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Final Passage: The ocean must give up its secret
Final Passage: The ocean must give up its secret
by Timothy Frost
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.99
6 used & new from $6.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this one more than Moby Dick, which I also read in the summer!, August 4, 2012
Quite enjoyable summer pleasure reading by British author Timothy Frost. The plot centers around a man's search for the reason behind his father's death at sea when he was 18 and a present day yacht race from the Canary Islands to Grenada. The novel is full of adventure, suspense, and keeps you guessing until the end. The main character, Martin, is in the advertising business and has gotten himself in quite a pickle. Business problems, family problems, and money problems in both areas have him sweating the color green.

Regardless of all this, what is next on the agenda is the huge Columbus Day inspired international yachting race and Martin and his brother are determined to win. The action here on out takes place at sea and as one reviewer wrote almost has you tasting sea water. How true. Their sailboat, the Quicksilver, however, has all the latest in electronic and safety devices, so that I enjoyed reading about the trip, although not a fan of sailing myself (seasickness). Of course, the plot, a page turner, is not a depiction of "real life", but what adventure novel is? But it is seriously good fun; the characters are interesting and multi-faceted (especially Martin, our hero), and the dialogue truly written in the British vernacular and with tons of typos. My favorite being "he split the beans." Seriously, I can't understand why people don't proof-read books. Enjoyed it anyway.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2012 9:17 AM PDT

The Confession: A Novel
The Confession: A Novel
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.81
990 used & new from $0.01

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grisham works the reader like a good trial lawyer works a jury, October 30, 2010
I read this book non-stop in a day and a half, so Grisham must have done something right! It wasn't as though I read to see what would happen because that is fairly evident after the first, say, 100 pages. But I was certainly immersed in the story and hoped it wouldn't happen. So, I guess that would be one of the definitions of good storytelling. I was hooked on the characters.

My husband would see me wiping my eyes and laugh at my visceral response, and I would defend myself with a quote from the back book jacket: Grisham works the reader like a good trial lawyer works a jury. He's working me, I'd reply!

So, I had to keep reading because the good guys were good and the bad guys were bad, and, hey, folks, this is fiction! Mr. Grisham is writing the book and he can take us on any kind of ride he wants, and if he wants to educate us on the death penalty along the way, so be it. Read at your own risk if you are a dyed-in-the-wool death penalty advocate; he might just change your mind.

History of a free people
History of a free people
by Henry W Bragdon
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from $0.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Co-authored by Samuel P. McCutchen, PhD, March 15, 2010
This was one of the best selling high school social studies/history textbooks from the 1950s to the 1980s. Dr. McCutchen was my grandfather and I noticed he wasn't on your bibliographic record as the co-author. Just wanted to correct that as I think of him during the Texas textbook massacre of 2010. I doubt if he would approve!

Out Stealing Horses: A Novel
Out Stealing Horses: A Novel
by Per Petterson
Edition: Hardcover
158 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did the acorn fall far from the tree?, October 2, 2008
Having just retired myself, I can imagine withdrawing to a cabin in a setting (the forest in this case) that, like the main character of this novel, I had missed during the busy years of my life. So, Trond, having spent the last 3 years grieving over the deaths of his wife and sister, finds that he must take action to lessen the hurt, one of the main themes in this fine novel.

This novel is a clever twist on the coming of age story, a flashback on Trond's summer alone with his father at age 15, told when forced to look back on it after an initially unfortunate meeting with his new, closest neighbor, a meeting which ultimately has fortuitous impact. But, what the author seems to wisely know, is that we are always coming of age and that we never quite escape the past's hold on us.

In the past and present, Trond is, with some frequency, dizzy, nauseous, injured, etc., since when he internalizes his emotions, they surface in pain. How he deals with it is one of the lessons he learns from his father during the summer of 1948. It is quite an interesting scene which shows the toughness of a father that any son would find somewhat intimidating.

This is truly an absorbing, beautiful novel and certainly one that needs to be reread (the flashbacks in time were confusing sometimes in having to change years so often to name just one thing). At a mere 258 pages this may not be as difficult to do as rereading Crime and Punishment, which may still be on your "to do" list!

Did leave me wishing for more details like what kind of firm did Trond run, what caused the breakup of his first marriage, why did he consider himself a lucky man, and a few other things that I won't mention in order to not spoil the book for others.

Great for book clubs.

Pig Island
Pig Island
by Mo Hayder
Edition: Hardcover
64 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Journalists will do anything for a story!, September 8, 2008
This review is from: Pig Island (Hardcover)
Even when the alarm bells go off, journalist Joe Oakes still accepts an invitation to visit PIG ISLAND in the hopes of a good story. And what a story he gets! As many reviewers have noted, this novel is full of evil and is NOT for anyone who likes their police novels stripped of gruesome details.

This was my first Mo Hayder novel, and I will usually give Pub. Weekly starred reviews a try even though it looked (and was) a little Stephen Kingish to me. The author writes well, depicting the island, Scottish countryside, and atmospheric details keenly. The plot, described above, held my attention to the neglect of my chores, and I liked the ending, which you thought you had guessed but might not have!

If you need to love all protagonists, then don't read this book. The characters here, like most of us, have warts. The main character, Joe, who is the journalist who writes to uncover hoaxes, is necessarily the book's greatest receiver of ironic happenstances. Many reviewers didn't like him, but I felt he had great capacity for conflicting feelings and was quite an interesting character, not your usual "perfect" hero. I, quite frankly, pulled for him. He was "the dude" in some ways.

And, then, put yourself in Angeline's "shoes", and ask yourself how might you have developed if life had handed that DNA and that father to you? Could only have happened to a character isolated from birth on an island (and what an island!) as well.


When We Were Romans: A Novel
When We Were Romans: A Novel
by Matthew Kneale
Edition: Hardcover
129 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short on pages, long on tragedy, August 24, 2008
ALERT: SPOILERS! I'd have to say I agree with another reviewer who said that readers should finish this novel before they read any reviews because not too much can be said about this novel without spoiling it for other readers. I'd give it 3.5 stars.

That being said, I'd have to say that the author does a pretty good job of writing a novel from the viewpoint of a young boy living within a dysfunctional family situation. The author has also tightly stacked the deck against poor Larry by putting him in a situation with a loving mother who is fine 80% of the time, a bratty younger sister who drives him "crazy", a distant father who had traveled a lot, a gift of "pleasure" reading about the immoral machinations of the Roman emperors, being suddenly yanked from his home to a foreign city, and so on.

Since most of the book's readers will not be 9 year old boys, one can only try to guess how they or their children would have reacted under those circumstances. However, I would venture to say that the deck is so tightly stacked here that no one had free will. The tragedy was set in stone, as most will have guessed, from the beginning. How it would play out was the all, but Larry's actions were to be of something along that line.

Since the "how it would play out" amounted to such a small portion of the book, I couldn't help wonder, was this all to remind us of what course to take the next time we decide to try a child criminal as an adult? Okay, but I'm still wondering if Larry and Jemima are playing mom games when they are teenagers. And what about that poor mom - does she ever get on some good anti-psychotics?

I just hate a good tragedy. Worth your time; forget the spelling issue - it's a minor annoyance.

Excellent for book clubs for length if nothing else. Seriously, we are all busy and need short, discussable books.

The Broken Window (Lincoln Rhyme)
The Broken Window (Lincoln Rhyme)
by Jeffery Deaver
Edition: Hardcover
391 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Was the dossier on Sachs for real??!!, August 20, 2008
When Lincoln Rhymes reluctantly agrees to drop an important case to pursue the solution to his cousin's recent murder charge, he enters the world of identity theft and data mining. For the first time, he faces an uncommonly evil adversary who "knows everything", which is exceptionally frustrating for a person like Rhymes.

I, like many other reviewers, have read all of this series and found this one to be a super page-turner. I frequently neglected my computer or watching the Olympics to get back to my book. I remember as I read that I bet Deaver put a lot of work into his books, so be sure to watch the 3-min. video that Amazon includes after the PW review - it's amazing!

While most of us worry about identity theft, I also remember thinking, go ahead and try to quantify me (data mining companies), I just don't think I'm quantifiable. But I don't think I ever want a dossier on me as large as the one on Amelia Sachs no matter how correct or incorrect. Is this for real? Perhaps fiction based on future truth.

Well said, Mr. Deaver. At any rate, knowledge is power in anyone's book!

Master of the Delta
Master of the Delta
by Thomas H. Cook
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.65
149 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does anyone ever know where anything will lead?, July 31, 2008
This review is from: Master of the Delta (Hardcover)
If you've gotten this far down in the reviews, you've probably been able to read the plot summaries. So, I'll just cut straight to my review as to its merits.

I read this book because it got a starred review from PW, which frequently has the effect of raising expectations too high - to expect a 5-star read. However, from start to finish I felt like I was reading a young adult novel or one that would eventually end up on school reading lists. For while a real-life school might not support an entire course on evil, the discussion of what constitutes evil (and good) might be of interest to high schoolers along with discussions the novel could generate on good judgment and decision-making, class differences, youth and innocence, the support or lack thereof within families, did the main character's stumble equal his "reward" in life and on and on.

But for adults past the age of 40, many of the book's revelations (such as "absolute power corrupts absolutely" or "does anyone ever know where anything will lead" or, for that matter, the opening sentence that having lived "the good life" of private schools and lemonade on the veranda served up by the help might just lead to a certain naivete on the part of the main character) may lead adult readers to eventually smack themselves in the head and say, "well that seems obvious."

Nevertheless, the characters are very well-drawn, the dialogue believable, and even with the never-ending supply of foreshadowing, of perhaps because of it, I was still keenly engaged until the final page as to what would happen to all of them. And I did like the author's use of flashback and trial notes that told us what happened to whom throughout the novel because it was creative and solved the problem of trying to tell what happened to all the supporting cast in the final chapter.

If you like your fiction dark and tragic but with a likeable main character who is harder on himself than necessary, then you will enjoy the book. It is well-plotted with enough tricks up the author's sleeve to hold your interest if not offering much that hasn't been said before.

How Far Is the Ocean from Here: A Novel
How Far Is the Ocean from Here: A Novel
by Amy Shearn
Edition: Hardcover
65 used & new from $0.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Pretty Far, July 22, 2008
Susannah Pruh is a surrogate, runaway, very soon-to-be delivered young woman, whose car dies at the Thunder Lodge in the desert somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Maybe Texas, I forget. This unusual first novel involves the relationships between Susannah, the surrogate parents, the motel owners and their mentally disabled teenaged son, and an aunt and niece combo who are the only other guests at the motel.

This is literary fiction about folks who are mostly flawed through no fault of their own. Genetics and the cycle of bad parenting for some. Others are just trying to figure things out, to get to a better place in their lives. Hoping that something good will happen to them. Sometimes getting a little mixed up when they try too hard to make it happen and the hormones and heat have obviously fried their brains. Stressful situations abound for all. I would be surprised if it were by chance that it's the youngest person in the novel who seems to have his act together the most.

But what I liked best about the novel were simply the words. Ah, the beautifully, well-chosen words. You frequently get that in a first novel and this one has them in spades. As soon as our surrogate couple gets out of Chicago, Illinois scared them. The sun elbows through the clouds. The sky lowered like a disappointed forehead. The suitcases' tousled entrails fell out.

The book walks a fine line between seriousness and comic relief. The author must be quite witty and so lets her characters be too. But it is a dark novel as well. I would love to express a few thoughts about the ending but, of course, can't. I'll just say that the 2nd half of the book, I believe, is the stronger half.

It comes with a book discussion guide and this would be a great one for book clubs. Now that I'm a retired librarian I should really find the time to join one! So many fine books . . . and such a finite time we have. Enjoy this one - it's a fine ride across the desert and still pretty far to the ocean when you don't know if you're ready to sink or swim.

The Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming
The Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming
by Jeannie Ralston
Edition: Hardcover
86 used & new from $0.01

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dilly dilly of a Tale, July 9, 2008
On the last page of this non-fiction book about the transformation of a young woman who learns to love a small town in Texas because of a lavender business that her traveling husband sort of dumps on her, she writes, "If I've learned anything from life so far, it's just that you never can tell." How true, of course. In the end, many of us find ourselves in far different places than we had imagined.

I agree with another reviewer who said that they couldn't get into the book at first because the author whined too much. At times I wanted to say to the author, "get a real problem." But when she had trouble with panic attacks, insomnia, and depression, I began to feel more sympathetic.

By the second half of the book, about how the author developed the lavender business, I was on board. For some reason, the lavender business was fascinating. Perhaps it was because the author, a free-lance journalist by vocation, was able to do such a great job making lavender lemonade from the lemons that the town of Blanco had thrown her way. It's no small accomplishment to achieve the American dream of creating a viable business, and I would think most readers would enjoy cheering her on. As she matures, so does the business, or is it vice versa?

So by the very, very end, I found myself wanting to attend the Blanco Lavender Festival some year. Now it must take a talented author to accomplish that!

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