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Showing posts from May, 2019

Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin, a book review

Sometimes you read a good book with an engaging story line told in manner that infuses the book with beautiful language. James McLaughlin's novel, Bearskin , is told in that manner, engaging story, beautiful prose. Like this sentence about crows: . . . glinting like chips of obsidian in the sunlight. Or this about the late afternoon: The sun seemed to be drifting away, exhausted. And this about the evening: The night air moved over his face like water. The description of Virginia weather and Virginia country is not something to race through to get to the story, it is something to be savored. The characters hide secrets, disclose secrets and create new ones in a tangle that hurtles through mud, forest, a smattering of gunfire, desecration of animals, of men, and two women. The protagonist becomes a collector of bones, feathers and shedded snake skins. His slow loss of reality through dehydration adds mystery to his experience. In the final movement of the novel,

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, a book review

No purpose, no job, no societal benefit–only fit to dine, discuss, read and reflect, "the usual rigmarole," shares the character Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, in the novel A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. The have-nots, the rising Bolshevik class, sentence Count Rostov to house arrest inside the Metropol Hotel. One step from the door and he will be shot. He counts the stairs, the minutes as others, without noble background or cause, rise to roles of influence via a nod of political liaisons and stumble unqualified into new roles, propelled by arrogance and smugness, or perhaps self-doubt and uncertainty. Their misdeeds are irksome–snipping his signature mustouch in a fit of anger, or threatening, yet, Rostov pauses before passing judgement. By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration. The story unfolds seemingly one episode after another,

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter, a book review

Karin Slaughter’s 2018 novel Pieces of Her introduces characters worthy of being thrown aside, their charms a "trolley car off the tracks." A mother offering slightly backhanded compliments to a daughter who she doesn't know or understand. A daughter who has failed at every corner of life – especially independence, so much so that her sixty-three thousand dollar student loan, with its accompany $800 a month payment (for a degree she never finished), keeps her holed up in her mother's, gray decor, garage apartment, even though her father had offered to refinance the debt, only requiring the needed documents by his artificially imposed deadline – which she, of course, failed to meet. Enter a teenager in black, his failed relationship his focus, a gun, six bullets, a knife and a minute sixteen seconds of mayhem spins the world of the daughter into unknown orbit. Beyond the borders of "mother" she knows little about the mother, or her capacity to kill someo

Prelude to a review: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I bought  A Gentleman in Moscow  by Amor Towles for my Kindle using a $5 credit Amazon plopped in my sightline. Not that I thought Amazon was generous. Some time back, Amazon removed $60 of credit from my account after someone named Anonymous tapped in, pretended to be me, did a little test purchase, and disappeared. Apparently, someone else's fraud was enough reason for Amazon to plunge my account to zero. Hours on the phone with customer service, explaining, complaining, explaining, complaining, explaining, complaining, resulted in this result: Fraud has occured on your account. Yes, I agreed, but NOT by me. All to no avail. Credit was not restored. Frustration was not abated. I will never forget, but obviously I have forgiven, as evidence, I present this purchase. In one chapter, Towles deftly describes the main character, the character's current situation, a bit of his back story, and as the chapter ends, curiosity on how this is to unfold pulls the reader into

Interview with Pam Jenoff in Tucson, "I please all of the people none of the time"

Tucson Festival of Books 2015. Photo Jesuiseduardo Pam Jenoff sat on a panel at the Tucson Festival of Books my first year to attend. She shared that she had been a diplomat in Kraków, Poland, and is writing to work through what living there and working on Holocaust issues did to her psyche. Q: How do you decide what point of view to tell the story? Jenoff: A friend was reading a book in first person, pretense tense, Jenoff had an AHA moment, First person, present tense  – I had to do that. She took a snippet of the book she was writing and showed it in different tenses to her agent and to her editor, and asked them to choose their favorite. Q: How do you start? Jenoff: I start with an image, and throw down the worst 60,000 words and then try to fix it. "I knew this terrible thing would happen to the Connally family and I knew the end, but didn't know how they were going to get there." (Reference:  The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach , by Pam Jenoff) Q. H

Ace Atkins' The Sinners biggest sin is the book

Disappointment dogged me through the last two Quinn Colson books. This one, The Sinners, immersed me in a 'fashion show' of every imaginable, red-neck t-shirt, complete with the meme of the moment. The f-show's purpose seemed to be to fill space to get to the correct page count. T-shirts didn't advance the storyline. Bad language didn't advance the characters. Missing words and edits, that a good proofreader should have caught, left me scratching my head. I'm still a fan, just disappointed. Source: Library loan. Purchase through our affiliate link, and referral fees donated to W oman of Wonder , a college scholarship fund for women. Print Length: 380 pages

A Turn in the Road by Debbie Macomber, a book review

You can ask, but I might not answer  says Max Scranton, in  A Turn in Road  by Debbie Macomber. Max doesn't share much about himself, except his missing smile, his melancholy eyes, his abandonment of home and drifting back and forth across country, with or without friends – speaks volumes. Bethanne, the protagonist of the novel, sees something in Max that she recognizes in herself: pain. Debbie Macomber deftly handles the lives of five characters, Bethanne, Max, Bethanne's ex-husband Grant, their daughter Annie, and Grant's mother Ruth, plus the entourage who surround them, in this heartfelt romance. She even makes Grant, the cheating ex-husband sympathetic, no small feat. The dread, that Bethanne might take Grant back, though, ratcheted anxiety throughout the novel as Bethanne bounced between should I give Grant a chance, or should I invest in Max, the sad stranger who sparks romance? This bouncing back and forth was twenty-five percent too long. The novel wouldn

Prelude to a review, A Turn in the Road by Debbie Macomber

For as long as Debbie Macomber has been writing novels, my sister and my mom have been reading them. During that same time period, I noticed Macomber's name on skeins of yarn, knitting pattern books, and occasionally on the cover of a book – that I was not reading. A fan of all things Washington State, Starbucks , Costco , Microsoft , Nordstrom , Amazon, and especially Amazon Smile , I decided to take mom's suggestion and pick up a book by Washington state resident Debbie Macomber. Actually, I didn't pick it up. My mom handed it to me and said, "Here, read this. It's a great story and will make you feel good." And a year later, I did. I like books that you can read without being startled by missing words, or other weird stuff that takes you out of the rhythm of consuming a story. Macomber's book carried me away into the heart of fiction without the disturbances that appear when an editor hasn't done his/her job. I also like books that surp

Lead up to the review: The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Carl Cozier Elementary School In fifth grade our teacher told us about being stationed in Germany during his time in the service. We didn't call him a veteran, just a balding guy with dandruff who taught us German words and phrases: Mr. Fish. He went up and down the rows of formica topped desks with attached chairs and assigned German names to us at Carl Cozier Elementary School I was Christel and dreamed of handing that beautiful name over to the daughter I hoped some day to have. It didn't turn out quite that way, as things that were important when you were ten, are not as valued when you're thirty-eight. Photo Dachau: Václav Pluhař  One afternoon, Mr. Fish showed a movie, it was in French with English subtitles. So horrific, I thought it must be made up. Emaciated living, piles of shoes, clothing, the dead. Complete, utter fantasy. But it was a documentary: the Holocaust. Ten years later, I perfected my German language skill in Germany before enrolling f

My tweet, the return tweet and what that has to do with writing

What I wrote on Twitter, thinking I could glean a few eyeballs for my blog: I can't believe I've read 19 books about a game warden in Wyoming What C. J. Box's social media administrator tweeted back, (I could pretend, it was an actual response by the award winning author, and truly he should meet me and receive his own spot on the list of "Celebrities Who've Met Me," but unless I'm writing fiction, I like to try and stay in reality). I can't believe I wrote that many And I think that's the key, start writing and never stop. Even if it's just a thank you. So, here goes . . . Thank you C. J. Box :-)