Nick Schenkel Book Reviews

Ben Wachs is a fellow whose roots are deeply local.  And a fellow who has traveled the world since growing up in Greater Lafayette. The fruits of his travels blossom forth in this wonder-filled, often fanciful collection of short stories set in often gritty urban environments around the world. This "guide" is a book worthy of frequent detours of reading pleasures.

The Soldier's Friend. What a fitting title for this biography of Indiana’s home grown, Pulitzer prize winning journalist Ernie Pyle who ended his career covering the GI's in WW II. Pyle shaped the consciousness of WW II America in the 1940's - from the foot soldiers to the folks back at the home front. Give it a read and see if you don’t agree!

Skin Game is the latest installment of the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files.  It follows Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard who's about to have a very, bad day.

One hundred years after his inauguration as the 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.  He is considered the leader of the Progressive Movement and he led his democratic party to win control of both the White House and Congress in 1912.  Wilson induced a conservative Democratic Congress to pass a progressive legislative agenda, unparalleled until the 'New Deal' in 1933.

Department of Speculation puts a welcome spin on stream-of-thought fiction with quirky writing focused on the life of a young urban dweller that is diving into speculation about her life, discovering the excitement of romance and the confusing and ultimately rewarding world of marriage and family life.

Napa Valley offers sunny skies, fine food and especially rich tasting wines.  But there are sharpshooters wandering this beautiful land - one a tiny wasp that murders the grape vines of the valley, the other a human character who takes the life of a local vintner on a quiet moonlit night. Sunny McCoskey entangles herself – and us - in both threads in this taut, fast paced mystery novel.

If Mayors ruled the world we’d be much better served- no matter how large a population is involved, Mayor-led  government, in the end as in the beginning, is about filling potholes in the street – not so much ideology as practical “how do I get this done” government.  That’s the thesis of this international look at why local government might just be the nexus for all government in the coming decades.

amazon.com

The unnamed North African nation is a state of being more than a country, a story without borders or time told in this emotionally moving tale through the eyes of a man remembering a summer of his boyhood when his family and the world he knew was torn apart by revolution.  Nominated for a Mann Booker Prize In The Country of Men will be the featured book in our new Fall Muslim Journeys Book Discussion at the West Lafayette Public Library on Thursday, August 28, 2014.

One hundred years ago this month Sir Edward Grey wrote "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time" as the First World War began. 

Novelist Anne Perry takes us deep into the British psyche that fateful summer of 1914 with this murder-mystery where we meet characters whose idyllic lives at Cambridge University are torn apart by murder, deceit and the looming darkness of continental war. 

A first novel, this is one of those rare and exciting finds, marvelously capturing both the brittleness of youth culture and the soon-to-be, wanting-to-be adult personality – the bravado and the inner doubts. It's a book that features young adult characters with themes and prose that will captivate readers regardless if they are teens or adults.

These essays written by young Muslim women take us into their everyday lives with extraordinary insights and writing skills. It is, as well,a thoughtful antidote to the fear expressed by many Americans towards those who profess Islam. Love InshAllah is a book I’m glad to recommend to your attention!

The Joy of X

Jun 27, 2014

Numbers…they are practical and they are magical; they are of the heavens and they are of the earth; they offer us easily grasped bounds and they move on without us with lives of their own. The Joy of X is a math book in which we can see beauty -  get to delve the mathematician's fascination with the language we know as “math”.

amazon.com

Evil.  It’s a term that excites our pop culture and it is the topic of today’s featured title.  I found I Wear The Black Hat to be a thought provoking collection – read it and see what your review would be.

Tom Speaker’s imagination plants us firmly in 1950’s Chicago, at the musical intersection of church gospel and that newfangled rock n’ roll. Give Born to Sing a spin in your own favorite easy chair - and see if you too enjoy this uplifting tale of music and joy.

Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery....was – by almost all accounts - a legend is his own mind – and one of the greatest military commanders of WW II.  This is the story of the incomparable FM Montgomery and even more, the story of the British army he led, told with verve, panache, broad and deep research and a riveting story line worthy of a fine adventure novel.

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