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William E. Adams RSS Feed (San Angelo, Texas USA)

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Our Souls at Night: A novel
Our Souls at Night: A novel
by Kent Haruf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.61
98 used & new from $9.45

4.0 out of 5 stars The characters are old, but not cold..., May 19, 2016
Interesting quick read. Small pages and only 179 of them. Three hours should do it. A touching tale of two lonely, single, 70-year-olds who decide to spent nights together, for mutual comfort without sex. This is about conversation, companionship, comfort. And later a lonely child, a dog in need of a family, town gossips who stir up troubles, adult children who judge harshly, and the irritations of aging. I borrowed my copy, and it was worth the time it took to read it, but I am the same age as the protagonists. Younger folks may not be as drawn to this.

Once a Crooked Man: A Novel
Once a Crooked Man: A Novel
by David McCallum
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.76
76 used & new from $6.30

1.0 out of 5 stars An honorable failure, from an excellent actor..., May 9, 2016
I have enjoyed the author's acting career for decades. His regular stint on the NCIS series is a delight. But I gave up on his novel at page 70. The characters did not interest me, and neither did the situation. The writing was loose and would have benefitted from more dialogue and less description of ultimately unimportant actions, conversations and events. I don't give up on mystery novels easily. David is obviously a smart man, and if he tries again, I'm sure he'll do much better. I want my mysteries to give me a scare in the first chapter and regularly throughout, with the biggest scare coming before the successful conclusion for the hero. This one just didn't.

The Blood Flag
The Blood Flag
by James W. Huston
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.99
49 used & new from $8.08

3.0 out of 5 stars Fine idea, flawed development..., May 6, 2016
This review is from: The Blood Flag (Hardcover)
The printed product does not live up to the promising pitch on the dust jacket here. Discovery of a new world-wide neo-Nazi conspiracy? I'm intrigued. Search for a Nazi iconic object lost since 1944? I want to follow that. FBI good guys v. racist villains? I know whose side I'm on. However, once one gets into the story, Mr. Huston shows us stereotyped characters, unbelievable sticky situations which are escaped with ease and luck, a violent ending that would have had next-day repercussions more interesting than the events described in the book which led to the climax. This was my first novel by this author, and I don't know if I want to pick up another, although other reviewers praise his earlier efforts. Somehow I got the idea that the author was rushing to meet a deadline, and could not invest the time in much-needed rewrites.

The Race
The Race
by Richard North Patterson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $9.99
185 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Nine years ago, the author typed a book that captures THIS year (2016) in politics precisely..., May 4, 2016
This review is from: The Race (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read several Patterson novels, and "The Race" is not the best of my bunch, neither is it the best fictional treatment of a presidential campaign ever published. But it is amazing in one way that makes me glad I found it on the library shelf last week: it came out way back in 2007, but the campaign it describes is more like the one we have endured for the past year. The themes include race, gays, immigration, insults, corruption, cowardice, terrorism, secrets, greed, selflessness, women's rights, deals in the dark and deals that move us toward the light, the sad state of media, religion as a political football and also as a spiritual enrichment. The hero is a moderate Republican making a run against a "whatever works" competitor and a professional preacher candidate during a GOP primary season. They end up in a brokered convention, which today's GOP apparently just missed having. (I write this the day after the Indiana primary that cleared the way for Donald Trump to lead the party in the fall election.) It is amazing how various issues which were there, but not primary (no pun intended) in '07 are presented as if Patterson wrote this four months ago. There are some incidents and relationships depicted that are far-fetched, but its portrait of the amoral political consultant class and the things done to snare delegates at contested conventions seem right on. If you like novels and have been following the 2015-16 campaign, you might find this as interesting as I did.

Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Oscar-worthy Dench turn on screen..., April 29, 2016
This review is from: Philomena (Amazon Video)
We have to do something about Judi Dench, people. Heck, she must be over 70 by now. How do we guarantee that she can keep acting beyond 90, with mobility and good voice? Like Betty White, for instance? If she dies or retires, who will do the roles she handles so perfectly? "Philomena" is a serious story with a few comic moments, but brings more tears than laughter. The title character's search for her son, born out of wedlock 50 years ago and adopted out to an American couple by the nuns who housed his unwed mother, is powerfully rendered. Based on a real search for a real man by a real bio-mom with the help of a real writer in two countries and many obstacles, it will have an affect on all adopted adults and their bio-or adoptive parents. Even you don't know any folks who have a connection to adoption, enjoy it for its writing and performances.

My House of Memories: An Autobiography
My House of Memories: An Autobiography
by Merle Haggard
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.39
67 used & new from $8.28

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hag's earthly journey is over, but he made the most of it..., April 11, 2016
I pulled this off the library shelf the day after Merle died. It is a collaboration between Haggard and a helpful author named Tom Carter, but all of it is in Hag's voice, and as a prior reviewer noted, it is a "choppy" retelling of his difficult childhood, his mostly minor crimes, his wanderings around the West at the tender ages of 14-17. We also learn quite a bit about his two years-plus at San Quentin, and some basic facts about his multiple marriages and divorces. As far as his singing, songwriting, and guitar-picking go, we get many "road" tales, a detailed look at his post-prison professional singer beginnings in the bars of Bakersfield, several stories about how the business leaders in the music world screw over the talent leaders. There are stories of over-drinking, some drug dependence, a handful of physical fights, some cheating, and some financial mistakes. I found it interesting enough to stick with it, but not essential to my fan status. I'm glad Merle had music to keep him from making crime his prime career, and I think his vocal and writing talents fully justify all the money he earned by the time the hits were not coming anymore and country radio lost interest. I saw him in an outdoor concert in Roswell NM at least 15 years ago. Lacy J. Dalton opened the evening, and she has been my favorite country female vocalist since her first LP a long time ago. Then Merle came on and did a bunch of hits very well considering his age at the time. Willie Nelson closed the show, but my wife and I couldn't stay that late, so we missed him. Each came in their own busses, parked side by side at the Chaves County fairgrounds. I did get to watch Lacy sign autographs up close, but we left just before Merle was ready to take a turn at the table. If you read this book, you'll learn he did not really love the road, and the regimented bus rides from city to city with the same routines everywhere. We fans are lucky that so many country artists are willing to put up with that life just so we can get near them for a bit.

From the Alec Thomas Archives: Gone for a Soldier- The Civil War Memoirs of Private Alfred Bellard
From the Alec Thomas Archives: Gone for a Soldier- The Civil War Memoirs of Private Alfred Bellard
by David Herbert Donald
Edition: Hardcover
86 used & new from $3.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at a Union soldiers' thousand days in the ranks..., March 24, 2016
Mr. Brown's review below is exactly right. This is a beautiful book in hard cover, published in 1975, and Pvt. Bellard's drawings are excellent. This is a different sort of Civil War memoir. Bellard was just an ordinary soldier, serving a three-year enlistment from the summer of 1861 to August of '64. His unit served in the Eastern Virginia campaigns of Gens. McClellan, Hooker, Sickles and Burnside. They did more camping than fighting, except on the fringes of the Battle of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Bellard got wounded, not bad enough to let him be discharged, but just enough to keep him on hospital duty and guard duty around Washington for most of his final year in the Union Army. However, the journals he kept were quite detailed about daily life: the food or lack of it, the uniforms or lack of them, the transportation or lack of it, the discipline, or lack of it, the boredom, or lack of it. He joined up just across the river from New York City, and spent time in Trenton, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, in addition to D.C. and many small burgs in Virginia. He missed the Battle of Antietam. He never hung out with anyone famous. He put this manuscript together around 1880 from his journals, and died in 1891. I've read a fair share of Civil War books, and I really enjoyed this one. I spent 719 days in the Army myself, including a month in Vietnam, and most of that time was boring and unimportant. Most of the people I got to know were far from famous and just trying to do their jobs and get out with honor. Bellard was a better soldier than I ever was, but I could identify with him a great deal. If you want a glimpse of how an enlistment went for a quiet soldier back in those days, find a copy of this one. I am surprised there are copies available from Amazon affiliated dealers at bargain prices. My copy was passed on by a friend, and I plan to pass it on to a history book shop in my city so it can be found by someone who will appreciate reading it as much as I have.

20 Golden Hits
20 Golden Hits
Price: $7.99
51 used & new from $2.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Lefty's up-and-down career and life produced a couple of enduring classics, and some near classics..., March 13, 2016
This review is from: 20 Golden Hits (Audio CD)
If you want to hear 1950's country and western stylings by one of its most influential but troubled stars, this is a good package at a decent price. The best tracks here, however, are "Saginaw, Michigan" (his last hit, 1964) and "Long Black Veil." They are far and away his best vocal releases with the best hooks. All his other hits from 1950-54 are also here. During the second half of the '50's, Lefty's drinking and changing public tastes caused quite a decline in his career, so his comeback in '64 was quite a pleasant surprise. Lefty, a child of Texas, died in 1975, but had not made the charts in his final decade. There may be other packages available with better Lefty versions of these songs, or some recordings people may be familiar with as album cuts and may like more than some of his singles, but it is unlikely you'll find a less expensive (per track) way to have a good Frizzell sampler on your CD shelf.

Classic Western Swing & Honky Tonk
Classic Western Swing & Honky Tonk
Price: $16.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Underappreciated Texas treasure offers 90- minute package of fine performances..., March 9, 2016
I have a soft spot in my heart for Red because he is the only country star I've ever actually met. That happened about seven years ago when he played a charity event here in San Angelo. He and his band were terrific with their music, of course, but he was also gracious, humble, and friendly. My affection for him goes back to when I would watch the dog movie "Benjy" with my youngest daughter via VCR. Red had a small role in that one. The film has little dialogue, so to keep my toddler entertained, I would make up Benjy's thoughts as we watched, and my Bianca made me come up with different dog reactions each viewing. What a challenge, but what fun. I found this set in my chain store for books and music a couple of weeks ago. My other Steagall CD set consists of old cowboy songs and brief stories, and it is great. This one has country love songs and many Texas-themed ones among them, good dance music set in honky-tonks and a couple of pop standards as well. Every song is worth repeat listening, not a clunker among the whole 36. That is incredibly rare for sets this big. Red may not be a household name anywhere but Texas, and he does not have a major label recording deal, but he and his band are very active, he hosts a weekly bunkhouse/ranch themed radio show, and he devotes a large amount of time to worthwhile causes. If you get a chance to see him perform, do not miss it.

This Time
This Time
Price: $4.99
94 used & new from $0.74

3.0 out of 5 stars OK collection of OK songs, but nothing to rave about..., March 4, 2016
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This review is from: This Time (Audio CD)
I'd always been interested in Dwight, but never had purchased an album of his. This one, from 1992, is worth listening to a few times, although I don't think any of its tracks are classic hits that will be showing up in "Best of Country" compilations sold on TV for nostalgia lovers. "A Pocket of a Clown" is probably the strongest song here, and "Try Not to Look So Pretty" is also fun. Everything here is competent but not really compelling.

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