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Sudoku Deluxe
Sudoku Deluxe
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, January 7, 2015
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This review is from: Sudoku Deluxe (App)
Very easy to manipulate. Fun.


Revival: A Novel
Revival: A Novel
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.00
357 used & new from $0.33

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King has been very up front with his alcohol problems and he is a pretty good musician in his own right, November 14, 2014
This review is from: Revival: A Novel (Hardcover)
I am a “constant reader” and have been since I first read The Shining as a library checkout. Since then I’ve purchased everything of King’s that I’ve read which is almost everything. Revival, is a fitting addition into the King universe and shows his continued development as an author but more importantly as a storyteller.

Revival opens with a fairly innocuous meeting between the novels two main characters, Jamie Morton at age 6, and Charlie Jacobs, a young minister complete with wife and child. These represent the major part of the characters of the novel. Everyone else is window dressing or filler.

Stephen King once wrote (in On Writing) that writers should write what they know. I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere. King does exactly that in Revival. Jamie Morton seems to be a reflection of King. Jamie becomes a guitar player in high school and also later develops a drug problem. King has been very up front with his alcohol problems and he is a pretty good musician in his own right. I will say that in Revival, King saves the semi-creepy-eerie material for the latter part of the story.

Revival is well fleshed out is King’s habit. As I said before, there isn’t much he has written that I haven’t read. Some of his works are better than others but they’re always worth reading. Everyone will have their own King favorites. For me Carrie, The Shining, The Stand (both versions) all of the Bachman books, It (we all float down here), Pet Cemetery, and Doctor Sleep are among the best things he’s written. His short stories stand alone, and many are better than his novels. Revival will eventually be seen as one of his best.

Stephen King is not the same author that gave birth to Christine, The Shining, Misery, etc. He has continued to develop as an author. Some readers enjoy the way things have gone, others feel betrayed in that King doesn’t write the same way or the same stuff as he did in the 70’s or 80’s or even the 90’s. Such is the way things go. I for one like his new stuff and hope he continues to march on.

Gently paced, Rival builds with the end of the book worth the trip of reading the whole book.


Haunted (A Hannah Smith Novel)
Haunted (A Hannah Smith Novel)
by Randy Wayne White
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.31
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3.0 out of 5 stars I have my own stable of favorite authors that keep me pretty busy, November 14, 2014
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I have to admit that I believe this is the first Randy White novel that I have read. I have my own stable of favorite authors that keep me pretty busy. To be honest, Haunted hasn’t convinced me that I need to make room for Mr. White’s future work.

Haunted isn’t a bad story actually. Given the atmospheric location of the tale, Haunted has a lot going for it. The author fails to deliver though. Part of the problem is the slow start to the story. It bogs down with a scorpion problem, which is slowly resolved but never really figures into the remainder of the book. Then the trip to the RV park (yawn) and more time developing the story far into the meat of the book.

The main character of the novel, Hannah Smith, is dynamic, quick, intelligent, and action oriented. Her back story in interesting and may have been developed in previous novels or not. Certainly, I think she is bankable as a lead character.

Haunted does pickup toward the end of the book which makes patience pay off. Still, there are so many other authors producing good reads, that Randy White will have to improve his story development to compete.

I just wasn't impressed. Sorry!

Peace to all.


Death at Chinatown (Emily Cabot Mysteries) (Volume 5)
Death at Chinatown (Emily Cabot Mysteries) (Volume 5)
by Frances McNamara
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.03
34 used & new from $4.11

3.0 out of 5 stars This is a good bit of material in such a short novel and ..., October 18, 2014
Death at Chinatown by Frances McNamara, is less a murder mystery than it is a commentary on racism in the late 19th century. This is the fifth in the Emily Cabot Mystery series and perhaps the weakest of the five.

Dr. Mary Stone is one of two young Chinese women who have recently graduated with medical degrees in the United States and are headed by to China to open a clinic. While in Chicago, Dr. Stone is accused of murdering a Chinese herbalist. Ida Kahn, the other Chinese doctor works with Emily Chapman to prove that Mary is innocent of murder. Emily Chapman is married to yet another doctor and is heavily conflicted about her role as a mother, amateur sleuth, wife, and teacher. Add to this a visit to Chicago by a Chinese dignitary, Viceroy Li, and a local threat on his life from Chinese revolutionaries in America you end up with a somewhat convoluted story. This is a good bit of material in such a short novel and seems to confuse the reader. Is this a social commentary on immigration or a murder mystery or a social commentary on the role of women in an evolving society?

A visit to Chinatown in any American city is an unforgettable experience. I can still remember my visits to Chinatown in San Francisco as a teenager in the early 1960’s. The sights, sounds, and smells were so memorable that I can still remember them. Trips into the shops and stores were a feast to the eyes, not to mention the easy access to fireworks. They were outlawed even then and made to trip even more rewarding. The point is none of this is adequately conveyed in Death at Chinatown to the reader by Ms McNamara. It wouldn’t take a lot of effort to pull the reader in to an exotic environment, but alas it doesn’t happen.

Death at Chinatown is a okay read but lacks the magnetic draw to grab the reader. I have to give Death at Chinatown 3 stars.

(I was provided a free copy of this book to review and in no way impacts my review)

Peace to all.


The Golem of Hollywood
The Golem of Hollywood
by Jesse Kellerman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.93
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars While I’ve enjoyed some of Kellerman’s stories, July 28, 2014
This review is from: The Golem of Hollywood (Hardcover)
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Jonathan, and son Jesse Kellerman’s Golem of Hollywood is a pleasant surprise. While I’ve enjoyed some of Kellerman’s stories, I’ve not made an effort to read each one as they appeared. There’s no particular reason for this other than I tend to grab books that strike my curiosity. However, when I read the brief marketing blur for Golem, I knew that I would have to read it.

As others have or will point out, Golem is a complex story for a mystery. At 550 pages the book is a full read meaning that there is a tremendous depth to the story and the characters that fill it’s pages. The Kellermans do a fantastic job of threading the story through one scene after another. However, after and interesting opening, the story bogs down with a little too much character development. It eventually becomes interesting again, and in the end is worth the time it takes to read it. While I wouldn’t call the ending disappointing, it seemed pretty obvious with a little thought.

Detective Jacob Lev is a tired and worn out L. A. cop who is a partially recovered alcoholic. After waking with a woman in his house that he cannot remember from the night before he reports to work only to learn that he has been unceremoniously reassigned to the Special Projects squad. His first case deals with a head discovered in an abandoned house far into the hills surrounding Los Angeles. As the story progresses Jacob Lev pursues the mysterious case and in the process discovers himself.

A tightly told story that may drag a little, but carries the reader on a fulfilling ride.


West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776
West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776
by Claudio Saunt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.10
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping history., July 5, 2014
It is interesting to think about what was happening on the North American continent while the colonists were trying to throw off the yoke of British rule along the Eastern Seaboard. So much of American history education around the year 1776 (at least what little is being taught) is focused on the thirteen colonies and completely ignores the rest of the continent. In most classrooms, both public school and colleges, it’s not until the Louisiana Purchase that attention is turned west. Before that point, the continent is darker than dark Africa in the minds of most everyone.

West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 by Claudio Saunt is a bold and original attempt at correcting this According to Saunt, on the West Coast the Spanish were busy establishing settlements in what would become California. To the north, the Russians were busy grabbing land away from the tribes that inhabited the land. The great American land grab was on. Also, during the years 1775-1776 the Lakota’s discovered the Black Hills in what is now South Dakota. What often isn’t mentioned, of course, is that the Crow Indians were already there and had to be run out. The Lakota still feel so strongly about the unfairness of their losing the Black Hills, that they’re still trying to get the area back.

Saunt also includes the beginning of the Cherokee Tragedy that culminated years later in the Trail of Tears. In 1776 land speculators initiated an attack on 36 Cherokee towns in what is now Western North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. That event is commemorated with historical markers in North Carolina about Rutherford’s Trace. Many of the family names of members of Rutherford’s army are still present in Haywood County, North Carolina. In fact, I live on land that was part of that land grab.

There are other areas that Saunt investigates but this will give you an idea of the scope of his coverage. Suffice it to say that the research for this effort must have been enormous.

One annoying question, of course, that most Americans avoid regardless of how rotten they believe Native Americans were treated is what should be done. Should we give it all back?

I highly recommend West of the Revolution.

Peace to all.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 7, 2014 11:48 AM PDT


The City: A Novel
The City: A Novel
by Dean Koontz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.25
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating Koontz, July 5, 2014
This review is from: The City: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Dean Koontz’s The City is yet another step forward for this author who has continued to develop and avoid becoming stale. Though many readers from his early days feel that Koontz has lost it, he has accumulated new readers that seem to love his edgy stories. This is the mark of a serious writer; one worth of your time to become familiar with.

The City introduces us to Jonah Kirk who at 57 begins dictating the story to us. We are introduced to Pearl very early in the tale and are told that she will continue to appear. Pearl tells Jonah that she is the soul of the city and watches over her residents. It’s funny because I have often thought that cities such as New York, Chicago, L. A., and San Francisco, et al, are all unique even though they share the designation of a megalopolis. How is that? What makes them distinctive even though they are so much a like. Koontz tells us that at least one city has a soul. Could they all, by logic, have one and that is what makes them unique?

While Jonah is a piano prodigy, a lot of the book is about his love for his mother and the difficult and threatening relationship he has with his father. It is the characters of The City that drive this story. The City is less about the supernatural and seems to be more grounded in the here and now. Regardless of that fact, die hard Koontz readers will enjoy The City.

I can highly recommend The City.

Peace to all.


I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir
I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir
by James Webb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.23
136 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing and engaging, June 26, 2014
I Heard My Country Calling by James Webb is the nonfiction read of 2014 so far. The year isn’t half over yet, so who knows what’s coming down the pike. Webb’s account of his life, family, education at Annapolis, his tour in war ravaged Vietnam is honest and to the point. There is an economy of words in I Heard My Country Calling which I’m sure is the result of his having written Fields of Fire.

I approach most memoirs with a great deal of care and skepticism. However, there is a strain of honesty running through the book. This is especially true as he covers his years at Annapolis and during his time in Vietnam. In Vietnam, young Webb won a Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart as a result of his combat experiences. Webb is also honest as he discusses his early life and his relationship with his family. As a Navy brat I can readily identify with the hardships of the gypsy like life style that he endured and also how a young son can miss his absent father. Having said that, there is an inevitable independence that results from having to rely on yourself and being forced to make new friends with every move. I also understand his admiration for his mother. My mother held the family together making sure each move was handled with the utmost efficiency. His mother performed the same tasks over and over again.

Webb also served his country as Secretary of the Navy as a Republican and in the U. S. Senate as a Virginian and a Democrat. Certainly, his service to the United States has proved his honor and personal commitment to his country.

This is a very enlightening read and I highly recommend it.

Semper Fi


James Madison: A Life Reconsidered
James Madison: A Life Reconsidered
by Lynne V. Cheney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.71
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertainingly informative, June 26, 2014
James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney is a great examination about this often over looked patriot and President. I read A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation by Catherine Allgor when it was published in 2007. I was very delighted that A Life Reconsidered caught my eye in a bookstore. I ordered it from Amazon and have enjoyed reading it.

Lynne Cheney is a wonderful author. It is clear after reading James Madison that she is and expert historian, author, and researcher. This work doesn’t read like a typical historical book. Cheney is great at introducing the various players that were intimates with the Madison’s and developing them for the reader. She provides enough information to provide context by avoids the minutia that can kill the readers attention.

We see the type of person that Madison was by his behavior at Princeton. Repeatedly warned by his father about the need to economize due to crop failures at home, young Madison asked the faculty to allow him to cram two years of study into one so that he could relieve from his father the cost of his education. They agreed. During the next year young James ruined his health by driving himself to exhaustion so he could graduate early. This behavior is not what we’re used to hearing about college students today.

Much of the book is devoted to the writing and ultimate passage of the Constitution of the United States. I was vaguely aware of some of the difficulties from earlier reading. However, Cheney seems to add a depth of illustration to her coverage. I found myself enthralled and disheartened at the same time. What we read in the headlines today about the shenanigans taking place in Washington today is very similar to what the framers of the Constitution had to put up with. Politics is a dirty business for all times.

Mrs. Cheney has produced an admirable book about a crucially important character in the early life of this country. I highly recommend.

Peace to all.


World War I: The Definitive Visual History
World War I: The Definitive Visual History
by R.G. Grant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $28.89
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete coverage, June 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
World War I: A Definitive Visual History published by DK is a very timely book. June 28, 2014 marks the centennial of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914. By August 6 of that same year the dominos had fallen with first one country and then another declaring war of each other. At that point the blood bath had begun and the hounds of Hell were released.

This book, similar in size to coffee table books, is a marvelous study of the entire tragedy. Full of pictures and easy to read text makes World War I and informative addition to your personal library. I especially like the use of the before and after tool. Each major event includes a “before” it happened and then looks at how things changed as a result of that event. Also of great interest are the pictorial studies included. The one that comes to mind is the full-page depiction of the weapons used in trench warfare and identifying which country they belonged to. I have to agree with another reviewer that states the book is organized in many ways just like a museum and this makes the whole book very informative and useful.

This book is also very complete in the material covered. I cannot think of any aspect or area not covered between the covers. The soldiers, their uniforms, food, weapons, living conditions just to name a few are all fully covered. The battles are explained as are the relationships between the combating countries.

World War 1: A Definitive Visual History is a great book and certainly worth the cost of purchasing it. I highly recommend.

Semper Fi.


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