Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver

solituce

 

Hate and love – two sides of the same coin….  ***

Being a fan of Jeffery Deaver and the character Kathyrn Dance, I was looking forward to reading this novel.  is it possible to love and hate a book at the same time?

The style of this book makes it a good read. Nothing is what it seems to be and without giving anything away, the subplots become pointers to what the complete story is about. The twists and turns keep you guessing and at the end I wanted to go back and reread the book to see if it still held up.

The style of this book makes it a bad read.  Nothing is what it seems to be and it becomes predictable that what you are reading is not what is actually true. This method of telling a story would have worked better if it had not been overused.

Kathryn Dance is both amazing and frustrating.  She is a strong character with the ability to detect lies and feelings from body language. She is frustrating because she has to notice the smell of every man she encounters.

The antagonist, Antioch March, is both scary and unbelievable.  Scary in that there are people who enjoy watching others suffer, unbelievable in that he makes too many mistakes that get him caught.

This book is good for the description of Monterey and the surrounding area. Since I live there, it was interesting to see what areas Deaver used as settings. This book is bad for the description of Monterey and the surrounding area.  For someone who seemed to know the location, Deaver blew it in describing the water.  He said that the water temperature was such that a man would only last four or five minutes before hypothermia set in. Tell that to all the swimmers who spend the day in the water here. He even contradicts himself when a woman is struggling in the water, who can’t swim, has a broken arm, yet is still alive when the Coast Guard finally reaches her.

While Deaver keeps us guessing and tests our intelligence with the twists and turns, he insults the reader by repeating things we already know. He tells us three times that someone is checking out a possible witness to one of the crimes, as if we would have forgotten.

Moments of brilliance, moments of bad writing.  I stand in the middle of loving and hating this book.  This one gets three stars.

 

Quest for Flight by Craig S. Harwood and Gary B. Fogel

Quest

 

History is an amazing subject…  *****

When you are in grade school you learn Columbus discovered America.  In high school you find out it was actually Leif Ericson who was the first European who landed in America, about five hundred years before Columbus.  Then in college you discover Columbus was a tyrant whose cruelty cost him his governance and may not be worthy of the fame we give him..

Quest for Flight is a college course revealing the truth of the history of flight.  We have all been taught that the Wright brothers were the first to fly and North Carolina uses that phrase on their license plates. As this book details with excellent research, the Wright brothers were the first to fly an airplane under power, but not the first to fly an airplane.

The story of John Montgomery is eye opening for its revelation of how he flew gliders long before the Kitty Hawk boys, and also reveals the true character of Orville and Wilbur.  Like Columbus, we discover their character can be brought into question. Not only did they try to stifle competition in aviation, but actually tried to rewrite history in their favor.

If one looks at the history of many inventions, it is easy to find one person or persons who get credit for an invention that many may have actually succeeded in producing.  The telegraph is a good example, with Samuel Morse being credited with its invention, yet history shows many proir to him who used a similar device successfully.  So it is not surprising to read about other flyers before the Wright brothers.  What makes this book stand out is its account of their dishonesty.

This book, however, is mainly about John Montgomery and the accomplishments he made in the field of aviation.  As an engineer, he approached the problem of man flying very methodically and scientifically. His design of an airplane’s wing was a result of understanding the circulation patterns that flow over and under a wing that had never before been understood.

Written in a very readable style, Harwood and Fogel have compiled a well researched, documented, treatise that pulls back the curtain on the history of aviaton. This is a must read for anyone interested in the truth of aviation history and my only question is, did David McCullough read this in preparing to write his book on the Wright brothers?.

This one gets five stars.

 

Confessions of A Hit Man by Richard Godwin

conf

 

Let us just call this a miss…   **

 

When I was about eleven I wanted to either be a hit man or a priest. As I thought about it, maybe a priest would be a good cover.  One of my all time favorite movies is The Mechanic with Charles Bronson.  So when I see a book about a hit man, I naturally want to read it.

Confessions of A Hit Man falls short of being a good read.  Godwin writes the story in first person which had the potential of revealing how a hit man thinks, but the narrative is too simplistic.  There was nothing that made me relate to the main character and not enough tension to make this a page turner.

It is a quick read which meant I did not waste too much time on it.  Sadly disappointing. This one gets two stars.

Gallipoli by Peter Fitzsimons

gallipoli

 

Lessons can be learned from this…..   *****

Having traveled to Australia twice now, I have been curious as to why a country would “celebrate”, what seemed to me, a major defeat in World War I.  To me this seemed like the United States celebrating the day we left Vietnam.  This book clarified it for me.

Australia had just unified as a commonwealth of Great Britain, and World War I became the unifying factor, especially the battle fought on a small beachfront in Turkey.  The story of Gallipoli is one of amazing bravery, comradery, incompetent politicians, and soldiers who did not question orders that led to so many deaths.

Peter Fitzsimons has compiled an incredible amount of research, combined with a writing style that makes this a page turner, in a book of over 700 pages. Detailing from both sides of this battle, he gives a very accurate picture of not only what happened here. but paints a  vivid account of what it is like to fight a war.

The soldiers are remembered to this day in Australia as the country gathers on ANZAC day to both mourn the losses and celebrate the bravery of those who fought. I am writing this as Memorial Day approaches in the U.S., and we could take a lesson in patriotism from the Aussies and Kiwis.

The sad part of the book is the reminder of how in so many wars, those who lead us in, are often politicians who sit back and make decisions, some bad, some good, that result in the loss of so many of a country’s finest. Fitzsimons does not shy away from documenting both types of decisions at Gallipoli.

This book will enlighten you, anger you, make you tear up, make you smile. An incredible read!!

Killing Rush by John Calvin Hughes

killing rush  

 

   Sadly this is only fiction…    ***

 

This is a fairly well written story of two brothers, Samuel and Adam. Adam is on a quest to kill Rush Limbaugh and his brother decides to go along for the ride and to hopefully dissuade Samuel.    Their adventure across the South is full of good dialog, quirky encounters, and some fairly heavy philosophical discussions.

This is the type of book that makes you think, makes you reflect on your own beliefs, and leaves you probably with more questions than answers.  Hughes uses the brothers to give us insight into issues that we all should ponder at some point in our life.

Some of the situations and personalities are stereotypical of an outsiders view of the South but there is enough realism to keep one turning the pages.  I titled this review “sadly this is only fiction” because we know (no spoiler here) that the brothers are not successful at killing Rush.

This one gets three stars and I would recommend it as a good read.

Still Alice

five cigars

Five cigars

 

This was not meant to be a scary movie, but the thought of having Alzheimer’s and losing oneself is definitely frightening. Julianne Moore was incredible, a fact proven by her Oscar win for this film.

To see the progression of memory loss was hard to watch, but at the same time was a wake up call to enjoy every moment of life.  This is a film that makes you reflect and think, a rare thing in films these days.

My only negative comment on this movie is the selection of Alec Baldwin as the husband.  He cannot act and it was a distraction to an otherwise great film whenever he appeared. His one crying scene was laughable.

Sadly, this is a true story and it is hard to imagine this happening to anyone, yet it did, and does.

This one gets five cigars!

 

Wild

four cigars

Four cigars

 

They say the third time is the charm!  This review is based on my third viewing of the movie.  It is the first viewing with sound.  The two prior were on my round trip to Australia where on both routes the person in front of me was watching Wild on their small screen, I could see but not hear.  Choosing to wait to see the movie once home turned out to be fortuitous as at the time I did not realize it had been edited for viewing on the plane.  There were a couple of important scenes that had been dropped.

Having that said, this was a surprisingly good film.  The premise did not have me excited and actually sounded boring, a woman walking the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself. (Yes, I would have thought it boring had it been a man.)  But with the insertion of flashbacks, the story does not drag and has some poignant moments.

Any film that has a known actor who can make you forget you are watching that actor is a good film,  Reese Witherspoon does exactly that, I forgot I was watching her act.  Her performance was outstanding, deserving of her Oscar nomination.

This one gets four cigars!