Hot Reads for Adults

RAYE OF LIGHT: JIMMY RAYE, DUFFY DAUGHERTY, THE INTEGRATION OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL, AND THE 1965-66 MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS by Tom Shanahan

In 1964, Jimmy Raye came from a segregated high school in North Carolina to play quarterback for Michigan State. Just a few years later, he was playing to a national TV audience in the Rose Bowl and later led the Spartans to a share in a national championship before moving on to a career playing and coaching in the NFL. In his foreword, former NFL coach Tony Dungy credits Raye for opening doors for him and other African American players and coaches.

 

Shanahan uses Raye and the 1965-66 Michigan State football program as a jumping off point to explore racism and sport in this book. It is a story bigger than just one player or team, but he chose to focus on the Spartans because head coach Duffy Daugherty actively recruited Southern black players at a time when the major college football programs in the South were still all-white. In the mid-1960’s, when civil rights couldn’t be taken for granted, Michigan State fielded fully integrated teams that won big and helped change the face of college sports forever.

 

Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp

GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

Some are comparing it to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window; others are comparing it to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl; I think it deserves to stand on its own. Rachel Watson travels the same train line every day. As she nears a particular strip of homes, she cannot make herself turn away from the daily rituals and relationships she watches unfold from a distance. We soon learn that part of Rachel’s draw to these homes has to do with her former life and her ex-husband. Wafting in and out of reality, Rachel fights many of her own demons daily, but soon finds herself fighting for the truth. What exactly did Rachel see and what does it mean? This book follows the lives of three women (Rachel, Megan, and Anna), weaving a web that binds them together in life . . . and in death. This chiller will keep you turning pages until the wee hours of the morning.

 

Reviewed by Jennifer Harden

FOOTSTEPS IN THE SNOW by Charles Lachman

Sycamore, Illinois in December 1957 was the quintessential Midwest small town. It was safe, secure, happy, and full of “Father Knows Best” families. In Sycamore no one locked the doors, and it was commonplace for children to go outside to play with friends. Commonplace, that is, until 7-year old Maria Ridulph simply vanished from her own street while her friend, Kathy, had gone inside to get her mittens. The town was galvanized into action. The men formed search teams and combed the area with guns and dogs, wives and mothers made coffee and sandwiches for them, and children were swept up and into the safety of families who would never see life quite the same way again. And after all the searching, the only clues seemed to be Kathy’s account of meeting a friendly man named Johnny, Maria’s doll, found in a neighboring yard, and some mysterious footsteps in the snow.

5 months later, in Galena, Illinois (some 120 miles from Sycamore), mushroom hunters came across the decomposed body of a small child who was determined to be Maria. Despite the efforts of the Illinois State Police, the case remained unsolved, and went cold for the next 55 years. The . . . → Read More: FOOTSTEPS IN THE SNOW by Charles Lachman

GOLDEN SON: BOOK 2 OF THE RED RISING TRILOGY by Pierce Brown

In a future where mankind has spread to inhabit the moons and planets of our solar system, humans are divided into castes designated by color: from Reds, who mine beneath the surface of Mars, up to Golds, the super-humans who lead the entire society. In Pierce Brown’s Red Rising we met Darrow, a smart and tough Red who, after his young wife is murdered by Mars’ leader, agrees to be transformed into a Gold in order to bring down the caste system from within. Darrow successfully navigates the challenges of the Golds’ brutal Institute then, in Golden Son, launches into his adult life. Quickly thrown into politics and intrigue at the highest level, Darrow begins to emerge as the leader the lower castes desperately need. Golden Son is a high action page turner that is nearly impossible to put down, with a doozy of a cliffhanger ending and non-stop twists and turns throughout. Darrow is a complex and intelligent character, and he is surrounded by a colorful cadre of friends and enemies. With all the ingredients of a first rate sci-fi classic, Golden Son manages to be the rare book that improves upon its predecessor. Reviewed by Beth Hale

. . . → Read More: GOLDEN SON: BOOK 2 OF THE RED RISING TRILOGY by Pierce Brown

BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter

This is a novel overflowing with movement through place and time. From Italy to Scotland to Hollywood via 1962 to present day, Walter’s novel crosses decades, continents and genres to bring the reader a delightful tale of love, frustration, greed and patience. Captivating characters like the love-stricken Italian innkeeper, Pasquale Tursi; scorned young actress, Dee Moray; and impassioned film assistant, Claire Silver capture the heart and exotic locales fill the senses with the salty breezes of the Ligurian Sea and the chilling grittiness of urban Edinburgh. The joy and heartbreak of acting, writing, and producing works of art are humorously yet tenderly conveyed in this enchanting tale. Even Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor are players in this plot. Beautiful Ruins is an excellent read for a cold winter day or a day lazing at the beach. Neica Dey

THE FORGIVEN by Marta Perry

This is the first book in a new Amish series by Marta Perry.  The story begins with three women, cousins, sorting through their grandmother’s attic to prepare her for a move.  One cousin, Rebecca,  happens upon a diary written by Anna, one of her ancestors.  Rebecca becomes entranced with this diary as she works through tragedy and struggle in her own life.  Anna waits for word from her beloved who has gone off to serve in the war while Rebecca morns the death of her husband and faces challenges of keeping his dream alive.  The story goes back and forth between Rebecca’s life and the life of Anna seamlessly.  Both women need to draw on their own strength, faith and courage to get through this time in their life.   Will love prevail?  I am looking forward to the next book of this series.

 

Reviewed by Brenda Rodammer

SAVING GRACE by Jane Green

grace

Grace and Ted are a literary power-couple. Ted is a bestseller and Grace is a style icon and perfect wife-hosting parties and serving on the boards of charitable institutions. Life is perfect- at least from the outside looking in. Ted’s assistant has recently resigned and left Grace with more work than she can handle with her heavy volunteer schedule. Along comes Beth out of nowhere- the perfect person at the perfect time to help. She seems to be just what Grace needed…but something about her just isn’t setting well. Soon, Grace’s life begins to unravel and she needs to get to the bottom of what Beth’s true reason for being there is.

Reviewed by Kim White

A SUDDEN LIGHT by Garth Stein

A Sudden Light tells the story of a lumber baron’s family and the mansion they built in the late 1800’s. The house is almost a character with its many rooms, secret passages, and a ballroom on the third floor. The author, Garth Stein, even has a website with a drawing of the house and grounds. There is information on the themes of the book – including a real ghost story the author experienced while on a book tour. (See the site at: www.asuddenlight.com ) Trevor Riddell is fourteen the summer his parents decide on a trial separation. His father, Jones, has lost his job and house in rural Connecticut. He and Trevor travel to the Seattle area to return to the Riddell family mansion. Jones has not been there since his mother’s death when he was a teenager. Trevor has never met his Grandpa Samuel and Aunt Serena. He has never been told the family history. He discovers much through dreams, old diaries and journals, and even newspaper articles on microfilm at the library. Reviewed by Fiona Swift

THE FORGOTTEN SEAMSTRESS by Liz Trenow

The Forgotten Seamstress stitches past and present into a delightful tale about love in its various forms. When orphans Maria and Nora are selected to become seamstresses at Buckingham Palace, the best friends’ lives drastically change for the better. The royal household’s sewing room on the eve of King George V and Queen Mary’s coronation offers a purpose and importance previously only dreamed about, especially for Maria. However, an encounter with the captivating Prince of Wales leads Maria’s path to change yet again. Generations later, Caroline Meadow’s intrigued by a verse embroidered the back of a quilt passed down to her from her grandmother. As her own life becomes increasingly complicated, Caroline surrenders to the lure of discovering the quilt’s secret past and what happened to Maria. Told alternating between Maria and Caroline, Trenow reminds readers that there are many ways to preserve and pass on history.

Reviewed by Jennie Tuttle

AMERICAN CRUCIFIXION: THE MURDER OF JOSEPH SMITH AND THE FATE OF THE MORMON CHURCH by Alex Beam

As influential as the founder of the Mormon faith was, journalist Alex Beam makes the case that Joseph Smith’s most significant role in history was that of a martyr. No one was ever convicted of his murder – which happened at the hands of a mob in broad daylight – but the repercussions of it were felt well into the 20th Century, if not right up to the present.

Beam places Smith’s life squarely in the context of the Second Great Awakening, a time of intense religious fervor throughout the country. The charismatic leader published the Book of Mormon in 1830 and made many converts to his new church in the following years, but the Mormons were driven out of Ohio and Missouri because of their unconventional beliefs. Eventually, they settled the town of Nauvoo, Illinois – which, for a time, had a Mormon population that rivaled the size of the new city of Chicago. Famous names like Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas figure into the narrative as Beam explores the rising influence of Smith’s followers on Illinois politics.

The death of the Mormon prophet in the spring of 1844 led many of Smith’s followers to set out for a . . . → Read More: AMERICAN CRUCIFIXION: THE MURDER OF JOSEPH SMITH AND THE FATE OF THE MORMON CHURCH by Alex Beam