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Lottery
Lottery
by Patricia Wood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.00
174 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read this year - This one will stay with you, June 14, 2015
This review is from: Lottery (Hardcover)
There is so much I like about this book that it would be difficult to summarize all those points in a short review.

Unlike a few reviewers here, I found the book extremely well written. The author is a natural story teller and is able, via a first person narrative, to tell her tale and tell it well.

This is the story of a fellow who is mildly (functionally) mentally retarded. Now I don't care for the term "retarded" but it is the one chosen in the book to describe the major protagonist condition, so I will use it too. Perry, the narrator of the story and who is somewhat cognitively impaired, was raised by a very wise old grandmother who dies and Perry is left on his own. On one side we have a group of very good friend who do their best to watch out for Perry's well being and on the other side we have Perry's family who is a pack of jackals of the lowest order who have no qualms in taking advantage of Perry when he wins a 12 million dollar lottery. Will evil triumph?

Not only does the author handle the first person narrative as well as any I have read, she also does a masterful job of creating unforgettable characters who actually grow (for both good and evil) during this relatively short work. I found myself really, really hating the bad guys and really, really pulling for the good ones. The author has nailed personalities perfectly.

Now as I started this book my first thought was that of Forrest Gump. I must disagree with those who draw a too close correlation between the two stories. Yes, the main character is mildly retarded and yes, there is a wise older women who acts as guide both before and after her death, but to compare this story with Forrest Gump is like saying that all stories that involve a bow and arrow are mere clones of Robin Hood stories....it just ain't so!

I have to admit that once I read the first few pages of this work I was hooked and read it almost non stop through to the end...And the ending! It hit me out of nowhere! Amazing!

This is an excellent read and a read that I will give a reread to down the road.

This was a library find.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks


War Letters 1914-1918, Vol. 3: From an Australian at Gallipoli during the First World War
War Letters 1914-1918, Vol. 3: From an Australian at Gallipoli during the First World War
Price: $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part of a very important historical work here - I learned much, June 7, 2015
This is yet another volume of war letters from WWI compiled by Editor Mark Tanner. In this volume the letters written home by Frederick Muir are published, researched and footnoted in a wonderful manner. Muir was a soldier; a member of the Australian Imperial Force and upon enlistment was sent to Egypt for further training and of course ended up at Gallipoli.

As those familiar with this aspect of WWI will know, the British (with a lot of help from others) began the campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula surrounded by a lot of controversy; controversy what continues even to this day. Was it a disaster as most historians will tell you, or was it a vital move and an important one? Were there mistakes in leadership in the field and in England? Did the British Navy perform as it should? Were conditions of ground troops on the peninsula worse or better (in the trenches) than of those fighting the war in Europe? Were the Australian solders better equipped, better paid and fed better than their British counterparts? All interesting stuff here folks.

This collection of letters makes no effort to answer the above questions. That sort of thing already fills volumes and volumes written by military and political historians. No, this book consists of the letters written home to one man's family; a man who was there for the initial ground invasion and stayed almost to the eventual evacuation. Perhaps the letters of this Private will give us better insight than the ramblings of an aged general...?

Frederick Muir was actually quite a good writer. The editor has stayed true to Muir use of the English language spelling and all. These letters give us a very good view of just what it was like on the ground during this wretched event in history. There are no Rambo type stories here nor overly dramatized record of events. Muir was simply a solder and via his letters he tells his story.

This collection that Tanner has put together in several volumes (other solders, other battles), is one of the best of that genre I have read. The editor has given us the letters the author wrote in order. At the end of the letters Tanner has given us some of the best research information I have come across. He has supplied links to literally hundreds of sites so that the reader is able to follow-up on any aspect of this campaign he or she so desires. (As stated in the book description - you will NOT be merely sent to Wikipedia which so often happens in other books...for that I was and am grateful). No, the sites will save the reader many, many hours of digging through obscure sites, of which many will lead you to blank ends.

I strongly suggest that the letters be read one after the other straight through to the end. At that time start going though the editor's notes; of which here are many, and if so desired, start following the different links provided. The letters are not long enough to keep going back and forth and the information in the letters is easy to remember as you delve into the notes and foot notes.

Now I am not a professional historian and most certainly am not an expert when it comes to WWI. No, I am merely a reader of history who has had a fascination with this particular war for the past 55 years. In this case I also must admit that I lived in and near the site of this battle for a number of years so the story of this young man held special meaning form me.

If this era is of interest to you then I highly recommend this work and the other volumes Tanner has produced...you will learn much.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2015 10:38 AM PDT


Secret Place
Secret Place
by Eve Bunting
Edition: Hardcover
36 used & new from $1.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful life lesson presented here, June 7, 2015
This review is from: Secret Place (Hardcover)
This is one of those books; a beautifully done book, that can plant a seed in a child's mind of a concept and a fact that the child can carry with them for a life time - and perhaps, just perhaps, pass that idea on to her or his child when the time comes.

This is the story of a small boy who lives in a completely urban environment - and an urban environment that is all that nice. This is not a bad thing per se; many children live in large inner cities surrounded day after day, week after week by nothing but noise, cement, engines, bells, whistles and people. No green grass. No trees, no wild animals, no birds, no flower....well, a complete absence of "nature." Or do they? It is also a good lesson for "country kids" to learn because as they grow up many of them will find themselves living and working in such urban areas. It is nice for them to know that even though it would appear unlikely, there is indeed a touch of nature even in the most strange places. Good lesson for them to carry through life.

The small boy in this story discovers a large cement covered drainage cannel in the heart of the city. This drainage cannel was probably once a wild stream but has now been completely enclosed and smothered by the works of man...or has it? Our little boy who pokes here and there as all little boys do, discovers a small secret world; a secret natural area right there in the jungle of the city. This is a small bit of ground that has build up around one of the posts supporting a bridges. On that small island the boy discovers a whole mini-world of wildlife. Flowers, ducks with their ducklings, a white egret who visits often, numerous smaller birds, and other visiting water birds. A coyote sneaks drinks and a mother possum visits the area with her children.

I am lucky. I was raised in a rural area surrounded by a large national forest. I am now retired and literally live way out in the woods. During my travels around the world though I have personally found small and unexpected areas such as the little boy in the book discovered and have found these areas in some of the most unlikely places. To be honest, they have brought a lot of joy into my life during some wretched times.

This book will make children aware that these areas actually exist and that if you look in the right places they can be found. It is also a great lesson on just how resilient nature can be.

The book is well written and the illustrations are great.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2015 10:39 AM PDT


The Blue House Dog
The Blue House Dog
by Deborah Blumenthal
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.30
70 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and heart warming..well written and well illustrated, June 7, 2015
This review is from: The Blue House Dog (Hardcover)
What a beautiful story of trust, love, devotion and friendship.

An old man dies leaving his only companion; a dog, a rather remarkable dog in many ways, but on the other hand much like thousands of other dogs...except he has one brown and one blue eye. The dog, living in a small down must now fend for himself and lives on the streets of this small village. He is known as "bones" because of this condition.

A boy notices the dog...and the journey begins. Building trust - the boy has much to offer this stray animal and this stray animal has much too offer this small boy. Will a relationship develop? Can the dog furnish what is needed in the young boy's life and can the young boy furnish what is needed in this dog's life?

This is a touching story and a reader need not be a lover of dogs to enjoy and appreciate the tale that is being told here. Compassion and the need for companionship is universal and there are few that will not be able to relate to this story on some level...I suspect that children will instinctively be drawn to the concept more than adults as adult sometimes forget some of the concepts being addressed on a gut level in this work

Excellent illustrations are provided by Adam Gustavson and the narrative is simply and forcefully presented by author Deborah Blumenthal. Her prose is most poetic; mellow and nice while at the same time teaches a lesson in compassion and companionship.

This is a wonderful group read and I doubt that this book can be read to any class of children without bringing out a plethora of personal stories and experiences that can the shared with the other children listening to this story.

This is a most worthwhile book.

This was a library find.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2015 10:40 AM PDT


Zensah Peek Running Socks - Best Comfortable Running Socks for Men and Women
Zensah Peek Running Socks - Best Comfortable Running Socks for Men and Women
Price: $15.95 - $17.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest and best running socks I have used...and I have used many, June 5, 2015
I began serious running in the very early 1960s. This running habit (I suppose you could call it an obsession - that is what my wife called it) lasted through the early 1990s. In that time I have gone through literally hundreds of running socks of all makes and models. To be quite frank, I have had a few socks that were as good as the ones being reviewed here, but overall I have worn nothing better.

Now due to age (hey, I am old) and some major health issues I am no longer able to run the distances nor do I run at the frequency I use to run. I still walk a lot though and am a habitual bike rider. I still wear the same style of running shoes I started with - both for walking and biking.

These socks perform precisely as the product page describes. I love the way there is no ankle slippage and the fact they the toes are seamless. They do indeed wick water away from the foot and the arch support actually acts as it is suppose to act.

These socks are extremely comfortable, look good and do the job they were meant to do. I wear a size 9 ½ running shoe and the medium in this sock fit perfectly.

I simply cannot find anything to whine about. I have used other socks of this ilk and the price for these is more than competitive and the socks themselves are superior to several other brands I have used. Yes, I received these at no cost in order to test and write a review but I can promise you, at this price, I will actually part with my hard earned cash and purchase others. I do like this sock!

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks


How to make braided rugs
How to make braided rugs
by Sally Clarke Carty
Edition: Hardcover
42 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I've been trying for twenty years and still cannot braid a rug...arrrrgh!, June 5, 2015
This is an older book and has been around for quite sometime. We purchased this on at a book sale some 15 years ago.

Braided Rugs are indeed a thing of beauty...functional art in the truest sense of the word. They can be extremely easy to make or extremely difficult. The easy ones to make look like they are easy and the difficult ones shine through. Once you learn this craft it can bring much enjoyment; not only is actually making the rug, but enjoying for years the results.

This is sort of an odd book. I will tell you right up front that there are much better books on the subject available these days...back in 1977 there was very little other than sort of fluff articles published in various women's magazines which, for the most part, were completely worthless. Now this book will give you some great information and if you plan to begin this craft, it is probably a nice book to have available. But do note: There is NO WAY on earth, unless you are extremely lucky, that you will be able to learn this craft by using this book and only this book alone.

To begin with, the vast majority of the book consists of written direction with rather scanty black and white illustrations. Most of these illustrations are of finished products. If you are not extremely familiar with reading and understanding sewing directions...forget it.

On the other hand, the book is completely brimming with helpful hints, background, and source material and such. You will learn much by reading it, particularly if you already have a good grasp of how to create a braided rug. If you are a complete beginner...I strongly suggest you look elsewhere. It actually works best if you can find someone local who is already a rug braider and learn from them.

Nice old book but there are better out there.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2015 5:00 PM PDT


Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
by Judi Barrett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.29
360 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A funny and excellent read for all ages., June 5, 2015
I am not at all sure how many readings I have given this work over the years; perhaps dozens upon dozens would suffice, but I can tell you that it never gets told.

This is a story; well actually, it is a tall tale told by a grandfather. It is the story of a town from "across an ocean, over lots of huge bumpy mountains, across three hot deserts, and one small ocean," it is the town of Chewandswallow. This is a very, very strange town due to the weather conditions there. It rains and storms food. Everything from hamburgers to spaghetti and broccoli...all overcooked. They have meatball storms and tomato tornados...well, you get the picture.

The author has let her imagination go wild with this one and Ron Barrett, the illustrator, has followed her lead.

This is one of those books that know no age boundaries. Small children as young as four can enjoy it right along with their grand parents. The story is actually funny and the detailed illustrations are some of my favorite. It is one of those illustrated children's books that you can see something new in each picture each time you read the thing. Kids love this book.

Now the book I am reviewing here is a hard copy...a board book which I check out from our public library or at the school library. I have not seen this book on any reading machine so I cannot comment on the quality in that area. I do see that many have been dissatisfied with the results of the Kindle version...I simply do not know but I do feel that it would be difficult to put this book on a small screen without absolutely perfect graphics and very close attention for formatting.

Anyway, I do love this little story and I have yet to find a kid that did not like it.

This was a library find.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks


Listen to the Rain
Listen to the Rain
by John Archambault
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.28
120 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, June 5, 2015
This review is from: Listen to the Rain (Hardcover)
This one has been around since at least 1988 and during that time has not lost one bit of its power and appeal. This is one of those books that can stand alone via either the wonderful illustrations or the lyrical text - both are quite beautiful and almost hypnotic in nature.

I suppose in a way you could describe this work as minimalist in that the wording has been carefully chosen to set a mood and the art work compliments each word and you can almost read the story through the illustrations provided by James Endicott.

For those of you that enjoy a good rain storm; from beginning to end, you will find that this simple little work a pure delight. I know I do and have found, with out exception, that any and all children I have read this on to have been able to completely wrap themselves in the story and pictures. Over the years I have had many calls for rereads on this one.

Listen to the rain,
the whisper of the rain,
the slow soft sprinkle,
the drip-drop tinkle,
the first wet whisper of the rain.

and so the gentle story begins.

In addition to the above, I must say that this is one of the many, many, many reasons why our public and school libraries are so important. Many children simply would not have access to a wonderful book such as this without them. That would be a horrible and so very, very wrong.

This was a library find.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks


Silent Creed (A Ryder Creed Novel)
Silent Creed (A Ryder Creed Novel)
by Alex Kava
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.11

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great second book in a wonderful new series...Dog lovers will love this one, June 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the second book in Alex Kava's new "Ryder Creed" series; the first book being "Breaking Creed." This is an off shot of the nicely done Maggie O'Dell series and I personally feel she has a winner here.

Ryder Creed is a former K-9 handler for the military who is carrying around a lot of baggage from his pre-military life and his experiences in war torn Afghanistan and Iraq. He has found solace and a purpose for his life as he and a friend have developed a business training and working with rescue dogs, and dogs trained for police work, i.e. bomb and drug sniffing in addition to locating survivors and non-survivors in various disaster areas. The stories blend and wind around this basic premise. All of the dogs used are rescued dogs themselves; abandoned and abused; not unlike Ryder himself.

In these first two books Kava has taken her primary character from her previous books, Maggie O'Dell and teamed her with Ryder. While O'Dell most certainly plays a major role in these Creed novels, she is not center stage and it would appear that the author may be slowly working her out of any leading role. I had to smile when my wife (who also read this one) made the comment that poor Maggie is being replaced by a bunch of dogs.

But to be honest, as much as I like the Maggie O'Dell series, Kava has replaced her with a much more interesting characters...In this case, the dogs with whom Ryder works. His primary search dog is a small Jack Russell by the name of Grace who has a lot more personality than many human characters I find in other novels of this genre, written by other authors.

In this work there has been a massive avalanche in North Carolina. There are quite a number of deaths involved in this tragedy but at the center of the story is the fact that a top secret government research lab, dealing with deadly pathogens has been destroy and buried with all facility members buried...or have they? Ryder is hired to take his beloved Grace and help in the search. He is eventually joined my Maggie O'Dell. Much is going on in this story. We have the deadly pathogens, deadly corrupt government officials, corrupt Senators and the author has introduced a new villain which is bound to show up in future novels. Mix all this with Maggie's most certain attraction to Ryder (A feeling that is shared), along with Maggie's `boy friend,' and you have a pretty good mix. Other than the disaster victims, we have a rather mild but extremely important body count that both Ryder and O'Dell must deal with.

Now I will be the first to admit that I enjoy this author's work and have read almost all of her books over the years. I feel that of all the "A List" authors we have with us today, her work continues to be more original and she, i.e. Kava, is willing to take chances. Kava is an excellent writer and a master story teller. I don't anticipate her going stale in the near future or placing her name on books others have written as so many of our leading best selling author have done. (That is a real sore spot with me).

I also have to admit that I am a complete pushover for any story dealing with dogs and the author, among her other skills, most certainly knows her dogs! Her discussion of training methods and recording personality traits of each of her dog characters is an absolute delight.

I enjoyed this one and cannot wait for the next installment.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 3, 2015 9:02 AM PDT


Bakelicious Adjustable Rolling Pin, Multicolored
Bakelicious Adjustable Rolling Pin, Multicolored
Price: $27.87
3 used & new from $21.60

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars May be good for some - but not for me., May 30, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Well I have to say that this is a pretty nifty idea for a rolling pin. I will also have to say that I could probably live, bake and cook without it. It is a very nice pin if you are working with a small amount of dough. The last ring; the pink ring, sticks out beyond the circumference of the pin and is no removable, ergo, it you have a larger amount of dough you are working with the edge of the pink ring will cut into what ever it is you are trying to flatten.
I found this pin to be much less movable, i.e. you are forced to roll back and forth and it is difficult to turn while rolling. This pin simply does not have the maneuverability that a person needs. I don't like this. I also am not overly enthusiastic about the plastic handles and the plastic rings...these things will eventually break as all plastic does.

This thing is novel though and it is nice idea but for me...well it just does not work. My wife and I collect rolling pins and have around thirty in our collection at this time. To be quite frank, we have some very old pins which were hand carved over 100 years ago that work much better than this one.

I am giving this three stars though because I can see where some might like it quite well. I would suggest though that if you are just beginning your baking or cooking career, you start with a traditional pin; learn to use it, and then play around with such kitchen gadgets such as this...it that is your fancy.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks


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