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Robert B. Parker's Wonderland (Spenser Book 41)
Robert B. Parker's Wonderland (Spenser Book 41)
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $7.85

4.0 out of 5 stars WHAT'S THE DEAL?, October 25, 2014
In the second of his Spenser novels WONDERLAND, author Ace Atkins once again picks up where Robert B. Parker left off. This time it's Henry Cimoli, an old friend who runs the gym where Spenser and his guys (Hawk and Native American Zebulon Sixkill - Z for short) work out, who needs help and he need it fast. Cimoli has been physically threatened, and some of the elderly residents of the condominium complex in which he lives are in are being pushed to sell their units by an out of state developer who wants the property in order to build a casino. Since most of the owners are reluctant to sell some local muscle has been dispatched to change their minds. It's Spenser and his trusty NEW sidekick Z to the rescue. Spenser successfully does his tough smart-mouth older guy thing, but the outcome for Z is another matter that leaves him a little off-kilter both physically and emotionally.

Ultimately a deal is reached between the developer and the residents that satisfies all participants.....but wait.....then the skirt-chasing developer is murdered and Spenser is approached by the widow to find her husbands killer....AND naturally the plot thickens. What happens next is an exercise in control, greed, jealousy and mayhem.

While die-hard Parker fans might miss the presence of the old regulars like Hawk and Spenser's main squeeze Susan in this telling, their absence does not detract from the overall story and Atkins style of writing is a fresh take on the Spenser narrative. While it doesn't over-tax any brain cells, WONDERLAND is an enjoyable "escape" read.


Woman with a Gun: A Novel
Woman with a Gun: A Novel
by Phillip Margolin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT PICTURE PERFECT, October 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In WOMAN WITH A GUN, Phillip Margolins latest offering, it's hard to judge who is the central character in this tale. All of the blurbs would have you believe that the story is about Stacey Kim, a young woman who has relocated to New York from the Midwest to pursue her dream of becoming a best selling author. She is currently stuck in a receptionist's job that she hates. Using her lunch hour to visit an art exhibit at MOMA, she sees and is captivated by a photograph depicting a woman in a wedding dress, standing at the ocean's edge, holding a gun that could easily have been held by Dirty Harry as he commanded "make my day".

Stacey begins to imagine a variety of possible stories the picture could tell which could serve as the basis for her, as yet, unwritten book. All of this occurs in the first seven pages of the novel and the elusive Stacey does not re-appear until page 168 when she decides to leave her dead end job and relocate to the "scene of the picture" in order to pursue her true love......writing. In the intervening 161 pages we meet Megan Cahill, the subject of the photo, two of Mrs. Cahill's lawyers Glen Kraft and Henry Baker, Assistant Attorney General Jack Booth who has more than a passing interest in photographer Kathy Moran as well as an assortment of other peripheral individuals, ranging from an ex-husband to a bar owner to a drug supplier, all of whom float in and out of the story at various intervals.

What we ultimately have is a tale of love, revenge and murder perpetrated by an individual whose identity, when revealed, will come as no surprise to most readers. The motives for the crime(s)are a little more involved, but relatively simple. Having previously read several books by Phillip Margolin I was expecting this book, like his GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, to be an exceptional and riveting reading experience. Instead, what was delivered was a less than gripping, run of the mill tale that does not live up to the "haunting, unforgettable thriller that provides a compelling insider's view of criminal behavior" hype promised on the books' back cover.

This is an okay read that will keep you occupied but not necessarily engrossed. I can recommend it over becoming involved in a mind-numbing conversation with the guy seated next to you on a long flight, but that's about the extent of my endorsement. Barely 3 stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2014 6:47 AM PDT


The Bookseller: A Novel
The Bookseller: A Novel
by Cynthia Swanson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MIRROR IMAGES, October 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Most of us have daydreamed about those "what if" situations in our lives....what if I hadn't gotten married, what if I had taken that trip to Europe, what if I had moved out of state after college. Well you get the scenario.

Cynthia Swanson pursues the age old question of "What if my life were different" in her new novel THE BOOKSELLER. Set in Denver in the early 1960s, Kitty a thirty-something, single bookshop owner begins to have haunting dreams of an alternate life in which she's a housewife named Katharyn, a mother of three and married to the man of her dreams(pun intended). Eventually the lines between her reality and her almost perfect dream life begin to blur, and she is driven to uncover the truth about her seemingly parallel lives.

Kitty's is a thought provoking journey in which she is drawn to her dream life while she and her best friend/partner Frieda desperately try to hold on to their bookshop, whose location and steadily declining customer base, have brought them to the brink of bankruptcy. This is an emotional and thought-provoking story, the focus of which appears to be how the lack of understanding and control over things in ones life can lead an individual to utilize sleep as a method of coping with, rather than facing head-on, the unpleasant realities fate often throws at us.

While most of the characters in this book are pretty stereo-typical and I did see the "reveal" coming about 200 pages into the story, I will not go any further with this review, lest I divulge some pertinent plot points that may ruin the story for others. Just let me say that Swanson's Kitty/Katharyn character is one most readers will identify and sympathize with as they observe her frustrating struggle of self-discovery,love and loss. 3 ˝ stars


The Great Gatsby (Penguin Hardback Classics) by Scott Fitzgerald, F. (2010)
The Great Gatsby (Penguin Hardback Classics) by Scott Fitzgerald, F. (2010)
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $2.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GATSBY REDUX, October 12, 2014
It's been many years since I read THE GREAT GATSBY and I thought it was about time that I re-visited Fitzgerald. I had forgotten how much imagery, symbolism and allegory permeates the story being related by Gatsby's neighbor Nick Carraway, whose "seeds" of observation are the basis from which this story sprouts.

Since Fitzgerald and his wife spent much of their time post WW1 in Paris one can only assume that he was not enamored of what had become of life in the United States. Nicks depiction of the land between the "EGGS" and New York City as a barren, grey valley of ashes may very well have been F. Scotts vision of American society in the 1920's with the haves and have nots obviously delineated........from the lavish parties thrown by Gatsby and the money spent on acquisitions by Tom, Daisy and Jordan , juxtaposed with the circumstances of George and Myrtle, put to rest (at least in Fitzgerald's eyes) the idea of the United States as a classless society filled with opportunity for all. Fitzgerald, however, does point out rather eloquently that for all their wealth and material possessions the rich are for the most part just as unhappy and dissatisfied as their poorer counterparts. Both classes are always waiting for the "green light" to pursue their dreams to acquire their hearts desire.

GATSBY is both a morality and a mortality tale of a Godless land in which "the eyes" (of society?? of God??) are always watching and the fear of living is almost as great as the fear of death. I'm glad that I ventured back into GATSBY territory because the passage of many years has opened these eyes to the greater depths of the story that I missed the first time around. Perhaps re-reading those books most of us found so boring in English Lit class would be a good challenge for each of us to undertake.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2014 4:20 PM PDT


The Good House: A Novel
The Good House: A Novel
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $8.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE HOUSE THAT HILDY BUILT, October 11, 2014
If you enjoy books with unreliable narrators who keep you guessing as to the veracity of their words then you should certainly appreciate THE GOOD HOUSE by Anne Leary. Hildy Good, the book's narrator, is a woman of "a certain age" who successfully sells real estate, maintains a good relationship with her homosexual ex-husband, has two grown daughters and a grandson, and has (after an intervention) gotten her excessive drinking under control and her life back on track.....at least that's what she would have her daughters and several residents of her Massachusetts home town believe. We all know, however, that devil's in the details and in case of Hildy's addiction it's the denial found within the details that allows the devil to do its work.

Hildy considers herself a MENTALIST of sorts when she says, "I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist could after a year of sessions". "Alcoholics, hoarders, binge eaters, addicts, sexual deviants, philanderers, depressives -- you name it, I can see it all in the worn edges of their nests." Hildy doesn't seem to realize that she is viewing the town and its inhabitants through an alcohol soaked perspective, so the accuracy of her observations regarding her friends and neighbors is questionable. Couple that with the frequent blackouts and memory lapses she suffers after belting down a few (bottles that is) and is it any wonder the reader would question Hildy's insights.

While alcoholism is the firm anchor that grounds the book, it is Hildy's relationship and interaction with the supporting cast that really imbues the story with an underlying uncertainty that drives the plot. Her friendship with the obsessive Rebecca, her inter-action with the parents of a special needs child and her on-going (since high school) romantic trysts with town handyman/garbageman Frank Getchell as well as the consequences that result from her uncontrollable drinking are just a few of the factors that will draw you in and keep you reading into the wee small hours.

Granted, Hildy is a mess, but I really liked the sixty-something year old broad and I think you may too. She's a survivor.


Lila: A Novel
Lila: A Novel
by Marilynne Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.60
69 used & new from $13.00

12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars LILA'S STORY, October 8, 2014
This review is from: Lila: A Novel (Hardcover)
If you, like I, tend to be the type of reader who is usually drawn to novels filled with plenty of action and edge of your seat plot twists then you will find Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson's LILA to be a little slow. It falls into the category of more traditional themes and straight-forward storytelling with LILA sharing her innermost thoughts regarding everything from the events in her childhood and the early wanderings that brought her to Gilead, Iowa to her life as the wife of an elderly country preacher.

While listening to this book on CD I found it difficult to follow the narrative which is as disjointed as the life of the woman whose story it tells. The narrative lazily meanders back and forth in time taking the reader from Lila's rescue at age four by the itinerant Doll, to her difficult life on the road where she relies on her instincts and survives by working as everything from a field hand to a cleaning woman in a whorehouse, and finally to her arrival in Iowa, her marriage and pregnancy (events not necessarily told in chronological order).

There is an abundance of scripture quoting and examination of the Calvinist doctrines and theology which, while essential to the telling of this particular story, were not particularly absorbing. While Robinson is recognized as a masterful writer, it was difficult to stay awake for Lila's spiritual search for the meaning of life. This is one of those books with beautiful prose but essentially less than captivating subject matter.


The Orphans of Race Point: A Novel
The Orphans of Race Point: A Novel
by Patry Francis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.96
68 used & new from $3.90

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE SOMETIMES DEVASTATING POWER OF LOVE, October 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With THE ORPHANS OF RACE POINT author Patry Francis has woven a sledgehammer of a story while subtly providing bittersweet insights into love, friendship, forgiveness and redemption. Set in a tight-knit Portuguese community on Cape Cod, and covering dozens of years ORPHANS is essentially a morality tale told from the alternating perspectives of three of the stories primary characters, Hallie, Gus, and Mila. Several members of the "supporting cast" in this richly layered tale also have stories that are equally touching and often tragic but, never fear, Francis has arranged her characters stories in such a vivid and exquisite way you will find the overall tone of the book to be inspirational.

Beginning with an act of violence that will forever follow him, Gus Silva faces impossible odds with great courage and resilience and the support of doctor's daughter, Hallie Costa and best friend Neil Gallagher. Building from this starting point Francis has concocted an engrossing plot, a setting so vivid, and a range of continuing themes ranging from revenge to resignation, hatred to hope and grace to greed with each life story connected by the continuously spinning wheel of time and change that illuminates the ways in which each of us finds meaning in our everyday lives.

Part a tale of abandonment, part mystery of the battle between good and evil, and part love story, ORPHANS has all the ingredients necessary to make this one of the most unforgettable books you will read this (or any) year.


Cut and Thrust (Stone Barrington Novels Book 30)
Cut and Thrust (Stone Barrington Novels Book 30)
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars THE REAL STORY HERE IS ED EAGLE, September 29, 2014
CUT AND THRUST, Stuart Woods's latest installment in his Stone Barrington series is a foray into the underbelly of the political scene that lays bare the dirty dealing, backstabbing, and formation of back-room alliances required to secure a parties Presidential nomination. In this case the candidate being backed by Barrington is Kate Rule Lee, Director of the CIA and wife of the current President.

Barrington and his entourage have traveled to Los Angeles for the convention and to grease the wheels of the Kate for President Express, when he is advised of a death threat against his candidate. Stone quickly enlists the aid and support of his old friend, SANTA FE RULES lawyer Ed Eagle, to ensure Kate's safety as well as the confirmation of her party. Just one small thing, Ed has a problem of his own......seems that his homicidal ex-wife Barbara, has not been deterred by her previously unsuccessful attempts to kill Ed and is having another go at destroying him by whatever means necessary.

Actually, the Ed/Barbara component of the plot line is much more interesting than the "Stone Barrington - Filthy Rich Master Political Manipulator" portion of the story, in which Stone hosts sumptuous parties for the rich and famous of Hollywood and Washington while taking thinly veiled little jabs at the "other party". (Yes, Stu we get the message. You favor the Democrat party and Hillary would be your candidate of choice).

Woods has taken Stone Barrington from the bed-hopping male whore persona seen in some of his previous books to the personification of opportunistic political hack.


OXO Good Grips Interlocking Corn Holders, Yellow/Green
OXO Good Grips Interlocking Corn Holders, Yellow/Green
Price: $9.99
7 used & new from $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HANDLING A HOT ITEM, September 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's corn on the cob season once again and whether you cook it outside on the grill or boil it in a pot on your stove top, it's always hot as blazes when you get ready to serve it. What better way to save your fingers and those of your guests from the heat than by utilizing corn holders.

Any corn holders might do but for the "Mercedes of corn holders" I suggest you try the GOOD GRIPS OXO. They interlock (snap together in sets) for easy and safe storage, so you'll avoid impaling a finger while digging around in the bottom of a kitchen drawer in search of the missing half of a set.

This set consists of 8 attractive corn holders with Nonslip and heat-resistant, soft, easy grip handles and stainless steel prongs, and for those among us who throw everything in the dishwasher, have no fear because these sturdy little guys are dishwasher safe.

I have several OXO Good Grips products and find that this company always makes a product that is far superior to those of their competitors. These holders are no exception.


The Paris Wife
The Paris Wife
by Paula McLain
Edition: Paperback
54 used & new from $0.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PARIS WAS THE PLACE, September 23, 2014
This review is from: The Paris Wife (Paperback)
I began The Paris Wife and was instantly drawn into this atmospherically gritty and smartly nuanced look at Paris in the 1920's.

This is a layered and complex portrait of Hadley Richardson, a woman more prone toward the "vine covered cottage" sort of life but is instead caught up in the whirlwind life of her husband, Ernest Hemingway. We follow along as she attempts to navigate the booze filled, free living lifestyle of the City of Lights, as well as cater to the needs and wants of her judgmental and self-absorbed husband.

Author Paula McLain has created in interconnected world where the likes of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and others engage in sometimes outlandish and often volatile actions and urge the Hemingways to follow suit.

This is an intense look at the often bizarre behavior of a group of artistic American expats during the Jazz age, and one woman in particular as she attempts to cope with their Bohemian lifestyle and antics in a valiant attempt to save her marriage.

Hadley comes across as woman who has put aside her needs and wants in order to satisfy those of Hemingway while he presents as a morally bankrupt alcoholic whose childhood demons constantly haunt him as he pursues, to the exclusion and alienation of those around him, the recognition he so desperately craves.

I am a voracious reader of historical fiction and Paula McLain has done a bang up job at satisfying my appetite. If you too are a fan of this genre, this book should be right up your alley.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2014 2:39 PM PDT


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