A health book recommendation: First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama by Joshua Kendall

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2cLDMQ5.
More than anything, “First Dads” provides a valuable reminder that while an American president may have the clout to launch spaceships and end world wars, that doesn’t mean he can get his children to behave, be happy or even return his calls.
Book description from Google Books:
Every president has had some experience as a parent. Of the 43 men who have served in the nation’s highest office, 38 have fathered biological children and the other five adopted children. Each president’s parenting style reveals much about his beliefs as well as his psychological make-up. James Garfield enjoyed jumping on the bed with his kids. FDR’s children, on the other hand, had to make appointments to talk to him. In a lively narrative, based on research in archives around the country, Kendall shows presidential character in action. Readers will learn which type of parent might be best suited to leading the American people and, finally, how the fathering experiences of our presidents have forever changed the course of American history.
The book is rated 3.41/5 at goodreads.com, from 98 ratings. See 30 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cLDoRo.
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A children book recommendation: Falling: A Daughter, a Father, and a Journey Back by Elisha Cooper

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2akrnRS.
It is at moments like this when Cooper’s prose evokes the sharpness — and the melancholy — of his watercolor paintings for his children’s books…There is a matter-of-­factness to Cooper’s art (“Who is this girl?”) that helps “Falling” avoid the pitfalls of mawkishness and sentimentality.
Book description from Google Books:
The award-winning children’s book author confronts a new world when faced with his daughter’s illness in this frank, moving, and beautiful memoir. Elisha Cooper spends his mornings writing and illustrating children’s books, his afternoons playing with his two daughters. The phrase he hates most is “throw like a girl,” so he teaches them to climb trees and play ball. But when he discovers a lump in five-year-old Zoë’s midsection as she sits on his lap at a Chicago Cubs game, everything changes. Surgery, sleepless nights, treatments, a drumbeat of worry. Even as the family moves to New York and Zoë starts kindergarten, they must navigate a new normal: school and soccer games and hot chocolates in cafés regularly interrupted by anxious visits to the hospital. And Elisha is forced to balance his desire to be a protective parent–even as he encourages his girls to take risks–against the increasing helplessness he feels for his child’s well-being, and his own. With the observant eye of an artist and remarkable humor, Elisha writes about what it took for him and his wife to preserve a sense of normalcy and joy in their daughters’ lives; how the family emerged from this experience profoundly changed, but healed and whole; how we are all transformed by the fear and hope we feel for those we love. From the Hardcover edition.
The book is rated 3.74/5 at goodreads.com, from 134 ratings. See 28 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ajzivp.
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A cooking book recommendation: Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1UqpijM.
This is such a richly digressive book. Mystical experiences, language and literature…history, local atmosphere by the potful and even, at the end, recipes for local delicacies…
Book description from Google Books:
Darjeeling’s tea bushes run across a mythical landscape steeped with the religious, the sacred, and the picturesque. Planted at high elevation in the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, in an area of northern India bound by Nepal to the west, Bhutan to the east, and Sikkim to the north, the linear rows of brilliant green, waist-high shrubs that coat the steep slopes and valleys around this Victorian “hill town” produce only a fraction of the world’s tea, and less than one percent of India’s total. Yet the tea from that limited crop, with its characteristic bright, amber-colored brew and muscatel flavors–delicate and flowery, hinting of apricots and peaches–is generally considered the best in the world.This is the story of how Darjeeling tea began, was key to the largest tea industry on the globe under Imperial British rule, and came to produce the highest-quality tea leaves anywhere in the world. It is a story rich in history, intrigue and empire, full of adventurers and unlikely successes in culture, mythology and religions, ecology and terroir, all set with a backdrop of the looming Himalayas and drenching monsoons. The story is ripe with the imprint of the Raj as well as the contemporary clout of “voodoo farmers” getting world record prices for their fine teas–and all of it beginning with one of the most audacious acts of corporate smuggling in history. But it is also the story of how the industry spiraled into decline by the end of the twentieth century, and how this edenic spot in the high Himalayas seethes with union unrest and a violent independence struggle. It is also a front-line fight against the devastating effects of climate change and decades of harming farming practices, a fight that is being fought in some tea gardens–and, astonishingly, won–using radical methods. Jeff Koehler has written a fascinating chronicle of India and its most sought-after tea. Blending history, politics, and reportage together, along with a collection of recipes that tea-drinkers will love, Darjeeling is an indispensable volume for fans of micro-history and tea fanatics.
The book is rated 3.90/5 at goodreads.com, from 135 ratings. See 33 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1Og0uyC.
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A war book recommendation: The Rest I Will Kill: William Tillman and the Unforgettable Story of How a Free Black Man Refused to Become a Slave by Brian McGinty

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2dBSqtk.
Brian McGinty is in full stride here. What results is an outstanding book powered by a compelling story as rendered by a talented author.
Book description from Google Books:
Independence Day, 1861. The schooner S. J. Waring sets sail from New York on a routine voyage to South America. Seventeen days later, it limps back into New York’s frenzied harbor with the ship’s black steward, William Tillman, at the helm. While the story of that ill-fated voyage is one of the most harrowing tales of captivity and survival on the high seas, it has, almost unbelievably, been lost to history.Now reclaiming Tillman as the real American hero he was, historian Brian McGinty dramatically returns readers to that riotous, explosive summer of 1861, when the country was tearing apart at the seams and the Union army was in near shambles following a humiliating defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run. Desperate for good news, the North was soon riveted by reports of an incident that occurred a few hundred miles off the coast of New York, where the Waring had been overtaken by a marauding crew of Confederate privateers. While the white sailors became chummy with their Southern captors, free black man William Tillman was perfectly aware of the fate that awaited him in the ruthless, slave-filled ports south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Stealthily biding his time until a moonlit night nine days after the capture, Tillman single-handedly killed three officers of the privateer crew, then took the wheel and pointed it home. Yet, with no experience as a navigator, only one other helper, and a war-torn Atlantic seaboard to contend with, his struggle had just begun.It took five perilous days at sea–all thrillingly recounted here–before the Waring returned to New York Harbor, where the story of Tillman’s shipboard courage became such a tabloid sensation that he was not only put on the bill of Barnum’s American Museum but also proclaimed to be the “first hero” of the Civil War. As McGinty evocatively shows, however, in the horrors of the war then engulfing the nation, memories of his heroism–even of his identity–were all but lost to history.As such, The Rest I Will Kill becomes a thrilling and historically significant work, as well as an extraordinary journey that recounts how a free black man was able to defy efforts to make him a slave and become an unlikely glimmer of hope for a disheartened Union army in the war-battered North.
The book is rated 3.36/5 at goodreads.com, from 55 ratings. See 21 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dBQbXe.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tRpBhq.

An action book recommendation: The Gloaming by Melanie Finn

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dJgYRl.
In sorting through their motives, “The Gloaming” delivers a searing taxonomy of loss, and shows the way it leads to a cycle of violence. By the novel’s surprising end, Finn even sheds light on the motives of sadistic rebels…
Book description from Google Books:
“Deeply satisfying. Finn is a remarkably confident and supple storyteller. [The Gloaming] deserves major attention.” –John Williams,New York Times “In this richly textured, intricately plotted novel, [Finn] assures us that heartbreak has the same shape everywhere.The Gloaming is chillingly cinematic in contrasting East Africa’s exquisite landscape with the region’s human needs. Yet even in a malevolent setting, Finn shows us acts of selflessness and redemption. Her fascination with the duality of Africa — “the most honest place on earth” — shines fiercely.” –Lisa Zeidner,New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice “A propulsive literary thriller. Finn, who writes with a psychological acuity that rivals Patricia Highsmith’s, switches between Europe and Africa in tense alternating chapters, rewarding close attention. The book is terrific… subtle and thrilling. Remarkably well-paced and well-written… Don’t expect to be able to set this book down or forget its haunted characters.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred “Intense, impressive.” –The Guardian “I rarely get as invested in the outcome of a novel as I did readingThe Gloaming, but the empathies that Finn evokes in this powerful and unpredictable book are not casual; these traumas could be our own. [Finn’s] prose is hypnotic and knife-precise and at times so beautiful it’s unnerving. I didn’t read this book so much as Iexperiencedit and it will haunt me for a very, very long time.” –Jill Alexander Essbaum,New York Times-bestselling author ofHausfrau Pilgrim’s husband left her for another woman, stranding her in a Swiss town where she is involved in an accident that leaves three children dead. Cleared of responsibility though overcome with guilt, she absconds to Africa, befriending a series of locals each with their own tragic past. Mysteriously, the remains of an albino appear, spooking everyone–sign of a curse placed by a witch doctor–though its intended recipient is uncertain. Pilgrim volunteers to rid the town of the box and its contents, though wherever she goes, she can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Melanie Finnwas born and raised in Kenya until age eleven, when she moved with her family to Connecticut. She is the author of the novelAway From You and wrote DisneyNature’s beautiful, haunting flamingo epicThe Crimson Wing, which was directed by her husband, filmmaker Matt Aeberhard. During the filming, Melanie established The Natron Healthcare Project, and now lives in Vermont with Matt and their twin daughters.
The book is rated 3.82/5 at goodreads.com, from 628 ratings. See 131 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eDNRg1.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sjT4Re.

An arts book recommendation: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

A critic review (source AV Club) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2evdijx.
The material is thick with jokes, landing effortlessly from someone you can easily imagine as your good vulgar friend, filling you in on the mundane and the sordid details of her life.
Book description from Google Books:
#1 New York Times Bestseller “Amy Schumer’s book will make you love her even more. For a comedian of unbridled (and generally hilarious) causticity, Schumer has written a probing, confessional, unguarded, and, yes, majorly humanizing non-memoir, a book that trades less on sarcasm, and more on emotional resonance.” —Vogue “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo is an alternatingly meditative, sexually explicit, side-splittingly hilarious, heart-wrenching, disturbing, passionately political, and always staggeringly authentic ride through the highs and lows of the comedic powerhouse’s life to date.” —Harper’s Bazaar “This is your happy hour with Amy Schumer…It’s Bossypants meets Trainwreck meets your long weekend.” —TheSkimm “Amy’s got your back. She’s in your corner. She’s an honesty bomb. And she’s coming for you.” —Actress Tilda Swinton and Trainwreck co-star The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh. Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over.
The book is rated 3.77/5 at goodreads.com, from 51926 ratings. See 5677 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eve7Jm.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sl9UPA.