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Bookworm Plus "Bill C." RSS Feed (Redondo Beach, CA United States)

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The Night Ranger (A John Wells Novel)
The Night Ranger (A John Wells Novel)
by Alex Berenson
Edition: Hardcover
180 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting but Abrupt, April 19, 2013
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Alex Berenson novels can always be counted on to be entertaining. His main character, John Wells, is an enigmatic and obtuse character who fascinates me and leaves me looking for more. The Night Ranger takes place in a new location for Berenson, East Africa. This story of kidnapped aid workers, Somali warlords, Kenyan corruption, CIA intrigue, and of course, almost super-human John Wells, is quite a page turner. Although, John Wells represents the "good guys," Berenson presents a gray perspective of actions and intentions. The booked is marred at the end by a very abrupt and ambiguous ending with many of the characters left hanging. I felt as if the final hundred pages was left out. Perhaps a sequel is on the way from Berenson.


Dark Places
Dark Places
by Gillian Flynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.92
693 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and Gut Wrenching, August 27, 2012
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This review is from: Dark Places (Paperback)
Dark Places is a prior novel by the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn. It is darker, more gut wrenching, and without the touch of lightness in Gone Girl. I felt like a witness to a Greek Tragedy of a gory and tragic slow-motion car crash. One can only hope for a scrap of redemption at the end. Although graphic when necessary, nothing in Dark Places is gratuitous or sadistic. Gillian Flynn is moving up the list of my favorite authors.


Fodor's European Ports of Call (Travel Guide)
Fodor's European Ports of Call (Travel Guide)
by Fodor's
Edition: Paperback
27 used & new from $0.01

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Dissappointing and of Little Value, June 27, 2012
We have a Mediterranean cruise planned and bought this book to get ideas for visiting the ports of call and/or surrounding areas. Unfortunately, this book is cursory and superficial at best. It does cover the central port areas adequately, but leaves out information about most of the outlying sights. It also gives no information or recommendations about shore excursions and providers. For example, the Naples chapter says almost nothing about the towns in the Amalfi coast area such as Positano, and touring options. In covering all of Europe, Fodor's spread themselves too thin for a book of this size. I recommend Rick Steve's book on Mediterranean cruises instead.


Cold Pursuit
Cold Pursuit
by T. Jefferson Parker
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
97 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grabbed Me, October 21, 2011
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Cold Pursuit is the third T. Jefferson Parker book I have read (previously read Silent Joe and California Girl) and is the best so far. The story is well-written, moves along well, has interesting characters and settings, and some good twists and turns. The characters grabbed me enough so that I was left wondering what happens after the final paragraph. I can't ask for much more from a crime thriller!


In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
by Erik Larson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.30
686 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Account of Early Nazi Germany, July 16, 2011
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People today view Nazi Germany through the past with none of the uncertainty of the summer of 1933. Some back in those days, while deploring the repression, anti-Semitism, and aggressive intentions of Adolf Hitler, saw positives in the "New Germany;" a country whose citizens had regained their self-respect and enthusiasm in order to solve economic and social ills, not to mention serve as a buffer to the Soviet Union. Hitler could not really be serious about the dark side of Nazism and would ease up once he consolidated power. Germany was on the right path. Besides, the German people and military would put him out of power if he went too far. Anti-Semitism was much more open in those days and a common feeling what that if the Jews did suffer a bit, maybe they were too powerful and needed to be knocked down a notch or two anyway. Finally, surrounded by powerful neighbors and constrained by the Versailles treaty, a threat to the rest of Europe was fantasy.

Into this world, came a new American ambassador, William Dodd and his family, most notably his daughter, Martha. Dodd, a history Professor active in Democratic politics, was not the usual man for the job and was far from the first choice. A man of modest means, he lived in a frugal manner (even bringing over his own Chevrolet) which brought derision from his colleagues and German counterparts. However, he entered into his work with a vigor, independence, and open mind about Germany which led to an eventual revulsion towards the Nazi regime. The book is the story of that transition and is semi-documentary in the narrative which may bore and disappoint some readers. I, in fact, initially expected it to be a fictional thriller. Along with his free-spirited daughter, many of the prominent Nazis, including Hitler, come on to the scene. While such personalities were charming, interesting, and sometimes attractive, the dark side of the changes in Germany could not be hidden, even if dismissed at first as aberrations. His daughter Martha even became romantically involved with some of them (and also a Soviet agent), but eventually reached the same conclusions as her father, and spent the rest of her life active in left-wing politics. Her life could be a book in itself.

Dodd left his Ambassadorship in 1937, returned home, and became one of the voices in the wilderness warning of the Nazi threat. He died in 1940 just as truths began to be apparent. Largely forgotten and mostly a footnote in history, Dodd and his family's story is still compelling and gives a chilling picture of the first few years of Nazi Germany when nobody know what the future would bring.


The Final Storm: A Novel of the War in the Pacific (World War II)
The Final Storm: A Novel of the War in the Pacific (World War II)
by Jeff Shaara
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.38
165 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Flawed Afterthought, June 30, 2011
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I have read and thnk highly of the first two volumes (have not read the third yet) of Sharra's World War II in Europe series and frankly, found "The Final Storm" to be a step backwards. It seems like an afterthought in which Sharra quickly wrote a Pacific novel simply to meet customer demand, before going on to other projects. For the most part, it focuses on the battle of Okinawa and that perhaps is part of the problem for me. An earlier battle in a tenser and more uncertain time, preferably Guadalcanal, would have been a better time to start. As ferocious and horrible as the fighting in Okinawa became, the issue of what side would win in the Pacific was no longer in doubt. Some historical characters such as Admiral Nimitz and General Buckner do appear in the story, but fictional personalities predominate The characters were nowhere near as developed or human as those in other Sharra books with the result that it was hard to really care much about them, other than a curiosity of who would survive.. The battle descriptions, while full of detail, bogged down and seemed to be random events without perspective. The final part of the books deals with the planning and execution of the mission to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in which historical characters such as pilot Paul Tibbetts and Harry Truman makes appearances. This section is interesting, but as with Okinawa it is too late in the War for there to be any real tension other than the horrors of nuclear warfare. There are also Japanese characters both in Okinawa and Hiroshima who I found to be very interesting and more developed than the American personalities. While not a terrible book, Final Storm disappointed me and I expected something much better. I slogged through the second half just wanting to get to the end which I suppose tells it all. On a wider scale, I rate it 2 1/2 stars, but round up to 3. I recently read actual autobiographical accounts by Marine grunts in the Pacific War, "With the Old Breed" by Eugene Sledge (includes Okinawa) and Robert Leckie's "Helmet for My Pillow," and found both to far superior in telling basically the same story.


Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
by Karl Marlantes
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.44
320 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable, June 13, 2011
To be brief and hopefully concise, Matterhorn shows the horrors, tragedy, dehumanization, courage, cowardice, pointless nature, randomness, opportunity, exhilaration, and banality of war. Its characters are unforgettable and the events explode within the mind. The main thing going against Matterhorn is it takes place in a war most Americans would prefer to forget. I am one of those people, but this book absorbed me, twisted my emotions, and will always be on my unforgettable list.


The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels)
The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels)
by Robert Crais
Edition: Hardcover
289 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Among Crais' Best, June 6, 2011
I have read many Robert Crais books including all of the Joe Pike series. I really enjoyed The Watchman and The First Rule, but seem to be in the minority on The Sentry. The Sentry simply did not measure up. Joe Pike is always fun to follow around. His strong and inscrutable personality, near super-hero abilities, fearlessness, and fierce loyalty remind me of Japanese Samurai moves. The plot has Mexican gangs, characters in distress including a possible love interest for Pike, skeptical and suspicious L.A. cops, FBI Agents, a psychopathic self-styled werewolf, and a supporting role by Elvis Cole. There is certainly has a lot going on and The Sentry begins with great promise. Unfortunately, I found the plot to be increasingly vague, unfocused, and with a hurried finish. As a result my interest waned as the book progressed and I was happy to reach the end and go on to another book.


Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945
Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945
by Sir Max Hastings
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.62
111 used & new from $2.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Sweeping and Concise, May 23, 2011
Armageddon roughly covers the period from September 1944 to the end of World War II in May 1945. I have always been fascinated by this period wondering what made the Germans keep fighting a war that was obviously lost. What drove the Allied soldiers to fight in the hard fighting still to come? Author Max Hasting deals with a huge subject in this one volume work. The book's success lies in his being able to drill up and down between the highest strategic level to the most detailed tactical engagements. Seldom does the narrative get bogged down in details while the strategic and operational issues and actions are described without losing the face on battle on an individual level. Hasting succeeds in showing the German military machine as tenacious and highly effective in a lost cause while expressing no empathy for the Nazi regime and its atrocities, both earlier in the War and on-going. Meanwhile, the Soviet Army is shown to be tough and effective too, and also equal in brutality in its treatment of Germans civilians and "liberated" East European nations. Hasting gives ample background of the German invasion to show the motivation for the inhumanity and lack of decency on the Soviet side. Nevertheless, he generally places Stalin, his generals, and the Soviet Generals itself at the nearly the same level of evil as Germany. The Western Allies armies, on the other hand, while competent and effective, did not perform at the aggressive and merciless level of the Germans and Soviets. Hastings describes them as often sluggish, risk-averse, and unimaginative. Basically they did what needed to be done, and not much more. However, at the same time Hastings acknowledges that the German and Soviet performance came from brutal and totalitarian societies that placed little value on individual human lives, and we should not want it to have been any other way. With some exceptions, the Western Allies fought the war with decency. and moral equivalance arguements are ridiculous. One of my favorite's points from Hastings came when discussing the large civilian loss of life and unnecessary destruction caused by the bombing of Germany. He notes that upon the surrender of Germany, the violence to its people by the Western Allies ceased, while in the case of Germany and the Soviet Union, genocide and repression continued on after the surrender of their opponents. More than anything else, that point summarizes Hasting's angle of the last days of the War in Europe.


The Polish Officer: A Novel
The Polish Officer: A Novel
by Alan Furst
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.62
180 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Furst so Far, April 27, 2011
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The Polish Officer is my third Alan Furst novel (previously read Blood of Victory and Spies of Warsaw) and is the best so far. The novels are dark, even a little drab and mundane at times, and then fascinating, uplifting, and gripping with a tension that never ceases. However, that is how life actually proceeds, regardless of whether one is a common person or a secret agent. Polish Officer is an amazing tapestry of the first few years of World War II starting with the fall of Warsaw and then going on to the Balkans, fall of France and subsequent resistance efforts, foiling the invasion of England, and then back to Poland and the Ukraine. The main character, Alexander de Milja, a Cartographer in the Polish army at the start, has a series of adventures. De Milja becomes a covert agent in the Polish "government in exile" intelligence organization. The main goal is to stay relavant so Poland will have a future as an independent nation if the Germans can be defeated. In this world, the Soviets are not much better than the Germans and the Western Allies are of little help. Of course, we all know how it turned out in the end. The ending for Polish Officer's fascinating characters is often an open issue however. Perhaps Furst's greatest gift is showing his characters living in the moment, with no awareness of how the future will turn out. My respect for Furst grows with each book of his I read!


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