Monday, July 29, 2013

My Antonia - classic

A classic story that tells of a family of farmers moving to Nebraska to start a new life. Young Jim Burden is on the same train as the immigrants. He's coming to live with his grandparents after his parents's death.

Jim is the narrator and in the Shimerda's we learn of the difficulties a family faces living in an area where no one speaks the language. The only person with a close resemblance to their language, takes advantage of them.

Antonia Shimerda is a teenager and yet she seems to have the common sense that helps the family through difficult situations. She and Jim build a friendship that lasts throughout the novel.

The story is told in five books that detail the early days on the prairie and continuing until Jim returns to town as a professional and visits Antonia and her family.

The elements that help classify the novel as a classic include the descriptions of life in Nebraska, the treatment that some immigrants received in farming communities and the descriptions of the land. We also explore family relationships and see how two teenagers can overcome obstacles and, as friends, while helping their families.

As this was told to the reader in five stories, some of which the author had written as independent pieces and descriptions of the west.

This was my second reading of the book. The first reading was as a student but in my retirement age, this reading was very enjoyable.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Girl, you're a wonder to me.


"This Girl," is the latest installment of the bestselling Slammed series. These YA novels have been extremely successful. They offer the author's fans, love and  heartache combined with some excellent poetry.

We meet Will Cooper, a high school teacher, caring for his younger brother after their parents untimely deaths. With caring for his younger brother, Will doubled up on his own courses and is working as a student teacher at a high school. He's fighting off depression due to his parents deaths and because his girlfriend doesn't want the responsibility of caring for a child (Will's brother), so she moves out.

The novel moves along gradually as a new neighbor moves in across the street. The new family consists of a mother, a daughter and a boy the same age as Will's brother.

Through the course of things, Will asks the girl out on a date and brings her to a poetry slam where he performs one of his poems.

Everything seems leading to a course where Will and the girl becoming a couple when he spots her at his high school where she is a new student and will be taking his class in poetry.

Even with strong feelings toward each other, Will understands that it is inappropriate for a teacher to date one of their students and a dilemma occurs.

This is a very enjoyable novel that is told from Will's point of view. The characters are entertaining and the plotting is appropriate.

Giveaway Rules:

1. Please use above link and see the Amazon review. At the end of the review, if you agree, indicate "YES" helpful.
2. Give your email address and indicate step 1 completed.
3. Giveaway ends Aug 10th.
4. This is for a paperback edition.
5. US only - sorry, postage.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Angel eyes, you are so heavenly. Song lyrics

This dark story describes the life and lack of anything beyond the job, of a contract killer. He fulfills orders to eliminate a person someone wants dead.

Leonard Carter, a former Special Forces member, has returned from overseas and has been working as a hit man.

He completes the hit on a mob figure who, at the time of the hit, was with Angela Tamanaka, a beautiful woman who worked as a prostitute at an escort service.

Carter doesn't harm Angela and tells her that she might be questioned about being with the man who was shot but she isn't to say anything.

The subject of the hit was Ricky Ditto and now his brother, Bobby, who is also a gangster, wants revenge.

The author is a former cab driver in New York and writes about the streets as if he was standing on the corner. He is also adept at describing the life of a hit man, the manner in which they get their subjects, and,. in this case, the moral side.

Carter and Angela end up working together to save Angela from the gangsters and we see two very different worlds come together.

I found the characterization to be insubstantial and the plot has been done before.

I have read other work by the author and enjoy his writing style but this book missed the mark.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

To really accomplish something, listen to the whisper that is heard by Him.

The story deals with a family coping with a tragic situation. They receive help from a man, Tom Booker, who is able to communicate with horses and get them and people to form a bond.

A young girl, Grace,  brings her horse, Pilgrim, for a morning ride on an icy trail. She and a friend and their horses cross a road and are hit by a trucker trying to save time by using a back road. The friend and her horse are killed and Grace loses a leg. Pilgrim is severely injured.

Grace's mother, Annie, learns of a man who has a talent for dealing with horses that enables them and their handlers to have a new life together. Grace, her mother and Pilgrim travel to Montana to see if the man can save Pilgrim and renew Grace's life.

There is also a love story between Grace and Joe,  Tom's nephew. At the same time, a romantic interest develops between Tom and Annie.

The description of ranch life in Montana is visual. The manner in which Tom deals with horses to get them to be more manageable, is also magical.

I enjoyed my second reading of the story and the comparison of life in Montana on a range compared to Annie's job as an editor with the hustle and back stabbing she was experiencing at her job.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Almost Paradise

Archer Mayor explores the areas of home burglaries and jewelry theft in New England.

In Boston, three robbers invade the home of wealthy "Billie" Wilhelma Hawthorne and rob her of her valuables. When she confronts the men, one of them strike her and is left for dead.

With this entree, the reader is thrust into a world of home robbers and also an industry where valuable jewels are stolen and melted down, in this case, by illegals forced to do jewelry smithing.

Billie's granddaughter, Mina, finds Billie and gets her to the hospital but in critical condition. A Boston detective is assigned to the case but Mina wants to take her own actions to help the case.

In Vermont, wealthy homes are being broken into and in some cases, the homes are set on fire to destroy the evidence. Joe Gunther and his team of investigators are assigned to the case.

A side story tells the story of an illegal woman smuggled from Canada and forced to work with unscrupulous thieves, melting down jewelry for resale.

The author makes the reader feel empathetic with the victims of the crimes committed during the course of the story. Joe Gunther and his team of special investigators have a plan of action that has worked in past cases where various members of the unit are assigned tasks in tracking down known felons and their associates.

The book is descriptive of crime in New England and is irresistible to this New Englander but I think would be of interest to all who enjoy a good crime novel.

I intend to read more books from this author.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A slice of life of poor folk in Northern Mississippi

When I read Larry Brown's "Joe," I knew I was experiencing the writing of a first rate writer.

This novel describes a short time in the life of Glen Davis who just returned to his home in Mississippi after serving time for vehicular homicide.

The story is revealed gradual fashion as we see the destructive attributes of Glen and meet his father, a wounded WWII vet. Glen's former girlfriend and his son still live in town but Glen shows no love for his son and only aggressive behavior toward his former girlfriend.

The county sheriff loves Glen's old girlfriend and would like to marry her but her choice is still Glen.

The author does a good job in his descriptions of life in Mississippi in the 1960s and showing the relationship between white and black people in rural Mississippi.

This book won the Southern Book Award and is well written.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Corruption in New York City

This is as much a family drama as it is a murder mystery and thriller. The main focus of the story is a New York City detective, Boots Littlewood. He's skilled in using his resources to find the suspects he wants to interview. He also has a good relationship with his father, who is planning to remarry, and with his son, a college student and a skilled computer analyst.

The author is a former cab driver in New York and his knowledge and descriptions of the streets of Brooklyn, New York and surrounding areas is right on.

There have been a number of murders involving New York. One cop was on the job, investigating the Lipstick Murderer, a serial killer. Another police officer who was murdered was a captain who thought he was invincible.

Boots investigates these murders and, when one of his sources is arrested for one of the murders, he knows someone is trying to cover up the crime and he must take actions to prove his man was not guilty.

He's assigned a partner, Jill Kelly, the daughter of one of the murdered police officers and the niece of the chief of detectives.

Boots is also a gambler, mostly on Yankee baseball games and while going through the investigatory process, he listens to the Yankee games. He has a friendly bookie who also gets mixed up in the investigation.

I read this book in a couple of days and enjoyed every minute of it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Memorable, readable picture of American West.

Craig Johnson's "As the Crow Flies" is a penetrating story of life on the Indian Reservation and the poverty and desolation of those living in the area.

Sheriff Walt Longmire is in the midst of preparing for his daughter's wedding. His good friend, Henry Standing Bear is acting as wedding planner.

The novel, written as if the author was standing on Sheriff Longmire's shoulder. The original location of the setting for Walt's daughter's wedding has met with a snag and Walt and Henry are looking for a new location when a woman falls to her death from a nearby cliff. Luckily, her infant survives.

Each character is finely drawn and their plight in the panoramic scope of the area is depicted as if the viewer was watching the action unfold before them. There has been a successful TV series based on Longmire's actions that has been very successful.

The list of suspects is long and Walt works with newly appointed Chief Lola Long, Cheyenne Tribal Police Chief, in attempting to find the killer.

This is a complex story, gradually unfolding before the reader. We wonder how some characters live in corrugated lined homes with the outside filled with broken down cars and maybe having electricity and water but reminiscent of Indian life many years ago.

Well done and brings back memories of the wonderful writer of American Indian life, Tony Hillerman.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Six years can pass swiftly

Six years pass since Jake fisher watched his love, Natalie, marry another without giving Jake any explanation other than getting his promise to leave her alone.  However, he never stopped thinking of her.

Then, he sees a notice that her husband died. He decides to attend the funeral but when the grieving widow turns around, it isn't Natalie.

Jake tries to get answers and returns to the Vermont area where he and Natalie were happy. However, her friends don't recognize him and are antagonistic. In addition, someone else is looking for her, aggressively.

Harlan Coben has woven an excellent plot where the main character searches for his love who seems to have disappeared without reason. The intricacies of the plot are masterfully put together.

Jake becomes a victim of those looking for Natalie but, again, he can't figure out a reason. In addition, there seems to be three groups looking for her, her old friends, a number of thugs, and the police.

The answers are provided in a wonderful manner and the well plotted novel will hold the reader grasping the book to the last page.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Southern literature with a flair

"Joe" is a story about life in Mississippi with down to earth people trying to eek out a living. The reader views the deserted shacks, privately owned stores where the owner shoots game to offer to his customers and a look at very real people that aren't seen every day.

Joe Ransom is foreman for a number of men working to clear land. He's also trying to maintain a relationship with his daughter.

Gary Jones is a fifteen-year-old boy who is with a family with no permanent ties. His father is a drinker and abusive. His mother is insane.

Gary meets Joe and Joe sees something in him, in Gary's work ethic and inner goodness. Feeling sorry for Gary, Joe decides to give him a chance.

This is a well plotted story with excellent descriptions of the life in the economically deprived areas of Mississippi in past years.

Monday, July 8, 2013

How a person with Tourette's can have a normal life.

As someone with a medical condition, (cancer), I'm appreciative of anyone who can overcome their own health setback.

Paul Skoglund has Tourette's and has had difficulty finding work. His aunt asks him to repair her hunting lodge in Hudson Valley which was damaged by vandals.

Mo Ford is a new trooper in the Lewisboro Barracks of the state police, transferring in from another agency. He picks up a number of open investigations including that of Richard Mason and the disappearance of three teenagers.

Mo is an appealing character. He's determined and compassionate. In his investigation, he finds a connection between the damage to the hunting lodge and the missing teens.

The story is interesting and unique in that we can see how a person with Tourette's can overcome their handicap.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Highway provides a reading reward

In this engrossing novel, two teenage girls set out to visit one of the girl's boyfriends in Montana but never arrive at their destination. Since one of the girls told her father she'd be somewhere else, the investigation is slow to develop.

Cassandra Dewell of the Montana Sheriff's Department runs the investigation.

This is an area of Montana where a truck stop is the base from which a man preys on his victims. Since many of them are prostitutes, their disappearance fail to get the attention that the teenagers now receive.

Another interesting character is Cody Hoyt who taught Cassie much of what she knows. However Cody has personal issues which are well brought out by the author.

There are twists and surprises that add to the enjoyment and the conclusion is something that will leave the reader thinking about the novel well into the future.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

International intrigue

In Uzbekistan, photojournalist Charlie Davis goes to a small village to take photographic evidence of atrocities of the ruler.

His pregnant wife, Julie, is also there and a protest erupts with Charlie and Julie barely escaping.

Six years go by and suddenly Julie disappears leaving Charlie with their two children.

Charlie begins searching for Julie and starts to unravel a secret world Julie was part of. After he is interrogated by government officials, he gets a feeling that she may be in danger and is certainly up to something.

In a very complicated plot, a college friend of Julie at Cambridge is now planning some kind of terrorist plot. He has taken Julie as a hostage.

Charlie must try to find his wife who he now thinks is some kind of government agent with the British government.

The author is the producer of the award winning TV hit, Without a Trace, and this work of literature demonstrates how well he can capture and maintain the reader's attention.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Nostalgic Noir Mystery

Philip Marlowe is a middle class PI who marries a millionaires daughter and moves to Poodle Springs and the world of the wealthy.

Marlowe wants his life to be as much the same as possible so gets an office in the middle class part of town and immediate gets a client who wants his health in a life or death situation. The man tells Marlowe that a man signed a note for a great deal of money and now can't be found.

It's a clash of cultures as Marlowe and his new wife, Linda, try hard to make their marriage work.

Marlowe introduces himself to the local police department and gets to work,  Linda would rather be at the country club but gives in to her husbands desires.

Soon Marlowe is involved in murder, lies, bigamists and gamblers. It's a world he's seen before but now, some of the participants are the wealthy, the friends of Linda's rich father.

This story grabs the reader's emotions. It's a story of life, of regular folk mixing with the wealthy and wondering who had a better life. Marlowe is an excellent character who carries the story.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Be careful when you pick your target

In a novel loaded with political intrigue, lost love, political ambition and revenge, Dewey Andreas has done his job so well that he becomes the target for assassination.

Dewey helps uncover Chinese intelligence's highest level asset in Israel's Mossad. The spy also has done damage to US and Great Briton. With Dewey revealing the man's name, Chinese authorities want to retaliate.

Fao Bhang is the head of China's state security and places an immediate kill order on Andreas.

Dewey is engaged to Jessica Tanzer a top state official. They are in Cordoba when the plan to target Dewey goes into action.  Unfortunately for the killers, they don't succeed in their goal.

This is a wonderful novel with many twists and surprises and is packed with suspense. The reader's attention is grabbed and held on to from the beginning. I enjoy Dewey as a character. 

Highly recommended.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise