Archive for the ‘Independent Publishers’ Category

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Lawyer for the Dog – “At beck and call” by Lee Robinsin

April 24, 2016

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John and his dog, Spanky, review books, movies, DVDs, etc

JOHN: The judge is her ex-husband,she has a mother with Alzheimer and there is a dog, Sherman, who she is to protect (being given temporary custody). The owners are going through a divorce and have different views of handling Sherman (the wife is overly strict, he a little too casual).

SPANKY: We get first hand experience, not only with differences in dog care, but with divorce, Alzheimers, a single working woman who still has feelings.-

JOHN: Surprises with each turn of the page that make you think.

SPANKY: And ask questions what you would do under these circumstances.

JOHN: This is a unique book whose title and picture of a cute dog on the cover suggest it will be something less.

I say 5 Rosebuds out of 5.

Cocktail

SPANKY: I like the cover, but agree with you about the rest.

5 Barks, from me.

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The Invitation – “One You Can’t Refuse” by Anne Cheiran

April 19, 2016

John and his dog, Spanky, review books, movies, DVDs, etc.

 

JOHN: Neither Spanky nor I are from India, but the conflicts between different generations and the disappointments, not only of a Harvard student who doesn’t want to continue or a MIT graduate who wants to become a cook, seem manifestations of what my parents must have felt.

SPANKY: And you, yourself, with their aspirations imprinted on you.

JOHN: I liked the book’s format, the simple structure of expectation, an event that brings all of the participants together (with a few surprises). It seems to really fit the many relationships.

SPANKY: Sometimes the number of people is confusing, but the near-death of a loser cousin at the graduation party makes everyone appreciate what to value in life: life.

JOHN: And readers will experience that too; in a way the Indian background of some of the characters makes this easier to do because that background seems so different from that of readers.

SPANKY: But the problems they face, we all face, are not remote at all and this book is a fine opportunity to place these problems in perspective. I give it five barks out of five.

JOHN: And I, five rosebuds.

 

Cocktail

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A Man of Genius – “Wright, Not Done Wrong”

April 14, 2016

A Man of Genius by Lynn Rosen

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John and his dog, Spanky, review books, movies, DVDs, etc.

JOHN: Emotional conflicts of historic characters are not necessarily true, but, as humans, we know they are there. Rosen creates a fictional character that looks, talks and acts like Frank Lloyd Wright (“a small man with the mass of hair, clothed in a cape, and odd hat, who, when out of doors, was always holding a walking stick in a gloved hand. He presented a dramatic, dynamic figure, never at rest.”).

SPANKY: Of course he’s an architect who acknowledges a symbiotic relationship between man and his environment.

JOHN: His attorney friend writing this, is in italics and says stuff like, “It is generally accepted tat the past controls the pathway to our understanding of the present…I’ve now sat for many weeks refining Carlyle’s tale with my memories filling in the voids.” I think this is an elaborate way for Rosen to tell a fictionalized tale of a real event and a real man.

SPANKY: Which becomes very confusing because of the many characters she presents.

JOHN: Yes, but it does provide a longer time frame, and added suspense at the end.

SPANKY: The architect falls in love with a young mistress who looks like his wife once did. The wife confronts the mistress and one of them is murdered (along with two sisters who die in the architect’s fire to cover things up.

JOHN: We aren’t sure which person the survivor is (thanks to the general confusion you mentioned earlier. So after his death we are left with the dilemma of the man’s public reputation and personal indiscretion.

SPANKY: As we are with Frank Lloyd Wright. The supposed author says: It is the rare person who has the capability to explore down to the heart of the matter.

JOHN: But that is exactly what Lynn Rosen does in this book.

SPANKY: I give it fiver barks out of five.

JOHN: And I, five rosebuds.

Cocktail

 

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The Mine (Northwest Passage Book 1) – “A Very Good Year”

February 23, 2016


The Mine (Northwest Passage Book 1) by John A. Heldt

 JOHN: This is not the kind of book that I would see the cover blurbs, then open it to read. A man goes into a mine and travels back in history (to 1941). He meets his grandmother as a young woman, people who will die in World War II and a Japanese woman who will suffer as bad a fate in America.

 SPANKY: We see things through today, his perspective, our perspective, yet relive the ordeal as someone going through this.

JOHN: It is an unusual approach that is very effective.

SPANKY: He falls in love with someone back then who, when he goes back to the present time, it breaks his heart.

JOHN: Or so we think, but later when he sees her again, she has not aged. She is no different.

SPANKY: Two things I found confusing. One, there are so many characters in his past life. Two, no reason is given why the girl hasn’t aged. Maybe that is to get us to read the next part of the series, but as emotionally satisfying as that may be, it is intellectually confusing in a way that the rest of the book is not. After 300 pages, I don’t want to get answers reading more.

 

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The Art of Peeling an Orange – “Love and Lust”

November 22, 2015

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The Art of Peeling an Orange by Victoria Avilan

This is a difficult book to comment on.

A woman is deserted by her fiancé the day they are to be married. He eventually dies and she angrily confronts the woman he deserted her for, a famous author. Later she falls in love with her and discovers the author is blind.

Why is this hard? For a man there are many lesbian scenes that are very explicit (perhaps why the book was free on Kindle), but for me it was the idea of seeing art through the eyes of others and doing it for that insight rather than satisfying your own ego.

I found the setting and characters hard to follow in this modern retelling of Orpheus Descending, yet the answers to the questions it raises are critical.

I read it to the end, and maybe that is the answer, we have to live the conflict both through the book and within our own lives.

4 out of 5

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Retirement Is Murder – “Clues”

September 25, 2015

Retirement

Retirement Is Murder by Susan Santangelo

This is not a book you would expect. The narrator is in her sixties and she gets her husband (unhappy with work) to plan for retirement (or so she thinks. He believes this will be a new client.)

Why would this be on Kindle (not exactly a media for older readers)? Why the subject of retirement (not something people usually plan)? And why am I reviewing this (who happily waddle through my own senior years without much direction)?

It is free. And worth thinking about. Not the plot which is kind of interesting, but what retirement means today.

I asked my 80 year old neighbor some of the discussion questions at the end of the book. If like him, and me, you don’t have a clue to your answers, read this book.

4 out of 5

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Message from a Blue Jay – “Please Watch Where You FLy”

June 15, 2015

Blue Jay

by Faye Rapoport DesPres

A friend wrote a book of poems called What the Postcard Didn’t Say and I think it could be an excellent title for this book. On one side of a card we get a beautiful picture of a mountain sunrise or Kensington Gardens or a blossoming flower with a caterpillar winding up its stalk. But on the other is a handwritten message revealing much more: what it is like go grow old, to have a mother-in-law who hates you dying of cancer, to be childless.

I found the contrasts in this book very moving and It caused me to think of the ups and downs of my own life: prostate cancer, divorce, bankruptcy. Easy to gloss over but at the time agonizing. DesPres writes: “No life is fully shared. Loneliness is always waiting, like the water beneath the wooden plank that Ralph placed over the creek.”

This is not easy writing to read, but sooner or later we all have to face up to the other side. This author provides the right mechanism to do just that.

PS Be sure to read her FB entries at the end. I have long believed writing let’s us live life more fully. But it is not all intense, like the finished product. Some of it is listening to the conversation at other tables in Panera’s.

Cocktail