Archive for the ‘Kindle’ Category


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.



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

November 22, 2015


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


Death of a Dapper Snowman – “Hang in There”

October 13, 2015


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


Retirement Is Murder – “Clues”

September 25, 2015


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


Goodey’s Last Stand – “The Real Thing”

August 5, 2015


I thought this would be stereotype, hard-boiled detective stuff. It’s not. Starting with the narrator shooting an innocent Polish night watchman by mistake, a cop losing his job and then being promised to get it back if he solves a rather involved murder as a PI.

Sure, there is the expected wise-guy patter, but in this case it seems heart-felt and there are settings (a cemetery outside of San Francisco, for example) and characters that are genuine (“Let me give you some advice: No matter how much you don’t like your job, it’s better than being retired. When the time comes that somebody wants to retire you, you take that gun of yours and blow your brains out first.”) Read the rest of this entry ?


Conspiracy of Silence― “that Echoes”

August 1, 2015


Conspiracy of Silence by Martha Powers

Some stories, especially mysteries, get you thinking about half way through, who done it. The culprit is not someone introduced at the 11th hour, but usually the most unlikely member of the cast.

Here we have a narrator who finds out, as an adult, that she was adopted. She not only wants to find out who her mother was, but also why her father murdered the woman.

She has only her own childhood dreams to lead her to the answers, but there are twists and turns she, and the reader, never foresee.

Read the rest of this entry ?


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.