Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday; Simon & Schuster, 2018. 271 pages; $16.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. Halliday’s first novel opens as twenty-five-year old Mary Alice, an aspiring writer, meets a successful, aging novelist on a park bench and begins a relationship with him. Halliday doesn’t try to conceal the fact that the situation is loosely based… [Read More]

Dancing Bears; True Stories of People Nostalgic for Life Under Tyranny by Witold Szabłowsk Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Dancing Bears; True Stories of People Nostalgic for Life Under Tyranny by Witold Szabłowski. Penguin Books, 2014. 233 pages; $16.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. This intriguing book (translated from Polish) is divided neatly into two parts. The first centers on the 30-acre Dancing Bears Park in Belitsa, Bulgaria, where domesticated bears, trained to perform from… [Read More]

The Flapper, the Impostor, and the Stalker by Charlene Bell Dietz Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Flapper, the Impostor, and the Stalker by Charlene Bell Dietz; Quill Mark Press, 2017. 297 pages; $16.99 (paperback); reading level: adult. This prequel to The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur (2016) is set in 1923 and provides the backstory on Kathleen McPherson, the aging flapper/sleuth in the earlier-published book. Kathleen is seventeen in… [Read More]

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy; The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy; The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux; W.W. Norton, 2018. 273 pages; $16.95 (paperback); reading level: adult. Rioux spends two thirds of her book on background material (a biographical sketch of Alcott and her family, the reception and popularity of Little Women through the… [Read More]

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; Signet Classic, 2012 (originally published in 1828 and 1829). 507 pages; $5.95 (paperback); reading level: high school/adult. I hadn’t read this book as a child and, with the 150th anniversary of its publication upon us and a new movie adaptation due out, I thought it might be time. It… [Read More]

The Year I Was Peter The Great by Marvin Kalb Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Year I was Peter the Great; 1956, Khrushchev, Stalin’s Ghost, and a Young American in Russia by Marvin Kalb; Brookings Institution Press, 2017. 290 pages; $24.99 (hardcover); reading level adult. This “professional memoir” by famed NBC/CBS news correspondent Marvin Kalb (who is now in his 80s) looks back on the year 1956 when Kalb (fluent… [Read More]

Improvement by Joan Silber Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Improvement by Joan Silber; Counterpoint, 2017. 227 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. Part I of this three-part novel dangles the prospect that this will be an intriguing but straightforward story. It’s 2012 and Reyna, living in Brooklyn and the single mother of a four-year-old, narrates. We meet Aunt Kiki, Reyna’s boyfriend Boyd and, after… [Read More]

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; Random House, 2017. 343 pages; $17.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. Set in February of 1862, in a very real cemetery where the very real body of Willie Lincoln has just been placed in a borrowed crypt by his bereaved father, the first character we meet is a very… [Read More]

The Mayor of Mogadishu by Andrew Harding Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Mayor of Mogadishu; A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia by Andrew Harding; St. Martin’s Press, 2016.  278 pages; $26.99 (hardcover); reading level: adult. As Harding admits in his introduction, this is both a biography of Mohamud “Tarzan” Nur (mayor of Mogadishu, Somalia from 2010 to 2014) and a recounting… [Read More]

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. 247 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. In the opening chapter of this brilliant novel, set in Brooklyn in the first half of the 20th century, 32-year-old Jim commits suicide and three nuns sweep in to comfort his pregnant wife, who, in the final paragraph… [Read More]