Posts Tagged ‘Books’

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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

FL Wdownload

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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A Dog’s Journey – “Loyalty”

March 8, 2016

A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

JOHN: I once did a book about dogs who could see / talk with ghosts. I proved to be a way to convey more to a reader than what he or she can feel directly from plot action. In a way A Dog’s Journey does the same. We see the central character through several lifetimes and the girl it protects through different stages of her life.
SPANKY: Who would have thought dogs have multiple lives. We always hear about cats’ nine lives, but now that’s nothing.
JOHN: The author makes the dog seem very real through all of this and the dilemmas the woman faces seem real too.
SPANKY: Just when a reader thinks her or she knows what will happen the story switches gear. I love that.
JOHN And overall what do we conclude? Dogs have a hidden purpose whether or not human’s realize it.
SPANKY: We do, and it is more than partnering on book reviews. This book is special.
JOHN: Yes, read it and your life, at least the role of dogs in it, will never be the same.
SPANKY: It’s a real tail-wagger.

 

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Death of a Dapper Snowman – “Hang in There”

October 13, 2015

snowman

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

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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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The Girl on the Train – “Contemporary Masterpiece”

August 31, 2015

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This piece is a contemporary classic. A thriller from three different perspectives (sometimes confusing to follow) that ultimately finds parallels and a theme (we want to accept lies that confirm our beliefs) that is there from the beginning – who doesn’t want to believe scenes we observe from  train windows are of people with better lives than ours – to the surprising ending of who kills the murderer.

I’m not one to follow dates on chapters and the narratives become complicated the more we see how these different women end up with lives parallel to each other. But this is profound, disturbing and something that you can’t put down untill the final page.

Oh yeah, there’s lust, love, marriage and divorce, too.

  • J. Lehman5 out of 5_edited-1
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The Miser’s Dream – “Mystery but Not Magic”

July 17, 2015

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The Miser’s Dream by John Gaspard

The first half of this book is good that just gets better and better. I am a fan of magic, old movies and cozy detective stories (murder in a locked room). The author, John Gaspard, has a way of making information interesting, pertinent and best of all insightful.

I like the narrator, who has somewhat of an inferiority complex about how he compares to a visiting magician. Enjoy his relationship to his uncle and a group of his uncle’s friends who are all magicians. And Eli Marks’ girlfriend is a new-age spiritualist who adds another dimension to all this.

But, I didn’t care for the title, a magic trick. The name needs to stand on its own. Nor the theater full of people witnessing the rival, Quinton Moon, making a fool out of himself while trying to demonstrate how a monkey was part of a murder. And I thought the  conclusion. the long drawn out, Clever but far-fetched.

I think about magician Teller’s quote, “Magic is not something you pick apart with machines, because it’s not really about the mechanics of your senses. Magic’s about understanding—and then manipulating—how viewers digest the sensory information.”

I feel all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, but I’ wasn’t on my feet at the end in wonder. I wanted magic. Magic. MAGIC!

3 out of 5_edited-1