I like the Sandra Browns, but this must have been one of her earlier attempts, perhaps with an early intention to develop a readrship in the lonely/jaded lady crowd. It has a good story line, with great underlying personal tension, and lots of the SB classic plot and development which has become her strength in more recent works (e.g. "Envy"). But the romance and sex scenes are way overdone, too long, even "cheseball" at times, and disturbingly distracting. (The quality of the naration is fine; but I found myself fast-forwarding through the sappy "romance" parts). It is also somewhat predictable, and laden with clecheish stereotypes; some of which were inconsistent, and others not believable. Nevertheless, it is a good "window" to SB's earlier years as an author, and I still give it a three star for the idea and story line alone. But I would urge SB to do a re-write on this one because the story and underlying theme have the potential to become a greater novel.
I loved Grisham's prior forrays into the realm of non-legal. "Painted House" and "Playing for Pizza" were delightful, "no-brainer", "me-and-joe" stories. Not so for Calico Joe. It raises an insidious and troublesome issue for all of us who love national sports-- intentionally inflicted injuries. We try to practice and coach our kids on the lessons of "good sportsmanship". Yet, the "reality" is the exact opposite. Not all sports injuries are "accidental." Witneness the New Orleans Saints' coach suspended for paying out a "bounty" for every oppo player carried off the field. Calico illustrates the same problem in baseball. Some would say "its part of the game," or "if you cant take the hit, you shouldn't be playing". On the other hand, Calico brings out the indellible "side effects". Once thrown, you can't take it back, just like you can't "unring" the bell. Once the damage is done, it remains done, for the inflictor and inflictee alike. The lesson is tragic regardless of the ending--admit or continue to deny; to appologize or not; to forgive, or not to forgive. This story is not an abaration. It happens all the time. I usually don't approve of successful authors using their works as a "soapbox"'. But this one is well written in pure simplicity, and surfaces a major problem in major league sports, deliberately covered up for years.
This book is a law professor's "wet-dream" of a legal ethics final exam. Good listen, lots of twists and turns, of course lots of conflicts of interest, and legal "ethical" issues, some recognizable, some not. Good naration; but the underlyingstory line gets complicated at times. Lawyers might find this like the arcade game "Whack-A-Mole", there's a new conflict popping up every 5 minutes.
I have to join with all the other 5-star voters on this one. It has all the ingredeients of an all-time-best for King. The JFK assination scenario (and the surrounding controversies) provide a great combination of fiction with underlying factual base, with plot and storyline. The competing "conspiracy theories" are intertwined, with everyone pointing the finger at the others (the Russians, CIA, FBI, Mafia, Cubans, democrats, communists, republicans, racists, John Birchers), but with no "answer" one way or the other (King's own belief is that Oswald acted alone, vs his wife's view of "conspiracy" w/ a "second shooter"). Then immagination and dilemma constantly pull on your emotional and intellectual strings in oposite directions. Kept me on the edge of my seat, could not put this one down. Those from the era of the 50s and 60s will enjoy reliving those times (complete with "sock hops", swing dance, "sparking" at the drive-in, poodle skirts, Annette Funichello and the Mouseketeers, '61 Galaxy Fords and Chevy Impalas). King is a master at this kind of background development. At the same time, this classic King also challanges the imagination: We've all had thoughts of "if only I could do it over again?" Monday morning quarterbacking makes for interesting conversation, but if you really had to do it over again, would you do it any differently? Can you truthfully say that the outcome would be different? Would there be an "offsetting penalty" to pay? Good time-travel book, better King immagination; outstanding storytelling. This one's headed for Hollywood. Watch.
I'm in with the "rambling" group; w/ mixed feelings on the "overall" (three stars should really be 3 1/2). You have to keep in mind that this represents a return to the original John Irving. . . you know, like Garp and Hotel New Hampshire, complete w/ bear, New England backdrop, characters w/missing or deformed anatomical parts, and anti-war "message". It is a disguised "me-n-Joe", w/ no plot, or significant "revelation" that shows-up in the end--like Owen Meany, or Cider House, or even Widdow. But, it has a quality that other writers will appreciate: it is the story that "writes itself", lIke the Escher drawing where the hand holding the pencil appears to be drawing itself. Irving uses this unusual technique to share his personal "tricks of the trade" with the reader; giving the inside scoop on how an otherwise "plain-Jane" Me-n-Joe, can be transformed, in Cinderellaesq fashion, into something enjoyable, and grabbing--and it must have had some level of attraction, since all my fellow commentating pundits seem to have made it to the end. I think it works because Irving starts in the middle, then gravitates sideways, then fast forward, then rewind back, then regular speed forward again; only to end up back in the middle. If the book went in chronolical order, I may not have made it to the end. The writing, descriptive scenes, personality, character development, and prose are just outstanding (at one point, I thought I could actually smell the Bear sh. . . . in Ketchem's truck). I have to admit, I learned much on the tradecraft; and I highly recommend it to anyone who is even thinking about writing. (I even find myself writing down lines, sentences, phrases, or even ideas for entire chapters, only to put them down, to be used at some future point in my own works). Oh, a last thought, the repetitive redundancy is noticably overdone,over and over again, . . . . but, maybe that's the whole idea.
Well, I was fooled. I thought this would be a collection of real "diary" entires, like the personal letters in Daddy HW's book (actually read by HW himself). You know, the personal correspondence, which reveals the true insights of the person's life. Behind the scenes. No glossing on the cake.
But not here. There's no "diary" no personal correspondence. No "insights". Nada. Just a bunch of junky shallow attacks, and personal swipes on things like Obama's appearance, choice of clothing, minor misstatements in verbage (you know, "human error" kinds of "slips of the tongue). Most of this has already beaten to a pulp by the media (like when Obama didn't wear his american flag-pin on his lapel; or, when Michelle said that she was never prouder to be an american).
I read and even liked Obama's first book. It was actual history, true stories from Obama's backgroud from the heart, before Obama became embroiled into the prospects of a presidential nomination. By contrast, Obama's second book was the exact opposite; it said nothing; just a stream of policical palatitudes, designed to impress the liberals.
I'm a conserviative, otherwise anti Obama. Voted for McCain in last election.
Common Laura, lets take him on the merits (or lack thereof), not by superficial slaps at personality, and trivial nonsense. That's the kind of "greasy kid stuff" the liberals do.
Save your credits.
This is a book which requires a double read, not becaues it involves a boy with an annoying voice, or a "murder weapon" in the form of a little league baseball, or a non-practicing-homosexual draft dodger who cuts off his middle finger only to give up his American citizenship to move to Canada anyway, or even because it has the longest openning sentence (ripe with funky punctuation that boggles the mind) that I've ever seen in a great American novel (e.g., "Just call me Ishmael"), but because the author writes the story from the back to the front, the end before the "rest of the story". Its the second read that lets you read the story in the way the author wrote it. It highlights the symbols, one-liners and signs that, though unseen the first time around, are no less strongly felt. So I have to give it the rare "five-star". And, I assure you that (notwithstanding some of the distracting policical undertones, sometimes overtones) the second read will give you too so much more than the first.
I liked the story line and underlying theme. Great suspense and drama, integrated with interesting medical and technical backdrop. But the whole thing was spoiled because of the totally unnecessary, woefully predictable, and wholly gratuitous love affair, between the intellient and wealthy protagonist and bumbling "hunk type" security guard. The "Sappy" love affair sticks out, and distracts from the interest and intrigue otherwise generated by the otherwise intreguing substance underlying the story line.
This is a classic "me-n-joe" story-- you know, the kind that starts "early one spring morning me and joe got into my truck and started driving down the narrow country road, off to our annual hunting trip in the woods. . . ." So, what we have here is a collection of anecdotal dog-gets-us-in-trouble stories. I loved the stories, but probably more so because I am a committed dog lover too. I just enjoy trading stories with others of doggie-tales, of dogs who are always up to a something-something. And, all of us have a bunch of stories of our most favorite companion in the world, and we love to tell anyone who will listen. If you are a doggie lover, you will love this one too. But. . . . , a work of good writing, literary value, crime-scene mystery, or philosophical insight, it is not (that's the reason for the 3-stars). As for those who might be concerned about the reviews criticizing the author's own naration, not to fret. I like books read by the author in his own voice, with his own inflections, emotions, and style-- Stephen King reads some of his, as did the Clintons, daddy-Bush, Obama, Sol Stein. It's like having the author right there in the same room, telling his story in person. If you have the same, the naration will not be a problem. My bottom line, is great, great, great. I might even go to the movie.
I usually like the "doggie-style" legal thriller niche which DR has so successfully carved-out for himself. But this one was too focussed on the romance end of things (the police-girlfriend who moved to Findlay, Wisc.) Also, while there were some good court/legal scenes (always a pleasure), the ethical inconsistency was overwhelming (defense atty bedding down the local chief of police); that just wouldn't play out in reality, even in Findlay (probably esp. in Findlay)(e.g., LA Mayor Villaragossa's romantic interlude w/ the TV reporter). But for DR and Tara fans, it is an interesting read (even if not the best).
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