A Book of Bones by John Connolly

51C4u4LYFuL        Thank you John Connolly……… *****

After being disappointed by some of my favorite authors recently, it was great to see Connolly not falter.   This is another amazing book in the Charlie Parker series, each one better than the last.

A large part of this one gave me chills while other parts brought on a range of emotions from sadness to elation. Connolly is a master at weaving the macabre with noir and here he shines.

This is a read that drew me in and didn’t let go until the last page, and even then I am not sure it did.  This one gets a full five stars.

The Goodbye Man by Jeffrey Deaver

51tPE6OT3wL  More like goodbye Mr. Deaver…    **

Just when I thought Deaver was back to his excellent writing mode, here comes The Goodbye Man. I was looking forward to another great read and sadly was disappointed.

The style he chose of giving us a scene and then going back and describing how it was set up was good, maybe a bit over used but it worked. My problem is that Deaver wrote this as if his readers are not capable of remembering what he has written. Time and again he explains something that we have read not that long ago and don’t need reminding.

My biggest complaint is not so much the writing as the editing. It seems that popular authors are not being edited well, not only here but I have seen it in, for example, the most recent Dean Koontz book. Either publishers are getting lazy, have hired incompetent editors, or are not bothering if the author is popular. In any case, when it happens it derails this reader from enjoying the book.

This one gets two stars. Not sure if I will buy another Deaver novel.

Fair Warning by Michael Connelly

GUEST_1060cffa-3a48-446b-b94b-fada4cc4d72eFair warning, not that good……  **

The Poet is the best book by Connelly. Much like The Stand by King or Intensity by Koontz, it represents the time when he wrote at his best, caring more about the story than the market.  The one redeeming aspect to Fair Warning is that Connelly brings back some of the characters from The Poet.

Having said that, I did expect this book to be at least half as good. I was disappointed. Within the first twenty-eight pages there was a plot flaw that told me not only was it poorly edited, but that Connelly had phoned this one in.  The main character, Jack, falls into the TSTL category and was at best irritating beyond belief.  The antagonist, Shrike, began as an intelligent serial killer but ended as a joke. The few bright spots were the times Rachel, from The Poet, appeared and even those were dimly lit. The ending stretched the believability factor too far.

I have read all of Connelly’s books and this was a let down. This one gets two stars.

 

 

Man of The World by Paul D. Brazill

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Blast from the past…    ***

 

This novella reminds me of the old Mickey Spillane books where he introduced Mike Hammer to the world or maybe Erle Stanley Gardner and his Perry Mason series. Short vignettes that capture the essence of a character without going too deep. Short reads that are light entertainment.

While this style is the intended genre for the author, and for which I would give five stars, I feel as though this was an outline for an even better book that was never fleshed out. There is so much more I would like to know about each of the characters and even the setting of Seatown.

Brazill is a an excellent writer and I would be the first in line for a full blown version of this story, Tommy Bennett has the potential of being as good a character as Mike Hammer or better yet, Ray Donovan.

In the mean time this one gets three stars.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King

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Back to five stars…..  *****

 

Sadly, I have given one star reviews to the last few books by Stephen King. Thankfully, in this new book he is back to being the master story-teller we have come to love. King has an extraordinary ability to create characters that you care about and can relate to along with stories that draw you in and hold you. He accomplishes both in this collection of short stories, which are really novellas.

I would recommend reading The Outsider prior to this book, to fully grasp the character of Holly Gibney, and if you have only seen the television version you may have trouble seeing her, as in all of her appearances in King novels, as white. Even knowing this I could not help but imagine Cynthia Erivo as Holly as I read the story If It Bleeds.

As a writer, I really enjoyed the story, The Rat, and the struggles that the main character, Drew Larson, has with writing a novel. The story is as much about good writing as it is about Drew’s encounter with the rat.

Thank you Mr. King for getting back on track and writing a book worthy of your talent.

This one gets five stars and to Mr. King I say, rat on.

Devoted by Dean Koontz

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Sadly, a let down……. **

In my bedroom is a bookcase with every Koontz novel and short story collection, three of which are signed by him.  Needless to say I am a fan.

What I enjoy most about his writing is his mastery of words that make thin plots enjoyable to read. This book fits that to a tee, except for the enjoyable to read part.

One of my favorite novels is Watchers, and this could be described as a sequel to it. Sadly, this one does not have the tension nor story that Watchers had. The characters are poorly developed and true to form the plot is thin, just thinner than most. Unfortunately, the story is completely predictable and upon reaching the end my only thought was, “Okay.”

This book also falls into the trap of when an author is a best seller the editing is not always what it should be. One of the main scenes, and this is not a spoiler, is when the character Shacket is in Megan’s bedroom and he relishes in the smells from the unwashed sheets on her bed, making the point that had they been clean, he would have been disappointed. Later, when she is in bed she notices a stain that should not be there as the housekeeper had just washed the linens. This caused me to come out of the story and go back and check to see if I was correct. To me this is a major flaw in editing.

This one gets two stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Lens Without A Face by Maddisen Alexandra

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An extraordinary gifted poet…..  *****

 

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings…” In this sense, Maddisen Alexandra is a true poet. In this collection of 101 poems, she invokes emotion and thought in the reader in a way that for this reader was often surprising.


While I read each poem and reacted, it was a unique experience in that she saves the titles to the last pages. Once I saw her titles I had to go back and reread the poems to see her meaning and compare it to mine. The comparison was made easier as the book is set up so that the poems are on the verso side and the recto side is blank leaving room for one’s thoughts (or as she suggests drawings) on each poem


She is a master at repetition. The majority of the poems end with the beginning lines in reverse which has a strong impact on making her point.


This collection is one I will reread many times.

 

 

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

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Interesting title, interesting read……..  ****

When I review a nonfiction book, I look for how well it is written, how well the author knows their subject, and what did I learn that I did not know. Usually, this is fairly straight forward. Comey’s book muddies that process.

The book is well written as it flows smoothly through parts of Comey’s life and his interaction with presidents, politicians, and other leaders. He obviously knows his subject since he is talking about himself. As to what I learned that I did not know, not much. Things I had thought or already knew were validated, but there is no great revelation here.

Where it gets muddy, is Comey’s explanation of why he did what he did regarding the public announcement regarding Hillary Clinton just before the election. While the facts are presented openly, his decision to be the one to disclose the re-opening of the investigation contradicts his moral stance. He does admit he has always had trouble with his ego and that makes the other excuses more of a smoke screen.

For a man who led our nations best law enforcement group, the FBI, he comes across as naive regarding what people are capable of and what motivates them. He allowed his ego to blind him to consequences.

I am giving this four stars as it is worth the read, just don’t expect a great revelation.

Freedom From The Self: The End of Delusion, Fear, Hurt and Suffering by Nicholas Blewett

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High expectation but a slight let down….. ***

As far as self-help books go, this one is better than most, less than some. The author, Nicholas Blewett, admits up front that he is not an expert in anything other than the study of humanity, and the self-observations within his own life. This brings both positive and negative aspects to this book.

On the positive side, Blewett, describes in simple words the issues that plague us all. His discussion of fear, hurt, desire, attachment, and belief are worth reading, maybe more than once. At the end of each of these discussions are questions that if one will devote time to contemplate, will open your mind in ways other self-help books can only aspire to. With a refreshing clarity and real-world examples, Blewett describes how we all have been shaped by these issues in ways we may not even be aware of.

On the negative side, the author spends the first one-hundred-sixty-seven pages on the issues described above, and only the last twenty-seven on how to move beyond into what he describes as the Art of Living and how to embody true love and compassion. Had he gone as in depth in this last part as he did in the earlier part, this would be an amazing book.

My last comment could be applied to just about any self-help book, but more so to this one. The ideas Blewett presents could be world-changing as he states. The sad part is if only we could get the world to listen.

I give this one three stars, and I do recommend it, maybe if enough of us read it, we can change the world.

Downsizing

one cigar

More like downer…..

I had doubts about wanting to see this film, but after seeing the preview several times thought it might be a light-hearted change of pace. I was wrong.

The film does start out with an interesting premise of a solution to overpopulation and a unique approach to the future possibilities for humankind. While these are serious issues, there is a humorous aspect to the first part of the story. Admittedly, there could have been more.

Sadly, this movie quickly deteriorates into a commentary on subjects like poverty, privilege, global warming, immigration, and the devastation of the earth. None of which are light subjects and while worthy of discussing, too complicated for the last part of a film.

Expecting a film to brighten my day, I watched the end credits feeling depressed.

This one gets one cigar and should have had a label stating: Beware, not suited for those expecting humor.