Posts Tagged ‘J Lehman’


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.




Thoreau in Phantom Bog – “Elementary”

July 2, 2015


Thoreau in Phantom Bog by B. B. Oak

Were I to write a book in which Henry David Thoreau, because of his observation skills takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes, I would focus on him, perhaps using his friend, the doctor Sam Weller, as a kind of Dr. Watson, maybe even borrow the format of one of the Doyle’s books. A terrible mistake.

B. B. Oak shows Thoreau by sharply focusing on his world: “When we went into the root cellar…we inhaled the earthy scent of root vegetables stored in racks along stone walls. The walls sloped toward an arched ceiling, and the dirt floor dipped toward a pit where apples form last fall were stockpiled between layers of straw. The rough plank door was open, and a thin light seeped into the cool darkness.”

The book presents an issue as central to Thoreau, as it should be for us today, the prejudiced treatment of Blacks. But it does this by paralleling it with that of a pregnant woman who feels as much discrimination against her as the runaway slave. The alternate chapters by herself and her doctor/lover, create and solve mysteries. And there are many, besides showing excellent background research, not only into history, but also into the science of medicine.

No, looking for solutions will keep you turning pages late into the night. And the end of the book reveals a mysticism beyond what people would ordinary accept from Thoreau, but it is not only poignant, but very pertinent in an original way.



Out of the Past – “More Noir”

October 4, 2014

Out of the Past: A Reed Ferguson Mystery (A Private Investigator Mystery Series) 

[Kindle Edition]

by Renee Pawlish

Buy it directly from Amazon. Click: Out of the Past: A Reed Ferguson Mystery (A Private Investigator Mystery Series – Crime Suspense Thriller Book 5)

Out of the Past

Out of the Past is the name of a film noir movie with Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas that it is considered practically a textbook example of the genre. It is also the name of this e-book and appropriate for many reasons. First, the narrator is a big fan of film noir. Second, he takes a job as bodyguard because he is blackmailed about something in his past. Third, both the father of the daughter and the young woman herself have things from their pasts they are hiding. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald– “Gatsby Revisited”

September 12, 2014

F. Scott Fitzgerald 

The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald

Author: David Handler

Print Length: 256 pages

Publisher: Road (June 26, 2012)

Buy Here from Amazon, $7.99: Click: The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Stewart Hoag Mysteries)

I am writing a book that parallels The Great Gatsby and thought I’d get some background information from the library on F. Scott Fitzgerald. Boring. But one book I got by accident was this which had Fitzgerald’s name in the title. It turned out to be a terrific diversion from the others. It is about a has-been writer with a basset hound that sleeps on his head.

The narrator has been asked to ghost write a book by a media-favorite who has writers’ block. What a reader doesn’t know is how the plot actually does go along the same path as The Great Gatsby and Fitzgerald’s life. What an inspiring surprise and the mystery makes more and more sense as it untangles. I couldn’t put it down and when the book was over I had plenty to think about.




Death by Hitchcock – “Good Evening!”

August 24, 2014


by Elissa Durwood Grodin

Print Length: 174 pages

Publisher: Cozy Cat Press (June 1, 2014)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Kindle: $2.99, Paperback: $13.46

Buy from Amazon. Click Here:  Death by Hitchcock: An Edwina Goodman Mystery

Love the title and the classic film background. This is an author who knows movies. My quarrel: she doesn’t use their plot twists to affect the book’s. So the great title and the festival back story are wasted.

I did like the documentary movie within the story and the narrator’s astronomy background. But the author needs to give readers more credit.

This book will be picked up by people who remember sitting in a dark theater or a classroom on campus at night. Will remember watching films we have seen many times before, as if our lives depended on the lines to be spoken. And they did.

3 out of 5_edited-1




Bullet Catch – “A Magic/Mystery Masterpiece”

August 14, 2014

Bullett Catch

Bullet Catch by John Gaspard

Paperback: 282 pages

Publisher: Henery Press; First edition (November 4, 2014)

Paperback Price: $ 15.95

Buy from Amazon. Click Here: The Bullet Catch

When I finished this stunning book I got a real surprise. Its author is not a magician. He’s not even a full time writer, but an independent film-maker in Minneapolis.

Most books (and I read about ten a week, mostly to review) balance a plot with a subplot and maybe a little back-story that helps explain the significance of either. But Bullet Catch juggles a plot, another plot, two or three subplots plus a back-story on the narrator’s relationship with a police detective who had an affair with his wife (while they were married). Yes, there is an independent movie that mirrors all this, but what is astonishing is that there are twenty pages to go and we in the audience are completely mystified about how it can turn out—then it does and it all fits together. Read the rest of this entry ?


Shopgirl – “Not Wild and Crazy”

August 14, 2014



by Steve Martin

Print Length: 130 pages

Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (July 1, 2001)

Paperback Price: $ 4.78

Buy from Amazon. Click Here: Shopgirl: A Novella

I recently read a book of Conversations with Steve Martin. After the exhausting Introduction (these were interviews printed in the media at different stages of his career), I didn’t know if I needed more.

But the chapters did prove interesting. In each he comments on what is happening in his life. From stand-up comic to actor/director, to writer. It made me glad I was not famous and didn’t have to live up to any particular expectations.

At the library, putting a hold on some of his essays from the New Yorker I picked up a copy of his book, Shopgirl. If I read it before It had given up on it before completing it.
Read the rest of this entry ?