If You Ask Me by Betty White

Betty White is Betty White is Betty White.  There are no surprise here. Reading her book is like watching her on television, she writes like she talks.

Her book has interesting stories and some humorous anecdotes.  She tells a little about her mother and father and her late husband, Allen Ludden. There are comments about her friends and co-workers and animals.  She does not dwell on anything disturbing or sad, she just moves on with life.

Betty White has had a long and successful career in show business and has no plans to retire.  At 89 she is well-liked and respected not only for her work but for who she is.  After all, what’s not to like about Betty White?

This, her latest book, is an entertaining quick and easy read. 

 

The Summer Guest by Justin Cronin

Joe and Lucy own a fishing camp in Maine and every summer Harry is a guest for a week or two.  The  camp is a place of respite and renewal for Harry.  He and Joe and Lucy become, if not friends, something more than guest and hosts.

After thirty years of visits, Harry makes his last visit to the camp.  He is dying and has two things he wants, a day of fishing in a place he loves  and to leave a gift.

Told in the voices of four people, Joe, Lucy, Harry, and Jordan, we hear the stories about their lives and loves and how they are intertwined.  Each one has a life of secrets, fears, courage, friendships, and forgiveness.

The characters are believable in the telling of their story.  They are by turns stories of loving and being loved, causing hurt and being hurt, forgiving and being forgiven, and always trying to stay true to their own personal code of honor.

 

Beginner’s Grace by Kate Braestrup

A book about prayer that is not especially religious sounds impossible, but Kate Braestrup pulls it off.  She explains what prayer is and how to pray, making it clear that there is no right or wrong way to do it.

There are many personal examples of her prayers and prayer practices and habits.  She tells stories of how prayer is part of her work as Chaplain of the Maine Warden Service,  her family, and friendships.  She gives suggestions about how prayer can be made part of daily life without it being boring or repetitious or become a burden.

As with her book Here If You Need Me there is honesty and humor in her approach to the spiritual.  You do not have to be a prayer warrior to find something you can use to explore prayer or expand your own prayer disciplines.  If you are new to prayer this is a great book to begin learning about prayer.

Beginner’s Grace has practical suggestions and thoughts on how to incorporate prayer into your  everyday life.  There are examples of the prayers of Braestrup and others to use as they are or as a stepping stone to your own prayers.

Whether or not you pray or go to church or feel that your are at all spiritual this is a book well worth reading.

Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell

Cover of "Port Mortuary (A Scarpetta Nove...
Cover of Port Mortuary (A Scarpetta Novel)

After spending months at Dover Air Force Base in a training fellowship to learn the new procedure, CT-assisted virtual autopsy, Kay Scarpetta returns to Massachusetts.  Scarpetta is glad to be finished at Dover and the memories it brought back.  Memories she has tried to forget; the cover up of the deaths of two American young women in South Africa.  She is now the chief of the new Cambridge Forensic Center,  this Center is a partnership of state and federal government, MIT, and Harvard, and she is ready to get back to work.

 At her return she is confronted with a crisis that could close the Center and ruin her career.  During the night the body of a young man, who apparently died of a heart attack, was brought to the Center.  In the morning, when his body is in the lab to be examined, it seems he may have been alive when put in a body bag and locked in one of the Center’s coolers.

Scarpetta’s examination of the body reveals internal injuries she has never seen before.  While trying to find what, why, and who killed this man, the memories of the deaths in South Africa continue to haunt her.  As she works to solve the mystery of this man’s life and death, she is also working to bring resolution to the secret she has kept for over twenty years.

Each Scarpetta novel Patricia Cornwell writes tells a little more about Kay Scarpetta, the people in her life, and some of the reasons she is who she is.  Always fast-paced, with lots of technology thrown in, a Scarpetta story never disappoints.

Praying For Strangers by River Jordan

River Jordan is a writer of Southern Gothic novels, a playwright, public speaker,  producer and host of a Nashville radio program.  She is  the mother of two sons in the military, one  being deployed to Afghanistan, the other to Iraq.

Jordan knew she would need something to focus on other than the fear she had for her sons living and working in war-torn countries.  So, she made  a New Year’s resolution to pray for a complete stranger, one every day, for a year.     Every day of 2009 she prayed for a stranger;  every one different and  all the same, people she did not know who were in her path and needed prayer.  A woman of faith, but not gifted with evangelism, this was definitely a challenge.

In her book, Jordan, tells some of the stories she heard from her strangers of the day.  Some are amusing, others sad, many inspiring, and a few are striking in the perfect timing of the encounter.  She learned a lot about people but what she learned about herself was enlightening and life changing and surprised her the most.

What started out as an exercise to ease her fears while her sons were in harm’s way became an extraordinary journey of caring, praying, and grace.

 

The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

Luz Avila has been raised by her grandmother.  She does not know her aunts, uncles, or cousins, and believes her mother is dead.  Through stories and legends about the Monarch butterfly, her grandmother tries to give Luz a sense of family and belonging and purpose.

When her beloved abuela dies Luz decides to take her ashes home to Mexico.  To where the Monarchs find sanctuary.

Her trip in an old VW Bug, El Toro, is not uneventful.  On the way to Mexico; she meets  a pregnant teenager and helps her leave an abusive boyfriend, encourages a sad single career woman to get out of her comfort zone, and learns from a street wise woman to take a chance and follow her heart. They share their stories and wisdom with Luz and she with them.  She meets the mother she thought was dead and realizes the depth of her boyfriend’s love for her.

While making her way to San Antonio and then to Mexico Luz learns  about love, to trust herself, and that family is not always neat and cozy.   Keeping her hearts promise to her abuela is most important and not easy.  Yet, she does not let disappointment, many who discourage her, or hard truths to deter her.  Like the Monarch butterfly she prevails.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

In the future, a secret military experiment goes horribly wrong with catastrophic results, for the nation and the world, when the subjects of the experiment escape.  Thus begins life in a new world of chaos and bloodshed.  A world of fear and violence and death and hopelessness.

Amy, a six-year-old orphan and part of the experiments, is rescued by FBI Agent Brad Wolgast.  He does everything he can to protect her. Ultimately, she must journey on alone to put an end to the nightmare life has become.

I found this book hard to put down.  Once I learned what life would be like for the survivors of the unleashed horrors I wanted to know how they would cope with endless daylight and walls and hopelessness.  It seems there is little for these people to expect other than extinction of the human race.

For the most part the people have accepted their fate.  Yet, there are a few brave souls who will not  give up.  They dream of  life that once was;  life that they never knew and can barely imagine.   And they know they are going to die but they refuse to die without a fight.

At first I was disappointed with the ending…but there will be a second book next year.