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Bark: Stories
Bark: Stories
by Lorrie Moore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.78
81 used & new from $10.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Lorrie Moore the Master Short Story Teller!, April 12, 2014
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This review is from: Bark: Stories (Hardcover)
I picked up Bark on the recommendation of my mega-reader aunt and after seeing a pretty good review in the NY Times. I forget that oftentimes a short story collection is a set of stories published in the past with not a lot of new writing. Some of the articles did seem familiar from past New Yorkers. That said, the collection is solid and anyone who likes Lorrie Moore's writing and had a thirst for something new since she wrote the highly acclaimed novel A Gate at the Stairs--which was excellent--will enjoy this collection.

There are 8 stories in the book all of which in my opinion are non-traditional in nature. There is something just a bit odd happening to the characters in each book. I thought the first story "Debarking" was the best in the book as we are introduced to Ira who is a newly divorced man in search of what is normal in life now that he does not have a permanent partner. In "The Juniper Tree" we are taken to a world of science fiction where a group of friends encounter their newly dead friend in her house (this was the weirdest story of the bunch). "Referential" talked about a woman with a crazed son who is institutionalized and her attempt to forge a bond with a single man Pete who is in and out of their lives. Finally, I enjoyed "Thank You For Having Me" which depicted a wedding ceremony gone horribly wrong--or at least gone horribly odd--and a mother and her daughter trying to make sense out of the chaos. In fact, the stories in this book are very much about people trying to make sense of chaos and confusion. I highly recommend this book for any fan of the short story genre and for fans of Lorrie Moore. You will not be disappointed.

These two examples of her proficiency shine: “Debarking” is about a divorced man who enters the dating scene only to experience complications with the is-she-crazy woman he starts dating and also within himself, as intimacy seems the natural antidote to “global craziness”; “Wings” concerns husband-and-wife musicians whose dreams haven’t panned ou


The Doctor's House: A Novel
The Doctor's House: A Novel
by Ann Beattie
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.70
141 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Ann Beattie Book!, April 12, 2014
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I had never read anything by Ann Beattie but had heard from many people that I needed to start getting to know her reading better. So I picked up The Doctor's House and was quite pleased albeit saddened by the life she depicted of two children growing up in hat can only be described as a house with a tyrannical father and a beaten down mother. I actually found an amazing number of parallel's to This Boy's Life and could picture Robert De Niro kicking the boy over and over again in that powerful movie adaptation of the Wolff book.

In this book, we are introduced to a boy and girl and their mother all trying to coexist in a house with a crazy father who is a doctor. The father predictably takes up with his nurse and pretends like everything is perfectly normal when he is home. The book is written in three parts--each from the perspective of a different character. The girl Nina who has recently lost her husband reflects on the escapades of her brother Andrew. I felt Andrew was using sex to escape the craziness of his household in his mind and he certainly was getting a lot of sex from ex-classmates and friends. The mother seemed so beaten down that she was unable to do much to help her kids. Parts of the book plodded along with extreme detail about the innermost thoughts of the kids now that they are both adults. I though the book was good but not necessarily great. As I have said in other reviews I have written, the book could have been 30 page shorter and would have been a bit better. Nonetheless, as a first exposure to Ann Beattie, I was super impressed and look forward to reading more of her work.


Half in Love: Stories
Half in Love: Stories
by Maile Meloy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.60
133 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Maile Meloy's First Set of Stories Does Not Dissapoint, April 12, 2014
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This review is from: Half in Love: Stories (Paperback)
I am an unabashed fan of Maile Meloy. I was hooked after reading Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It and then proceeded to her excellent novel Liars and Saints. When I saw her original short story collection on an older NY Times Notable Books list, I decided to pick it up to essentially complete the circle with Maile and I really liked it a lot. She writes in a very economical way. There is a strong hint of the modern Wild West in her stories that is refreshing to someone who has spent time in Montana where she hails from. I thought the saddest story in the bunch was The Ice Harvester that talked about a man who really like others today was in a job that became obsolete-bunch he soldiers through trying to make a living. Kite Whistler Aquamarine is a funny name for a story for sure but really hit hard as a man who probably had no business being a horse lover and breeder tried to bring a colt back from the dead. The story I enjoyed most was The River. I wondered as I read it if friends really have that sort of bond where being naked around each other doesn't phase them and where they worry as much about each other as themselves. An excellent set of short stories that I highly recommend to anyone who likes the genre and of course to Maile Meloy fans.


HAWK HEAVEN - The Road To The Seahawks' First Super Bowl Victory
HAWK HEAVEN - The Road To The Seahawks' First Super Bowl Victory
by Seattle Times
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Recap of an Amazing Season, April 12, 2014
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I purchased this for my son who is a rabid Seahawks fan and I highly recommend it as a great recap to the season for a fan of any age, He has enjoyed it immensely and continues to go back to look at the pictures and re-live the season over and over again The photography really makes this a must have.


An Unfinished Season: A Novel
An Unfinished Season: A Novel
by Ward S. Just
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.79
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great Novel of 1960s Chicago, April 12, 2014
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As someone who grew up in Chicago and had visited my grandparents on Lake Shore drive frequently, I found Ward Just's book An Unfinished Season to be quite interesting and relevant to my childhood. Not for the stories it depicted but more what it was like in Chicago in the decade prior to my arrival on this earth.

The book starts in the 1950s in Chicago and young Wilson Ravan was living as an only child out with his parents in the boonies in Illinois not too far from the city but enough of a distance to make it a journey. That didn't stop him from going out and participating in what can only be described as high society parties where he met many girls and danced many nights away. His father Teddy was a rough kind of guy who was self-made and carried a gun for protection because his factory was in the midst of an uprising by the workers who wanted more pay for less hours worked. Will eventually meets a very interesting girl whose father is a mysterious doctor. Between dances and his internship at the local newspaper, Will takes up with her, falls in love, and then is there for her when she experiences tragedy in the family. Secrets emerge in her family that rival those of his own disintegrating family in terms of upheaval in Will's life. The book doesn't have a real natural ending so much as it just expires leaving you wanting for a bit more in terms of Will's life. I enjoyed the book a great deal but would like to have seen more or at least know the author was planning a follow-up--which I doubt is forthcoming. I do recommend it especially to those who have grown up in Chicago or know those who have.


The Sooterkin
The Sooterkin
by Tom Gilling
Edition: Hardcover
84 used & new from $0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Intersting.. But Not a Huge Fan, April 12, 2014
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This review is from: The Sooterkin (Hardcover)
I picked The Sooterkin after seeing it on one of the older NY Times Notable Books Lists and I have to say that although I found it different for sure, it is not something I can recommend to people as a "must-read." Apparently it got a ton of publicity in Australia when it was published but if you want to read a good Australian author, go for Tim Winton. He is much better. The Sooterkin is a story that takes place in the early 1800s in Australia. A seal is born to a woman named Sarah Dyer (I mean this is kind of crazy, right?) and her alcoholic husband proceeds to figure out ways to make money off of this crazy occurrence while spending time in and out of bars. Their other normal son tries to take care of his new brother (or sister?) but also doesn't do such a super good job. Enter Dr. Banes who wants to take the seal around the world and make money off of what he believes is a monstrosity (the mom of course does not). The seal goes missing and the rest of the story is filled with how the family works to get it back. There is also a kind of side story going on with a local Reverend Kidney who is as bizarre as a priest can possibly be in a story. To be honest, I found this book hard to read and had a hard time getting through it. The last 30 pages and the surprise ending were probably the best of the entire book. I can't really recommend it.


This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel
This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel
by Wiley Cash
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25
77 used & new from $8.18

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book Narrated by a Trio of Characters, April 12, 2014
I picked up Wiley Cash's book while in a great bookstore in San Francisco on the recommendation of the sales person there. I am super happy he pointed it out to me as I had heard of Cash's previous book but had not read it yet and this one turned out to be really quite excellent. Cash writes in an inviting and easy to read way and I literally flew through the book in almost one sitting. What I enjoyed about the book in addition to the story was the way Cash lays it out with a number of narrators-three primarily-telling the story in the first person. The book starts with a twelve year old girl named Easter witnessing their mother passing away from what seems to be an excess of sleeping pills. They are in foster care when their long gone father Wade reappears and wants to take them under his wing. That was pretty odd to the girls who barely knew him and were thinking they were going to live with their equally unknown grandparents in Alaska. Wade essentially steals them away from their foster home and thus begins a chase around the country mixed in with a mobster looking for his twice stolen money that he believe Wade has-or at least knows where it is. As a baseball fan, I enjoyed the sub plot of the McGwire/Sosa home run chase of Roger Maris--I remember that well even though it has now been tainted by steroids. I won't spoil the end but the story does finish at a ballpark in a dynamite but also somewhat more subdued way than I thought it would. Take a read and you will see what I mean. I recommend this book as strongly as the sales person recommended it to me. You will enjoy it immensely.

Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a recent armored car heist, one with a whopping $14.5 million missing. But Brady Weller isn't the only one hunting the desperate father. Robert Pruitt, a shady and mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is also determined to find Wade and claim his due.

Narrated by a trio of alternating voices, This Dark Road to Mercy is a story about the indelible power of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.


How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel
by Mohsin Hamid
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.97
71 used & new from $7.55

4.0 out of 5 stars Are "You" Ready for a Great Book?, April 12, 2014
I picked up Mohsin Hamid's newest book "Filthy Rich" after reading both of his other outstanding books--Moth Smoke and The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Each of those books was slightly "different" in terms of how he laid out the book and its writing so I was prepared for something equally quirky. Filthy Rich didn't disappoint. The subject of the book is "You" which is both personal and impersonal in the sense that the reader feels as if Mohsin is talking to him but also you remain somewhat detached from the protagonist of the book. The idea of the book is that in 12 easy steps, Hamid is going to show you how to get filthy rich. From very humble beginnings You start off learning how to make a living working in quite a shady business selling re-labelled food. You move from that to starting your own shady repackaged "pure" water business. All the while you are in love with a beautiful woman who deflowered you when you were younger. You get married--not to that woman--and have a child who over the years becomes detached from you and your wife who you also become detached from. I won't spoil the ending but suffice it to say that being filthy rich is not all it is made out to be. I thought this was a very solid book that all Mohsin Hamid writers will enjoy.


A Family Daughter: A Novel
A Family Daughter: A Novel
by Maile Meloy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.60
34 used & new from $1.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Meloy is a Great Author!, April 11, 2014
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If you liked Liars and Saints from Maile Meloy or even "Both Ways is the Only Way.." then you are going to like this book A Family Daughter which is a derivative book of Liars and Saints. It doesn't pick up where Liars and Saints left off but it takes one of the key actors in the earlier books--Abby--and blows out her character in a much deeper way than in the first book. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Meloy do a derivative book on Jamie--maybe Meloy will read this review and think of doing it. In this book, we once again see the Santerre family in all its glory and warts. Abby who is the granddaughter is the narrator of this book and we learn more about her mother Clarissa who at best is an absentee mom. We aren't exposed as much to Yvette and Teddy from the standpoint of their deep religious beliefs as we are in book one but they definitely play a big role. We definitely get deeper into the incestuous relationship between Abby and Jamie which I thought was the most fascinating part of Liars and Saints. We even are exposed to a school counselor who helps them both work out their issues. Abby ends up writing a book that polarizes the family. It exposes in a fictional (but obvious) manner the secrets of the Santerre family and ends up creating a rift between certain family members. I really enjoyed this book. Not quite as much as Liars and Saints but definitely as a very solid accompaniment,. Ihihly recommend it to all Meloy fans.


Rumpole Rests His Case
Rumpole Rests His Case
by John Clifford Mortimer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.64
163 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Rumpole is a Character Worth Reading More About, April 9, 2014
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This review is from: Rumpole Rests His Case (Paperback)
I picked up this Rumpole book from John Mortimer after hearing about the series for a long time but never actually reading any of the books. Apparently, Mortimer has been writing about Rumpole since the early 1970s! This book was written by Mortimer after a 6 year hiatus of writing about Rumpole so fans of his from what I have read seemed quite happy that he chose to bring this character back into existence.

The book is laid out as a series of six short stories; all about Rumpole who is a lawyer in England. Rumpole is portrayed not always in the best light--kind of frumpy and out of sorts and even a bit of a mad scientist type. He solves cases on behalf of his clients in not always the most direct of routes but in a way that exonerates his clients in a sometime surprising way. I enjoyed a few things about the book including the often funny up and back with his wife who is as sarcastic as it comes. I liked the story "Rumpole and the Asylum Seekers" the best as it both portrayed the difficulties of people coming from a foreign land trying to escape persecution but also had a real surprise ending. "Rumpole and the Teenage Werewolf" was also quite good. Overall a nice set of stories and it made me want to pick up a few more of the series so I can learn more about this very interesting character named Rumpole.

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