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Kris RSS Feed (Oxnard, CA)

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Stepmom
Stepmom
by Maggie Robb
Edition: Audio Cassette
14 used & new from $0.36

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Schmaltzy, August 19, 2004
This review is from: Stepmom (Audio Cassette)
And what does schmaltzy mean? Corny? Sentimental in a pathetic or bathetic manner? All of these. I couldn't stand it after a while.

I think I got to where Jackie's experimental cancer treatment has failed and she comes home to appreciate her children one last time.

This confronting death through cancer, "before her time," is instructive, possibly, but that's the only real positive.

Otherwise, this story is literally sickening. It may not give you cancer, but it will turn your stomach. Luke is a creep and a wimp. What any woman saw in him.......well, I guess he is a representative American male after all....and most of them do seem to bond, at least temporarily, with some woman. Many do precisely what Luke has done: grind up one woman and then look for a younger edition. Why Isabel would put up with a stiff like this, I just don't know. Surely she could have found someone her own age and make a normal life with her own children.

Anna seems like a real brat, and Isabel seems to think so, too, for the most part, although, good-hearted stepmom that she is, she does try her best to make friends with the little poseur.

Ben may be the only real person in this sad story, because as a pre-puberal youth he really isn't expected to vary much from his script, and he doesn't.

Well, sorry, but I agree with the other few nay-sayers here on this site: this one's not a tear-jerker, but it does jerk something: you. Diximus.


Crime Minister: Reprisal
Crime Minister: Reprisal
by Ian Barclay
Edition: Paperback
29 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, August 16, 2004
I see you can buy this book for one penny through this website. A good deal. This book is one of the sleepers of all time. No one has even bothered to review it here, but it's definitely a page turner.

Yes, it's about 20 years old, out of print, and has to do with the Cold War era. There's much about post-war Germany, but everything is just taut with excitement and tension. This author knows how to paint the characters, and he does everyone, the protagonist (a hired killer), his victims, even the hit man's uncle, a shadowy abettor who lives on a farm in Maryland.

Barclay's writing reminded me a little of Frederick Forsythe, succinct, to the point, the perfect balance between moving the plot and maintaining the suspense. And something many crime novels lack: a believable and rational ending.

The book is not quite a romance, it won't warm the cockles of your heart. Barclay does raw sex quite well, and what's maybe unique or at least unusual, he does same sex well. This comes about when Dartley, our hero, has to find a man who looks like him to take his place for a while. I guess he figured the best way was to find a gay man, and the adventure is very amusing.

Dartley is almost more European than American, compared to, for example, Lawrence Block's "Hit Man." He seems to be kind of Barclay's idea of what a tough American should be. In Barclay's mind, which he imparts to us, Dartley is a perfectly normal psychopath, well, if there could be such a thing. He kills without second thought, and does so carefully, always considering his own survival. Still, he's a psychopath. Well, he has to be, doesn't he? Here's a fellow whose so-called collateral damage runs to young lovers (but not children, at least not in this book).

So I urge you, if you like the idea of following a psychopathic killer into the darkest dens of iniquity, from Germany to West Virginia, spend the penny and get this book. It will make you think! Diximus.


The Firm
The Firm
by John Grisham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
653 used & new from $0.01

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Smart guy turns tables on Mafia, FBI, August 9, 2004
This review is from: The Firm (Mass Market Paperback)
I was disappointed in this novel. I read "The Brethren," a later work by Grisham, and found it interesting. "The Firm" is a bore. It's a "reverse sting" kind of thing, but there's no tension or real struggle here.

Why? Because it's all about the hero and heroine, and the other guys, mostly bad guys, are just cardboard nobodies. You've heard of the Keystone Kops? These guys are funnier in their ineptitude. It reminded me of a Mel Brooks comedy the way the Mafioso and the FBI keep stepping on each other's feet. Meanwhile brilliant Mitch, his brilliant brother (speaks how many languages that he learned in prison?), and his brilliant wife (suckers one of the dumb lawyers into spilling the beans), slip off into the night on a little boat.

You'll waste a lot of time reading this book. I didn't see the movie, so can't compare there, but here's the bottom line: Mitch's opposition is no threat to him because they are all so utterly inept. You know he's going to make it, no problem. There's no tension built up.

On the positive side, for those interested in local scenary, maybe the settings in Memphis and the Cayman Islands would be of interest.

I noticed that Grisham presented a theme in both "The Brethren" and in this book: sailing off into the sunset, never a fixed abode, just living on the boat and moving on when ready. You think he's doing this now? Or has done it?

Diximus.


Ladder of Years
Ladder of Years
by Anne Tyler
Edition: Audio Cassette
12 used & new from $6.74

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lacking in bedside manner?, August 5, 2004
This review is from: Ladder of Years (Audio Cassette)
I heard the audiocassette. I'm not into romances, so I was pleasantly surprised here: it's not what I would think of as romantic, but it was interesting.

What I found most interesting was how easy Delia found it to leave her family. There seemed to be a significant age gap, maybe fifteen years, between her and her doctor husband, so although it was never made explicit by the author, I think she was just tired of this "old man." She did mention his looking and acting more aged. And he himself says he never had the "bedside manner" his father-in-law had.

Oh, that's another thing: Delia's father was a doctor, too. Are doctors known for being good lovers? Or being paternalistic? I think she feels Dr. Grinstead, her husband, is patronizing her. This is never resolved by the end of the story: she feels sorry for him, and a kind of sentimental or nostalgic remembrance of how he once was, but I don't think she loves him passionately or (can we say it?) sexually.

And I don't know if she'll ever find what she wants. She treats all her men, and her "boys" about the same. She presents as a kind and nurturing, but "dingy" woman, just following her nose, always trying to be helpful but never really knowing what she wants or doesn't want.

So, the story is interesting, and thankfully not romantic. It gives you a lot to think about in your own life, since everybody should be able to relate in one way or another to the characters: the jilted older husband, the jilted younger husband, the jilted teenage groom, the jilting teenage bride, the older couple, Nat and Binkey, with a young baby, the vengeful and resentful ex-wife (the former Mrs. Joel, who resents her father, Nat, starting all over again "at his age"), her needy and unmothered son, the innocent bystanders, the go-betweens, the walk-ons like Courtenay's caller, and, last but not least, the protagonist herself. Diximus.


The Brethren
The Brethren
by John Grisham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
579 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do the crime if you can't do the time, July 26, 2004
I'm a nut for prison books. I think it's the minimalist aspect, the little microcosm of the real world that prisoners live in. That's why I was hooked after reading the first chapter of this book, and sped through it after that.

I think the balance of tension is just right in this novel. There is very little violence, only Trevor's murder, but the threat of violence (from the CIA) is always there, right until the end. I kept thinking agent Argrow, the CIA operative, was going to do poor Mr. Yarber right in his restaurant chair in Monte Carlo, but he didn't.

What is really kind of funny, and sad, and reflective of our country and our times, is that the presidential candidate, and especially his sponsors, are so afraid of publicity about his possible same-sex preferences.

Funny, too, is that there are no women, to speak of, throughout this novel, it's a man's thing, so to speak. Each of the brethren was or is married, poor Trevor does have a mother and aunt who come to claim his remains, and Lake's "Jayne" seems like the kind of accommodating woman a lot of men would like. But these few have very minor roles. None of the CIA people are women, none of the prison personnel, nothing. I didn't mind, in fact, I would say it did reflect reality. As James Brown said (not trying to start an argument here, just noting it): "It's a man's world (but it wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl)." I'm glad it was James Brown said it and not me. It sounds kind of incorrect somehow, today in 2004.

This novel's so-called denouement was a little mundane, as other reviewers have noted, but that, too, is realistic. Drama is far rarer in the real world than in most novels. Diximus.


Rock Star
Rock Star
by Jackie Collins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
91 used & new from $0.01

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Drowning in the shallowness, July 19, 2004
This review is from: Rock Star (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is shallow all around, maybe to purposely reflect Collins's view of Hollywood. The characters are shallow and uninteresting. They can't seem to see beyond their own desires. Spirituality? Forget it. The few children in the book are shuffled off to live with the poor losers, like Kris's ex-wife.
Yes, I finished the book. It was not difficult reading, with lots of dialogue and short chapters. But it was essentially boring. Sure, it was prurient, lots of sex, and a bad guy (Marcus Citroen) who was about as stereotypical as you can possibly imagine. Marcus didn't seem to have an altruistic bone in his body.
The fools that were trying to rip him off got caught. Know why? Because the manager of the catering service at Citroen's party, a woman, "fell in love" with the ex-con wannabe thief. Even this catering manager was absorbed by her carnal desire, at what seemed like the drop of a hat. She's going to leave her post and go hunting around for this loser, well, he was a good looking loser, I guess.
No matter how much carnal desire there is in Hollywood, people do have limits, don't they? But not here in this novel. Maybe that's why some people liked the book so much. It goes all the way: all the way to stupidity and inanity.
Collins's constant dwelling on her men's obsession with female breasts was and is disturbing, to me. The chief guard at Citroen's party is just so bowled over by one woman's large breasts, he just forgets everything for a little instant action. Well, there may be men like that, who just lose all track of their jobs and everything else because of large breasts, but it seemed pretty shallow to me.
The plot is generally shallow. It goes nowhere. The three protagonists don't make up for one solid one, but none of three was interesting, just narcissistic. Is that the real Hollywood? Or just a fictional "device" to titillate readers?
Plow through this book if you like cheap thrills. Nobody's going to remember it in a few years. Diximus.


Angels Flight (Harry Bosch)
Angels Flight (Harry Bosch)
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
197 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Police detectives age, too, July 12, 2004
And so do authors. It's nice that authors can write about aging protagonists as they themselves pass through the decades.
Apparently, movie actors and other entertainers have a harder time with this transition, because so much depends upon their appearance. We see authors only on the book jackets, usually, but some writers, like Janet Evanovich, decide to leave their protagonists at one age only.
I think it's more realistic the way Connolly is doing it with Harry Bosch. Harry's a lot mellower now that he's retired, but he's still a bulldog about his mission in life, which has something to do with sticking up for the under "bull" dog.
You'll like this book, if you have these same preferences. Living in Los Angeles helps to make everything near and dear also. Diximus.


Lost Light (Harry Bosch)
Lost Light (Harry Bosch)
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
191 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic, up to a point, July 12, 2004
Harry Bosch goes from the beginning of this book to the end with what seems like maybe four hours of sleep, no cigarettes, several cups of coffee, and a churro (maybe). This guy has the constitution of a bulldog.
He never quits, never says "die," and knows when to give in to the powers that be. You'll speed through the book like he does through the murder case, jumping from one episode to the next. This is a great book for insomniacs or those who "only stand and wait," a thing I do a lot.
Only one thing to note, how at the final climax, Harry gets lost in South Central and runs into a mob of rioters, who bodily unload the "shooter," a cop, from the backseat of Harry's car (where the man's been handcuffed). Chastain, the personage in question, deserves what he gets, of course. He started the riot by shooting a popular black lawyer.
But why can't Harry find his way around South Central? All of the main streets are perpendicular. This book's riot is close to where the 1992 "flashpoint" was, Florence and Normandie. This riot is just a little further south, being near Florence and Manchester (86th).
Anyway, living in South Central, as I do, I enjoyed his little jaunt there, but reading about how they did Chastain reminded me a little of what happened recently in Iraq. Diximus.


Lost Light (Harry Bosch)
Lost Light (Harry Bosch)
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
191 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Retiring with grace, July 7, 2004
This book is told entirely in the first person, through Harry's eyes and mouth. For that reason, it takes on a very personal aspect that some of the other Bosch books don't have. Harry's personal foibles, his mistakes and his lost love make him a bit easier to relate to. He's fallible, but he doesn't fail. He's outside the loop now, but he still solves the mystery. Moreso than usual, Connelly grabs you by the collar and won't let you go until the end. This is the kind of book you want while you're waiting to serve jury duty or get on a delayed airplane flight. Diximus.


Murder at the Library of Congress
Murder at the Library of Congress
by Margaret Truman
Edition: Audio Cassette
17 used & new from $3.82

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, June 29, 2004
I listened to part of this mystery on the second of two audio cassettes. The first cassette was defective and had been discarded by the library. So, I read the first half. The hardbound version is really nicely printed, with big print and big margins. This was my first experience with Ms. Truman. Guess what. I didn't even know she was Harry's daughter!

Truman did a good job of joining the Columbus-Las Casas angle with the mystery story. Some of the library people didn't really seem to have much character, like Sue and Consuela. Walter Munsch, one of the bad guys, was a gas. Tell me: Are you going to walk around a Mexican brothel with a couple of thousand $ cash in your pocket? Munsch did. No wonder his life span was short. How did he even live that long?

I had a hard time empathizing with Dolores, who fell in love with Michelle Paul and then murdered him. If Paul was such a jerk, and everyone else thought so, how could she have loved him? Well, I guess it didn't last, the love, that is.

Does David Driscoll get off scot free, then? It's not really clear.

Anyway, Margaret Truman is definitely worth trying out. I have another one I'm going to start soon. Probably take only a day or two to finish it, because she's easy reading. Diximus.


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