Book Review: The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve López

LON

When Steve Lopez sees Nathaniel Ayers playing his heart out on a two-string violin on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. He finds it impossible to walk away. At first, he is drawn by the opportunity to crank out another column for the Los Angeles Times. Just one more item on an ever-growing to-do list: “Violin Man.”

Things change…

But what Lopez begins to unearth about the mysterious street musician leaves an indelible impression.” “More than thirty years earlier, Ayers had been a promising classical bass student at Juilliard. Ambitious, charming, and one of the few African-Americans. Until he gradually lost his ability to function, overcome by a mental breakdown. When Lopez finds him, Ayers is alone, suspicious of everyone, and deeply troubled, but glimmers of that brilliance are still there.”

From an impromptu concert of Beethoven’s Eighth in the Second Street tunnel to a performance of Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites on Skid Row, the two men learn to communicate through Ayers’s music.

The Soloist is a story about unwavering commitment, artistic devotion, and the transformative magic of music.

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Book Review: Billy Elliot by Lee Hall

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Set in northern England during the 1984 miner’s strike, “Billy Elliot” tells the story of a young working class boy who chooses not to follow his widowed father’s instructions to train to be a boxer. Instead, fascinated by the ballet class sharing the same building as his gym, Billy hangs up his gloves to pursue dreams of being a dancer.

But even as he discovers his virtuoso gift for ballet he must hide his triumph from his father and brother — both miners on strike struggling to keep food on the table. A hit at last years Cannes Film Festival and a smash success in the UK just one week into its premiere, “Billy Elliot” is being hailed as one of the best films of the year.

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Book Review: An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance

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In this wholly absorbing historical novel, Mrs. Lucy Carelton, who comes from one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in 1880s New York City, has been completely undone by her nerves. Her ambitious husband. A nouveau riche stockbroker, drags her from one doctor to another in search of a cure that will allow her to fulfill her many social obligations without giving in to hysteria.

They think they have found the solution in charismatic neurologist Victor Seth. A champion of a relatively new procedure called hypnotism. Seth sets about freeing Lucy from the social constraints that have made her so unhappy. While encouraging her to pursue her artistic talents and explore her sexuality.

Seth convinces himself that his techniques, including his handy way with an electrotherapy wand, are all in the name of science. But even he is unprepared for the new Lucy who emerges–a passionate, calculating, amoral creature of large appetites. Chance’s straightforward prose and over-the-top plotting effectively combine in this diabolically clever, thoroughly entertaining take on women’s liberation.

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Book Review: You (You #1) by Caroline Kepnes

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When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

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Book Review: The Burning Land (The Saxon Stories #5) by Bernard Cornwell

LONThe enemy is massing on the borders, a united force for once.

The king, a man of many victories, is in failing health, and his heir is an untested youth.

Uthred, the king’s champion, leads his country’s forces to war. However his victory is soured by personal tragedy and by the envy of the king’s court. So he breaks with the king and takes off for the land of his birth, determined to resist all calls for his return. That is, until one unexpected request…

This is the making of England brought magnificently to life by the master of historical fiction.

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Book Review: I, Jane (In The Court of Henry VIII #4) by Diane Haeger

I,JaneThough her path to the throne was long and paved with treachery. Jane Seymour would win the heart of her king—and heal her own. Jane Seymour of Wiltshire is not meant to go to Court. Not a child like her, with her lack of beauty and no title. But family connections are enough to have her named to the bridal retinue of Mary Tudor. At the French Court, the plain and docile Jane meets the girl who will grow into her rival in years to come. The already charismatic and conniving Anne Boleyn.

Would she get to stay in the countryside she craved?

Soon back home in the English countryside, Jane wants nothing more than peace and quiet. And the devotion of her childhood protector, William Dormer. But his family vows to keep them apart And Jane is called back to Court to serve Katherine of Aragon, who is fighting for her life as Queen in the face of Anne Boleyn’s open seduction of King Henry VIII.

In those turbulent years, Jane will learn the value of loyalty and honesty, while holding fast to her convictions. And it is her unblemished soul that will slowly rise above the chaos—and turn a king’s head.

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Book Review: When We Were Brave by Karla M. Jay

Brave
When we were Brave

In WHEN WE WERE BRAVE, we find a conflicted SS officer, Wilhelm Falk. Who risks everything to escape the Wehrmacht and get out the message about the death camps. Izaak is a young Jewish boy whose positive outlook is challenged daily as each new perilous situation comes along. American citizens, Herbert Müller, and his family are sent back to the hellish landscape of Germany because of the DNA coursing through their veins. In the panorama of World War II, these are the high-stakes plots and endearing characters whose braided fates we pray will work out in the end.

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Book Review: A Dog’s Purpose (A Dog’s Purpose #1) by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog's purposeThis is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?

Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose?

Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh out loud funny, this book is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog’s many lives, but also a dog’s eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.

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Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han

To all the boys I've loved before
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean.Who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt. Then sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed. Causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfrien. Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

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Book Review: Nappily Ever After (Nappily #1) by Trisha R. Thomas

What happens when you toss tradition out the window and really start living for yourself?

Venus Johnston has a great job, a beautiful home, and a loving live-in boyfriend named Clint, who happens to be a drop-dead gorgeous doctor. She also has a weekly beauty-parlor date with Tina, who keeps Venus’s long, processed hair slick and straight. But when Clint–who’s been reluctant to commit over the past four years–brings home a puppy instead of an engagement ring, Venus decides to give it all up. She trades in her long hair for a dramatically short, natural cut and sends Clint packing.

It’s a bold declaration of independence–one that has effects she never could have imagined. Reactions from friends and coworkers range from concern to contempt to outright condemnation. And when Clint moves on and starts dating a voluptuous, long-haired beauty, Venus is forced to question what she really wants out of life. With wit, resilience, and a lot of determination, she finally learns what true happiness is–on her own terms. Told with style, savvy, and humor, Nappily Ever After is a novel that marks the debut of a fresh new voice in fiction.

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