Sunday, August 31, 2014

Coming of age

This is a coming of age novel about Danny Kelly. We are introduced to Danny as a young adolescent with a remarkable swimming ability. He dreams of becoming an Olympic gold medal winner for Australia.

It's hard to enjoy a novel where the main protagonist isn't a likable character. Danny is self centered and arrogant with a chip on his shoulder. He's from a middle class family and gets a scholarship to a prestigious high school for his swimming. He's confident as a swimmer but outside of the pool his arrogance stands out. As in many private schools, there is teasing and bullying. Danny receives his share of this with haughtiness and vows to show everyone when he wins the Australian under sixteen swimming competition.

The story moves between Danny's high school days and his adulthood where he's attempting to put his life together after a major incident with the law. Can we relate to Danny? I didn't but the author presents Danny as having only one chance to succeed in life and that is through his swimming.

There is a competition and the parts of the story leading up to the competition are well done. There is success and then failure. The reader can observe this and understand why so many people who had great success in high school, do not succeed with the rest of their lives.

Finally, he realizes that there is more to life. He meets a cousin who has a brain injury and he sympathises with the cousin and befriends him. Thus, from the ashes, a sincere character is born.

I had difficulty following the story because the author jumped from Danny's adolescence to Dan's adulthood in a manner that was difficult to follow.

It was gratifying to see Dan as a person in his thirties when he took responsibility for himself and had compassion for others. He proves to be a worthwhile person. It just took a long time for him to achieve that status.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A brief visit to Bostswana

"In the Company of Cheerful Ladies" is a story of a short time in Ma Ramotswe's life.

Mma Ramotswe is the founder of The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Botswana. She's surprised when she comes home after a trying day and discovers a man who crawls out from under her bed and runs away. What made her even more surprised is that the man wasn't wearing any pants.

The start of the story seemed to be a prequel to what would be happening later on. The scene of the man running from Ma Ramotswe's home in that state of undress seemed like a scene of a Pink Panther movie with Inspector Clouseau.

Other mysteries in the story are of Mma Ramotswe's former husband returning home and attempting to blackmail her. The other area that she attempts to investigate is what was behind an employee of Mma Ramotswe's husband who quits his job to be with a wealthy woman.

We never find out what the story was about the man under the bed and the rest of the story is a simple story with no violence and filled with happy people

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Don't rock this boat

This is the story of nine men who were members of the University of Washington crew team. It shows the hard work the men went through to make the team and their goal to qualify for the 1936 Olympic team and win the gold medal.

The story is well research and follows one of the men in detail. Joe Rantz was a hard working young man from a poor family who had to work to help support his family at a young age while continuing his studies.

He meets Joyce Sanders and realizes that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Joe's mother died young and his father remarried. His stepmother never demonstrated any love for Joe. She'd give all of her love and attention to the three children she gave birth to. Joe even had to deal with abandonment at a young age.

His hard work is recognized and he's invited to attend the University of Washington and try out for the crew team. At that time during the depression, there wasn't any athletic scholarships but part time work was made available for crew members so they could pay for their expenses.

As Joe and his crew mates are moulded into a championship team, depression held the country at bay. Jobs were difficult to get and the dust bowl was a term for the terrible wind storms that blew topsoil away and caused many farmers to go bankrupt.

In Germany, Hitler is rising to power and Dr. Joseph Gobbles was made the minister of propaganda. Both men hated Jews and unleashed a program to wipe out the Jewish population from Germany.

This is a story of sports, determination and a hope of something many shared during the dark days of the depression.

The crew travels to Germany and experiences the anti-Jewish tone and the intense pro Nazi feelings. It made them more determined to beat the German crew and win the Olympic medal for the United States.

I enjoyed reading the story and seeing the progress of the team and how that fit into the events of the time from 1932 to 1936. There are parts of the story that I will remember for a long time.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"That lucky old son" Song lyrics

I listened to this story as an audiobook. It was narrated by Gildart Jackson. His delivery was precise and leisurely which was a good method to match the pace of the novel, which was at times brutal.

In the story, Sonny Lofthus ad been in jail for twelve years for crimes he wasn't guilty of. However he was promised a lifetime supply of heroin if he admitted to these crimes. Then he finds something about his father's murder and that his father was framed.  Sonny stages a clever prison break and proceeds to find and punish the people responsible for his father's death.

It is easy to sympathise with Sonny. He is polite and resourceful as he proceeds to punish the criminals responsible for tarnishing his father's name and his death.

There is also an element of mysticism in the story. With Sonny, the son, compared to Jesus, the Son of God.
Many times Sonny says a prayer for his victim and at one point tells the victim that if he repents he might enter heaven. This is similar to Jesus forgiving the repentant sinner who was on the cross when Jesus was crucified.

Simon Kefas is a cop chasing Sonny. Simon is an old time cop who some say is behind the times but others say he's one of the best cops on the job.

The conclusion is well done and Jo Nesbo carefully brings the elements of the story together in a nice package.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Cornered" a thriller

In "Cornered," Matt Brady is attempting to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of a number of young women in Temple, Texas.

He's frustrated because all of his leads don't pan out. It's as if someone else had the information he had.

We witness the kidnapping of three women.  The kidnappers are adept and before the reader can shout "Watch Out!" the kidnappers capture the women, tie them up and dump them in the back of a van.

One of the victims was a veterinary assistant. When Matt visits her boss to find more about her, the boss, Tracy Rogers, doesn't have any information but decides to see what she can find out herself. She does this partly for the missing assistant but also because she is attracted to Matt.

Matt and Tracy's interference of the operation of the kidnappers upsets one of the kidnappers and soon both Matt and Tracy become targets.

I consider "Cornered" to be among the top 4 or 5 thrillers I've read this year. I'm very impressed with the author's storytelling ability.

I wished for an electrifying conclusion and while the conclusion was most satisfactory, I was expecting greatness from this awesome author.

I recieved this book for an honest review.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Well written English mystery

Martha Grimes' "Vertigo 42" is an absorbing, character driven novel that kept me satisfied as I followed the well developed plot.

The story begins with Tom Williamson, a friend of a friend of Superintendent Richard Jury, asking him to re-examine Williams's wife Tess's death. She died seventeen years in the past and Williamson is convinced that she was murdered even though the official report is accident or suicide.

Jury takes on the case even though it's not in his jurisdiction. He learns that Tess had a party for children five years before her death. In that party, one young girl was killed. Jury believes that there might be a connection between the party and Tess's death.

Through questioning those who attended the party, we learn what the children had become in the seventeen years since that event.

Jury has a crowd of friends who become characters in the story. They serve as a sounding bell for Jury to examine the motives and possible suspects in both murders, Tess and the little girl. The crowd gathers at the Jack and Hammer pub and provide their thoughts.

Another death occurs and it turns out to have a connection with the children, now adults, who attended the party. Jury wonders what the connection might be but we see a connection in that the woman's body was found at the foot of a tower and Tess died after a fall from a flight of stairs.

The characters come to life as they debate about the crimes. It is interesting that much of the questioning occurs over a cup of tea and some tasty treats. While enjoying the food, discussions occur about the past crimes and the children from the party.

I enjoyed the liesurly pace of the story and the plot. The author keeps the reader in suspense as to who committed the crimes and provides a nice surprise bringing everything together in a nicely wrapped conclusion.

I received a free book for honest review.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When valor preys on readon, it eats the sword it fights for." Shakespeard

"Prey of Desire" is a thriller where the reader learns of a gruesome, unexplained murder in the first few pages. We want to know what caused the murder and what happens to the killer.

Twenty-five years later, the story picks up and we follow the events of a college student named Kimberly. Kim is age twenty-two and has a good friend named Mallory who is in her early thirties.

Kim and her fiance had broken up and Mallor is after Kim to get on with her life. She continues to nag Kim into dating and finally fixes her up but the date doesn't show. Kim is angry but reluctantly agrees to a second date on New Years Eve.

She and Mallory attend a New Years Eve party where a major event occurs.
Not to reveal plot, the reader does know that Kim was followed.

I enjoyed reading about Kim and sympathised with her. There are numerous times when a situation occurs when we want to shout to Kim, "Don't do that."

This is a fast moving and suspenseful novel.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fun Summer Read

"Two Headed Snake of Key West," is the perfect book to bring on your summer vacation or any other vacation.

Liz and Garret Adams have a wonderful, respectful relationship together. They decide to sail their thirty six foot sloop from Mystic, CT. to Key West for an adventure.

Once they dock in Key West, the fun begins.  We meet a group of well described and interesting characters. Meg is attempting to escape from her abusive, autocratic husband. Jonathan is trying to understand why his roommate and boyfriend is interested in someone else. Miguel, Jonathan's boyfriend is trying to work a scam that will generate much needed income to be able to continue his playboy life.

There is a mystery in the novel that I couldn't say more about or I'd reveal the plot. However, the mystery is light hearted and a fast read.

I also enjoyed the description of Key West and a historic Catholic Church in Key West.

I received a copy of this book for an honest review.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Behind the scenes look at Paris pre WWII

This story gives the reader a good view of some of the historic things that were happening in 1938.

Germany was threatening and Franco was winning the war in Spain.

 In Paris, Christian Ferrar was a Spanish emerge who worked for an international law firm. He's recruited to work as an arms purchaser for the Spanish Republic.

He works with Max de Lyon and they travel to dangerous areas, putting their lives in line in places like Czechoslovakia, Russia and Poland. There was interesting facts brought up such as the Condor Legion - German fighters sent to help Franco in Spain and on the other side the International Brigade made up of people from outside of Spain, fighting for the Republic. It seemed hopeless in particular with Nationalist Spain having air power from Germany and the Spanish Republic having little or no air support.

Ferrar finds romance in a meeting with an aristocratic woman who asks his help but there is something beneath the surface.

I enjoyed reading about the gaiety of Paris life while underneath, people were worried about Germany and starting to make plans to relocate if Germany began marching on France.

As enjoyable as the book was, I was left with the feeling that if some of the countries who denied helping the Spanish Republic, such as Great Britain, Russia and France, it might have taken some of the fight out of Germany.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Adventures of an American Diplomat

When I received "The American Mission" from Early Reviewers at Librarything, I thought it might have the same idea as Graham Greene's "The Honorary Consul."

Alex Baines was an up and comer in the state department but when he witnessed a massacre in Darfur, it took something out of him.

He didn't know what to do but when he's asked to join his mentor and be the number three man in the US Embassy in Kinshasa, he jumps at the chance.

One of his early duties is to act as the middleman in a ransom demand by a militant who kidnapped a number of people, including Americans.  He does a good job and meets Marie Tuolo, daughter of a village chief.

Later, he's told he has to act as the go between in a situation where a US mining company wants to mine in a village that would leave the village dispoiled. He learns that this is Marie's village. During this controversy, the suspense begins to intensify.

The more I got into the story, the better it was and I couldn't put the book down.

The ending was excellent with good intrigue and action as well as suspense. Don't miss it.

I received a free book for honest review.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise