jfine@northshire.com's blog

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen - Book Review

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By Robert Matzen, Luca Dotti (Foreword by)
$27.95
ISBN: 9781732273535
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: GoodKnight Books - April 15th, 2019

My primary question before opening this book was how substantive it was actually going to be. I'm embarrassed to admit this now because Dutch Girl is nothing if not rich with history. To learn in depth of the Dutch people's colossal suffering during the war and how significant a battle ground The Netherlands became, most specifically as regards the areas of Velp and Arnhem where Audrey and her mother and grandparents resided, is a darkly meaningful experience. The famed book and movie "A Bridge Too Far" is based on the Allied/German battle for the bridge at Arnhem.
Audrey and her family were there in the thick of it, hunkered down in their basement, all but starving to death. Audrey's various efforts of assistance to her fellow citizens and the resistance during the war and the long term effect of Audrey's teen-year survival experience on her entire life including her life-long devotion to children's humanitarian causes and her subsequent death at an early age- there is so much here for Audrey fans and history buffs alike.
Like all great histories or biographies, Matzen's work, despite its potentially narrow focus, succeeds masterfully in shining a broad light on the human experience itself. Highly recommended. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine


Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero by Christopher McDougall - Book Review

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Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781524732363
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Knopf - October 15th, 2019

This is a heartwarming romp through pastures, trails and landscapes that most of us have never experienced. Beginning with the rescue of a neglected donkey, the story blossoms into a rewarding journey with the ever-expanding and far flung cast of oddball characters and goats and other donkeys that McDougall meets and bonds with in the service of his mission to give little Sherman “a job”. If I were to pick a bone, it would be with the subtitle, “The Donkey With the Heart of a Hero.” That's not what this book is about. Sherman is a donkey with a pretty much standard burro-shaped heart, who was in need of a kind, understanding and intuitive home, which he finds thanks to McDougall and family and his bevy of unique friends. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine


Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution by Todd S. Purdum - Book Review

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Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781250214867
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Picador - May 14th, 2019

Newly released in paperback, this is a most engaging history of perhaps America's premier songwriting duo of the 20th century, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Chock full of the details of both musical geniuses' creations from their very beginnings as well as the chronology of both of their personal stories, Purdum's work is both engaging and musically astute. These are the talented icons behind the classic shows my mother lived and breathed as I was growing up and I can still see the record jackets lying on the record player; Oklahoma!, South Pacific and of course, my favorite, The Sound of Music, to name but a few. The perfect read to heighten your appreciation of this duo's brilliance before checking out this summer's local production of Oklahoma! ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine


Solitary by Albert Woodfox - Book Review

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Solitary Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802129086
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - March 5th, 2019

Woodfox' insider story of a life lived deep in the bowels of the unjust, inhumane, violent, sadistic and vile world of the American “justice” system may not be for the faint of heart. But it is, by turns, appalling and nauseating, horrific yet inspiring. Woodfox' ability to recall the minutia of his daily life in countless prison facilities throughout his life is uncanny- there are so many guard attacks/beatings, gassings, strip searches and constant violent humiliations that the reader's head may spin. But throughout it all- after an indoctrination by Black Panther prisoners to a noble mission of both bettering himself and the lives of his fellow African Americans gave him a lifetime of strength, determination, grit and grace to endure the endless prison purgatory that has taken down the souls of countless men- Woodfox manages to stand tall, standing for himself and for others no matter the cost. A most impressive tale. A most impressive man. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine


The Saturday Night Ghost Club: A Novel by Craig Davidson - Book Review

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The Saturday Night Ghost Club: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143133933
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Penguin Books - July 9th, 2019

Partial Spoiler Alert! This fun-sized novel is not quite as fully supernatural as the cover and title might lead one to anticipate or hope. Yet... that's not entirely true either. There are ghosts and spirits and hauntings generously sprinkled throughout, just not fully of a kin to Amityville Horror or Stranger Things. Nevertheless, Davidson's work is ultimately a full-on charmer, with a bevy of memorable characters and a light and warm-hearted (despite some dark material) reflection on life and love, neuroscience and memory that pays the reader back in full for any slight traces of disappointment if the ghost count should happen to fall short. Set amidst the narrator's boyhood in an aging Niagara Falls, this is a perfect summer read. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine


Stay Up with Hugo Best: A Novel by Erin Somers - Book Review

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Stay Up with Hugo Best: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781982102357
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - April 2nd, 2019

Stay Up With Hugo Best is an entertaining romp through the sunset of the career of just-retired late night talk show host Huge Best as told by his surprise guest for the weekend at his Greenwich, CT estate. “Surprise” because writer's assistant June has heretofore never been sure that her boss and possible comic idol even knew she existed before his impromptu invitation. The hollow but ever-coveted role of celebrity in America, the eternal insecurity of entertainers at any level of success, the destructive force of fame on family and the inescapable stain of indiscretion in the public eye are all on the menu for the weekend. This is an enjoyable, tragic-comic ride to the other side of the tracks and a chance to be a fly on the wall at the rudderless finale of a comedy semi-legend's career in the immediate aftermath of its... mercy killing. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine


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