Monday, August 21, 2017

THE THINGS WE KEEP (Love Never Forgets) by Sally Hipworth

Finished Su 8/20/17 The August 2017 selection for the Contemporary Book Club

(Today is the Great American Eclipse- Mo 21, 2017)

Two parallel stories basically set at Rosalind House, an assisted living facility.

Love story between Luke and Anna  Forster. She is only 38 and suffering for early onset Alzheimer's, and he has a condition where he will lose the facility to form words and communicate.

The story of Eve Bennett and her five year old daughter, Clementine. Her husband had been convicted or investment fraud and he committed suicide. Eve is a trained chef and takes a job as cook and cleaner at Rosalind and works there so that Clem can continue in her old elementary school.

Moral Dilemma- Should the lovers be left alone or should they be separated because neither one fully understands or appreciates their actions. Love Prevails.

NOTES-

Clar and Laurie- a southern couple of advanced age

Richard- husband of Eve and father of Clem

Eric- Corrupt manager of Rosalind. At the end of the novel he is replaced for 'cooking the books'.

Jack and Helen- Jack is Anna's twin brother and Helen is his wife. They have three boys and Anna was very close to Ethan. Jack is a lawyer and he has power of attorney over Anna. It was his decision that Anna should be committed.

Fondue Incident- Anna was making a melted cheese treat for Ethan. The pot began to burn, but Anna could not remember the way to the kitchen. Ethan was burned rather severely on the cheek. This made Anna realize that her time of independent living was over.

Aiden- The motorcycle riding ex-husband of Anna. She leaves this man as soon as she realizes that she has Alzheimer's. She felt that she was saving him from heartache, yet maybe not. This dilemma was not really developed, although this split led to the love affair between Anna and Luke.

Angus- The gardener at Rosalind and he becomes Eve's boyfriend. Disturbing to Clem- at first.

Sarah- Luke's sister. She is very much in favor of Anna and Luke's relationship. She believes that her husband is a good guy and had many women friends. He would never dream of taking advantage of a woman regardless of her mental capacity.

May- Turns one hundred; the oldest client at Rosalind

Bert- The old crank with the imaginary wife, Myrna. Bert befriends Clem and she learns to 'bring up' her dead father, but decides that she must 'let him go' and deal with people in the real world. Bert begins to understand this as well.

Gwen- A stocky old woman who has taken a shine to Bert. He rejects her because of his wife, but this relationship probably grows.

FACT-

Positive diagnosis of Alzheimer's can only be made at the autopsy.  Anna thinks that this is funny. What if they find out after she has died that she really didn't have the condition.

Depth perception is the first to go in the arch of Alzheimer's.

Enid is Clara's sister and she was originally with Laurie when they were teenagers. Clara feels that after all the decades of marriage, she has 'taken' Enid from Laurie. Clara is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and wants to reunite the two. Laurie feels that Clara was and is the only love of his life.

The book was a kind of 'light read' and I liked the story. I wish there was more about Luke's mental situation. He is largely ignored.

From the author's page at wikipedia-

"Sally Hepworth is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of three books, most notably The Secrets of Midwives, a novel she published in 2015.[1] Hepworth and her works have been featured in media outlets that have included USA Today, The New York Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald."


"Hepworth worked in both event management and Human Resources prior to her career as a writer. While on maternity leave with her first child, Hepworth wrote Love Like the French, a novel about a British woman who goes to France after an accident leaves her husband in a coma. The character goes to France to see what the French could teach her about living. Hepworth was unable to finish the book immediately after her son Oscar was born, but the book was eventually published in Germany in 2014.

Hepworth released a second book, The Secrets of Midwives, that she wrote while pregnant with her second child. The book was released in 2015 and is a novel about three generations of midwives. Her research for the book came from her own questioning of midwives during check-ups and reading fiction and nonfiction books on the subject. KJ Dell'Antonia from The New York Times called it a "fast and fun read," with other reviews of the book coming by way of Publishers Weekly, The Sydney Morning Herald, and Kirkus Reviews.

Hepworth's third book, The Things We Keep, is scheduled for release in early 2016."


I saw a joke by Jerry Seinfeld about Alzheimer's on Youtube.
Comedian is hired to entertain at an Alzheimer's facility. He tells the same joke, over and over again, and brings down the house. At the end of the show, a man comes up to the comedian and asks, "How do you remember all that"?

Monday, August 14, 2017

DARKNESS TAKE MY HAND by Dennis Lehane

Finished Su 8/13/17 One of my old paperbacks that I bought at the West Branch on Sa 10/23/04 and finished it a few days later.

Several weeks ago I read Lehane's, A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR. In the book's' storyline, that novel happened before 'Darkness Take My Hand'.

What Happened In Darkness-

Patrick Kenzie and his partner, Angela Gennaro are targets and their old neighborhood in Boston becomes a 'killing zone'. A serial killer has been active for over twenty years without detection. A neighborhood watch group formed in 1977 took illegal action against a couple of killers who dressed as clowns. Patrick's evil father burned one of the men (roasted him alive!) while others in the group tortured the two men. This secret is at the heart of the novel.

Gerry Glynn was a local policeman (now owner of The Black Emerald- a 'cop bar') witnessed the killing by the group. He promised not to tell and beneath a sunny disposition Gerry becomes a monster- killing and dismembering for decades, and he has a few very evil helpers.

From the book's page at amazon-

"Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro’s latest client is a prominent Boston psychiatrist, running scared from a vengeful Irish mob. The private investigators know about cold-blooded retribution. Born and bred on the mean streets of blue-collar Dorchester, they’ve seen the darkness that lives in the hearts of the unfortunate.

But an evil for which even they are unprepared is about to strike, as secrets that have long lain dormant erupt, setting off a chain of violent murders that will stain everything – including the truth.

With razor-sharp dialogue and penetrating prose, Darkness, Take My Hand is another superior crime novel from the author of Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone; and Shutter Island."

Kevin Hurlihy is a particularly vicious character and although he is not involved in the serial killings, he's a vile enforcer for the Boston Mob. He was once a childhood friend of Patrick and Angela.

And, of course, there's Bubba, Patrick's trenchcoat wearing, arms dealer. Forever loyal, yet as dangerous as a viper.

The title is from a letter that was sent to Patrick. One of the serial killers had gouged out the eyes of his victim. The eyes and this letter were left at Patrick's apartment. The killer admits that he has been to Hell and that 'Darkness has taken his hand'.

Anything by Dennis Lehane is well worth a look- the writing, characters, and plotting are always rewarding and enjoyable.

Friday, August 11, 2017

MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! by Harry Harrison

Finished Mo 8/7/17- an Ebook from the library (Hoopla)

I was surprised to see that this book was still in print. I watched the movie, SOYLENT GREEN, last weekend and learned that it was taken from this novel. I couldn't believe that a paper copy was not available, but it was on Hoopla.

The film's Bonus Features included commentary by the director and he said that the 'cannibalism' was not in the book. I thought that this would be like making a movie of MOBY DICK without the whale.

The book (1966) and the film are radically different and they only share the setting and the two main characters, Andy and Sol.

The book is really an extrapolation of Malthusian Theory and a speech made by Dwight Eisenhower.

"A Malthusian growth model, sometimes called a simple exponential growth model, is essentially exponential growth based on a constant rate. The model is named after Thomas Robert Malthus, who wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), one of the earliest and most influential books on population."

From a presidential news conference by Dwight D. Eisenhower- December 2, 1959

"This thing has for very great denominations a religious meaning, definite religious tenet in their own doctrine. I have no quarrel with them; as a matter of fact this being largely the Catholic Church, they are one of the groups that I admire and respect. But this has nothing to do with governmental contact with other governments. We do not intend to interfere with the internal affairs of any other government, and if they want to do something about what is admittedly a very difficult question, almost an explosive question, that is their business. If they want to go to someone for help, they will go unquestionably to professional groups, not to governments. This Government has no, and will not as long as I am here have a positive political doctrine in its program that has to do with this problem of birth control. That's not our business."

In the book Sol blames the government for not doing anything about the extreme overpopulation. He attends a violent demonstration in Manhattan and breaks his hip. This leads to his death.

From the book's page at amazon-

"The world is crowded. Far too crowded. Its starving billions live on lentils, soya beans, and —if they’re lucky—the odd starving rat.

In a New York City groaning under the burden of 35 million inhabitants, detective Andy Rusch is engaged in a desperate and lonely hunt for a killer everyone has forgotten. For even in a world such as this, a policeman can find himself utterly alone….

Acclaimed on its original publication in 1966, Make Room! Make Room! was adapted into the 1973 movie Soylent Green."


The book is a straight forward 'A to B' presentation- no twists and no surprises. However, for some reason the Ebook is divided into two sections with thirteen chapters each. When I was in section #1, chapter 3, I mistakenly skipped to section #2, chapter 4. After many more chapters read out of order, I went back and reread. The timeline is actually late spring to winter, and since there's not really any extreme character deviations or unusual plot twists, it was pretty easy to follow.

Another idea from the film that's not in the book is 'furniture'. In the rich people's apartments women were assigned to the rooms and could be used as concubines or prostitutes. The women didn't mind- this was part of the job description. And, the movie hinges on the discovery that 'Soylent Green is people'. The film has to be one of the biggest departures from a written work to the silver screen, although I felt that both the novel and the movie were worth a look.

Edward G. Robinson's last film. He was almost completely deaf while shooting the film.

Charlton Heston and Chuck Connors, two prominent Republicans, together in the same film!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

THE WHISTLER by John Grisham

Finished Fr 8/4/17

I got this from the library on Kindle, and I was surprised that it was available- it's his latest novel.

The title refers to a 'whistle blower'. The plot involves a 'mole' within a corrupt Florida judge's office. (Much later in the book it's revealed that the 'insider' is the judge's court reporter- JoEllen) The judge is working for the 'coastal mafia'/ 'catfish mafia'. The bulk of their loot is skimmed from an Indian casino, but they also own all kinds of businesses- hotels, shopping centers, and other legitimate enterprises. The tribal leaders are in on the scam.

Because of the 'legal' casino, life on the reservation is very good. Each member of the tribe receives $5,000 a month as their cut of the casino's profits. Since state and federal laws don't really apply on the reservation I wonder why more businesses are not on Indian lands. Wouldn't a Walmart or a McDonald's get the same tax breaks and perks as a casino? If this were so, then Indian reservations would not be the rural ghettos that they seem to be. That's one big question that I'd have fro the author.

The novel takes a very straight 'A to B' approach. There are NO surprises or twists- straight from indictment to capture and confinement.

Two officers in the Florida Board On Judicial Conduct are called by a disbarred/ex felon lawyer, Ramsey Mix- Greg Meyers. Meyers is running from the mob and lives on a boat with his girlfriend, Carlitta- no permanent address.

He wants to expose the corruption and he will be compensated under Florida's Whistle Blowing law. I wish this had been more developed. Apparently, if you are a state worker in Florida you are automatically shielded from any retribution if you go public with possible wrongdoings. In the Trump Era the 'leakers' or 'whistleblowers' are anathema.

Lacy Stoltz and Hugo Hatch are the two agents who first go after the judge. The murder of Hugo is perhaps the only unexpected  event in the book. They are lured to a deserted area of the reservation to obtain information about the case. Hugo's air-bag and seat belt have been rendered inoperable and Lacy and Hugo vehicle is hit head on by a large pickup truck. Hugo goes through the windshield and is killed. Lacy is badly injured. The killers recover Lacy and Hugo's phones and laptops.

Judge Claudia Mc Dover and her lover, Phyllis Turban, have been taking money from the mob's skimming operation for years. They have condos and houses all over the world, they fly by private jet, and have millions in jewels and expensive art.

From the book's page at Amazon-

"We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.
     But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.
     Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.
     But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.
     What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.
     But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.
     Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else."

Although I liked the book, it came off as a little flat- especially so soon after reading a Harlan Coben novel. But, everybody likes a Grisham because they're all page turners even though this novel doesn't offer 100% satisfaction.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

PROMISE ME by Harlan Coben

Part of the Myron Bolitar series

Finished Tu 8/1/17 while waiting to see if I would be needed on jury duty. I was not.

The title refers to a conversation that Myron heard between two teenaged girls. They were talking about taking a ride from someone who had been drinking or on drugs. Myron has them promise that if they ever found themselves in that situation, they were to call him, no questions asked.

The novel is basically about two young girls who are missing. Were they kidnapped or did they simply run away? Since they are both eighteen, the law is less than interested, but Myron is close to one of the girl's mother.

The single biggest connection between the two cases is that both girls withdrew money from the same ITM in NYC the night of their disappearance.

The Big Twist (and this was so convoluted, I don't think anyone could possibly guess it)
-Dr. Edna Skylar Did It!  In the opening scene of the novel this doctor sees one of the missing girls on a busy NYC street. Dr. Skylar is an OBGYN who has kind of a hobby of facial recognition. She recognizes the girl from 'missing' posters, but the girl tells her that she's OK, and don't tell anyone that she has seen her.

-This girl is pregnant by Dr. Skylar's wayward son. This young man is a failed rock musician who teaches at the girl's school and had an affair with the missing girl. Skylar wants the baby- this is why she orchestrated this dizzy plan.

Twenty pages from the end, the reader is left with the feeling that the girl had actually killed the baby's father, and her parents were involved in a cover-up. But, Myron digs deeper and confronts the real perpetrator.  The other missing girl actually did run away. She fell in with a pimp and felt that she loved this man. Both girls were pregnant. In the end, both girls return home.

Recurring Characters from the series-

Win- Myron's friend from college. This man is a trained assassin, yet he is a certified member of the exclusive 'one percent'.

Esperanza- This woman works for Myron in his office. She is an ex-pro wrestler that went under the name, Pocahontas.

Big Cyndi- This is a 300 pound transvestite that wa Esperanza's partner in the ring. She works various jobs for Myron's office.

Myron Bolitar is a basketball star that never really made it. He was a smash hit in high school and college, but he was injured only a few games into his college career. He decided to open an agency that represented sports players. Now the office has grown, and he represents almost anyone who needs his service or anyone rich and famous.

The novel is meant to be slightly funny. It reminds me of Donald Westlake in his funny stuff. Example, DROWNED HOPES.

This is an easy read and I could have read it in just a couple of days, but other books intruded. I bought the book for a buck at this year's library book sale.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

THE LOST GET-BACK BOOGIE by James Lee Burke

Finished We 7/26/17, in fact I finished this Ebook at the library right before the Contemporary Book Club Meeting for THE CONVICTIONS OF JOHN DELAHUNT.

This is an early novel by Burke and I read that it was rejected one hundred and eleven times before it was finally published, and it later was nominated for a Pulitzer prize.

The book is set in 1962 in New Iberia, LA, Louisiana's Angola State Penitentiary, and Missoula, Montana.

Iry Paret is the main character and the title refers to a song that Iry is trying to write. He is an accomplished C&W musician on the guitar and dobro.

The dobro is a way of acoustically making a stringed instrument louder. A metal cone is attached to the body to amplify the sound.

From the book's page at Amazon-

"Iry Paret's done his time -- two years for manslaughter in Louisiana's Angola State Penitentiary.  A man in a bar attacked their lead singer, knocked him out, and then grabbed Iry. Iry had a knife and stabbed the man through the heart. Now the war vet and blues singer is headed to Montana, where he hopes to live clean working on a ranch owned by the father of his prison pal, Buddy Riordan. In prison, Iry tinkered with a song -- "The Lost Get-Back Boogie" -- that never came out quite right. Now, the Riordan family's problems hand him a new kind of trouble, with some tragic consequences. And Iry must get the tune right at last, or pay a fateful price."

When Iry is paroled he decides to leave Louisiana and relocated to Montana. When he was in prison he met Buddy Riordan who played piano in the prison jazz band.

Frank Riordan, Buddy's father, has turned the whole town against the family. Frank wants to shut down the local factories (pulp mills) for environmental reasons, and this will cause several hundred people their jobs.

Buddy is separated from Beth, yet Iry has an affair with her. After Buddy dies (he runs his pickup truck off the road, the truck catches fire, and the ammunition that he was carrying explodes. He was looking for the men that destroyed his father's aviary) he marries Beth and they buy some land and raise Buddy's two young boys in Montana.

The descriptions are beautiful and the characters are well drawn. I would read a grocery list written by James Lee Burke. However, due to the violence of the characters I thought the ending was just a bit too upbeat- it bordered on the 'happily ever after'. But, I certainly wish Iry all the best!

Monday, July 24, 2017

THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion

Finished Su 7/24/17

Janny loaned me this book in hardback because we both loved the first book so much. I think she picked this novel up at a garage sale.

I started this book a few weeks ago, but I got caught up in other novels. On Sunday I finished half of it in a three hour push- well worth the effort.

From Amazon-
" The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Rosie Project, starring the same extraordinary couple now living in New York and unexpectedly expecting their first child. Get ready to fall in love all over again.

Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because—surprise!—Rosie is pregnant.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment (owned by George, a drummer in a famous seventies rock band, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most. "


Bud- 'baby under development'

Hud- 'human under development'

Graeme C. Simsion FACS is an Australian author, screenwriter, playwright and data modeller.

I was surprised to learn that the author wrote the first novel, his first, when he was fifty. But, not surprised that his wife is a psychologist, professor, and also a writer of both fiction and non-fiction.