Michael M. (mickmckeown) - Reviews

1 to 15 of 15
84 Charing Cross Road
84 Charing Cross Road
Author: Helene Hanff
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 62
Review Date: 9/9/2009
Helpful Score: 1


Take an hour out of your day and read this book. It is one of the touching works of a by gone era. In a time before Facebook, Myspace and even email you can enter the world of Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. She is a struggling New York writer and he is a London Bookseller. The long distance correspondence between these two is timeless. It is a true friendship that began with a book. The letters and love bring you back to Britain and Broadway of the late 1940s to the end of the 1960s. I highly reccommend this time capsule of a book.


And Then There Were None (aka Ten Little Indians)
And Then There Were None (aka Ten Little Indians)
Author: Agatha Christie
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 251
Review Date: 6/16/2009
Helpful Score: 4


This was my first foray into the Queen of Crime: Agatha Christie's extensive catalouge. The book is a little slow in the beginning to the point I almost put it down. Now that would have been a dreadful mistake because as soon as the cast of characters get on Indian Island I could not put the book down. Christie paints a vivid portrait that reveals how deadly secrets can be. Absolutely wonderful read and hope you pick it up and enjoy it as much as I did.


The Coffee Trader
The Coffee Trader
Author: David Liss
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 84
Review Date: 3/27/2011
Helpful Score: 5


Once again David Liss delivers. Like most of his books "The Coffee Trader" takes some time before it hooks the reader. As always Liss brings the past alive. It was fun to read about Miguel Lienzo's beginnings and explore an amazing city like Amsterdam. Reading and learning about coffe made me increase my intake rather considerbly. The financial markets and intrigue make for a very entertaining good time.


A Dangerous Fortune
A Dangerous Fortune
Author: Ken Follett
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 196
Review Date: 6/16/2009
Helpful Score: 6


Follett is fantastic in A Dangerous Fortune. The author introduces us to a family business and a couple of corrupt characters. As the reader you not only get to see the inner workings of the Victorian era banking house known as Pilaster's but you also get to see the making of a man in Hugh Pilaster. The book is fun, fast paced and if your a Follett fan then you will like this one. If you have never read Follett before this is a good book to start with. Enjoy!


Deal Breaker (Myron Bolitar, Bk 1)
Deal Breaker (Myron Bolitar, Bk 1)
Author: Harlan Coben
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 463
Review Date: 8/19/2009
Helpful Score: 2


This is the first book in Coben's Myron Bolitar series and I think the first book that Coben wrote. Myron Bolitar is a former college basketball star and former first round pick of the Boston Celtics. After a freak injury Bolitar makes the transition from athlete to agent. The story begins with Bolitar signing highly touted football draft pick Christian Steele. New client in tow Bolitar is destined for the big time. Unfortunately, for Bolitar things do not always go as planned. A mystery ensues and Bolitar will get into his trademark high jinx. Coben to me falls short in this one compared to his other work. I love his stand alone novels. However, the hook and suspense are there but Coben's trust in the reader is not. The ending seemed to be more fitting for a Scooby Doo episode and not a Coben thriller. His characters are endearing for the most part and the humor/dialogue is fitting. I will continue with the Bolitar series and give it more of a chance because of Coben's other work that I have enjoyed so much.


Dune (Dune Chronicles, Bk 1)
Dune (Dune Chronicles, Bk 1)
Author: Frank Herbert
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 470
Review Date: 8/3/2009
Helpful Score: 9


The making of a man and the future of a planet are intertwined in this Science Fiction classic. Paul Atreides is the heir to his Father's Dukedom on th Planet Arrakis. The planet is the key to intergalatic commerece because of its large supply of spice. As Paul completes the rite of passage from child to man a new generation make their mark and it all begins in Dune.
Rarely, does a story capture me from the beginning like Herbert does here. The characters leave an indelible mark on the reader and move the story at a brisk pace. This is not an average sci-fi story. It has many levels of religious, political and ecological overtones that still hold significant meaning in today' world. I highly reccomend this brilliant Hugo and Nebula Award winning novel.


The Good Thief
The Good Thief
Author: Hannah Tinti
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 1/21/2009
Helpful Score: 5


It seems that you either love or hate this book.
Personally, I enjoyed it.
The story was pretty well paced not perfect but good.
The minor characters are outstanding.
The protagonist Ren is young orphan who has a fierce loyalty that is admirable.
At one point I was wondering where the Author was taking us.
However, I was not disappointed in the end.


Guardian of the Flame (Seven Wonders, Bk 3)
Guardian of the Flame (Seven Wonders, Bk 3)
Author: T. L. Higley
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 9/28/2009


Twists and turns are quite numerous in the latest installmant of T.L. Higley's Seven Wonders series. The book is Historical Fiction and has a heavy dose of romance. I am not a romance reader but Higley doesn't allow the romantic aspects to bog down the story. Some of the conflicts are far fetched but fun. The research and attention to detail make the book a worthwhile read. I must begrudgingly admit that the author has won me over and I am now looking for her other books in the series.

The story is quite compelling. Learning about the importance of the lighthouse and the coalition of Caesar and Cleopatra is fascinating. The story revolves around Sophia who is the keeper of the lighthouse. Higley brings to life ancient Egypt all while weaving an incredible mystery with some romance thrown in for good measure.


A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
Review Date: 9/29/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Donald Miller was down on his luck. The success he achieved by writing the elusive best seller did not bring the happiness he desired. Donald was avoiding life. He simply could not face the music. Eventually with the help of a few friends and a couple of movie producers Miller realizes that life or your "story" is what you make it. However, instead of facing the music, Miller embraces it.

This book was an amazing reading experience for me. Every once in awhile a book comes along that makes you re-examine yourself. This was the book for me. Miller puts his heart out on a limb throughout the book. Good stories don't always have happy endings but Miller reinforces the fact that its the journey not the destination that is most important.

This book is a must in any library. I highly reccommend this to everyone.


My Sister's Keeper
My Sister's Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 338
Review Date: 10/19/2009


My Sister's Keeper

Jodi Picoult

Contemporary Fiction

In an effort to save one of its own a Rhode Island family has lost its identity and way. The story revolves around Kate who has rare form of cancer and the effort to keep her alive by her family. However, the care and medical attention needed depends on the youngest child in the family, Anna. Her birth gave new life to her sick sister. Anna is a perfect genetic match to Kate. Anna has given everything to Kate from blood to bone marrow. Anna is told that she will give her kidney to her sister. However, Anna does not want to continue to be a guinea pig any longer. She decides that her parents have to look out for all their children not just Kate. Anna will take them to court if she must. This sets the stage for "My Sister's Keeper".

Jodi Picoult is a unique writer. Each chapter is from a different character's perspective making the story anything but onesided. Picoult reminds me of Alice McDermott.

Reading the book feels like sitting at a dining room table at a dinner party. Each guest taking a turn to tell you their side of the story.
What worked magnificently
The book as a whole works quite well. By changing the perspective every chapter the reader is allowed a full profile of the entire story. By employing this device Picoult allows you as the reader to be completely entrenched in the plotline.

All of the characters are believable but Sara who is the mother never is able to connect with me. I don't know if that was by design but it was disappointing that such a pivotal character never had an impact on me as the reader.

Picoult is the standard bearer for contemporary fiction today. She is the suthor of this generation.

Many consider "My Sister's Keeper" as the definitive Picoult novel. I disagree. This book is a wonderful read and I highly reccomend it. However, I think Picoult's "Nineteen Minutes" is her best work.
What books are most similar to this book?
As I mentioned earlier Alice McDermott and her novels have some similarities to Piccoult's work. Tom Perrotta and Alice Sebold are two contemporaries of Picoult that have the ability to make their characters part of your life.

If you like this book, you will probably like....
"The Appeal" by John Grisham or "The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perrotta or "That Night" by Alice McDermott

If you hate this book, you will probably like....
"Coma" by Robin Cook and "The Stranger" by Albert Camus


Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 1262
Review Date: 8/27/2009
Helpful Score: 2


This classic novel tells the tragic tale of Lennie Small and George Milton. They are out of luck and out of work migrant workers roaming the highways of California during the 1920s. The depression is the backdrop for the story but that does not prevent Lennie and George from dreaming big. Steinbeck paints a masterful and brilliant portrait of a bygone era that still resonates today. Every time I read this book it reads differently. This is required reading for most high schools. Fifteen years after I originally read I still love it. However, the difference between reading it at 14 and 28 is amazing. Lennie and George are some of the best characters of 20th Century Literature. I highly reccommend picking this one up.


The Painted Veil
The Painted Veil
Author: W. Somerset Maugham
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 80
Review Date: 8/18/2009
Helpful Score: 4


A breathtaking story from beginning to end. The author, W. Somerset Maugham is a wonderful storyteller and does not disappoint the reader once during the novel. This is not a love story but a tale of one woman's journey on the road to redemption. The protagonist, Kitty Fane reminds me of a British version of Scarlett O'Hara. Kitty's journey is not a light hearted one. The reader's heart is constantly in a state of flux as the indecisive Kitty always leans towards the wrong choice. This is a timeless work that I believe will be in my top ten of beloved novels for the rest of my life. I highly suggest picking up a copy and enjoying the vivid world left behind by Maugham.


Resolution (Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, Bk 2)
Resolution (Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, Bk 2)
Author: Robert B. Parker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 56
Review Date: 8/18/2009
Helpful Score: 4


Rarely, can I claim that I enjoy the sequel more then the original but Robert Parker delivers in Resolution. The story was not as original this time around but it is much more compelling. The relationship between Virgil Cole and Everitt Hitch is explored throughout the book adding much needed depth to our hereos. Parker packs the story with action, adventure and romance but it is the friendship angle of Cole and Hitch that keeps me reading. Hopefully, Mr. Parker will not end the adventures of Cole and Hitch just yet as I am longing to learn more about them and from them. I do believe in this case that Author knows best. You can read this novel as a stand alone but I suggest starting with Appaloosa.


The Senator and the Priest
The Senator and the Priest
Author: Andrew M. Greeley
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 10/27/2009


This is by far the most painful book I have ever read. As a fan of Father Greeley's previuosly published works I am astounded this book was even allowed to go to press. Father Greeley forewarns the reader that his political views might cause controversy. I appreciated the warning. However, even though Greeley and I are on different ends of the political spectrum his views were the least annoying thing about this book. Nothing in this book seemed remotely plausable to actually occuring. It frightens me to think that this kind of thinking occurs in the United States. The idea of a liberal Democrat U.S. Senator and his relationship with his ultra conservative priest brother is a brilliant plot. Unfortuntately, Father Greeley never allows the plot to materialize. I found it sad that a man of the cloth would paint such a bleak portrait of a priest. The book revolves around politics. American politics, family politics and church politics all take a role in the novel. The family politics between the Senator Tommy Moran and his brother Father Moran might be realistic but seemed contrived do to the one dimensional fashion of their interaction. The church political storylines take a backseat but were the only believable aspect of the entire book. Now onto the American politics portion of the story. The hero, Tommy Moran is perfect. His family is perfect. During the senatorial campaign Greeley ups the ante on every page. First, the family station wagon is blown up in front of the house, then an assasination attempt and finally someone throws human waste onto the eldest child. The family takes this in stride and does not let anything deter them. As admirable as it is the scenarios presented are just too much. All of the girls are called Mary something. Every Republican is a lazy millionaire. The only people who have any redeeming value to humanity are named Moran and registered Democrats. Those two little tidbits got old very quick. Nothing in this book could be deemed realistic. Senator Moran has to repel the advances of an attractive staffer. That was believable. However, the way she went on trying to seduce him was laughable. The thing that truly bothered me was that a one term senator would move so quickly up the leadership ladder. Greeley has produced some wonderful works. My favorite being White Smoke. This time Greeley falls short of what is expected of him.


A Spectacle of Corruption (Benjamin Weaver, Bk 2)
A Spectacle of Corruption (Benjamin Weaver, Bk 2)
Author: David Liss
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 31
Review Date: 3/25/2011


Benjamin Weaver is a retired pugilist, part time private investigator and always in trouble. With this installment the author David Liss is laying the down the foundation for a wonderful series. If you read the first Weaver novel "A Conspiracy of Paper" then some of your favorite characters are back the always reliable but over indulgent Elias and the lovely Miriam.

Liss focuses this novel on politics of 18th century London. Many comment on how the narrative gets bogged down due to the author explaining the differences between Whigs and Tories but I did not find it to be the case. Explanations are not overly intricate and keep the story going. The mystery is fun and intriguing.

Weaver is one of my favorite literary characters. He is a self aware man and knows that he has shortcomings. Sometimes he can not think his way out of something and brute force is needed. Overall, Liss gives the reader a great knowledgeable ride.


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