Sunday, January 15, 2017

Review--Market Day

Market DayMarket Day by James Sturm
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a gift from my son, and it's a wise son who knows his mother so well. I found this little tale of a man's journey on market day to be deeply connected to ideals of art vs. commerce, pragmatism vs. creativity, and what it means to be a husband, a father, a creator.

Mendleman is trying to make a living in his Eastern Europe shtetel, never an easy task. He weaves magnificent, one of a kind rugs, each one a story, each one hand-crafted to stand the test of time.

But who would buy such rugs? Merchants want to make quick sales and high profits and are less concerned with craftsmanship than costs.

I look forward to discussing this little tale with the gift-giver, also an artist trying to eke out a living in a harsh environment. When your livelihood is connected to your creativity (something novelists share with artists) reading Market Day gives one much to think about.

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Review--When Falcons Fall (Sebastian St. Cyr, #11)

When Falcons Fall (Sebastian St. Cyr, #11)When Falcons Fall by C.S. Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another excellent entry in a series that continues to enthrall. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has come to Shropshire to investigate clues as to his own origins and fulfill a deathbed promise to a friend. Of course, a dead body pops up and Devlin's called in by a young and inexperienced country magistrate for some expert help.

The peaceful village seethes with secrets, some related to Devlin's past, some connected to the work being done by his wife, some possibly linked to world affairs. It's a rousing good read, and I was kept guessing right up to the end "whodunnit?"

I highly recommend this series to readers who like solid historical research along with their murder mystery, and I eagerly await the next volume.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Review--The Scent of Winter (The Original Sinners, #6.5)

The Scent of Winter (The Original Sinners, #6.5)The Scent of Winter by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another charming and erotic holiday story from the Original Sinners world. Soren and Kingsley are mature men now and their relationship is a far different one from what it was when they were teenagers. Family, career, life have all taken their toll, but the love remains constant.

This is probably best enjoyed by fans of the series, but Reisz's quality writing makes it work as a stand-alone novella as well.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review--The Old Man

The Old ManThe Old Man by Thomas Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back in '94, Gov. "Walkin' Lawton" Chiles became part of Florida Cracker lore when he said to his opponent, "... let me tell you one other thing about the old liberal. The old He-Coon walks just before the light of day.”

The opponent was befuddled, but the old Floridians watching the debate nodded their heads at this sage observation. In Florida folklore, the He-Coon is the wisest member of the pack of raccoons, the oldster who lets the young ones run around and get trapped. The He-Coon waits, biding his time, then saunters off to his den.

This book's about a He-Coon, a man with a "special skill set" who's been living below the radar but his enemies just won't leave him alone. It's book candy for fans of Thomas Perry, especially fans of a certain age who like to see a guy in his sunset years kick butt and take names.

This is one of Perry's stand-along novels, not connected to the fabulous Jane Whitehead series. I highly recommend it, and I look forward to the next book from this author who could teach the young raccoons in writing seminars a thing or two.

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Monday, January 09, 2017

Review--Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in AmericaStamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is liable to be the most important book I'll read this year. The author pulls no punches in laying out an indictment of racism in America and skillfully uses language to force the reader to re-evaluate her/his own attitudes toward race.

I liked the concept of taking various individuals and writing about them in the context of the events of their times, from Cotton Mather to Angela Davis. I would recommend Stamped from the Beginning to anyone wishing to understand more about why we've not achieved the post-racial society some had hoped for 50 years ago during the Civil Rights movement. Whether we ever reach that point will remain for future generations to examine.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A Resolution or Two for 2017

  1. Appreciate that when the puppy wants to play, it's not because she's trying to sabotage my writing. These moments won't last forever. 
  2. Get outside more.  
  3. Write. 
  4. Write some more. 
  5. Don't give up, keep writing! 
  6. To facilitate writing, stay away from social media. Later, gators!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Review--The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's clear why The Fifth Season won the Hugo Award in 2016. The combination of skilled writing and world-building keep the reader on her toes in a satisfying science fiction novel about the end of the world.

It's a fabulous tale and I can't wait to see where Jemisin goes with her masterful storytelling.

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Review--The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Harry Bosch, #21)

The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Harry Bosch, #21; Harry Bosch Universe, #24)The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry Bosch's life changes as he ages, but one thing remains the same, his commitment to getting the answers and solving the crime. Now that Harry's left the LAPD he's splitting his time between a smaller police department and private investigation. It's the latter that leads him to a possible missing heirs case, and the story unfolds with two side-by-side investigations.

Longtime fans of Bosch will find this another satisfying entry in the long-running series, but it even works as a stand-alone novel.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Review--Christmas in America

Christmas in America (Gentry Family, #0.5)Christmas in America by Holly Bush
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As is usually the case with collections, I liked some stories more than others. I'm giving this one four stars primarily because of Donna Thorland, author of the Renegades of the Revolution series. Her bittersweet (to those of us who've read the books) Christmas story fills in a gap in the history of one of the recurring characters, incidents that were referred to but never clarified.

The other tales were enjoyable, and in keeping with the season, but Thorland's offering really hit the mark. Her research and writing are outstanding.

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