I Am Here: The Untold Stories of Everyday People – Compiled by Kerri Lowe and Melisa Singh

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A book to keep close by….  *****

 

Whenever we encounter an obstacle, a trauma, a hardship, or any negative aspect to life, we often feel alone, as if no one else has gone through what we are facing.  This compilation of true stories should help alleviate that feeling.

Written from the heart of the forty-two writers that contributed their stories, this book covers a great many of the experiences that life throws at us. Their ability to overcome is inspiring and serves to remind us we are not alone.

The stories come from the web site StoryShelter.com, and while each are compelling, they are also well written. Some are humorous, some sad, but all are worth the time to read,  Each story is short and could almost be used as a devotional, reading one each day.

This is a book that would be good to have next to your bed so you could read a story before drifting off. And no matter what is going on in your life, no matter what kind of day you may have had, you will be reminded, you are not alone.

This one gets five stars

Subversion (A Tayt Waters Mystery) by J. P. Choquette

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Being kind this gets two stars….  **

 

This is a Tayt Waters “mystery”. Mystery being in quotes as there is not really a mystery here. Written in first person, Choguette gives us way too much information too soon, making the plot obvious. First person is hard to write well and in this case, it is as if someone pulled the string on Chatty Cathy and she won’t stop talking.

Tayt Waters is trying to run a security company and a cleaning business.  One can only hope she cleans better than she provides security. In the beginning, we see her as tough enough to take on shady side jobs where she convinces men to clean up their act in relationships or face Water’s wrath. This would be good if she didn’t lose that fierceness as the story progresses.

The main weakness is that Choquette tells us the story as opposed to showing us the story. This makes it difficult to read as we are mainly in Water’s head throughout the book. I had a hard time finishing the book and there was little about Tayt Waters to make me want more.

This one gets two stars, one would just be unkind.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

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Historical or hysterical?…….  *

 

When I was young and my family drove across the U.S., one of my dad’s habits was to call historical landmarks, hysterical landmarks.  Unfortunately I picked up this habit and have a hard time not using it when I need to say historical.  In this case, hysterical applies.

David McCullough is cited as an historian, but in The Wright Brothers he fails miserably. Relying mainly on the diaries of Wilbur Wright for the story of how the brothers came to succeed in flying, McCullough misses not only the knowledge of those before them, but their use of that knowledge.  This is like relying on just the testimony of the wolf, who would then be known as a mistreated canine instead of a grandmother killer.

The biggest failing is the lack of information on the Wright brothers and Octave Chanute. Chanute was a proponent of all involved in trying to fly sharing information. This, as McCullough notes, was against the belief of the brothers. However, Chanute had openly shared the results of experiments and the knowledge of men like John Montgomery who had been flying gliders since 1899. Montgomery’s study of birds in flight and use of a wind tunnel preceded anything the Wrights had done.  McCullough ignores this with statements like, “they were the first to use a wind tunnel”.

The book Quest for Flight, documents how Montgomery studied and perfected wing warping. Chanute admonished the Wright brothers when they claimed to have been the pioneers on the subject.  Rather than investigating this dispute, McCullough simply gives us Wilbur’s response, who naturally does not admit to knowing of Montgomery’s work.

McCullough treats Orville and Wilbur as if they are gods, untouchable, and almost superhuman. He even speculates – in describing why the Wright’s ignored the death of William McKinley by working when others mourned as, “their way of dealing with his death”.

The Wright brothers were the first to fly under power.  For this there is no dispute, but an historian should not be as biased as McCullough seems to be in making them more than they were.

If I were McCullough’s professor and this was a dissertation, I would send it back for major rework, instead all I can do is give him one star.

 

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

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King reigns supreme…..  *****

 

Do not read this book if you have not read Mr. Mercedes, you will not enjoy it as much.  It would be like spaghetti sauce without oregano, it tastes good but you know something is missing.  Having said that, the book does stand on its own. There are enough references to Mr. Mercedes to give the reader a good background to that novel. It is just that it is much more enjoyable if you have the full story.

Weaving characters through seemingly random events, through various time periods, King masterfully brings them all together in a style all his own,  The pace does not slow down and I found myself not wanting to put it down until it was finished.

The driving force of the novel is the writings of an author named Rothstein, who is a combination of John Updike (Rabbit Run et al) and J. D. Salinger (who also shied away from the public eye). His undiscovered notebooks are the thread that ties the story together.

This is Stephen King at his best. It is good to see after novels like Revival and Under The Dome. His use of movie, television, and book references always makes me pause to remember seeing or reading each one, especially the Godfather quotes.

While this is book two of a three part series, the ending is satisfying and sets up the next story very well.  Now we just have to wait.

One flaw in this book is when the character Morris Bellamy is searching “his mother’s medicine cabinet for aspirin or Advil..”.  The year is 1978, Advil came on the market in 1984.

This a great read and I am glad to give it five stars!

 

 

Mission Flats by William Landay

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Failing a lesson from Writing 101….   ***

 

William Landay is a good writer.  He brings you into this story and holds you until the end.  Yes, there are more characters to track, but they were necessary.

A small town police chief gets caught up in a murder and finds himself going to the big city to solve the case. A female DA who catches his eye and crooked cops who seem to stymy his investigation.  All somewhat cliche, except Landay keeps you turning the page with anticipation as to how it will all turn out. Isn’t that what a good mystery does?

Yes, until we get to the end.  Without writing a spoiler, let us just say Landay tricks the reader.  This is a first person narrative, and it turns out we have been lied to from the beginning.  Well, maybe not lied to, but deceived. One of the first lessons in writing is do not leave the reader feeling tricked, Landay gets an F on that one.

This book will remind you of Dennis LeHane and Robert Parker, and had the potential of getting a five star review.  Sadly, I give it three.