Friday, June 23, 2017

Daughters of Men --by Brenda Leifso

Poetry / Literature  

119 pages / 348 KB
5 Stars

This is a "full meal deal" of poetry, and frankly, I wish I'd written some of them!

Leifso plays with format and with style, and comes up with appetizers (follow the lines...), with perfectly paired libations (who asked you to coil the truth), to entre (Heavenly Father), to a dessert of perfect proportion (when does lament become prayer).

I thought I would read this as my bedtime book. Read a poem or two, turn out the light, and think about what I'd read as I fell asleep. I would think about how she used words, used phrases, used line breaks instead of punctuation. I would think about the images she conjured. Alas, by the time I turned out the light, I'd read the whole book.  Yes, it is that good. And it will go on my shelf and be pulled down and reread, perhaps in smaller pieces, but then, again, perhaps when I'm starving, and I'll read it straight through, again.

Daughters of Men is a powerful book, and I hope we see many more books by Brenda Leifso. (And I'm so jealous she wrote these, and not me!)

Still Life --Louise Penny

Fiction / Mystery  

321 pages / 1187 KB
5 Stars

A perfect cozy to cuddle up with! Agatha Christie would be proud to have written this book.

This is the first in a series, and introduces us to the chief character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec, and takes place in the little village just outside Quebec, Three Pines. I've been informed that one should not spend their time looking for the village on a map—it doesn't exist anywhere but the writer's imagination. Drat!

If you want lots of violence, gunfights, car chases in your mysteries, keep on walking, ignore this delightful book. If you want, as the cover says, a "cerebral, wise, and compassionate..." mystery, then stop, pick this one off the shelf (physical or virtual), and enjoy.

The characters are well-developed, interesting, and for the most part, likable. A school of red herrings swims in and out of the scenes, but they do not swim up and bite you, or otherwise demand your attention. They are there, but quiet and unobtrusive, as a proper fish should be.

This is the debut novel of the series, and I can hardly wait to read the rest. Several are now out, so I don't have to wait too long.

A perfect book for the beach, or a winter's night by the fire. A great escape.

Inspector Ghote Draws a Line (Inspector Ghote Series) –H.R.F. Keating

Fiction / Mystery  

198 pages
4 Stars

I was in the mood for something light and, well, fluffy. Inspector Ghote filled the bill. I don't often read British mysteries, but I thought I'd try this one. It takes place in India, and Insp Ghote is sent from Bombay, his home base, to the hinterlands to stop a murder from happening. The about-to-be-victim is not interested in helping, until it becomes painfully obvious the soon-to-be-perpetrator is a member of his household.

This is not what I would call a page burner, but it was fun. Especially to see some of India, and how the cultures mix and mesh.

For my purposes, it was perfect. Gave me a much needed escape from my reality, and I felt better when I finished the story than when I began it.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants –by Malcolm Gladwell

Nonfiction  / Social Commentary  

300 pages
4 Stars

This was a fun read, for the most part. Because he covers a great deal of ground, he often speaks in generalities where I would prefer specifics; but then, if he got all that specific for everyone it could easily become a 3,000 page tome instead of a 300 page one.

There are factual errors in the book, according to both some of the reviews I read, and personal observation but I'm not sure they are all that detrimental to the overall message. The book is divided into three parts, in which he tells some interesting stories with the underlying theme of rising above adversity.

Oh, and he also gives a good reason for David winning!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I, Richard --Elizabeth George

Fiction – 5 short stories
258 pages / 3095 KB
3 Stars

Through the years, I have discovered that some novelists whose books I dislike, also write short stories which I love. Therefore, I was willing to invest the time to read these 5 short and fluffy stories. Alas, Ms. George does not fit into the category of sentence number one, above.

IF, and I strongly emphasize the beginning word, IF you are a fan of Elizabeth George's books, you will probably enjoy these stories. Otherwise, don't waste your time. I was sorely disappointed.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Passage --by Connie Willis

Fiction / SF/F  

800 pages / 4910 KB
5 Stars

Warning: Do not begin if you don't have the time to invest in reading this. Yes, it's long, but it's also a page burner. I found it very difficult to put down until finished. I was hooked by the end of reading page one.

I love the descriptions of the people, from the little girl to the old codger whose war stories are never the same twice. And the descriptions of the hospital corridors being randomly blocked off were delightful. I used to work there, but it wasn't a hospital, it was a plane manufacturer.

Joanna Lander is a psychologist studying Near Death Experiences NDEs. She wants the scientific reason for having them. Mr. Mandrake studies them to prove his theory of life after life, and he contaminates the people he interviews by asking leading questions, so she must get to them first. He's also a jerk. Dr. Richard Wright is also doing research on NDEs, and enlists Joanna's help. In order to understand what the subjects go through during an NDE, and to better understand what questions to ask, she becomes one of the test subjects.

This is not your typical story of the Titanic, of life and death, or of NDEs. The chapter epigraphs are marvelous.  By the time I got to the end, I was more than a little curious to see how Willis described the actual death. Though I wanted something just a tad more concrete than she gave us, I think the description was spot on. And, after all, it is a one-way trip.

A marvelous read, and for all its pages, a relatively quick read.