Joe Talbert's life is changing. He hopes going away to collage will help, but it only adds to the challenges. He has saved his own money and been the strength in his home, helping his autistic brother and covering for his alcoholic mother. His new life at the University of Minnesota has brought him to a new apartment, a young lady friend down the hall, and a very interesting writing assignment in his English class.
For his assignment he decides to write a biography of a stranger and chooses Carl Iverson whom he finds in a nursing home. It turns out that the Carl had spent the last 30 years in prison for the rape and murder of a 14 year old girl. Carl was released from prison because he was close to death with stage 4 cancer.
Carl is a Vietnam vet with two Purple Hearts and a Silver Cross. Joe’s at first figures a short biography would be an easy A for his class. When he learns that Carl could be innocent he decides to look at the crime evidence to make the biography more accurate.
Joe's brother, Jeremy, has to move in with him because of troubles at his home are still a concern. Joe, Jeremy and his neighbor all help to resolve things as they work on the facts they find about Carl's crime.
The books characters are interesting and the plot twists with surprises. Exploring the evidence of a long past crime and getting to know the people is interesting.
A story well written and a book that is worth reading
This book is considered young adult fantasy and it tells the story of a girl being prepared to battle sinister forces and save the world.
Vida in 1962 fled Russia and came to America. She was 17 years old at that time. She had descended from an ancient Sisterhood and is a Druidic High Priestesses. She is now training her granddaughter Maya, who is 15 years old, to become the next High Priestesses and to fight for our troubled planet. She will have to fight the Dark Menace.
Maya can be helped by the Constellations who seem like Gods watching from above, including Draco (Latin for dragon) and Monoceros (Greek for unicorn).
Vida and Maya train in the nearby forest and Maya learns, among other things,to slip through time and space. The story includes references to much of the current day world’s troubles.
A lot of her training is mind training but she does go through extensive physical training also. When the final battle takes place it results in terrible consequences. Humanity is saved in the end but remains imperfect and will need the help of the Sisterhood going forward. A lot to think about as comparisons to the world today.
Fiction and fantasy are great escapes and this story of Maya doesn't disappoint.
the Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Don Tillman is the narrator of this story where he thinks he has found a solution to “the wife problem”. He is a geneticist and has developed a questionnaire to use for this project
Don is challenged, almost robotic. He doesn’t understand social cues, barely feels emotion and can’t stand to be touched. His best and almost only friends are Gene and Claudia who are psychologists. Gene works at the same university thanks to Don’s help. Claudia helps Don balance her husband Gene’s suggestions. Rosie is a graduate student in Gene’s department and as a joke he gets here to answer Don’s questionnaire for the wife project. Don finds her beautiful and in many ways, they hit it off right away but then she is just unsuitable as the questionnaire clearly shows. Rosie seems to see through some of Don’s perceived weaknesses.
Rosie and Don get to know each other. He learns of her own project regarding her father. It really is a challenging and complicated “father project” and one that Don is well qualified to help with. Don of course rules her out for the wife project but agrees to help her on the father project. We watch him fall in love with Rosie, not even knowing he is. We see much of the same happen to Rosie.
Don’s nativity serves to dissect the step by steps taken in their relationship. He does seem a little nuts, but oddly we all see some of our self in his simplistic approach. We feel bad for, and laugh, as Don tries to understand his own feelings and Rosie’s. Rosie’s father project leads the two from Australia to New York. The twists and turns of that story are funny.
Graeme Simsion is a skilled writer. His scenes make you feel that you are in the story. Don in his methodical well-reasoned approach seems to be the real Don and he seems likable and believable. He changes or at least can manage change when needed as the plot goes on and it is funny but wonderful in its own way.
Camino Island by John Grisham
Princeton University really does have some original F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts probably in a high security vault. That is the target of a gang of thieves who plot to steal them. The thieves succeed in stealing this treasure the book. It is only logical that the market for this type of item would be small. The books are reported to be priceless but 25 million is a starting value for the manuscripts.
The thieves vanish and the FBI’s Rare Asset Recovery Unit starts to investigate. So does the insurance company. Both know that Bruce Kable, a successful book dealer who has a well known book store on Camino Island could be involved. This business is a dark business but Bruce likely knows the players.
Mercer Mann is a young woman and a struggling writer burdened by debts. She had spent many summers as a kid on Florida's Camino Island in her grandmother's beach cottage. Now she is being made an offer she can't refuse: to return to the peace of the island, to write her novel - and get close to a certain infamous bookseller, and his interesting collection of manuscripts.
Mercer and Bruce get to know each other and it leads to findings that without her would not have been found. Her time with the book dealer is an interesting sub story.
No lawyers or judges in this book. This fact is unusual for John Grisham since the law, lawyers, and judges are a key part of his formula for success but it is a very exciting book without that element.
David Foster Wallace died September 12th, 2008. He was 46 years old
An Art Teacher once told us that the phrase he hated to hear most was “I don’t know much about art but I know what I like”. Well I didn’t know much about Tennis but David Foster Wallace pointed the way to what is really exciting about it.
Of the 5 essays, I really liked most“How Tracy Austin Broke my Heart” and “Federer, both Flesh and Not”.
One exposure only to this writer and his love of the sport is enough to be contagious. His skill in writing made the difference in how well these ideas could be addictive.
“The Truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
This quote is from Foster's 1996 novel, "Infinite Jest". Time magazine included that novel in its 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923. that seems to support the overall writing skill that I found in this novel. Much of what he writes in “String Theory” seems to want to look closer at the truth behind what is happening in the vairous actions and lives around tennis.
In physics “String Theory” is a term that is used to understand a theoretical framework where things described as strings interact with each other. The interaction and implication that tennis and life have was explored in an interesting way in this book.
If I finish a book and then glad that I read it, it was a success. This book was just that.
The Whistler by John Grisham
(Catching up some reviews, two at a time. See the Comment section for some updated thoughts on these reviews.)
John Grisham continues to use his "formula for writing successful books" and it is still addictive. He has written about 30 legal thrillers. His books are just plain fun to read. Both Grisham and Stephen King are addictive authors.
"The Whistler" opens, of course, with judicial investigator Lacy Stoltz concerned about a judge on the take. A lawyer who went to jail and is now out is going to help. (this indeed is the formula but Grisham’s)
It is a story of racketeering that combines the uppity Gulf Coast society, some brilliant legal minds, and the old Catfish Mafia now evolved into the Coast Mafia. (No one weaves legal situations and the life in the Southeast better)
Lacy’s approach is to learn how bad the judge is. The answer is very bad, and the bad guys are getting away with murder. Thank goodness for a whistle-blower and those helping her who also have plans of their own.
I have read and enjoyed all of John Grisham’s books but not often have I reviewed his books. Knowing a little more about him can help. A story about him from January 2016 gives some insight into his career.
Bookends, a popular literary TV show, had John Grisham and Steven King as their main attraction. They have been friends for 25 years and you could feel the respect that they both had for each other both personally and professionally.
In this special they both shared a lot about their career. Grisham shared his experience in writing his first book, "A Time to Kill". He said he bought the first run of 1000 copies and then worked to sell them all himself. That was back in 1989.
John Grisham was a surprise and it was interesting to see how similar his and Stephen King's lives and careers had been. Similiar careers. Both started with a break on their first book. Both talented writers.
This is the closing a trilogy of 3 books; Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch. The same villain and many of the same characters.
Retired detective Bill Hodges and investigative partner Holly Gibney have worked on this case from the very start (all three books) with things pulling from the first volume to the present.
Brady Hartsfield, mass murderer, has now acquired psychic powers and is experimenting and glad to do so, with ways to convince the innocent to kill themselves. The very people that he failed to kill in Mr Mercedes.
Brady doesn’t like being trapped in a unmovable body but with some technology and other creepy stuff he is more dangerous than ever. The technology used is anything but modern day and it is like using Pac-man but still having it be exciting and effective.
It is indeed the “End of Watch” for the villain and for the the hero. Each book easily could stand on its own, but they work a long plot that finally comes to a typical Stephen King larger story.
Stories of Your Life & Under The Dome
I read these two books earlier this year. I am catching up my book reviews so I want to have the reviews posted and have also listed this years books reviewed in the new tab, "About Books".
Stories of Your Life and Others
by Ted Chaing
"Stories Of Your Life and Others" by Ted Chiang is contemporary science fiction. The book has 8 stories that originally were published separately. "Stories of Your Life" is both the book title and the fourth story in the book. It is the story that the movie Arrival was taken from.
There is also at the end another short chapter called story notes. It may be useful to read it first? The other chapters in this book are also very thought-provoking. I liked his fictional twist to the Bible story about the Tower of Babylon. His story "Division by Zero" would for sure be fascinating except for me it left me wishing my math foundation was stronger.
Clearly Ted Chiang is a very skilled writer. His approach to science makes you think. His stories are not causal reads. The movie chapter is about a linguist expert who was called to communicate with Aliens who were" heptapods" and had two distinct forms of language. Heptapod A, their spoken language. and Heptapod B, their written language. The relevance of what time really is ,for the Aliens and then for us, was also a key component of the plot.
Both the movie and the book are very thought-provoking. When I first read the book I finished it and the same day went to the movie. I was surprised that I found myself liking the movie more. I felt that was unusual and I posted my thoughts at that time in my post titled "Are Books Always Better Than the Movie". I have thought more about the comparison since then and have changed my thinking some. For me I still would prefer the movie mostly because the story line was more exact and I felt a closer connection to the characters. The pluses for the book could be that you may find yourself sort of feeling and sensing what was happening. That may lead to your having more options for the issue of how time worked with past presence and future. The book was very good. The movie was great.
Under The Dome
by Stephen King
A science fiction novel published in 2009. I have read many of Stephen King's books so why I had not read this one may have a little to do with the fact that it is almost 1100 pages. It had a TV series built around it but I never watched it because I thought I would eventually read it, which I finally did earlier this year.
I have been a little cautious over the years in reading the Stephen King books I have read because they are just scary. Under The Dome was a mixture of some scary things, interesting plot, and especially a study of the people suddenly sealed off in a small New England town.
A force field came down over the town and the people were trapped. Families were split. There was no escape. King knows exactly what scares people and the plot covers most of them.
The cast of people is one that fits the setting perfectly. The hero is a Iraq veteran and the villain is, Big Jim Rennie, a local power broker.
The psychological insight into the minds and motives of the small town people is right on target.
The book reminds me of his book "The Stand" in how a large cast of characters bring about the plot. It is well worth the reading. Glad I skipped the TV series.
The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
By Jonas Johasson
Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of the Old Folks’ Home to avoid his 100th birthday party. What happens next is funny and you would expect that to be what the book is about. It turns out that what happened before that day, over Allan’s life, is even funnier.
He climbs out of the window, in his slippers, and heads to the bus station, not caring where he will go. While waiting for the next bus without much thought about it he steals a suitcase and gets on the bus. It did occur to him that the suitcase might have some shoes in it. The suitcase’s owner is a criminal and he is very upset and works hard trying to get it back.
The story goes back and forth between the current chase and events from his prior very full life.
I must admit that for me Allan Karlsson seemed to be Alan Alda. Not just because they are both named Alan but they shared a comic aloofness.
I kept seeing and even hearing Alda as I read about Karlsson. I won’t say any more and maybe it is unfair to mention this because you may now fall into the same trap if you read this book
Karlsson was an explosive expert throughout much of his life. This skill enabled him to get the attention of many world leaders including Franco, Truman, Stalin, Mao and Kim Il Sung. He has no personal political leanings but worked for all sides inadvertently. His travels take him all over the world as he intersects with world events from Los Alamos, New Mexico to North Korea.
The book is silly. The events and coincidences are absurd. It weaves history in to a fictional life in a masterful way. The story will hold the readers interest from beginning to end. A rare accomplishment for any book. A great cure for the blues, especially for anyone who might feel bad about growing older.
Jonas Jonasson is a Swedish journalist and writer, best known as the author of the best-seller
About Trevor Noah and His Book, "Born a Crime"
Before reading this book I didn't know who Trevor Noah was and I knew nothing about growing up in South Africa in the 1980's and 1990's.
On the dedication page Trevor writes: "For my mother, My first fan. Thank you for making me a man." His thoughts about his mother throughout this story explain a lot.
His story of his becoming a man is inspiring, I starts with the country under apartheid and then the transition that followed it.
Trevor's mother Patricia taught him to face injustice with humor and that must have sowed the seeds for who he is today.
“If my mother had one goal,
it was to free my mind.”— Trevor Noah
His birth into this world began as a criminal act. He was "Born a Crime", to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison.
During the early years of his life he spent most of his time inside so as not to be noticed. The government could have taken him away from his mother and his dad didn't live with them and couldn't even walk by him on the street.
After Apartheid ended a time came when he and his mother began a new life trying to live openly and freely but they still had many challenges with life the different groups and subgroups.
"language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”
“Chapter 4: Chameleon"
"it is useful to know the language of your oppressor."
“Chapter 4: Chameleon”
Trevor was smart and his education and resourcefulness was his life line to success.
The book is his memoir of growing up in South Africa. It was challenging, sad, and even funny, but the true story of the book is in his love for his mother. The Trevor America knows best is of him from the desk of the Daily Show.
He has a facebook page.
He also has an instagram account.