Sunday, July 23, 2017

THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON by Steve Hunter

Finished Fr 7/21/17

I first learned of this novel listening to an interview with the author on NPR and I got it as an Ebook from the library. I didn't realized that I had the latest book in the Nick Mason series until I finished the book. Usually anything that's featured on NPR takes weeks to get- I waited months for HILLBILLY ELEGY.

Nick Mason is a career criminal from Chicago's southwest side- 'Canaryville' near Bridgeport, the home of Richard Daily and where the TV series SHAMELESS is filmed.

Nick is asked in on 'one big final score'. They are to remove pads and upholstering from a charter vessel and take them to Detroit. However, it's all a ruse and the stuff is full of cocaine. The whole thing was set up as a sting by SIS (Special Investigations Section). This is an elite Chicago police task force that's totally corrupt.

The novel begins when Nick is in prison in Terre Haute, IN, and he is called in for a visit by Darius Cole. This man is the overlord of criminal operations on the southside of Chicago.
Nick is doing 25 to life with no chance of parole until he's done 20 years, but Cole says that he can get him out, but he must 'give the next twenty years to Darius Cole'.

Nick becomes Cole's 'Samurai Warrior' on the outside. His handler is a man called Quinteros (keen-tay-ros) who gives Nick a phone and he must answer at once and do what is asked- no questions or excuses.

Nick commits several fantastic murders, meets beautiful women, drives classic black muscle cars, and lives in an exotic condominium in Park West across from Lincoln Park on Chicago's northside waterfront.

I loved the book, in fact, I just about devoured it! Fast paced with well defined characters and it's a genre book, but heads and shoulders above most of the competition.

The book at amazon-

 https://www.amazon.com/Second-Life-Nick-Mason-Novel/dp/0399574328

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION by Shelden Rampton & John Stauber

"The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq"

This is one of my trade-sized paperbacks that I first finished on Thanksgiving Day, Th 11/27/03, and this was a 'bathroom read' from Mo 6/27/17 through Mo 7/17/17.

 "Information warriors and perception managers" - This was my favorite phrase in the book! It all comes back to this. There is no search for Truth, but only how it can be subjectively portrayed.

An observation on the comments page at amazon-

"The facts and observations in this book paint a chilling picture of a Whitehouse that functions almost exclusively as the propaganda wing of the exclusive Carlyle Group by manufacturing public opinion, manufacturing a state of endless war (thus creating a market for the Carlyle Group's principle product: arms) and making legal and acceptable activities that would otherwise be unthinkable.
This book helps cut through the rhetoric and makes it clear that we are no longer in a situation that can be defined as Republicans vs. Democrats, or Conservative vs. Liberal values. What is made clear is that the highest offices in our country have been hijacked by criminals, ideological extremists and terrorists. It's a shame that most Republicans will dismiss this as so much "liberal propaganda"; it's their party that's been hijacked and if they ever face the truth, I suspect they'll be mighty cheesed off."


Office of Strategic Influence was headed by General Simon P. Worden

https://www.google.com/search?q=General+Simon+P.+Worden+office+of+stategic+influence&rlz=1C1GGRV_enUS751US751&oq=General+Simon+P.+Worden+office+of+stategic+influence&aqs=chrome..69i57.8439j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#q=General+Simon+P.+Worden+office+of+strategic+influence

Center For Media and Democracy- this is a watchdog group of progressives out of Madison, Wisconsin.

Carlyle Group- financial services, leveraged buyouts, multinational private equity. George Bush Sr. was a leader of this group.

After reading this book it is impossible to fully believe in almost anything. There are so many 'influence peddling' groups that are designed to distort reality that I think the average citizen can never really be informed.

From the book's page on amazon-

"Weapons of Mass Deception reveals:
How the Iraq war was sold to the American public through professional P.R. strategies.
"The First Casualty": Lies that were told related to the Iraq war.
Euphemisms and jargon related to the Iraq war, e.g. "shock and awe," "Operation Iraqi Freedom," "axis of evil," "coalition of the willing," etc.
"War as Opportunity": How the war on terrorism and the war on Iraq have been used as marketing hooks to sell products and policies that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism.
"Brand America": The efforts of Charlotte Beers and other U.S. propaganda campaigns designed to win hearts overseas.
"The Mass Media as Propaganda Vehicle": How news coverage followed Washington's lead and language.
The book includes a glossary — "Propaganda: A User's Guide" — and resources to help Americans sort through the deceptions to see the strings behind Washington's campaign to sell the Iraq war to the public."

Monday, July 17, 2017

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER by Octavia E. Butler

Finished Su 7/16/17

I got this novel from the library on Kindle. Last week I heard on NPR a piece on Butler and they said that she had died 'in a fall at her home in Forest Park, Washington. I was familiar with her writing, but I thought the manner of death rather odd. Similar to William Holden? I checked this out, and learned that what happened was a stroke and then a fall.

The library has most of her novels, yet few on Ebooks. This book is the first of the Earthseed Trilogy and was released in 1994.

The first third of the book takes place in a community of poor families near Los Angeles in 2023. The government is no longer in control and marauding bands of violent crazies prey upon the citizens.
Some take a drug called 'Ro' that makes them insane and prone to light fires (from 'Pyromania').

After a few years Lauren Olamina's enclave is invaded, and she and some followers begin a trek toward the Canadian border. The story is told by Lauren and each chapter begins with a quote or poem from Earthseed. This is a religion that she is developing.

Hyperempathy Syndrome

Keith Olamina is Lauren's brother and he is a hoodlum. He leaves the community to work with the criminals on the outside. They use him because he can read and write- they are illiterate. Keith gives some of the money that he earns to his mother, but soon he is brutally murdered- skinned alive.

Curtis Talcot is Lauren's boyfriend. He is lost on the night of the attack on the community.

Harry and Zahra are the two people that follow Lauren from her community.
Travis and Nativida are a couple that soon join Lauren.

Bankole is an older man that joins the group. Lauren is romantically involved with this black man. He has property in northern California that becomes their destination. His sister and her family have a working farm, but when the group arrives the farm has been invaded and there are no survivors.

Jill and Allie Gilchrist are two sisters that join the group.

From the book's page at amazon-

"By 2025, global warming, pollution, racial and ethnic tensions and other ills have precipitated a worldwide decline. In the Los Angeles area, small beleaguered communities of the still-employed hide behind makeshift walls from hordes of desperate homeless scavengers and violent pyromaniac addicts known as "paints" who, with water and work growing scarcer, have become increasingly aggressive. Lauren Olamina, a young black woman, flees when the paints overrun her community, heading north with thousands of other refugees seeking a better life. Lauren suffers from 'hyperempathy," a genetic condition that causes her to experience the pain of others as viscerally as her own--a heavy liability in this future world of cruelty and hunger. But she dreams of a better world, and with her philosophy/religion, Earthseed, she hopes to found an enclave which will weather the tough times and which may one day help carry humans to the stars. Butler tells her story with unusual warmth, sensitivity, honesty and grace; though science fiction readers will recognize this future Earth, Lauren Olamina and her vision make this novel stand out like a tree amid saplings."

I liked the book and will try to get the next book in the series. It kind of reminded me of THE STAND by Stephen King- another sprawling Road Book.

The book at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Sower_(novel)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

THE JEALOUS KIND by James Lee Burke

Finished We 7/12/17
This was an Ebook that I read via Axis 360. Not much of Burke's catalog is available electronically, but his latest book is.

The description and writing is great, yet the plot was a bit confusing.

Taken from the book's page at amazon-

"On its surface, life in Houston in the 1950s is as you’d expect: stoic fathers, restless teens, drive-in movies, and souped-up Cadillacs. But underneath lies a world shifting under high school junior Aaron Holland Broussard’s feet. There’s a class war between the “haves” and the “have-nots” as well as a real war, Korea, happening on the other side of the world. It is against this backdrop that Aaron comes of age, trying to understand how first loves, friendship, violence, and power can alter what “traditional America” means for the people trying to find their way in a changing world.

When Aaron spots the beautiful Valerie Epstein fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, at a drive-in, he steps in. Aaron and Valerie begin dating, but Grady presents a looming problem—as does Grady’s father, who has troubling criminal connections. In the middle of it all is Aaron, who seemingly takes care of one threat, only to see multiple ones manifest in its stead.

In The Jealous Kind, “modern master” (Publishers Weekly) James Lee Burke creates a singular, bittersweet experience that mirrors a larger world on the precipice of great change. As Aaron undergoes his harrowing evolution from boy to man, we can’t help but recall the inspirational power of first love and how far we would go to protect the world we know."

This is part of the Holland Series, and I much prefer Dave Robicheaux Saga. It's only 'Holland in name only' because it isn't necessary to be familiar with the other novels in the series.

I really liked the character of Saber Bledsoe. This character is clearly an homage to Clete Purcel who has a very similar relationship to Dave Robicheaux.

Loren Nichols is also an interesting character. He starts as punk and evolves into a sympathetic person. Although Aaron plays guitar throughout the book, Loren becomes the professional musician.

Valerie Epstein is almost too good to be true. She's leftist leaning with a father that worked in the OSS during WWII. I wish the father's part was bigger.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR by Dennis Lehane

This is one of my paperbacks that I bought at the west branch back in April of 2008. I read and finished it the first time in July, 2008.

This novel was released in 1994 and is the first in the Patrick Angie Gennaro Detective Series.

The book is set in Boston- mainly Dorchester. Pat is the son of a famous fireman. This man physically (he burned Patrick on the stomach with an iron to teach him that a kitchen fire could be deadly) abused Pat and he is a damaged individual because of this. Angie is married to Phil. All three of them were friends growing up, but now Phil physically abuses Angie and Pat is in love with her. These dynamics play a large role in all the books of the series.

Pat and Angie's office is located in a bell tower of a catholic church.

This novel concerns the theft of property from a politician by a cleaning woman. This woman is married to one of the biggest gang leaders of the city, and his son is the leader of the other biggest gang.
Socia- elder gang leader
Roland- his son
Jenna- Mother of Roland and wife of Socia. She is brutally shot down and murdered near the Boston Commons. Patrick shots the shooter and this is photographed and makes him famous.

Patrick discovers that the 'property' is actually photographs of a prominent and powerful politician having sex with a young boy. The boy is the gang leader and his father,  the other gang leader, is the pimp.  If this information would be made public, all three men would lose everything.

Patrick and Angie shot and kill Roland. The premise is that some people can change and some can't. Either they change or you kill them- no compromise can exist.

I have never read a book where the title is so clever and the scene in which it occurs is unforgettable. Devin, head of a police gang unit, invites Pat and Angie for a drink in a white bar in a black neighborhood. 'The War' is the inevitable gang-war between Socia and Roland's gangs.

Angie, Pat, and Devin, an officer in a police gang unit, meet in a bar. There is a customer standing on the bar in front of the TV watching a football game and  counting the number of black players on the Notre Dame football team. He refers to them as 'niggers'. When the tirate ends, Devin calls him over and sucker-punches him in the face and breaks his nose, and says, "A nigger friend of mine asked me to give you that. He knew you'd understand". Although Devin is a complete alcoholic, he is an excellent cop and does have a black partner.

Anything by Lehane is worth a look, and I found another book that's part of the series in my collection and I play to get to it soon.

Friday, July 7, 2017

CELESTIAL NAVIGATION by Anne Tyler

Finished We 7/5/17 One of my trade paperbacks and part of a trilogy also containing THE CLOCK WINDER and SEARCHING FOR CALEB.

I loved CELESTIAL NAVIGATION. It's a haunting, and slightly depressing tale of life in a Baltimore boarding house from the early 1960's to the mid 70's based around the Pauling family.

It begins when Jeremy Pauling's mother dies, and his two sisters, Amanda and Laura, visit to see how he is coping. Jeremy is agoraphobic, probably somewhere on the autistic scale, and artistically inclined. He had been living with his mother almost as husband and wife, and they spent there days drinking cocoa and watching TV, only leaving the house when absolutely necessary.

Rooms are rented out to pay living expenses. A few older people and one medical student attending Johns Hopkins live in this row house in a declining section of the city of Baltimore.

Mary Tell and her daughter, Darcey move in. Mary has left her husband, Guy, to be with John Harris. Guy hates marry and will not give her a divorce and John is still married, and later his wife moves back in with him, yet he continues the affair with Mary. Mary is just as 'stuck' as Jeremy.

Jeremy falls in love with Mary and pledges his undying love. Mary is flabergasted and had no thoughts of romance, or even friendship, with Jeremy. However, I think that she continues with her flawed thinking- 'A' man is better than 'No' Man. Although they do not marry, she has five more children with Jeremy.

Jeremy started making two dimensional sketches, but branches out to textured works, and then sculptures. He uses bits and pieces of things lying around in the house.

Mildred Vinton is a woman who has lived in the house since Jeremy's mother was alive. This woman is from a large family and stayed on and watched over her mother as she was dying. Mildred loves the idea of 'privacy'. She only wants to be left alone so that she can finish a book with absolutely no distractions. She has found her true 'home' at the Pauling's townhouse.

Mildred is adept at 'reading' the people in the house, especially the relationship between Jeremy and Mary.
Mary has taken the children with her to live in a summer cabin owned by Jeremy's gallery owner, Brian O'donnell.  Mary is finally free to mary Jeremy, but he is too distracted to fulfill her only true wish. Although, Mary is also 'free' to live her life outside of the undo influence of any other person, and she is thrilled with her independence. We don't really know the exact nature of their relationship at the end of the novel, but I think that both have more or less accepted the shortcomings of each other, and they continue to have some sort of nurturing relationship.

In an unbelievably heroic act (for Jeremy), he takes a bus across the city to visit his family at the cabin. To anyone else, it would be almost nothing, but Jeremy's life has been severely limited by his agoraphobia and this is a monumental achievement.

In the end, Mildred Vinton and Jeremy live in the house almost identically to the way that Jeremy lived with his mother at the beginning of the novel.

While researching the novel (I wanted to decide which of the trilogy to start) I learned that many of Tyler's books are set in the Baltimore area of Roland Park. This was the first 'planned community' or suburban development designed to follow the street car lines (1890). This section of Baltimore South-West of Towson is also where the first shopping center was built.

The book's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestial_Navigation_(novel)

Monday, July 3, 2017

THE NEON RAIN by James Lee Burke (1st Dave Robicheaux series)

Finished Su 7/2/17

This is a trade paperback that I borrowed from the library at the Contemporary Books Club meeting last Wednesday evening.

Dave is single and working as a detective for the New Orleans Police. His partner is Clete Purcell and he lives on a houseboat. He's an alcoholic and working the twelve steps.

The novel opens as Dave visits a man about to executed. Dave helped this man with his alcoholism and the man has heard that there is a hit out on Dave. Later, while fishing in the Bayou he finds the body of a young black woman. She's an overdose victim, Dave thinks it murder, and the authorities do nothing. These two incidents kick off the action.

Crooked cops try to kidnap Dave and he gets the better of them. Annie, his future wife, drives by and they escape in her car. She is a social worker from Kansas, and it's later revealed that she has lost a baby while pregnant- seven months.She was saving her grandfather who was working the farm during a bad storm. A farm implement had fallen on him.

Three men invade and capture Dave and Annie while at Annie's apartment. They escape but Annie is assaulted by one of the men. Later, Clete kills that man for a ten thousand dollar pay off from the mob. He's now a crooked cop and at the end of the novel he leaves for Central America. He leaves a note saying that his wife can keep his toothbrush, and he didn't even bother to shut the doors of his car when he abandons it at the airport. Dave learns in a letter from Clete that he's working for the paramilitary (Contras) and says that they are all kids and anyone with a case of Clearasil could rule.

We meet Dave's half brother, Jimmie;  "Gentleman Jimmie". He owns a successful restaurant in New Orleans and he's a very popular 'give to get along kind of guy'. He entertains mobsters, but he is an ethical man.

Didi Gee (Dee Dee Giancano) is a three hundred pound gangster mafia leader who puts a hit on Jimmie. The government is going to shut down Gee's enterprise and they are going to subpoena Jimmie and Didi knows that Jimmie won't lie, so he's gotta go. The hit is staged so that Didi has an alibi because he has invited Dave to his restaurant for a meal- Dave is with the mobster at the time of the hit..
Later Dave attacks this man at his restaurant with a canvas bag filled with heavy metal objects.

The other villains are federal authorities who are working against the Sandinistas. A high ranking officer (retired general) is involved because of guilt over his son's involvement at My Lai- the area was known as 'Pinkville' by the American troops.

Dave is cleared of all charges as he was on unpaid leave for most of the novel, but he resigns from the NOPO and moves to New Iberia, where he grew up.


This is Burke's sixth novel, but the first of the Robicheaux series, and I can't wait to re-read the second in the series. They're all great!

From Library Journal at the book's page at amazon-

"New Orleans homicide cop Dave Robicheaux has a passion for fishing. While pursuing his hobby on a back country bayou, Robicheaux finds a body. His discovery pulls him into a network of small-time Mafiosi, Nicaraguan drug dealers, federal Treasury agents and retired two-star generals all involved in a plot to ship arms to the Nicaraguan contras. More interesting than the unraveling of this plot is Robicheaux himself Cajun, recovering alcoholic, practicing Catholic And his efforts to preserve his integrity in the face of provocation. Better still are Burke's evocative descriptions of New Orleans life both high and low. (The book is marred slightly by a resemblance to the Travis McGee series Robicheaux lives on a houseboat and has a penchant for color-laden metaphor. But Neon Rain is a well-crafted novel with a likable hero)"

- I don't know if I would agree with this observation. Travis is not as 'rough and tumble' as Dave. Dave's always on edge due to his alcoholism, and although Travis is no teetotaler, his drinking is not even in the same league as Dave's. Even when he is not drinking, Dave's evil, drunken angel is always just below the surface).

The morning after I finished the book, Mo 7/3/17, I checked the library website to see if HEAVEN'S PRISONERS, the second novel, was available in Ebook form. But, I found that it was available  to watch on Hoopla. I checked it out and watched it on the living room PC. I'm going to take advantage of this excellent library feature.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

BLACK CHERRY BLUES by James Lee Burke

Finished Fr 6/30/17 This is the third in the Dave Robicheaux series.
I borrowed this from the library as an Ebook- Axis 360

Most of the novel is set near Missoula, Montana.

Dixie Lee Pugh is a washed up Country/Blues musician that knew Dave when they were in college. He comes back into Dave's life struggling with his alcoholism and tells Dave that he heard two mean that he worked with admit to the murder of two men.

Dave reluctantly becomes involved. Dave confronts the two men at their motel and beats them very bloody with a length of chain. The stronger of the two men kills the other with a knife because he knows that Dave will take the heat for this murder.

This man and his partner work for a land leasing outfit that are buying land in Montana. They want to turn it into the new Lake Tahoe and they also want the natural minerals (gas, oil, whatever).

These two men kill two Indians in the AIM movement who didn't want the land leasers on their land.

While on bond, Dave and Alafair travel to Montana to try to find evidence that Dave didn't kill the land lease guy.

In Montana Dave runs into a low level mafia boss who runs the area. Mayhem ensues.

In the end of the novel Dave locates the bodies of the two men due to a dream. His new Indian girlfriend was murdered and she comes to him in the dream and tells him that the bodies are buried near a spring that would have allowed to bury the men even though the ground would have been frozen solid.

Dave, Alafair and Dixie Lee share a house in Montana. Dixie promises not to drink and he watches Alafair while Dave looks for answers.

Dave's old partner from the New Orleans Police Department, Clete Purcell, works for the mafia guys in Montana.

All of the Robicheaux series is Must Read stuff and this one is no exception. I've borrowed NEON RAIN, the first in the series from the library.

 From Publishers Weekly on the book's page at amazon-


"Burke pits a land-hungry oil company against a Blackfeet Indian reservation in a stunning novel that takes detective fiction into new imaginative realms. His Cajun sleuth, Dave Robicheaux, an ex-New Orleans cop featured in two previous novels, attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, has recurrent nightmares about his murdered wife, and cares for an adopted El Salvadoran refugee girl. When two American Indian activists disappear, Robicheaux's dogged investigation not only sets him on a collision course with Mafia thugs and oil interests, but also leads him into a romance with Darlene American Horse, his ex-partner's girlfriend. All the main characters in this darkly beautiful, lyric saga carry heavy emotional baggage, and Robicheaux's sleuthing is a simultaneous exorcism of demons of grief, loss, fear, rage, vengeance. Burke's fictional terrain--stretching from the Louisiana bayous to Montana's red cliffs and pine-dotted hills--is uniquely his own, yet also a microcosm of a multi-ethnic America. He writes from the heart and the gut."

Monday, June 26, 2017

THE BALLROOM by Anna Hope

Finished Su 6/25/17 The June, 2017 selection for the Contemporary Book Club

Ella Fay

John Mulligan

Dan Riley

Clem Church

Dr. Charles Fuller

Set in Northwestern England near Leeds. Yorkshire.

In broad strokes, this is a doomed love story between two inmates, Ella Fay and John Mulligan, in the Sharston Asylum in 1911.

Dr. Charles Fuller is the doctor who administers their treatment. He is deeply involved in the Eugenics Movement- deeply conflicted and probably a closeted gay.

At first he believes in Music Therapy, but gives up on this in favor of Eugenic principles.

Dan Riley is a strong, romantic character. An ex-sailor and he escapes when he decides that it's time for him to leave. Good friend to John Milligan.

Clem Church is a university student committed by her family. She loves to read, but Dr. Fuller decides that she is being harmed by 'expanding her mind'. She is able to read the letters between Ella and John. Ella is illiterate.

The novel begins with the end scene. Twenty years after John and Ella's release (John escapes, Ella is let go), their daughter reconnects with her father, John. He learns that Ella had died several years earlier but she never stopped hoping that she would reunite with the love of her life. And, John lets his daughter know that he always has been looking for his lost love, Ella.

The story is loosely based on the author's great great grandfather.

The actual asylum was called the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, then West Riding Mental Hospital, then High Royds Hospital. Finally closing in 2003. The location is West Riding, Yorkshire near the village of Menston.

A relatively easy read and I liked the story. I especially liked the real story of the Eugenics Movement that was popular at the time. Uncle Adolph took this idea and ran with it!


SUNSET LIMITED by James Lee Burke

Finished Su 6/25/17

This was an E-book that I got from the library, but I didn't finish it before they recalled it. I tried to re-check it out, but I guess someone was waiting for it. I put it on reserve, and in about a week I got finally it.

The title refers to the name of a train, The Sunset Limited, that took Dave Robicheaux's mother and her new boyfriend to Hollywood when Dave was a young boy. He was supposed to go, but his mother never sent for him and she came back in disgrace.

Summary of the storyline taken from a review at Publishers Weekly-


"unsolved murder 40 years ago of union organizer Jack Flynn. The story encompasses at least eight disparate but interlocking subplots: the crooked money behind a movie directed by Flynn's son Cisco; the hold that ex-con Swede Boxleiter has on Cisco's photojournalist sister, Megan; Willie ""Cool Breeze"" Broussard's theft of a mob warehouse; his wife Ida's suicide 20 years ago; the shooting of two white brothers who raped a black woman; alcoholic Lisa Terrebonne's haunted childhood; her wealthy, arrogant father's ties to Harpo Scruggs, a vicious murderer; the post-Civil War killing by freed slaves of a Terrebonne servant. Hired assassins, snitches, lawmen and FBI agents weave through the novel. Dave and his partner Detective Helen Soileau find the connections, but Dave knows that in the ongoing class war, the worst criminals wield too much influence to pay for their crimes."

This is the tenth book (out of twenty) in the Dave Robicheaux series.
I'm reading BLACK CHERRY BLUES, third in the series, now.

You can't beat the eloquent prose description and the delightful characters in these books.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THE CROSSING Michael Connelly

Finished Tu 6/20/17

I just read THE BURNING ROOM which is the novel in the Bosch series before this one. I ordered it on Amazon and got it in just a few days in excellent hardback condition.

Harry Bosch has left the LA PD and has filed suit for unlawful firing using his half brother, Micky Haller. Haller has convinced Harry to help him in freeing an innocent black man accused of a vicious rape and murder. DNA was found in and on the woman, but he still maintains his innocence.

The title, THE CROSSING, refers to Harry's belief that he is 'crossing over to the other side', becoming one of the 'bad guys'. Before, he was upholding the 'law of the land', and now' he's just getting scumbags off. However, he justifies his quandary by realising that if the authorities have the wrong guy, then he'll find the right guy.

Two plotlines-

1) Ellis and Long, two corrupt vice detectives are running a sting operation. They have two hookers who have sex with wealthy clients. The detectives tape the encounter and then blackmail the victims.

2) A popular elected official and wife of a sheriff is brutally raped and murdered. The police have arrested a black excon, DG ('dragon'- police slang for drag queen; initials of Haller's client). He can't reveal his alibi because he his happily married, yet a closeted gay. He was seeing a transvestite on the night of the murder and this man was also killed.

The case turns on an expensive watch that was given to the murdered woman by her husband. The sheriff legally bought the watch as an Xmas gift for his wife and when the wife turned it in for repair she learned that it was not registered in her name. The watch was originally owned by a wealthy plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills. This man was being blackmailed by Ellis and Long and he reported the watch stolen and fenced the watch and gave the money to the two corrupt cops.

Ellis and Long kill the woman, the transvestite, the plastic surgeon, and attempt to kill Haller's investigator. This man is a Harley rider and was run off the road by the two cops in the opening scene of the novel.

The DNA from Haller's client was planted on the woman by the two cops. They got a condom with Haller's client's semen. They were using the transvestite as an informant.

Haller 'wins' the case when he discloses CTE (condom trace elements) were found in the DNA sample. This shows that the DNA could have been planted at the scene.

Harry maintains that working for his brother was just a 'one off', but I doubt it. He ends the novel saying that he will spend his retirement rebuilding a 1950 Harley motorcycle.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

BLACK WHITE AND JEWISH Autobiography of a Shifting Self by Rebecca Walker

Finished Fr 6/16/17 This trade paperback I found abandoned on the Nautilus floor at Club West. The book at been there for over a week so I liberated it; late Spring, 2017

The author is the daughter of Alice Walker, Pulitzer, THE COLOR PURPLE, and Melvyn Roseman Leventhal, a civil rights attorney. They married in 1967 and Rebecca was born in 1969, and she retained the last name of Leventhal until late in her teen years (this is covered in the book).

At her birth the Leventhal's were living in Jackson, MI where Alice Walker was a writer in residence and Mel was working in the Civil Rights Movement. The couple divorced in 1976 and Rebecca lived with her parents in a split custody arrangement- two years with each parent. That struck me as very odd, and I don't think I've ever heard of two years in one household and then two years in another.

Rebecca lived in-
Jackson, MI
Washington, DC
San Francisco, CA
Bronx, NY
In her late teens she traveled extensively with her mother and on her own. A visit to Bali is mentioned in the book.

Mel married Judy and Judy became Rebecca's step mother. This was a Jewish household and after the Bronx, they settled in Larchmont, NY which is an upper middle class suburb.

The book documents her feeling of 'not fitting in'. She was too Black for the Whites, and too White for the Blacks.

When she was born, it was illegal to have an interracial baby, but her parents thought that Rebecca would inherit the best of both worlds, however this apparently didn't happen. I guess Rebecca understands their optimism, but realizes that it was a bit misguided.

For marrying a black woman her father was disowned and for marrying a white man her mother was called a traitor.

The core thesis of the book-

"What do we become when we put down the scripts written by history and memory, when each person before us can be seen free of the cultural or personal narrative we've inherited or devised?" p.307

Alice Walker's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Walker

Rebecca Walker's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_Walker

The book at amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Black-White-Jewish-Autobiography-Shifting/dp/1573229075

Friday, June 16, 2017

THE BURNING ROOM A Harry Bosch Novel by Michael Connelly

Finished We 6/14/17

This is a trade paperback that I bought at this year's library book sale.
This might be Harry Bosch's last time with the LA police. The novel ends with his suspension and it might be more trouble than it's worth to continue. I ordered the next in the series from Amazon and it looks like Bosch will team up with his half brother, Micky Haller, a Los Angeles lawyer, and his new, young, Hispanic partner, Lucia Soto will assist them.

Harry has been assigned a rookie, Lucy Soto. She is a new detective and was recently involved in a gunfight where she held off the bad guys until a SWAT Team arrived. He's going to accept a Lump Sum Pension within the year (DROP- Deferred Retirement Option Plan)  and it's department policy that 'the oldest' get partnered with 'the youngest'. He is working in the Open/Unsolved Cases Unit.

Two Cases-
1) A Mariachi band member was shot and paralyzed ten years before and he has finally died. The coroner rules that his death was due to the bullet, so the DA will look for a murder conviction, but it's up to Harry and Lucy to find the culprit.

They learn that the man who died was not the intended victim. The trumpet player was the actual target because he was having an affair with a very rich and politically connected 'Concret King'.


2) Lucy was almost killed in a day care fire when she was five. Harry and Lucy learn that this fire was set as a diversionary tactic to draw police away from a bank robbery. 'Mother's Day'- When the bank must have the most money on hand because the welfare checks have been received by 'the mothers'.

The perps are the two gunmen that killed many law enforcement personnel in the real 1997 shooting. These men essentially were more well equipped than the police and outgunned law enforcement. Harry was actually involved in this incident. He guarded the gunmen's abandoned car. He notices the accelerant that was used in the daycare fire.

Link at wikipedia-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout

In the novel a woman was involved in setting up the robbery and coverup fire. This woman was so deeply affected that she disappears and becomes a nun. She donates her part of the robbery money to pay off the loan on an obscure order where she lives and takes the name of one of the children who died in the fire. Before she can be questioned by Harry and Lucy, she is killed by drug cartel members in Mexico where the nun was on a mission of mercy.

The reason that Harry has been suspended is that he picked the lock on a captain's office to get into files to obtain information. This man had security cameras set up to protect his collection of valuable pens.

Anything by Connelly is always worth a look and the fact that I ordered the next in the series shows how I feel about the books. Although, it seems to me that the earlier books about Bosch seemed to be a little more involved and better written. Has Connelly 'dumbed down' his writing style or is it just me?

The book at amazon-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout

Monday, June 12, 2017

THE IRRESISTIBLE REVOLUTION- living as an ordinary radical by Shane Claiborne

I bought this at the library book sale on Sa 6/10/17 and it was the first one that I read. I bought nine books; five hardbacks and four trades (this book was a trade). Two a piece for the hardbacks, and a buck for the rest. There were no actual paperbacks on sale this year.

Finished Su 6/11/17.
I am not much for religious books, but this one was terrific. It's Jesus's economic philosophy applied to the contemporary world. It's not necessary to accept any divine interpretation, but you can focus on what he said in the bible. This is NOT what is normally taught about Jesus or Christianity, and I'm sure that this would not be recommended over at Calvary Academy, but I will definitely recommend this to Janny.

Jesus only made twelve references to sexuality, but made thousands of observations about income disparity. Funny, how this is largely ignored by The Church.

The writer is involved with an organization called The Simple Way

http://www.thesimpleway.org/

the author's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shane_Claiborne

The book at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Irresistible_Revolution

Jim Wallis at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Wallis

THIEVES' PARADISE by Eric Jerome Dickey

This is one of my hardback novels that I got from QPB in February, 2004, and according to the flyleaf, I finished it on Fr 2/27/04 a day off.

I refinished Sa 6/10/17 after the library book sale

I really liked the book, and although it dealt with noirish characters, it is not a noir novel.

A Black Novel. This novel produced several novels based on some of the characters in this book.

The author's page at wikipedia-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Jerome_Dickey

It's kind of a love story between a 25 year old man, and a woman in her thirties. And, both of them have roots in the criminal world. Not really bad people, just trying to stay afloat. Dante (Cool Hand) Black and Pam.

Pam is an actress/ waitress. She's waiting for her big break, but running out of time. If you haven't made it by your twenties, you're about out of it. She feels that if she can come up with six thousand for a 'tummy tuck' she'll have her shot.

Dante has been laid off from a computer tech job and his criminal career is only temporary. He drives an old car that he calls Oscar.

Jackson is Dante's friend and this man is being destroyed in a bad child custody/ divorce. One of the novel's main themes is that a man should 'protect his sperm'. You cannot allow yourself to be trapped in a bad and expensive relationship over a sexual mistake.

Jackson is the 'weak character' and rats out the group to try to make the money for his child support for Robin.

Big Slim owns a poolroom where the cast hangout. This man was a blues guitarist and he was tortured (mangled hands) by the KKK and the love of his life was murdered. Ugly, always drunk, extreme body odor.

Nazario is a violent criminal who feels that Dante owes him a ring. Dante is chased by this man throughout the novel.



Scamz is kind of like The Devil or one who morally tempts.  He's very rich and has two young sisters as his girlfriends; Arizona and Sierra. One of them works at Wells Fargo bank and she can get account numbers.

Scamz is the man who runs the criminal organization and his name is  'Scamz'. His people act as real estate agents and rent and re-rent an apartment or luxury condo numerous times, then disappear. Also, sell phony credit cards in bulk.

I really enjoyed the book, and it's not too deep- an 'airport' or 'summer' read, but worth the effort.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

THE MOONSHINE WAR by Elmore Leonard

Finished We 6/7/17

This was one of my hardback books that was on the book cases in my bedroom. It is a large book and part of a trilogy called ELMORE LEONARD'S DOUBLE DUTCH TREAT. Also contains, GOLD COAST and CITY PRIMEVAL.

Set in 1931 in a rural area of Kentucky near Marlett, Kentucky.
Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933.

Son Martin lives with his man servant/partner, Aaron. His wife and daughter died in the Flu Pandemic of 1918 while Son was overseas in WWI.

Son and his father were known for their excellent moonshine whiskey. Son is rumored to have a couple of thousand gallons of whiskey that has aged for seven years and would be worth a lot of money.

Frank Long was in the service with Son. Long is an prohibition agent who learned of Son's hidden whiskey and he decides to take it. He'll do one wrong thing and live a happy life.

Long teams with Dr. Taulbee, an ex dentist who served time for bootlegging and sex offences. Miley is his girlfriend. She is a hooker. And, Dual a sadistic gunman.

The gang tries to negotiate with Martin, but he refuses, and the novel becomes the story of this standoff at Martin's home.

Nobody knows where the whiskey is hidden or if it is a fact. Son has a light above his father's grave. This is where Son has buried the whiskey. It is also wired with explosives.

In the final scene Son lures the gang above the gravesite to 'see' all the kegs of liquor and he blows them all up. And, losing his fortune.

The writing by Leonard is superb, and according to the flyleaf I've read the other two novels in the trilogy, but it was over ten years ago. I plan to reread them soon.

Monday, June 5, 2017

NEVER GO BACK by Lee Child

Finished Su 6/4/17  Borrowed from the library on Kindle. I think that I will always keep something 'lite' on the phone so that I can read while I'm working out. Next on the phone is a novel by James Lee Burke, and although Burke can write circles around Child, Child's plotlines never fail to be captivating and engaging. Jack Reacher is an iconic figure within this genre of literature.

This is the next in the series after A WANTED MAN

Reacher is charged with a murder that happened over twenty years ago and he is told that he fathered a daughter when he was stationed in Korea as a young soldier.

1) Reacher is charged with beating a Black drug dealer, and this man later died of his injuries. He left a deposition stating that Reacher did it. He didn't.

2) Reacher goes to LA and does meet a fourteen year old girl who may or may not be his kid. She has many characteristics that are unique to Reacher, but he never met the girl's mother, and this woman had never been to Korea.

He travels back to Virginia to meet a woman who he was attracted to. This woman is an officer and is doing his old job. She is under indictment and in jail for taking a $100,000 bribe.

They get together, go on the lamb, and clear themselves.

The evil plot is masterminded by an opium ring that caters to rich, old and powerful men in Washington, DC.

From the novel's page at wikipedia-


"Former military cop Jack Reacher makes it all the way from snowbound South Dakota to his destination in northeastern Virginia, near Washington, D.C.: the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. The old stone building is the closest thing to a home he ever had.

Reacher is there to meet—in person—the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner, so far just a warm, intriguing voice on the phone.

But it isn’t Turner behind the CO’s desk. And Reacher is hit with two pieces of shocking news, one with serious criminal consequences, and one too personal to even think about.

When threatened, you can run or fight.

Reacher fights, aiming to find Turner and clear his name, barely a step ahead of the army, and the FBI, and the D.C. Metro police, and four unidentified thugs.

Combining an intricate puzzle of a plot and an exciting chase for truth and justice, Lee Child puts Reacher through his paces—and makes him question who he is, what he’s done, and the very future of his untethered life on the open road."


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A WANTED MAN by Lee Child (A Jack Reacher Novel)

Finished Th 5/25/17  From the library Axis 360

Loved the book and was just trying to 'lighten it up' after wading through GINNY GALL.

From the page at amazon-

"Four people in a car, hoping to make Chicago by morning. One man driving, eyes on the road. Another man next to him, telling stories that don't add up. A woman in the back, silent and worried. And next to her, a huge man with a broken nose, hitching a ride east to Virginia.

An hour behind them, a man lies stabbed to death in an old pumping station. He was seen going in with two others, but he never came out. He has been executed, the knife work professional, the killers vanished. Within minutes, the police are notified. Within hours, the FBI descends, laying claim to the victim without ever saying who he was or why he was there.

All Reacher wanted was a ride to Virginia. All he did was stick out his thumb. But he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. He has tied himself to a massive conspiracy that makes him a threat - to both sides at once.

In Lee Child's white-hot thriller, nothing is what it seems, and nobody is telling the truth. As the tension rises, the twists come fast and furious, keeping readers guessing and gasping until the explosive finale."

The final scenes in the missile silo in rural Kansas is really a bank for terrorists. Paper copies of all the accounts; nothing is online.


LEARNED-

100 divided by 81 is '1234567890 to eternity'

You can say all the numbers from one to one hundred without using the letter 'A'.

BROUGHT TO OUR SENSES by Kathleen H. Wheeler

Bought on Kindle and finished Mo 5/29/17, Memorial Day. The author came to the May meeting of the Contemporary Book Club. She talked a little about the book, although she did not want to speak before the group, she just wants to become a member. I thought I would give it a chance, and I loved it!

Link to amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Brought-Our-Senses-Family-Novel-ebook/dp/B01KKGQSAY/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1496147776&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=amazon+books+kathleen+wheeler+brought+us+together

Krause Family Saga. Set in Springfield, IL.  Mel-O-Cream, Gabatoni's. Janice's final nursing home is in Litchfield, Il.

Janice- Born in 1930, Nebraska. Grim and unhappy childhood. Married to Ron during the Korean conflict.

Tom- oldest and only son. Janice wants him to distance him from the family and leave the conflicts behind and have successful life. He's at least twelve years older than the youngest, and probably the closest to his father because he was around when Janice's marriage was still viable.

Failed marriage to Audrey, but clicks with Jane. Two kids, Vicky and Evan

Jessica- When Janice kicks Ron out, she becomes the mother. Janice must go back to work and Duke, a small business owner set in Belleville, Il, but has a satellite office in Springfield and Janice helps to run it. Jessica Gets pregnant and has an early marriage just to escape The Krause Conflicts.

Failed marriage to Vince, but has four kids that she raises on her own. Jack, Megan, Justin, Becca.

Terri- 'Carrot Top'. The Krause Rebel; acts out and very resentful and violent to Elizabeth. Terri sees that Elizabeth is the favorite and fights for attention. Janice puts her in an all girls Catholic school and she gets expelled; smoking cigarettes, taunting the nuns, and swearing. She does get her GED, but doesn't attend to commencement.  

No husband, but has two daughters that she raises on her own; Ashley and Amanda.

Elizabeth- The youngest and the favorite. Janice learns early that Elizabeth is extremely intelligent but Ron feels that she is destined to become a housewife and special schooling would be a waste. Janice never mentions this until Elizabeth is in the the eight grade and qualifies for an advanced math class. Terri is seething.

The most successful marriage. John is a few years older and has an advanced degree. He is stable and supportive. Two daughters, Claire and Katie.

Early in her career Janice begins an affair with Duke. Everyone knows or suspects, except Elizabeth. Janice hates Ron, but really drove him away. He knew of the affair because he read a love letter in their lock box that Janice wrote to Duke. Elizabeth believed Janice that Ron was a cad and never learns the truth until Janice is too far gone with Alzheimer's.

When Janice is losing her memory she becomes kind of involved with Harold. He is Elizabeth's father in law (John's father) and feels that the Krause family is too hard on Janice. She's just fine but only experiencing normal 'senior moments'. He tries to gain legal control of Janice. The Krause's win.

On a trip to Las Vegas, Janice wakes up and doesn't know where she is or who is Harold. Then Harold realizes that there is much more going on with Janice.

QUESTIONS-

Where was Duke when Harold was wooing Janice?

Early in the disease, Janice has weird eating impulses. At a wedding reception for one of the daughters, she eats chocolate cake with salt, and eats potato salad sandwiches. Is this a symptom of the disease. (My father's  compulsion to eat sugar substitutes with soup or chili).

How is normal dementia different from Alzheimer's?

I loved the novel and thought it would take a long time to read. I saw the 'family tree' at the beginning and I thought that I would be lost, confused, and dejected by page twelve, but this was not the case. I raced through the book and finished in just a couple of days. When the novel ends, I wished that I could continue learning about the characters, and this very rarely happens to me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

FACE THE MUSIC: A LIFE EXPOSED by Paul Stanley

Finished Tu 5/23/17  (Axis 360 from the library ebook selection)

the book at amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Face-Music-Exposed-Paul-Stanley/dp/0062114042

"Before Kiss, Paul Stanley was in a local band, Rainbow (not to be confused with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow) and was also a member of Uncle Joe and Post War Baby Boom. Through a mutual friend of Gene Simmons', Stanley joined Simmons' band Wicked Lester in the early 1970s. The band recorded an album in 1972, but as of 2009 it has never been officially released (although songs from the album appeared on Kiss's 2001 box set). Wicked Lester soon fell apart and Stanley and Simmons placed ads for a drummer and a guitarist in various New York papers. This resulted in Peter Criss and Ace Frehley joining the group, and they named themselves Kiss. Kiss released their self-titled debut in February 1974.
Stanley's persona in Kiss was "The Starchild" utilizing one star over his right eye. For a brief time, Stanley changed his make-up character to "The Bandit", with a "Lone Ranger" style mask design make-up pattern. This make-up design would only be used during a few mid-1973 shows, soon to be replaced by the now famous "The Starchild" make-up design and persona. In his book Sex Money Kiss, Gene Simmons admits that Stanley was the driving force for Kiss during the makeup-free 1980s, while Simmons was feeling lost without his demon makeup and was distanced from the band while attempting to launch a film career."
It seems that Stanley has a real vendetta against Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. He really has nothing good to say about either one of them- as people or musicians. For my money, Paul doesn't seem like an easy day at the beach himself. 
I was reading this while reading GINNY GALL, which was a pretty difficult read. This was my 'Day's Off' reading, but I thought the book was way too long. Never boring, yet I felt that it could have been much shorter. Maybe I'm just not that enamored with the band, Kiss . For example, Keith Richard's autobiography was probably longer, but I felt it was very justified because 'The Stones are The Stones', whereas, 'Kiss are just Kiss'. While I was reading Stanley's book I downloaded Kiss's Greatest on Hoopla, and although I liked the music more than I thought I would, it was still very, very rudimentary and simple. I've always felt that Kiss's music should be able to be played (and mastered) by any student of Rock with just a few month's worth of lessons (guitar, bass, drums, and maybe keyboard/ organ).
Stanley complains that they were never taken seriously by critics. He seems to feel that when someone like Bruce Springsteen would do something outrageous it would be called iconic, yet when Kiss would try something bold or original, critics would write it off as a gimmick.  This is ridiculous. It's like saying Louie- Louie and a Brandenburg Concerto are both music so they are both the same. And, to compare the lyrics of a Kiss song to a song written by Springsteen is truly night and day. Kiss are not even in the same league! I think that this is much more than personal taste, but some things are just corny and clownish, and some Rock can really change your life and move your soul. And, for me, Kiss never did it. Not then, and not now.  

GINNY GALL by Charlie Smith

Finished Tu 5/23/17

The Contemporary Book Club selection for May, 2017

No one liked this book, and I felt it was like a record that is critically acclaimed, and you put it in your collection, but you never listen to it.

The author is primarily known as a poet and this was not his best known novel.

'Ginny Gall' is Black early 20th century slang for a part of Hell

Delvin Walker abandoned by his whore mother. She killed a man (maybe?) and took off.
Delvin is basically raided in a whorehouse.

Delvin is befriended by the local Black mortician, Cornelius Oliver. Delvin becomes a kind of apprentice.

Delvin and another boy are attacked by a gang of white boys. Delvin's friend pulls a gun, fires, and they believe that they hit one of the boys. Delvin takes off and goes on the road. He's basically peripatetic all of his life.

Delvin leaves a girlfriend who is going to college. Celia Cumberland is the love of his life, but it doesn't come to anything.

Delvin meets and teams up with a traveling Black museum curator, Professor Caramel.
Delvin winds up in jail and so does the professor. They get separated.

Delvin rides the rails with a group of Blacks, and a white boy steps on his hand during a Black/ White fight. This action starts a brawl between the two groups. After the fight, two white girls say that the Blacks raped them; Lucille Blaine and Hazel Fear. Later the train is halted and the Blacks are taken to jail.

This is during the 1930's and the best they can hope for is life behind bars.

Lucille is filled with rage and singles Delvin out as one of the prime assailants.

Delvin is sentenced and basically they threw away the key. He escapes- he escapes from prison and jail numerous times.

In the final scene he comes back to the whorehouse to find out what happened to his mother. He learns that she is dead, but some of the whores remember her.

Lucille shows up and Delvin strikes her. The action is unclear.
'Ghost' one of Delvin's friends from the funeral home is there.

NOTES-

Very long paragraphs. Long and confusing descriptions. The plot was lost among the picturesque passages. Some of it was well written, but I don't think that it worked as a novel. It was the most unpopular books that the club has read in a long time. I think that I appreciated what the author was trying to do rather than what he actually did. Sections were beautiful and poetic, but didn't support the strong and powerful story.

Kinda like SARGENT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND- groundbreaking album, it's in your collection, but you never listen to it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

THE SPARROW by Mary Doria Russell

Finished Su 5/14/17   I ordered this book on the recommendation of one of the members in the Contemporary Book Club. I ordered it at the April, 2017 meeting from Amazon.

Told in flashbacks. Father Emilio Sandoz is the only survivor of a Jesuit mission to the planet Rakhat in the Alpha Centauri galaxy. Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico heard 'singing' from 'the stars'.

Four Jesuit priests
A young astronomer
An elderly husband and wife; engineer/ physician
Female ex-child prostitute, 'indentured' Computer expert. A 'vulture'- If you want to learn all a person knows, she will talk with the person and extract the information.

Priests-
DW Yarbrough- Captain of the mission. Ugly, gay, witty.
Emilio Sandoz- He is the primary storyline, and only human survivor of the mission. Expert linguist.
Marc Robichaux- artist
Alan Pace- musician


Anne and George Edwards- In their sixties and Liberal Do Gooders. Very moral yet bristle at the very idea that only God could create a moral universe. 'Don't need to be scared or threatened into doing the right thing'.
Jimmy Quinn- He is a very tall astronomer who first heard the 'singing from the skies'.
Sofia Mendes- The Jesuits bought out her contract so that she could be a part of the mission.

Interesting idea-
The homeless children problem is taken care of through Privatization. Wealthy patrons sponsor children's education and then take a percentage of their future wages.

'Leonardo Da Vinci is probably the last human who had  clear grasp of all the technology that he used'.

The two species of life on the Varakhai planet (Rakhat)
Runa- This species are bred for food. They are like pets. They only exist to prevent the ecosystem from going out of balance. This is the species that the humans meet first.

Jana'ata- The dominant species. When the humans introduce crop cultivation they thought that they would help the Runa, but it caused a genocide. Sandoz feels responsible for this. He also was used as a prostitute. Not entirely for sex, but kind of a 'gift'. His hands are destroyed, but the aliens were trying to make him beautiful.

Review-
http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-679-45150-1

wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sparrow_(novel)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

READY PLAYER ONE: A Novel by Ernest Cline

For the whole time I've been reading the book, I have been calling it 'Game Player One'....why?

Explanation for the title-
On the eighties coin operated video machines the phrase, Ready Player One is what appeared when you deposited your quarter.

Finished Tu 5/9/17.

This book was recommended to me by Shane Miller, the contractor who is remodeling my kitchen. When he was telling me about the novel I found it on Amazon and then noticed that the library had it on Axis 360. I downloaded it before we finished talking about it. I'm really going to enjoy the library's ebooks.




"READY PLAYER ONE takes place in the not-so-distant future--the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Owen Watts (WOW) it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday’s fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. Stuffed to the gills with action, puzzles, nerdy romance, and 80s nostalgia, this high energy cyber-quest will make geeks everywhere feel like they were separated at birth from author Ernest Cline".


Set in a dystopian world of the future, 2045. Due to neglect and overwhelming problems, the 'real world' is ignored and most people live primarily in the virtual world of OASIS. Visors and haptic gloves are used to seamlessly interact with the virtual world.

James Halliday and a man named Morgan co-founded the virtual world of OASIS. When Halliday dies without an heir, he leaves all of his billions to the finder of an 'Easter Egg' within OASIS. The winner must successfully complete three stages or gates.

1.) RPO, 2.) the Jade Key, and 3.) the Crystal Key

The game has been on for five years and Wade Watts, a poor kid who lives in a vertical trailer park (stacks) outside of Oklahoma City finds the key to the first gate.

THE PROTAGONISTS-
Perzival (Wade Watts)
Aesch (H)
Ar3tmise
Two Japanese brothers (not really related, but 'brothers by game')


'gunters' The hunters for the Easter Egg.

'IOI'- The international Internet Service Provider and if they find the egg and get the billions they plan to monetize (introduce advertizing and charge for websites) the virtual world of OASIS and thus make it available only to the rich.

'The Sixers'- These are the army of hunters working for the IOI. Most are indentured servants to IOI and they use their employee numbers for their surnames.

The big reveal-
Ar3timise is a girl and she's just as beautiful as Wade imagined, but she has a large Port-wine stain on her face. Wade could not care less.

Aesch (He thought that his friend's name began with an 'H') Aesch is not male but a large, Afro-American lesbian. But Wade and Aesch are still 'brothers'.

He splits the winnings with his friends.

Monday, May 8, 2017

THE WEIGHT OF WATER by Anita Shreve

Finished Sa 5/6/17   Borrowed from Janny

Two stories; Two couples and a child are on a sailing boat. A double murder that happened on March 5. 1873 on Smuttynose, an island ten miles off the New Hampshire coast.

Jean- the female photographer who is on the boat as part of an assignment for the murders.
Thomas- Jean's husband; poet/professor.
Billie- Their ten year old daughter

Rich- Thomas's brother; captain of the sailing boat
Adaline- Beautiful model.

'Dominant Theme'- Jean suspects that Thomas and Adaline are having an affair. This is never resolved and it's heavily influenced by her paranoid point of view.
Feeling of ominous foreboding and/or dread.

This storyline ends with a severe storm. Adaline is washed overboard, but rescued. Billie is washed over, and her body is never found- only her life jacket.

'2nd Storyline'

Maren Honvedt is the witness to the murders and sole survivor. The manuscript that Jean has reveals that was written by Maren, and it's actually a confession. It is written in 1899 as she is dying.

John Honvedt- Her husband

Evan- Maren's brother. Maren has had an incestous affair with him, yet this is only hinted (rather strongly). It happened as their mother was dying and the incident left her unable to have children- something physical or psychological.

Anethe- Evan's beautiful wife. Kinda spacey.

Karen- Maren's older sister. Never really liked Maren and she witnesses Maren and Anethe together and accuses Maren of a lesbian relationship. "First you had an incestial relationship with are brother and now this"!

Similarities with the two storylines-

Both Maren and Jean are isolated; Jean on boat, Maren on the island.
Both surprised and shock be an unexpected death;

I like this novel a lot, but I still prefer ALL HE EVER WANTED.

I have put the movie from 2001 in my que. I had seen it and rated it five stars.


RECKLESS by Chrissie Hynde

(Axis 360)

Finished Sa 5/6/17

Loved the book and listened to numerous interviews with her. She never reveals anything about her personal life. Two children, but I'm not even sure if they are boys or girls. A daughter (I think) by Ray Davies, and the only thing that she mentions of this relationship is that they always fight. Over what? And, he was a musical idol to her since she was a young teenager and she finally becomes involved with him, yet she never mentions him.

Lemmy important for her career
Malcolm Mclaren and Vivienne Westwood friends and important figures
Must always keep moving
Some years of high school in Mexico
Spent time in Paris after high school

Very much a militant vegetarian

The bass player, Pete Farndon is expelled from the band for drug abuse. Three days later, the guitarist, James Honeyman-Scott dies of a cocaine related death. Ironic.

More of a fan than a musician. Saw most of the sixties bands.

A big deal was made of her rape. She got wasted on quaaludes and hangs out with bikers. She tries to take some responsibility for this, and the feminists took her to task. They feel that she somehow is condoning the bikers actions because she voluntarily put herself in a dangerous position.

Akron Ohio native

'The VegiTerranean' was the name of her vegan restaurant in Akron.

Married to Ray Davis, then Jim Kerr of Simple Minds. Then, an artist named Lucho Brieva. None of this info was in the book, but I found it on the internet.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

AT THEIR OWN GAME by Frank Zafiro (Kindle)

This book was on my Kindle and I must have gotten it when I first signed on, but I don't remember how or why. I'm really sold on the ebook experience, and this is only the beginning.

Finished Mo 5/1/17

Frank Zafiro is the pen name of Frank Scalise. He spent many years with the Spokane, Washington police department and has been a writer since the early 90's. He's also a big fan of hockey- as a player and a fan.

A hard-boiled noir thriller that's a quick and compelling read. Lots of twists, and they're not really unexpected turns in the plot, but complete and unexpected character revelations. Nobody is who they seems to be.

Characters aren't fully developed, but the shocking character revelations are the point of the book. Absolutely no complaints and the book has the feel of a really fantastic graphic novel.

From the book's page at amazon-

"Jake Stankovic has been flying below the radar for years, dealing safely in stolen property crime with his two-man crew. But times are tough, so he decides to step up to the big money with a drug deal. Everything that can go wrong, does. The deal goes bad, a vengeful detective sets his sights on Jake, one of his crew might be a turncoat, and a woman from a long past affair suddenly reappears. All of this would be complicated enough on its own, but for Jake, it's even worse.

The woman is the detective's ex-wife.

And Jake Stankovic used to be a cop. He now is a dealer in used products on the internet and also a dealer in illegal merchandise- 'a fence'. His old girlfriend, Helen (the detective's wife) comes back into his life and convinces Frank that it is time to branch out into the drug game with her connection. Both his partners turn on him, and the novel ends when he kills Helen after he learns that she isn't on his side either.

Now Jake must face new problems and old vendettas in an all-in proposition with lives on the line. He has to find a way to get his money back, keep the girl, and beat everyone involved...At Their Own Game".

The primary rule for a cop and this principle must never be broken- Do Not sleep with another cop's wife, but Jake does. This detective frames him for a crime that he didn't commit, Frank goes to prison, and when he comes out, he works the other side of the law with a couple of partners, Brent and Matt.
The Frame-
One day while off duty Frank walks by a store and notices two men fighting. He breaks up the fight and in the process, he breaks one of their noses. The man with the broken nose turns out to be the security guard for the store who was in the process of trying to stop a shoplifter. The police (egged on by the detective that has it in for Frank) make the case that Frank was a partner with the shoplifter and in on the theft.

Jake Stankovic (Stank)
Brent/ Matt
Helen

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I DREAMED I WAS A VERY CLEAN TRAMP by Richard Hell (Axis 360)

This is the first book that I've read from the library's ebook selection. I took my tablet to the April, 2017 meeting of the Contemporary Book Club and one of the librarians downloaded the Axis 360 app. I had it on the device, but she said that it probably needed to be redownloaded for possible updates. Now it works just fine.

I finished the book early on the morning of Su 4/30/17. This was after over four inches of rain and the newly remodeled downstairs area flooded. God Save The Shop Vac!!

Although the book only covers Richard Meyers life up to the early 80's he seems to be an insightful and thoughtful individual. Just as he grew out of the poetry scene of the early 70's, it seems that he also has left the music scene behind, and is now (for a couple of decades) part of the literary establishment.

Born in 1949 (so was I and Arthur 'Killer' Kane) and he spent his early years in the white suburbs of Lexington, Ky. His father was a Jewish behavioral psychologist who died when he was seven. He has a sister a year and a half younger, and after his father died his mother went back to school and received a PHD.

A grandmother lived in NYC and they visited her frequently, so this might have been where he picked up his love of New York.

I loved that he mentioned caps and cap guns. I remember them well; and Captain Kangaroo.

Interesting recollection- Just before his father died, Richard and some friends were going to run away and live in the caves of Kentucky. His father discovered his plan, but instead of getting mad, he drove Richard to the meeting place to show him that his friends wouldn't go through with it. He was right.

The title is from the story that he wrote as a kid about this adventure with his father.

He believes that Punk Rock, and rock in general, are the province of the young. Passion and reckless indifference to 'what's supposed to be' trumps musicianship. I don't know why it can't be both; striking and different, yet musically competent and sublime.

Loved Romilar and BETWEEN THE BUTTONS.

The NY Punk Rock Scene of the seventies was really small and interconnected. Many of the girlfriends became wives and girlfriends of other prominent musicians.

He's a big fan of Dee Dee Ramone, but I don't think that he ever mentioned Joey.

He and Tom met at Sanford. A college preparatory boarding school in Delaware. They ran away to Florida. Started a fire in Alabama while camping, police were called and they were sent back. He decided that school was not for him and he wanted to go to NYC. His mother agreed to let him go only if he saved up a couple of hundred dollars. He did.

He was involved with various poetry magazines before and during his career in music.

He learned bass when he met Verlaine. He decided on bass because it had less strings than a guitar.

Bob Quine sounds like someone who was radically different. He was a bald lawyer who dressed like a yuppie on the skids and was very insecure.

I'm listening to DESTINY STREET and BLANK GENERATION on Youtube and I love it; "The Kid With the Disposable Head"and "Love Comes In Spurts", also an excellent cover of Them's, "I Can Only Give You Everything".

Although he never really admits it, drugs and alcohol seem to really have prevented him from reaching his full potential. Many drug addled artistic characters seem to be able to skate through to something great, but, in his case, I'm left with the feeling that he could have accomplished so much more. Maybe he's done it in his writing. I'm going to check it out.

He portrays Tom Verlaine (Tom Miller) as an egotistical control freak. The book ends when they both meet accidentally more than thirty years later in a used book store; "Did you know that Plato was from Pluto"?








Ripped from his bio at Goodreads-

"Born in 1949, Richard Meyers was shipped off to a private school for troublesome kids in Delaware, which is where he met Tom (Verlaine) Miller. Together they ran away, trying to hitchhike to Florida, but only made it as far as Alabama before being picked up by the authorities. Meyers persuaded his mother to allow him to go to New York, where he worked in a secondhand bookshop (the Strand; later he was employed at Cinemabilia along with Patti Smith) and tried to become a writer.
He arrived in the Big Apple at the tail end of the hippie scene. He took acid (and later heroin), but sought to develop a different sensibility in the manner of what he later referred to as 'twisted French aestheticism', i.e. more Arthur Rimbaud than Rolling Stones. He printed a poetry magazine (Genesis: Grasp) and when Miller dropped out of college and joined him in New York, they developed a joint alter ego whom they named Teresa Stern. Under this name they published a book of poems entitled Wanna Go Out?. This slim volume went almost unnoticed. It was at this point that Meyers and Miller decided to form a band. They changed their names to Hell and Verlaine, and called the band The Neon Boys.
During this hiatus, Hell wrote The Voidoid (1973), a rambling confessional. He wrote it in a 16 dollar-a-week room, fuelled by cheap wine and cough syrup that contained codeine. He then played in various successful bands: Television, Richard Hell and The Voidoids.
Hell recently returned to fiction with his 1996 novel Go Now."

Saturday, April 22, 2017

CITIZEN TOM PAINE by Howard Fast

This is one of my trad paperbacks that I ordered online and received on Sa 9/23/06, and I never had read it.

I finished the book Mo 4/17/17 After my first meeting with Shane Miller about the kitchen renovation/ gutter-soffit projects.

The book is a 'warts and all' portrait of Tom Paine, but it's all fairly accurate. The guy was unhappy, misunderstood, obstreperous, unloved, alcoholic and ugly. But, he was undeniably one of the most important voices of the American revolutionary period.

He was an Englishman and used his connection to Ben Franklin to immigrate to America.

In this book it says that he was a corset maker, but I've read that this is not true. He actually worked with the rope lines used in boat building. The 'corset maker' rumor was started by his enemies.

George Washington was deeply indebted to him for his popular writings that sparked the war, but Washington turned his back on him when Paine was imprisoned by the French.

COMMON SENSE (original title Plain Truth)
AMERICAN CRISIS
RIGHTS OF MAN
THE AGE OF REASON
(AGRARIAN JUSTICE- His last pamphlet and the first American to advocate for old age pensions for all and a guaranteed basic income)

Tom Paine at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine#Common_Sense_.281776.29

Customer Reviews at amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Citizen-Tom-Paine-Howard-Fast/dp/080213064X

I liked the book, and although very grim, it is probably an accurate portrayal of the man and his life. Many contemporary 'historians' attempt to make the founding fathers 'saints' and try to portray them as members of today's Protestant Mega Churches. Obviously, Paine was a Socialist even though many on the Right would love to try to shoehorn him into a more Conservative mold. The facts speak for themselves.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A WHITE MERC WITH FINS by James Hawes

This is one of my quality paperbacks that I first finished Tu 5/20/97 after an overtime run to Quincy.  I read to around page 200, and then skimmed to the end.

This time, I finished on Easter Sunday, 4/16/17 after a bike trip to 19th St. and a gathering of The Brandenburg Clan.

The book is a narration of a balding guy of 28 who realizes that he has no future. He's living in a shed attached to his sister's house in London. He suggested this arrangement a couple of years before, and it was only meant to be a temporary situation. His brother in law and his two nephews are sending signals that it's time for him to move on. Although he is a college graduate, he feels that he is economically unable to make it to the middle class. This is his primary motivation- he just wants to have a middle class life.

The book can be viewed as one long diatribe against the rigidity of British class structure.

He works a series of temp jobs, and learns of a way to rob a very posh private bank in central London. One of the temp situations involves delivering cash and checks to this rather secret bank. He has the details of the robbery mapped out in his head, and he slowly reveals 'the plan' as the novel develops.

He has a hot Scottish girlfriend, Suzy, with dynamite abs who will drive the getaway car, The White Mercury.

A friend, Brady, a fan of Quentin Tarantino (especially The Reservoir Dogs) who has ties to revolutionary groups in Ireland. He's going to invest the proceeds of the hit to buy a bar.

And, Chico, a Spanish, muscular friend who will use his cut to buy into a relative's restaurant.

I enjoyed the author's rants about Class Consciousness, but I'm not exactly sure on how the robbery went down.

The book was kind of a letdown, and I'm not surprised that I skimmed to the end the first time through.

The author's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hawes_(author)

Readers' opinions at amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/White-Merc-Fins-J-Hawes/dp/0099591510

Thursday, April 13, 2017

THE PILOT'S WIFE by Anita Shreve

This is one of my paperbacks and according to the flyleaf I first completed the novel on my motorcycle trip to Wisconsin and Michigan, Sa 9/13/03.

I refinished, Tu 4/11/17 and the reason I selected the book was that I loved ALL HE EVER WANTED which was also written by Anita Shreve.

The storyline-
Kathryn Lyons is married to a commercial pilot, Jack. They have a teenaged daughter, Mattie, and Kathryn is very close to her grandmother, Julia, who raised her after her parents died in an accident.

Early one morning a representative of the pilots union, Robert Hart, arrives at Kathryn's home to inform the family that Jack has died in a plane crash.

Later, the airline finds the 'tapes' and believes that Jack committed suicide and thus caused the deaths of over a hundred passengers on the plane.
Then, Kathryn learns that Jack actually had another family in England. He had married a woman named Muire Boland, and fathered two children, Dieadre, eight, and Dermot, two.

Kathryn and Robert travel to England and Kathryn confronts Muire. She then finds out that not only has Jack been living 'another life', but he is also involved in the Irish conflict. Explosives on the plane are what caused the crash and they were set off to discredit 'the movement'.

A lot of the novel is set at the Lyons home which is on the Atlantic coast in Massachusetts.

This was a compelling novel, but I liked ALL HE EVER WANTED a bit more. I'd still read more by this author.


Friday, April 7, 2017

LILY WHITE by Susan Isaacs

This is one of my paperbacks that I first finished over the Easter weekend, Su 4/20/03. I refinished recently on We 4/5/17 on the day that I bought a new PC from BLH and a new 32" monitor from Walmart on South 6th.

I loved the book, and I think I liked it even more the second time around.

It's basically the first fifty years in the life of Lee (Lily) White;  (1950-1999)

Her parents are Leonard and Sylvia. Leonard is a Jew who is ashamed of his roots and strives to become 'white'. In fact, he becomes so 'white' that he's essentially 'invisible'. Sylvia cares nothing about anything save fashion. Both parents are indifferent to Lily, and they care more for their younger daughter, Robin. She is a weak-willed individual who becomes a drug addict, recovers, and then steals Lily's husband.

A separate storyline concerns two con artists, Norman Torkelson and Mary Dean. Norman is a man who takes advantage of lonely, rich women. Bobette Frisch is one of his marks that is found strangled. Who did it- Norman or Mary? Both spend time in jail, but Mary is convicted of the murder and Lily is conned into believing that Norman did it. Norman has disappeared and chocolate from a candy bar that Bobette was eating at the time of her murder was found on the shirt that Norman was wearing. Lily is released from jail, and when Lily meets her for a celebratory lunch, she finds that Mary has also disappeared. Maybe Lily was conned by both of them.

Where The Whites (Weisberg/Weis/White) live is an upscale suburb of Long Island, NY. Behind their house is Hart's Hill. This is a run-down mansion where The Taylors live. Leonard is enthralled by these upper class people and Jason Taylor becomes Lily's husband.

Lily re-meets Jazz (Jason) in college. She had been attracted to him since she was a young girl. They are both studying to become lawyers. Jazz has it easy because his family is well connected, but he is lazy. Lily works her ass off- in her studies and in almost everything in her life. It seems like a perfect match, but Lily is more of a hippie and feels funny about turning into such a 'middle-class' person. This doesn't bother Jazz at all.

After they marry, Jazz drops the law and becomes an executive at Leonard's fur company. They make terrific money until the bottom drops out of the fur industry in the 70's.

After Lily and Jazz's daughter, Valerie is born, Robin becomes their babysitter. This is when Jazz and Robin become lovers. This destroys Lily, but her parents and Jazz's parents couldn't care less. This drives Lily against her family- for ever.

After Lily divorces Jazz she buys a big old house and creates a family. She takes Jazz's mentally challenged brother and many other people to become her new 'family'.

Will Stewart is a Black, gay, closeted lawyer who works in Lily's firm. He becomes Lily's close friend and confidant. In the end of the novel, Lily and Will marry because they believe that their friendship will see them through the loss of a sex life.

This is a massive and sprawling novel that's chock full of interesting characters.  And, I really wanted to find out how Will and Lily's life worked after they marry and the book ends.

The novel at amazon-

 https://www.amazon.com/Lily-White-Susan-Isaacs/dp/0061256234/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491571025&sr=1-1&keywords=lily+white+susan+isaacs

The author's page at wikipedia-

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Isaacs   

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ALL HE EVER WANTED by Anita Shreve

Finished Mo 3/26/17 Two days before I left for Arizona for a five day visit to Elsie's House. This is a hardback novel that Janny lent to me. I loved the book and will read more by this author. I have THE PILOT'S WIFE and I plan to read this soon.

ALL HE EVER WANTED perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the early 20th century as seen through the eyes of a very morally flawed show.

A one-sided love story between Nicholas Van Tassel and Etna Bliss. He is a mid-level professor at a backwater college in rural Thrupp, New Hampshire. She lived in Exeter, New Hampshire, but her father died, so she's with her uncle, his wife, and a niece.

Narrator is unreliable because of his pomposity and antiquated outlook; racist and male chauvinist.

One evening while while Van Tassel was dining at the Thrupp Hotel, a fire breaks out. Just before the chaos, he notices Etna, and this begins a lifelong obsession.

She agrees to marry him, but claims that she can never love him. They stay together for nearly fifteen years; two kids, Clara and Nicodemus.

Phillip Asher- A visiting professor. His brother, Sam, was the love of Etna's life. Both were engaged to other people, and Etna was emotionally devastated when Sam rejected her. This story is told through letters and Van Tassel's deductions. You never know exactly what happened by the individuals involved.

Etna has inherited a painting which she sold and bought a home in a nearby village. She just uses this place to read, sew, and write poetry. When Van Tassel learns of this place, he is incensed. This effectively marks the end of the relationship.

Phillip becomes a friend of Etna's and visits her at the house. Van Tassel sees them and assumes the worst. He gets Clara to lie to the authorities and claims that Phillip had molested her. This causes Phillip to lose his job at the college and he leaves the town.

We learn that Etna has left and moved to London where she lives the rest of her life with Sam, her long lost lover. We never learn of the details.

Novel happens in 1899 and 1914; it's told by Nicholas as a flashback from 1933 while on a train trip to his sister's funeral in Florida.

the book's page at wikipedia-

https://www.amazon.com/All-He-Ever-Wanted-Novel/dp/0316735736

the author's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Shreve

Friday, March 24, 2017

BLACK ICE by Michael Connelly

I bought this paperback novel at The Book Barn in Glendale, AZ on Mo 11/27/06 and I completed reading on Sa 1/13/07 which was the day of the library sidewalk sale in Springfield. In the book I found the receipt and a note to buy 'kitten' food for Buddy.

Re-finished Th 3/23/17- I had been reading this novel on and off for a couple of weeks.

A Harry Bosch novel- "hard-boiled urban detective"

A series of murders in LA lead Harry to a distribution center for a new drug called, Black Ice. This drug is a Mexican improvement of a similar drug made in Hawaii, Oahu, but the impurities cause the chemicals to turn black, The drug is manufactured at a large ranch near the border towns of Calexico and Mexicali.

Cal Moore is an undercover drug detective and an acquaintance of Harry's. Moore has apparently committed suicide, but this is found to be murder. Actually Moore is deeply involved in the smuggling ring, and he engineered his fake suicide to take on the identity of his half-brother.  

Gritty and Noir. Harry lives in an isolated cabin in the hills of LA and he is involved with the LA coroner and on the outs with his supervisor.

Page at amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Ice-Harry-Bosch/dp/1455550620

author's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Connelly

I could read anything by Connelly and the Bosch series are only part of his large body of work. He also wrote THE LINCOLN LAWYER and BLOOD WORK which were made into fine Hollywood films.

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE SAME SKY by Amanda Eyre Ward

Finished Su 3/20/17  March 2017 selection for the Contemporary Book Club

Two interlocking stories-

Alice- Infertile co-owner, with husband Jake, of a world famous barbeque shop in Austin, TX. Both desperately want a child. They had a baby, Mitchel, through adoption, but the mother changed her mind, and they lost the kid after one day.

Alice becomes a Big Sister of a troubled teenager, Evian


Carla- Lives in Honduras and her mother is in Texas. Carla lives with her two brothers, Junior and Carlos, and her grandmother. Her grandmother dies and Carlos is removed to Texas by mom. The mother cares for all of her children, but circumstances are absolutely impossible.

At 13 yrs. old, Carla and Junior make the journey to the US with Ernesto, a gang member who takes pity on them. Carla is raped on the way, and makes it to Mexico and her mother manages to send $2,000 to pay the coyote.

Carla is pregnant after the rape and decides to give up the baby. The conditions in Austin are almost as bad as Honduras. She realizes that she must give up the baby so that she can have a live. Alice and Jake get the baby girl.

Great story, but seems a little too Young Adult. The two story lines works because it's only two, very distinct people. Split stories are generally just too confusing and not worth the effort.

author's website-

http://www.amandaward.com/

her facebook page-

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=amanda%20eyre%20ward

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

Finished Mo 3/13/17

This book was given to me by Becky?, one of the members of the Contemporary Book Club.

I had read about how good this book was, and I had a slightly different idea of what the novel would be about. I thought that it would be a strange love story between a man with Asperger's and a barmaid. But, there is so much more to the actual novel. I loved it! Simsion wrote the book as a screenplay and I'm thrilled that it is going to be made into a movie.

The Wife Project- Don Tillman, genetics professor, somewhere on the spectrum of autism or Asperger's, writes a complex questionnaire to find his 'perfect mate'.

The Father Project- Don meets Rosie Jarman, a doctoral student of psychology and barmaid, he learns from her that her mother told her that who she thought was her father was not. Don, being a genetics professor, offers to test the various candidates. Rosie's mother said that she was impregnated at her father's graduation. One member of this class is Rosie's father.

The book is set in Australia and Don and Rosie travel to NYC for a few days in search of Rosie's biological father.

They become friends and Don realizes that he's actually capable of change, and later he finds the ability to express his own version of LOVE.

Many parts of the book are completely hilarious. The scenes of dancing should make a real impression when they appear in the movie. Also, Don's practicing sex using a doctor's skeleton as a partner.

The theme of the novel is that you don't find Love, but Love finds you.

Graeme Simsion is a former IT consultant and author of two nonfiction books on database design. At the age of fifty he decided to write fiction and THE ROSIE PROJECT is his first novel.

The author's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graeme_Simsion

The book at amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Rosie-Project-Novel-Graeme-Simsion/dp/1476729093

NPR review-

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/03/228508828/the-rosie-project-will-charm-you-with-science

Thursday, March 9, 2017

BORN TO RUN by Bruce Springsteen

St. Rose of Lima; local church

39 1/2 Institute St., Freehold, NJ-      This is where he lived when he was very young. The house that he attended the Catholic school is about a half mile north.

78 Randolph-       His house was adjacent to the parking lot.

Bellevue Ave. and Ridge Road, Rumson, NJ-      This is much later in his career when he was married to his first wife.

Telegraph Hill Rd., Holmdel, NJ-       Another mansion with the first wife

Finished Fr 3/10/17  A library copy and I waited six weeks to get it.

Shocked to learn of his pre-E Street career

Castiles/Child/Steel Mill/Dr. Zoom and The Boom

He has a background in surfing. His first manager, Carl 'Tinker' West owned a surf shop and Bruce rehearsed and lived there.

Next manager, Mike Appel, played in The Balloon Farm 'A Question of Temperature'. Mike got him in to see John Hammond. Appel sounds like a difficult individual- always pushing/fighting for the cause.

His father was always unstable, but at the end of his life he became paranoid schizophrenic
"250 pounds of nickels in a pair of Sears slacks". Taciturn/Violent.

In 1968 his parents went to California. He stayed in NY, Ashbury to remain 'the big fish in a small pond'. However, he did go to California to try to fit with the hippies, but he saw so many talented musicians, he decided to 'retreat' to Ashbury.

Steel Mill was the last time that he tried 'garageband democracy'. After that, it was always Bruce Springsteen and The Band.  He'll listen to suggestions, but he makes the final decision.

In his early sixties he was very depressed. It's in his blood. He uses prescription drugs and touring to overcome them. He's had a therapist for decades. He credits Patti for helping him confront the demons.

One of his sons, Carl, is a fireman

His page at wikipedia-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Springsteen

page at amazon-
https://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Bruce-Springsteen/dp/1501141511

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

THE CORRECTIONS by Jonathan Franzen

Finished very early on the morning of Su 3/5/17

I bought this hardcover book at the main branch on Su 11/9/03, but never read it. This was my first time through it, and I loved every one of the nearly six hundred pages!

The story is set at the end of the 20th century and the title of the book refers to this change. The 'correction' will be slow, subtle, and not readily apparent; not, 'night and day'-  almost imperceptible, but most definitely a difference will be felt.

The story of The Lamberts-

Enid- the bossy mother that nitpicks, cajoles, and nags the rest of the family. Her one big hope is to unite the family at Christmas; a kind of final reunion.

Alfred- retired from the railroads where he was a mid to upper level executive. He's full of Republican values and represents 'The Old Way'. He's suffering from Parkinson's disease and dementia.

Gary- the oldest son who is employed as a fairly successful investment manager. He's not so lucky in his marriage. His wife has two of his three boys against him. She's almost 'gaslighting' him. She's got him convinced (halfway) that he's suffering from clinical depression. However, he does have a problem with alcohol. His wife WILL NOT go to Gary's parents home in St. Jude for Christmas. She has a point. Enid is a constant nag and never lets up for a minute.

Chip- the middle child. He's about to be a tenured professor at a small private college, but blows it when his sexual affair with a student is disclosed. Chip is a Marxist and the girlfriend is more of a 'Kardashian Republican'. She sees nothing wrong with being rich and can't accept Chip's view of Class Warfare- Rich against the Poor. She sees herself as just one more hustling 'small business owner'. Chip is trying to write a novel, but now makes his money fact checking and rewriting for a small newspaper. His mother, Enid, thinks that he works at the Wall Street Journal.

Denise- the baby of the family. She is a successful chef at a well known restaurant. The owner is very rich and wants her to establish a new restaurant in Philadelphia. It will be located in an refurbished power plant. Denise has an affair with him, and later, has an affair with the man's wife. This gets her fired. Her ex-husband is brought on to manage the restaurant that she developed. Denise is always cooking throughout the novel. Although deeply flawed, I felt she was the most reasonable of all the characters.

Although it was 568 pages, I didn't want it to end.

The book was selected to be part of Oprah's Book Club, but Franzen declined saying that his novel was better than that. He felt her selections were too 'lightweight'.

the author's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Franzen

the novel's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corrections

the book at amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Corrections-Novel-Jonathan-Franzen/dp/0312421273