Archive for the ‘John Lehman’ 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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Wipeout – “Paying the Price”

October 26, 2015

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Wipeout  by Chip Hughes

I don’t know why I like these books so much. I’m not a surfer (I live in Southern Wisconsin for godsake) but find the Hawaiian backdrop exotic and accessible.

This story does have an involved plot though. A surfer, who is supposedly dead, in reality has taken up with another woman leaving his pregnant wife. But equally intriguing the surfer detective she hires sleeps with the missing husband’s new woman despite his having a pregnant girlfriend who he believes wants a commitment of marriage.

I can’t remember a book where we distrust and disapprove of the actions of the narrator. It all turns out OK in the end, plus the love of surfing, as opposed to making money, one way or another, comes across in a very real, very cathartic way.

I don’t know if I feel like facing 30 foot drops myself (I do know: I wouldn’t), but somehow reading about them as I look across the corn-filled fields of Wisconsin, seems exciting.

Cocktail

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Death of a Dapper Snowman – “Hang in There”

October 13, 2015

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Death of a Dapper Snowman by Angela Pepper

The first two chapters set the scene but, other than being a bookend for the story, have little to do with the very original mystery.

The real narrator is daughter of a retired policemen away getting a hip replacement. She has been a big-city financial investor and now finds herself in the small town where she grew up. Nice. That is until the top of a snowman rolls off revealing the head of a dead next-door neighbor.

But it is the subtext that proves almost as interesting. A girlfriend of her father (who he has broken up with, but she has been ashamed to tell others). A cat, thought to be female but really is male, who takes on the name of the woman’s imaginary friend (when she was a small girl). And, of course, the prejudice small town people have against moneyed outsiders.

I wasn’t sure why the murderer did it, or why the author began with the two chapters she did. But there is a lot of territory to be covered and I look forward to the books of the rest of the series to do that.

4 out of 5