Recommendations from our customers
The Emerald Mile begins with the surreptitious launching of a boat onto the Colorado River on the night of June 25, 1983. This is the beginning of the titular "fastest ride in history through the heart of the Grand Canyon." The launch takes up the first five pages of the book. From there, readers should brace themselves. The Emerald Mile is an engaging story about the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, boats, and people. Oh, it's also about the dams that confine the river and how, in one moment of poor calculation by its operators, water being withheld had to be let free, providing a trio of raftsmen the opportunity to set an unbreakable record for traversing the 280 miles through the Grand Canyon. This variety of perspectives--the environmentalist fight to preserve the canyon and the river, the engineering marvel of building and maintaining a dam, and the thrill and spirituality of rafting--was one positive aspect of the book. Fedarko also crafts very descriptive writing about the canyon and the river. The reader gains a good appreciation for what it's like to be on the water down there, hurtling through standing waves and sweeping into eddies, pulling up to shore for the night, and watching light play across the canyon walls. Perhaps such detailed writing is a necessary adjunct for actually being there. The reader spends a lot of time learning and developing mental images of water and rock and how they move (or don't) so that he more fully understands what makes the canyon and the river so special.-- Ted. G. May 2016, Redbery Books, Cable, Wisconsin
A Moveable Feast is some of Hemingway's earliest writing, a memoir of life in 1920s Paris with his first wife, Hadley, and their son, whom he refers to as Mr. Bumby. He writes of how he struggled for money, but lived quite well on what little he made. He writes of friendships with other literati such as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. We see a man who worked diligently every day on his writing, then spent his afternoons and evenings with friends or walking around the city. It is a lovely collection of vignettes, and it has been hailed by others as a paean to Paris and to that time period.
My preference is to read a book like this as I would a time capsule, to be transported to the 1920s and to Paris, to walk with Hemingway in the streets of the City of Light and to be enamored as he was of its charms. But instead, the "restored edition" (published in 2009) features a foreword by one of Hemingway's sons (not Mr. Bumby, but Patrick, borne of Hemingway's second wife, Pauline) and an introduction by a grandson. The former is an incomprehensible attempt to derive what Hemingway meant by "moveable feast". The latter is an exposition on how this version of the book is "...Hemingway's original manuscript text as he had it at the time of his death in 1961." It suggests that this is the book Hemingway intended to publish instead of the one that came out in 1964 (published by his fourth wife, Mary) and contained an introductory letter ostensibly written by Hemingway, but actually "fabricated by Mary Hemingway from manuscript fragments." This version, we are told, has rearranged the order of the essays, bringing some in and taking others out; it has included photographs of original written text; and it has attached additional "Paris Sketches" and "Fragments" of early versions of some of the writing in this book. Though I am a fan of the "back story", I do not like it when the back story comes forward to re-write an already much beloved book. This knowledge of tampering ruined the book for me in some ways. I still enjoyed many of the essays, but the entire experience felt as though the history had been re-written and that I was viewing Paris, and Hemingway, through someone else's eyes.
It can be enlightening to "lift the curtain" and to understand the context in which a book or movie was made, or in which an artist made them. But the restored version of A Moveable Feast is an example of how not to do that. It is a book worth reading, but be sure to buy a copy of the original version, above.
-- Ted G., April 2016, Redbery Customer
The Warmth of Other Suns is a documentary of the "Great Migration" of southern blacks to the cities of the north, escaping discriminatory oppression for what they hoped would be greater freedom and a better life. Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,200 people to tell this story, but she alternates the larger historical account with the personal experiences of three main characters, occasionally injecting personal anecdotes, as she herself is the daughter of parents who migrated north.The numbers alone are awe-inspiring. Over a period of more than 60 years (roughly 1915-1970), six million black southerners left the Jim Crow south to begin new lives in cities and towns like Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and New York. "At one point," writes Wilkerson, "10,000 [people] were arriving every month in Chicago." The migration caused what must be the largest demographic shift in American history. Prior to the migration, only 10% of all black Americans lived outside the southern states. By the time the migration ended in the 1970s, that proportion had grown to 47%. "By the turn of the twenty-first century, ...[there were] more blacks living in Chicago than in the entire state of Mississippi." Amazingly, even when they were out of the south, migrants faced a more subtle form of racism (what one historian has termed "James Crow") embedded in the communities where they hoped to live. It was perhaps less violent, but no less overt. It was a back-handed sort of racism.Wilkerson writes that the Great Migration is "perhaps the biggest underreported story of the twentieth century." Though it is what some might consider history, we could view the contemporary debate about immigration reform as a modern manifestation of a similar problem. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," said the philosopher and writer, George Santayana. Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns is one book that no one should ignore. -- Ted G., Redbery customer
If there were ever a story about a mother's love for her child, Jeff Foltz's book, Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War is it. -- Ted, February 2016, Redbery Books, Cable, Wisconsin
Author, Candice Millard, is a former editor and writer for National Geographic, so she has a lot of experience writing about history and geography in a way that captures the imagination. She put those skills to good use in her story about Theodore Roosevelt's near-fatal trip down a tributary of the Amazon in River of Doubt. It is a biography that is slightly out of the mainstream (Roosevelt's trip occurred after his time as president) and not entirely about the person at the center of the tale. In her second book, Destiny of the Republic, Millard applies her skills to a historical biography about President James Garfield. Destiny of the Republic is, of course about Garfield's political rise to an unsought-after presidency, but the bulk of the book is about the medicine and technology that were brought to bear in trying to save Garfield's life after being shot by a deranged "supporter" in July of 1881. Alexander Graham Bell played a prominent role in the events following the assassination, and the book tells nearly as much about his life as it does about Garfield's. Bell invented a metal detector that could be used to locate the bullet lodged in Garfield's abdomen. The invention ultimately failed to do so, but through no fault of Bell's; Garfield's primary doctor D. Willard Bliss - who cared for Lincoln after he was shot - tyrannically controlled every aspect of Garfield's care. He only allowed Bell to search the right side of Garfield's body because that is where Bliss believed the bullet to be.(After Garfield's death, the autopsy found the bullet in the left side of his abdomen). Bliss and the state of medical care in the late 1880's are another topic of Millard's. Dr. Joseph Lister was, at the time, promoting antiseptic techniques in patient care, but many of his colleagues scoffed at the idea of sterilizing equipment and anything else that came into contact with the patient. This ignorance on the part of Bliss proved fatal for President Garfield. Bliss refused to believe there was any infection caused by his less-than-sterile medical practices, and it was this infection that ultimately killed the president. -- Ted, Redbery customer, January 2016, Redbery Books, Cable, Wisconsin
"Rocks are everywhere! Explore the many facets and roles that rocks play on our planet and beyond - 'desert dune,' 'harvest moon.' Once again, Laura Purdie Salas chisels concise and clever rhymes in the companion book to her earlier books, A Leaf Can Be... and Water Can Be... (Millbrook 2012 and 2014). Each turn of the page is an adventure, discovering another surprise of what a rock can be.... 'seaside home,' 'crusty dome.' Enchanting illustrations by Violeta Dabija shimmer with vibrant hues of color, contrasts and movement, enhancing the text with wonderment. The back matter, 'More About Rocks,' reveals further fascinating details including - the world's record is more than 50 skips of a rock in water - 'lake skimmer!' This book will dazzle and delight all ages, especially those who collect and love rocks!" -- Diana, customer pick, March 2015, Redbery Books, Cable, Wisconsin
When thirteen-year-old Allegra Gardner enters the office of Rosato & Associates, determined to hir a lawyer, she interrupts the celebration of Mary DiNunzio's promotion to partner in the law firm. Mary takes on the young client, investigating the murder of Allegra's older sister. Allegra insists the young man who was accused, found guilty and jailed is innocent. Allegra's parents, members of a prominent family in Philadelphia, are outraged with Allegra. They use their power, going to extremes to halt the investigation. Too late! Mary's inquisitive mind and motherly instincts toward Allegra, propel her forward. Hang onto your hat on this suspenseful ride down a dangerous path as Mary unravels startling clues. -- Diana Randolph, Redbery Books, Cable, Wisconsin
Woe to the person who, without reading a word, pigeon-holes this book as a travelogue, another outdoors story filled with wind and mosquitoes, sunsets and silence. Paddling to Winter is about more than just a canoe trip. It is about a way of living that is rare and very special. It is a compelling narrative that absorbs and moves the reader. Paddling to Winter is a story of two people living life close to the bone. They are fully engaged in the act of simply living. This is a story about chasing and capturing a dream. - Ted, Redbery Books, Cable, Wisconsin
reviewed by Hayden Hayes
The Mighty Miss Malone is a great novel. I think that the book was very realistic. It showed what life was only a short time period after the slavery law was passed. The book kept you on the edge of your seat. I could barely put it down, all the surprises, the tragedies, the good and the bad things that happened. It’s my favorite book of all time. I LOVED IT!
Miss Malone, also known as Deza Malone, is a strong character. Her heart is pure, but she is a little rough around the edges. She claims to have a second brain, and the second one is B-A-D, BAD! It tells her to do unspeakable things, which are just plain mean. To make the brain be quiet or “shut up” as she says, she bites down on her back teeth really hard. This is her bad habit.
She was a best friend for life, especially to a sister from another mister; Clarice. They always hang with one and other. You’d need a crowbar to pry them apart. She loves her family with all her heart. Her family watches out for each other. They’re family motto is “We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful”. It is wonderful to see a family so close.
She loves to write, loves doing school work, and absolutely loves being best in her class. One day she was called second to last for her assignment. In her class, it’s good to be called last. She was always used to being called last and for the first time EVER she was called second to last. She thought it was horrible, it was the worst day of her life, but it turned out a little different. You have to read the book to figure out what happened.
Her brother, Jimmie has a voice of an angel. He protects his little sister and loves her with all his heart. Jimmie hangs out with the wrong sort of people, has hard times in school, and may do some wrongs in his life. But Jimmie would never, ever hurt anyone on purpose. He has a pure heart, too. He just has a little more rough edges.
The great depression hits where Deza and her family live, (Gary, Indiana), very hard. There was practically no work for men of color. Sadly Deza’s father leaves on a fishing trip and is lost in the fog. Her mother has to work now more. But then the family she works for is leaving. So she has to find new work, but it is incredibly hard. This story only gets worse the Malone family is forced to leave their home. They live at a homeless camp for a while. That’s where Jimmie learns he can make money from his amazing singing gift. So he goes off and now it’s just Deza and her mother. All of these things happen while they are worried sick about Deza’s father.
This story continues with ups and downs that I wish I could tell you about, but I can’t. Read the book. I know some parts are just so sad and the beginning doesn’t start off really exciting but keep going, It’s truly a great book. Once you read it, you will want to read it again. I know I wanted to! Hope you enjoy, BYE!
reviewed by Ted Gostomski
"Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher is an incredible story of vision, adventure, commitment, and loss. It is a unique glimpse into native America as 20th century Manifest Destiny drove it to the edges of society. It is a book I recommend to anyone."
reviwed by Ellie Norman (age 11)
Rump is an entertaining book. The characters seem as if they could be alive, and are well described. This book was easy to follow and well written. Rump is a small boy with an unusual name. All he was able to say was "Rump ...". Rump is teased and regarded as stupid, but he has a loving grandmother at home. Rump's life in The Village is hard on him, but at least he has Red as a companion. One day, Rump discovers his mother's old spinning wheel, and finds he can spin straw into enchanted gold. This ability gets Rump into a considerable amount of trouble. Soon Rump finds himself making all kinds of accidental bargains. The only way to break this horrendous curse is to discover Rump's full name. I loved this book! You should read it too!
reviewed by Liza Jackson
Reviewed by Emma (age 11):
This book is about a twelve year old girl who has to trade her normal life to be an elf. She's also got some very special things about her. In this book she goes on an adventure and challenge to find out who she really is and why she's different.
Reviewed by Quincy (age 11):
I loved Wonder by Palacio! It makes you realize how lucky you are to be who you are! The story is about a boy who has a messed up face, who starts to school in the fifth grade. Told from different people's viewpoints, it has great characters and you get wrapped up in his story. If you are in fifth grade or anywhere near fifth grade, this is a great read for everyone.
I am not anywhere near fifth grade but I loved this book too. One of the things that I loved was how real the family seemed. I hope it wins a Newbery Award. Thanks for sharing your review.
Reviewed by Emily Stone, Naturalist, Cable Natural History Museum:
After reading about the fascinating bite-sized research projects that Bernd Heinrich investigates every moment he’s outside, our group is inspired to investigate our own relationships with nature. If learning cool facts discovered by someone else can be so exciting, why not take the next step and discover things for ourselves? We’re intrigued by Richard Louv’s newest book, The Nature Principle, which talks "about the power of living in nature—not with it, but in it. We are entering the most creative period in history. The twenty-first century will be the century of human restoration in the natural world."
Reviewed by Ted Gostomski
Ted is the author of Island Life: An Isle Royale Nature Guide. He also leads the Men's Book Discussion Group at Redbery Books, which meets the first Friday of every month.
Freshwater Boys is billed by one reviewer as a "collection of stories about men struggling to understand manhood." The eleven stories in this collection all occur within a breeze's reach of Lake Michigan. The sand dunes, fields, and forests of western Michigan infuse the scenery with their own lessons of unlimited time, silent reflection, and sometimes painful truths.
The final and eponymous story in this collection is my favorite. It is a tragedy, but it is also a story of friends and strangers lending support and showing kindness when it is most needed. The ending portrays a beautiful moment when pain and anger are washed away and we see light where once there was only darkness.
reviewed by Michelle Hanks
Fall to Grace is one of the best books I have read in the last 10 years (I average at least 2 books a month, so 10 years adds up!) Kerry Casey is superb at getting the readers attention and keeping it. This is a gripping story of two boys that seem as though they are worlds apart until one moment connects their lives indefinitely. The story is a heart wrenching and a heart-lifting look into a friendship that develops through a horrible tragedy that will change these boys, their families and friends forever. There is an amazing mother/son relationship in the story, along with some beautiful friendships that will touch your heart and soul. Every page leaves you yearning for more, whether it be one more page or one more chapter or in my case I am hoping for a sequel! One of the very unique parts of this story is the setting. It is set in Baudette MN, and mentions some area things that many readers will recognize.
reviewed by Ted Gostomski
author of Island Life
This is the 14th book in Nevada Barr’s “Anna Pigeon” mystery series. In each book, Anna, a law enforcement ranger with the National Park Service, has been thrust into solving crimes committed in the parks where she works. In this book, she returns to her old stomping grounds on Isle Royale in northwestern Lake Superior.
It has been almost 14 years since Ranger Anna Pigeon worked on Isle Royale (see Nevada Barr’s second book, A Superior Death), but this visit is different because she is going out in January rather than during the summer visitor season. Anna is now a ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park, and as wolves recolonize their historic range in the American west after years of protection under the Endangered Species Act, Anna’s superiors are developing a management plan for the recently delisted species. So Anna is sent to Isle Royale to learn how to run a wolf research and monitoring program from those who are currently conducting the world’s longest sustained study of wild wolves.
As the story begins, we learn that the Department of Homeland Security, seeking to seal the country’s northern border against any covert entry by terrorists, is assessing the possibility of opening Isle Royale year-round (currently, the island is only open to visitors from April through October). This is a problem for the island’s famed wolf-moose study because “winter study” is the time from January to March when researchers visit the island to determine population sizes for the two animals and to capture and radio-collar wolves, something more easily done without visitors on the ground annoyed at the intrusion on their wilderness experience. Additionally, winter is the time when the island reclaims its wild nature and wolves and moose are left to carry out their dance of life and death as they have for over half a century. In particular, it is the mating and denning time for wolves, a sensitive period that could be negatively impacted by a constant human presence. Consequently, DHS is looking to see if the wolf-moose study has learned all it can and if it should be shut down in the name of year-round recreational opportunities and increased border security.
The mystery that unfolds is solidly engaging. There seems to be a new wolf on the island – DNA collected from wolf scat does not match any of the other individuals already living there. Moreover, this “alien wolf” seems to be unusually large as evidenced by tracks that the team finds, the brief glimpse of a silhouette Anna glimpses from the air, and the signs it leaves on dead wolves found by the winter study team. Finally, when one of the researchers goes missing, the concept of predator and prey takes on a whole new meaning, and Anna finds the remote island she once loved to be more claustrophobic than she remembers and more dangerous than she planned on.
The dark and sometimes cutting humor that Barr (a former National Park Service ranger) has bestowed on her alter ego in previous books is still here and just as funny. When Anna breaks through the ice on one of the inland lakes, she has to convince Bob Menechinn, the DHS agent, to save her rather than waiting for help to arrive from somewhere else. But Menechinn, who has proven to be incompetent outside of an office setting and something of a coward despite his macho act, is unmoved.When Anna finally puts the pieces together and learns the terrible truth behind the strange occurrences, the reader is hurtled toward the book’s jarring and fatal conclusion.
reviewed by Dave C.
This book covers an amazing variety of fascinating historic, geographic, and scientific topics in only 250 pages. The author’s purpose is to explore what would happen if people suddenly vanished from the earth, something he thinks is pretty unlikely, but which poses a lot of interesting questions. He looks at what might happen to animals, plants, buildings, roads, bridges, and evaluates what the long and short-term effects of mankind would be on the planet. Along the way he describes how the earth and it’s inhabitants developed and how things got the way they are, covering many of the same topics described by Jared Diamond in his books “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, and “Collapse”. However, I found this book to be much more readable, probably due to the author’s journalistic style of writing.
I don’t think I discovered any great new truths from this book, but I certainly enjoyed learning about unusual places and things such as:
− the abandoned beach resort town in Cyprus which has remained empty since the island was partitioned in 1974;
− how the Korean DMZ has become a refuge for endangered species of wildlife;
− vast ancient underground cities in Turkey;
and a lot more. I’m certain I did gain a new appreciation for the complexity of relationships between man and the natural world. But mostly I was really entertained!
I definitely recommend this book.