway, the issues of old age & memory, & the bonds of family & love while the chase is on for a murderer & his accomplices. This is a different sort of mystery & well worth reading.

More information about the author may be found at the websites below.


Posted by Julia

A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog)  Jo Donovan owns one of the best literary agencies in New York. While still mourning the loss of her famous author husband, she has completely thrown herself into her work. When she is threatened by a stalker & her clients come under attack, she will discover who her true friends are. This tense & thrilling mystery will keep you guessing as the stakes get higher & everyone comes under suspicion.

A Dangerous Fiction is the first in a new series by Rogan, who is the author of eight novels, including Suspicion & Hindsight. Rogan worked extensively in publishing & is a teacher & lecturer on fiction writing.

“A terrific read! A thriller with a psychological heart of mystery, a double-ended love story, and a fascinating look at the world of high-stakes publishing.”-Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of Outlander and An Echo in the Bone

Posted by Julia


The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog) This beautifully written, warm & quirky book is both uplifting & heartwarming. It begins with seventeen year old Alex being stopped at customs with an urn full of ashes on his car’s passenger seat & some marijuana in the glove compartment. The story that follows relates how events in Alex’s life led up to that moment, including him being hit on the head by a meteorite when he was ten & his relationship with a Vietnam veteran.  It is told from his point of view & the style is reminiscent of the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. It is a coming of age story with a twist & will appeal to any reader who enjoys good writing. Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2013: Quirky only begins to describe this incredibly touching tale of an epileptic British misfit science geek who befriends an aging American Vietnam War vet. As the book begins, Alex is a teenage boy, arrested and being questioned by the authorities. What happened? How did he get here? Who is this kid? Do we even like him? Debut novelist Gavin Extence dangles these questions before us, then cleverly leads us backwards in order to answer them. The story (and therefore our journey) starts years before, when young Alex was randomly, life-alteringly struck in the head by a meteorite, rendering him both a scientific celebrity and a school yard outcast. Kurt Vonnegut’s influence is obvious within specific plot points, and is also noticeable in Extence’s writing, where he strikes a balance of describing tragic events with comedic style, wrapping his seriousness within subtle absurdity. Specifically, his attention to bullying is distinct, yet unsanctimonious. By the time we’re back in the interrogation room, our questions about Alex have been well answered, but a bigger question demands our attention: How far would you go for a friend? Robin A. Rothman
Posted by Julia




Malavita by Tonino Benacquista

Monday, July 29th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog)  Fred & Maggie Blake & their two teenagers are relocated to France as part of the witness protection program.  Fred tells locals he is a writer, but really he is Giovanni Manzoni, a “made man” with a bounty on his head. However, he decides to write his memoirs, Maggie volunteers with local charities & their son & daughter try to get on at school. Through his writing Fred explores & considers his life in organized crime, Maggie tries to atone for his & her previous life, & the children discover how restricted their lives are when they have to keep the family secrets. Farcical scenarios & mayhem ensue as the family tries to live a normal live without knowing how to.

Look for the movie

  • The Family, September 2013. English-language French film co-written by Tonino Benacquista and directed by Luc Besson, starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, and Dianna Agron.
Posted by Julia

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Friday, July 12th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog).

Harold Fry is the most ordinary of men. He leads a humdrum existence where he appears to be estranged from his son, & he & his wife sleep in separate rooms with little communication between them. One day, however, he receives a letter that changes his life. An old friend & ex-colleague writes to say she is dying of cancer. Harold decides to write back but when he goes to the post box, he just keeps going & begins a pilgrimage that takes him from the south west of England to the far north east where Queenie is in a hospice. On the way Harold meets some interesting characters & goes through a personal transformation. Back home, his wife also begins to examine her life. Although, initially, quite a slow-paced story, it picks up, with some surprises & insight not only into the main characters but those around them. This is a different book for those looking for a thoughtful & entertaining read.

Read more about the author at

Find Information about the author’s new book, Perfect  at

A Daily Mail article about Rachel & her father, who died of cancer.–real-hero-novel-win-Booker.html

This was the Abingdon Book Group read for July.

Posted by Julia