book is set, I believe in the 1980’s. The vet is suffering from Agent Orange exposure, but it is before either the U.S. or Australia are admitting that Agent Orange is the cause of so much damage. So in this book, a group of Vietnam vets who served together decide to grow hashish and sell it in has honey to earn enough to help vets who have been harmed and who aren’t getting help from the government. It’s totally illegal, but they have this enterprise for a year, raise a lot of money and help a lot of people. It’s a very interesting book with the vet and his wife coming back together after having almost been separated by the events of the war because he can’t talk about them. Also, some interesting contrasts between experiences of Australian Vietnam vets and American Vietnam vets.
We have all been waiting for the Rowling book that would come after the Harry Potter series. What has finally appeared, five years later, is well written with well developed characters, but the book itself was disappointing to me. The plot revolves around a man on the Perish Council, (for U.S. it would be town council, I think). The man who is the catalyst for the book takes his wife out for an anniversary dinner in the first chapter and drops dead on the restaurant parking lot from what they assume is an aneurism. But his death starts a whole series of events. There is a perish council election coming up, because of his death, to fill “the casual vacancy.” Whoever is elected will determine what happens next with the money in the perish. The man who died, named Barry, wants them to put more money into a drug rehabilitation program and provide more money for services for those who are poor. But most of the council does not want to even keep the program open. They want to cut back on providing any services to “these people who don’t work” and shut down the rehabilitation methadone program. So this is the backdrop for all the things that happen. We are introduced to amyriad of characters, most of them very unpleasant, with their children, equally unpleasant. The book reminds me of Elizabeth George’s “what happened before he shot her” but it is much more relentless with the most sympathetic character being the ungovernable teenage daughter of a drug addict. It’s also quite long. And if it hadn’t been Rowling, and if I hadn’t liked Harry Potter so much, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. The Harry Potter books were dark, but she managed to put some lightness in them here and there, and the reader liked several of the characters. That isn’t true here. So my final conclusion: the book is interesting but disappointing to me.
This is the second Hazel Micallef mystery taking place in rural Ontario. Hazel is still recovering from the injuries she got in “The Calling”, first book, and from back surgery. She and her 87-year-old mother can’t take care of themselves and live alone during this recovery, so they move in with Hazel’s ex-husband and his new wife. Some awkward moments caused mostly by Hazel, the second wife is very nice to her. Hazel is still working, however, and she is called in on a new case. While fishing, some tourists came upon what appeared to be a body. When the body was dragged up, it turned out to be a headless manikin. Eerily, there is a story being run in the local paper, and as the details unfold, the issue seems to be about a girl who was killed some time ago where the case had been closed. Then someone seems to be using a live computer camera coverage to show a man being held, tied in a chair with a hand missing, and Hazel is sent the hand in a box. More bizarre things happen and it’s clear that Hazel and her officers are being led along in a game being perpetrated by someone who feels the girl’s case was closed too early and the murderer not found. Excellent story. A thriller with Hazel performing some improbable stunts, but I find this series very entertaining. The narrator is perfect. Hazel is always coming up with weird questions that lead to clues, and the narrator poses those questions with just the kind of vagueness and stubbornness you would expect Hazel to exhibit in the circumstances. Very good.
Their work on the front lines made headlines. In February 1943, a group of journalists - including a young wire-service correspondent named Walter Cronkite
and cub reporter Andy Rooney - clamored to fly along on a bombing raid over Nazi Germany. Seven of the 64 bombers that attacked a U-boat base that day
never made it back to England. A fellow survivor, Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune, asked Cronkite if he'd thought through a lede. "I think
I'm going to say," mused Cronkite, "that I've just returned from an assignment to hell." During his esteemed career, Walter Cronkite issued millions of
words for public consumption, but he never wrote or uttered a truer phrase. Assignment to Hell tells the powerful and poignant story of the war against
Hitler through the eyes of five intrepid reporters. Crisscrossing battlefields, they formed a journalistic band of brothers, repeatedly placing themselves
in harm's way to bring the war home for anxious American readers. Cronkite crashed into Holland on a glider with U.S. paratroopers. Rooney dodged mortar
shells as he raced across the Rhine at Remagen. Behind enemy lines in Sicily, Bigart jumped into an amphibious commando raid that nearly ended in disaster.
The New Yorker's A. J. Liebling ducked sniper fire as Allied troops liberated his beloved Paris. The Associated Press's Hal Boyle barely escaped SS storm
troopers as he uncovered the massacre of U.S. soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge. Assignment to Hell is a stirring tribute to five of World War II's
greatest correspondents and to the brave men and women who fought on the front lines against fascism - their generation's "assignment to hell".
Picoult’s hot button issue for this book involves a death row inmate who wants to donate his heart to the sister of the little girl he killed, along with her step-father. The problem is that the sentence was to be carried out by lethal injection, and if that form of death was used, he could not donate his heart as it would not be functional. His civil liberties lawyer is arguing that the state hang him instead of killing him through injection. That’s the main issue in this book. The problem with the book is that it contains several other issues, some involving such things as that perhaps he can perform miracles. The main issue is well laid out, and Picoult has clearly done her usual thorough research involving the medical and legal problems surrounding death sentences and donation of body organs. But this book could have done with fewer additional issues.
This is the sequel to Hilary Mantel’s award-winning “Wolf Hall”. Here we follow Thomas Cromwell, secretary and advisor to King Henry VIII to the beheading of Anne Boleyn. While King henry was enamoured of Anne Boleyn for seven years, which included his divorce and annulment of his 20-year marriage to Katherine of Aragon, his exiting from the Catholic church and starting his own church in England, and his ultimate marriage to Anne, he soon becomes disenchanted with her. Their marriage lasts three years; no son is born alive, and only a daughter, Elizabeth, lives. Katherine finally dies, and within a few weeks of her death, the gossip surrounding Anne grows to a climax as people perceive the king is willing to hear rumors and innuendos about her unfaithfulness to him. Again, Thomas Cromwell is the primary focus of the novel and we see events unfold through his eyes. We see a man who rose to his high office but remains, so far as nobility is concerned, a commoner. He has dedicated his life and service to King Henry VIII but with no illusions that the king and the nobility could turn on him in a moment. He retains his position through his wit, intelligence and long memory regarding the people around him. The weeks involving Anne Boleyn’s trial, and the trial of other men tried for treason for allegedly taking liberties with her, is terrifying. The actual beheading of Anne Boleyn is gut wrenching, particularly when you learn that she must kneel but will have no block to rest her head on. She must kneel perfectly still in one place so the head will come off with one stroke. Reading about this period reminds me very much of the French Revolution period of chaos. I don’t know if Mantel plans more books leading to the eventual downfall of Cromwell or if this is it. Simon Vance does his usual wonderful job of narration with each character having its own vocal expressions, Cromwell always remaining slightly remote and cool. I assume this book will get some awards as well. It is very good.
The Publisher’s note explains this title as well as I can.
Long before the rise of the modern gay movement, an unnoticed literary revolution was occurring between the covers of the cheaply produced lesbian pulp
paperbacks of the post-World War II era. In 1950, publisher Fawcett Books founded its Gold Medal imprint, inaugurating the reign of lesbian pulp fiction.
These were the books that small-town lesbians and prurient men bought by the millions - cheap, easy to find in drugstores, and immediately recognizable
by their lurid covers: often a hard-looking brunette standing over a scantily clad blonde, or a man gazing in tormented lust at a lovely, unobtainable
lesbian. For women leading straight lives, here was confirmation that they were not alone and that darkly glamorous, "gay" places like Greenwich Village
existed. Some - especially those written by lesbians - offered sympathetic and realistic depictions of "life in the shadows", while others (no less fun
to read now) were smutty, sensational tales of innocent girls led astray. In the overheated prose typical of the genre, this collection documents the emergence
of a lesbian subculture in postwar America.
These stories had one drawback. They were excerpts from full novels, so they never felt as if you got the whole story. But each one clearly described an earth-shaking event in the life of a particular woman. Ann Bannon’s introduction is very thorough and gives us a history of that period.
This is a very long book that took me months to read, but was worth it.
The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies
in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - "Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question.
Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that,
soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. As Aomame's and Tengo's narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of
the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that
instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator;
a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector. A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of
self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell's, 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami's most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan,
and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers. BONUS AUDIO: Audible interviews the translators of 1Q84, Jay Rubin
and Philip Gabriel.
Zed Van Heerden, a former cop and now a private eye in Capetown, is referred to a young lawyer representing the mistress of an antique furniture dealer who was murdered with an M-16 rifle and tortured first with a blow torch. There is a safe, large with shelves built into the wall, which is left open and is empty except for a piece of paper used for rolling American bills. While the woman was never married to the dealer, they’ve lived together for several years and he left a will leaving everything to her. But the will is gone, and that’s what they want Van Heerden to find. But as he becomes involved in the case, he realizes he will have to solve the murder, and solving the murder brings him into contact with all kinds of South African and American military intelligence and puts his life and that of his mother and everyone else in danger. As is usually truewith these books, there’s also a back story involving why Van Heerden left the police force. It’s very good, and as usual Simon Vance does a wonderful job with the accents and the narration in general.
This is the fourth in the Lena Jones series of a Scottsdale Arizona private eye. Here she is hired to provide security while a documentary is being filmed involving the escape of German POW’s from a prison camp in Arizona. The same night of the escape, a family was slaughtered in their home. The only survivor, a son, was blamed, and tried for the crime but was not convicted. However, his life was ruined because everyone, except the jury, believed he was guilty. Now, 60 years after the original event, one of the Nazis who was in that camp, who escaped that night, and who was allowed to emigrate to America because of his scientific prowess, is murdered. No one likes him. He still loudly proclaims his Nazi principles and loudly proclaims the Nazi views of minorities. There has always been a theory that he and the Germans who escaped during the war were responsible for the death of the family. And now, in addition to her job providing security, Lena is dragged into determining who killed the Nazi because his caretaker, an Ethiopian immigrant is being blamed. Then, two more persons are murdered, Lena thinks, because they know too much about the case, and Lena’s own life is in danger. Her oldest friend, a police detective, is retiring and moving away, and her best friend and business partner is getting married and moving to another company where he’ll make more money. Lena indeed has lots to deal with in this book. The book continues to provide us with Arizona scenery and interesting characters.
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