Rose continued cranking out the columns following Katrina - I guess they were considered vital by fellow New Orleans residents. Frankly they left me cold and made me want to ask, 'Is it really all about you, Mr. Rose?' Not particularly well written or well arranged.
This is one of my favorite Alexie books, realistic, simple, and straightforward. Evidently he intended it as an offering to teens or youth, but it holds up well for adult reading. The narrator decides to advance his education by attending the 'white' school, off the Indian reservation. Though it's filled with race relations and situations it doesn't get stereotypical or self-pitying. We cheer for the hero as he adjusts his attitude and as he experiences a year which is both triumphant and very heart-breaking. It did lack those flights of fantasy and vision which I think of as his trademark - but we get cartoons of the action instead! And they are really good.
From back of book:
In PI Jason Black, retired State Police member, John Briant has given us a man at the prime of middle age who works wholeheartedly for his world of small towns, long lakes, and large forests, where honest people care about and reach out to help one another. While Adirondack Detective is an engaging novel of frightening crime adventures, it is also a tribute to a very special place on earth and a testimony of enduring love for the connected communities that thrive there.
Review by Dr. Katharyn Howd Machan, Assoc Prof of Writing, Ithaca College
This went so far beyond true crime. It was written in a thoughtful and artistic manner, getting deep within the criminal, the author, and most of all the betrayed friend. Think how you would feel if you'd been close friends with a man who 'went mad' and destroyed his family. Then think how you would feel if the secrets, deceptions, and lifetime of lies your friend lived, intertwined with your own relationship with him, was suddenly exposed and you were left knowing you'd been utterly fooled. But also left with little clue about the reasons for the deceptions. The author becomes enmeshed in how such things can happen, but allows us to draw our own conclusions. This is among the best books of its type I've ever read - yet to be honest I don't know how I would classify it as to type! One of a kind.
A fine historical fantasy novel, somewhat loosely plotted, but since the principal protagonists Dr. John Dee and Rabbi Loew's lives are principally those of scholars the adventure elements sometimes seem a bit forced - not really alternative history in terms of differences from published outcomes but sort of wainscoting fantasy - things that didn't get published - I liked it well enough, although none of her subsequent books have seemed to have the punch of her 1st 2 novels - The Red Magician and The Dream Years, but that may just be my changing perspective with age.
Don't know when I've so thoroughly disliked a book. Weak plot, plastic & unbelievable characters, convoluted style, pretentiousness, easy-set-up situations, and boring activities - it really had it all. There are some nuggets of truth (well buried) and some deft turns of phrase which give one hope in the first third of the book. Then it appears even Sebold got bored & just continued the whine to fill pages. We get it instantly: gal has a mentally ill, reclusive, critical mother and a damaged and depressed dad. She has an unhappy childhood leading to an unsettled adult life. Her relationship abilities are nearly nil. How many of us deal with or observe others with these problems to a greater or lesser extent? Being unhappy isn't enough to hang a book on. Insofar as the 'action' it appears the author thought repeating, "The day I killed my mother...," every 6 to 7 chapters would keep readers awake. A waste of the author's talent and this reader's time.
Most interesting story of a crime at sea which resulted in the death of everyone in a family except a young girl who survived many days on a tiny float. I thought the author had accurate info and presented the facts and the feelings of the survivor very well. Short, but informative and sympathetic.
I'm an avid Larry Watson fan with 'Montana 1948' up there in my top 10, but I didn't feel this was one of his absolute best. Still, given how well he always draws a picture with simple strokes, it is plenty good enough. It's set in Minnesota in the 60s - and perhaps that difference from his high plains books about Montana is why it was not quite as fascinating. The teenage narrator tells about his boring life with a hard-working mother and how taken he is by a friendship which puts him in the home of a wealthy doctor with a seemingly perfect family. He aspires to become a doctor like his friend's father, but the shooting and subsequent care of an adventurous young woman new to town, breaks all that apart. The ending is somewhat of a surprise. The disappointment the hero feels when he discovers that even perfect-seeming families can be deeply disturbed, is very real. There's a small-town, long-ago flavor which might be most appealing to people my age who grew up with boys just like this, but I think most anyone will find some truths in this book.
Angelina Jolie's 'Notes From My Travels' isn't about her vacations! It tells about trips to the refuge camps in Cambodia, Ecuador, Sierra Leone, Tanzania & Pakistan. I found it a real eye-opener. Some readers picked at it as she is not a smooth or sophisticated writer. It's pretty much her journal and on one page she'll tell you how much the heat and flies bothered her, another how she got acquainted with UN workers, and another how horrible some refuge child's scars & wounds were. It feels like you're there with a friend and I highly recommend it. Not the kind of book you exactly 'enjoy' but you understand how personal her project of helping refuges has become to her. I particularly liked the way she noted how people in these camps retain their humanity and treat one another with respect for the most part though living in conditions we would consider unbearable.
A well-respected dentist murders five men and two women over the course of 22 years! Susan Crain Bakos has painted a gripping psychological portrait of the dark side of a magnetic, charismatic man, who made one fatal mistake.
Straightforward story about an ATF agent's pursuit of a survivalist thug who was threatening various cohorts and some innocent people in CA. The man lives in the San Jose mountains, surviving on what he kills and growing pot. Agent Queen decides it is imperative that he take him down. The writing was fine, the story perhaps not as exciting as some, but it was still a good read.
The heavy summer air of 1593 is full of portents for Elizabeth, England's Queen, and James VI, King of Scotland. A coven of witches secretly controlled by the Wizard Earl of Bothwell has summoned a storm to sink the ship that bears James bride to Scotland. Though the ship made port, the success of their summoning has emboldened them; the coven is now launching wizardly attacks on the King himself. The King has his protectors - not least the Queen of England herself - but not even Elizabeth's secret service and her champion, the redoutable Sir Philip Sidney, can be on watch every instant. Eventually a trap is sprung, and King James is at the mercy of the satanic Bothwell's deadly spells.
This book has a 'slice of life' flavor. I especially liked that the author didn't try to make his cases more exciting or bigger than they were. He drifted from normal duty like guarding presidential candidates or security-type details into a truly scary assignment to pose as a hired assassin. There were many details of the racetrack and horse trade which I found informative if not gripping. But the style of writing was steady and Palumbo kept my interest. There were some strangely personal details of his life which made me wonder what else he might write in the future?
"He was the darling of the heartland art scene. Randolph Franklin Dial had it all yet he still craved the ultimate thrill...murder. For this seemingly sensitive artist doubled as a cold-blooded killer. And his hit on a local karate instructor was so seamless, there were still no suspects when he turned himself in years later. He was also a cold-blooded Oklahoma hitman. Doing time for Murder One, Dial was the ideal inmate, until he escaped in broad daylight, taking with him the deputy warden's gorgeous young wife."
Found this story so interesting, so tender, and so open. Everything she writes about relating to her cancer surgery on jaw at 10, then years upon years of unsuccessful reconstructive surgery after radiation and chemo, is dreadful. But she manages to create little pools of humor and normality by telling exactly what she thought and understood at various ages. Fate didn't deal her a long life or a very happy outcome, but that is not addressed in the book. I found an entirely different Lucy Grealy than I'd envisioned from Ann Patchett's (her 'best friend') book about their long friendship. Not doubting what Patchett had to say specifically - just finding so much more to Lucy.
The crimes were interesting, as was the killer. More info on the victims would have been nice. Pictures were appropriate and details included were not unnecessarily gory. The number of typos and grammar errors was most distracting. I felt the editor did an exceptionally poor job even though Bellini writes pretty clearly. Still, just considering it an average true crime book. It jumps around some but does give one a feel for the mental and emotional difficulties the killer had since he was an infant. A sad story all around for both victims and killer.
One of the best true crime stories I've read. The author injects just enough of his own opinion on matters to show that he cares deeply about the victims and about the justice system. He is careful though not to mix fiction and fact and his research is documented through extensive footnotes which I found helpful in finding out more about some events surrounding that era in Texas. The type of liberal trash who allowed McDuff's parole - in fact made it unavoidable - should be held just as responsible as any other accomplices for his actions when he was released upon an unsuspecting public. But it is a relief to see that the tide turned, at least in that part of the country. A truly horrifying person who could never be trusted to leave others in peace, and a well-constructed story of his life and crimes.
Very repetitive, somewhat boring, completely one-sided. Phelps strongly believes that one of the people convicted was 'innocent' of actual physical involvement in the murder of a scuzzy exploiter of young girls. He also seems to believe the woman is innocent of planning. In the drug-fueled world in which the two lesbians involved lived it is hard to tell what is going on. The book doesn't help sort that out and doesn't present all the facts I think. It does endlessly repeat, recycle, and backtrack until one becomes thoroughly tired of hearing how one girl is afraid of being 'raped' (although both had willingly been filmed having sex with the victim and with numerous other druggies. Needlessly unclear, it is basically a catalog of driving from one drug site to another 'getting her stuff' or 'looking for so and so.' Hard to develop much sympathy for dead victim or imprisoned 'victims.' I thought it was well beneath Phelps' usual efforts.