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The Girl on the Train (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 20 August 2017 00:00

et’s get this right out in the open. This is a protagonist you aren’t going to like at all.

Rachel is a pathetic drunk. Her drinking and violent tendencies cost her a marriage. Now abiding in an apartment from an over-enabling friend, she rides in to London every day, not to work but to pretend to work. Because she drank at a work lunch, lost control and got the sack.

One of Rachel’s little “games” is when the train stops every day at the same signal, she looks at the back of one of the suburban houses (apparently a few doors down from her old abode, where her ex still lives with the woman that supplanted her). The woman who sits on the patio drinking coffee is so serine. Her husband so caring. Rachel actually names them, gives them backstories, almost loves them. Their lives follow what hers should have been, sipping coffee in the sunlight as the train rattles past, her loving husband kissing her neck before heading off to his successful work.

But then one day Rachel is rocked to see this woman, so complete in her own life, kissing another man on the back porch. And shortly afterwards, she comes up missing.

Fuelled by her besotted fantasies, Rachel is drawn in – like Charlie Chan and Miss Marple – to try to solve the case (even though she is unreliable, often drinking until blacking out, unable to hold a course of action, a total disaster of a detective). But her actions begin to unravel of quiet calm of her former street, revealing the lying and cheating of its underbelly. And in the end, it all becomes clear. Horrifically clear.

The story is told from three women involved (including the one who was murdered) and across different times, so it pays to watch the date in the chapter headings. Eventually we are able to piece together what happened and what the fallout is. Well-told and interesting, the author was bold in picking a character so depressingly a failure that my sister gave the book up at midpoint. Still, kudos for going after such a tough-to-carry heroine. I stuck with Rachel through to the end. If I had one problem with the book, it’s that the women and men in the story seem cast from the same molds (the women unfaithful, weak and indecisive, the men quick-tempered and violence-prone). But yes, overall it as a good read, an interesting mystery with a red herring or two to keep the reader guessing.

But if you do take my recommendation, know that your protagonist is no “Dick Champion”. It’s going to be raw.

>>>IF FEMALE HEROINES ARE TO YOUR LIKING, CHECK OUT FIRE AND BRONZE, RIGHT DOWN THIS LINK. HERE’S A PRINCESS WHO’S BROTHER IS A MURDEROUS NUTCASE. NOT ANOTHER DISNEY PRINCESS, I CAN ASSURE YOU.<<<

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 August 2017 08:37
 
Razor Girl (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 13 August 2017 00:00

arl Hiaasen – what can you say? If you haven’t read any of his South Florida Crime Novels, you’ve got a treat. While his writing can be a bit formulaic (good guys are gruff and honest, bad guys are unremitting shit-weasels (one of my favorite phrases of his) who tend fated to end his tales in horribly fitting ways). It’s not high art, that’s for sure, but it’s fun.

So, the title character, the Razor Girl, is a young woman with a suspicious name (Merry Mansfield) who makes a living of sorts by crashing into cars. She’s got rear-ending to a fine art, hitting them just enough to get them to stop. And when the driver comes back, understandably furious at the collision, there she is, caught in the (staged) act of shaving herself in a very private place while driving (you cannot get any more distracted than that). Usually she’ll beg a ride off her road-side companion for a lift, fluttering her eyes or shaking out her ruby-red hair, to which the mark (being a man) will generally concede to. And usually she’ll have him drive her to wherever various less-than-lawful sorts will be waiting to kidnap the mark for whatever purposes they desired. And Merry, she’ll accept her money and go off to do it again and again.

See, Hiaasen’s characters are like that – strange yet interesting. And the stories roll through unexpected twists and humorous observations (mainly regarding how stupid Florida can be sometimes, how low-brow and tourist-swarmed a place it is). Razor Girl is no exception, just bouncing its way from one situation through another until a satisfying conclusion is met.

If I had one thing to say bad about it (and it’s a review, so I’m duty-bound to do so), the plot wandered a bit near the end. Like its companion novel Bad Monkey, the plot seems so fixated on being clever that the traditional buildup to the climax appeared lost (and when it does finally come, it’s so quick that it seems a cheat). As mention, Bad Monkey had this issue as well, and as that was a book on disk, my wife and I kept thinking it was nearly over when it wasn’t.

But overall it was a fun novel, interesting to read. And I’m always happy to see how our favorite Key West food inspector is faring. If you’ve never done Hiaasen, you might want to give this one a try.

>>>AND IF YOU’VE NEVER DONE PHOENICAN STORIES, HAVE A LOOK AT MINE. SOME FUNNY. SOME SERIOUS. FOLLOW THIS LINK!<<< 

 
Louis XIV-A Royal Life (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 30 July 2017 00:00

only knew Louis (the 14th) through two forms of entertainment. There was the version provided through Dumas, that of the selfish and ungrateful ruler, who punishes the loyal Fouquet at the wormtonguing of Colbert and is nearly swapped out by Aramis' kingmaking (Man in the Iron Mask). And then there is the Versailles series, where he is in control and fitting his rule to his circumstances, but with all the secret societies and plots about the place, it feels almost too fantastical. In this, I decided to find out just who Lou was, so I checked Louis XIV, A Royal Life out of the library and had a go.

It was an interesting book (though confusing - I really needed a guide to know who all the folks in the court were). And I'll admit that after long stressful days, it rather put me to sleep. But I got through it (two days before it was due) and was able to review it in time, so that counts for something.

It was interesting to find out that Dumas was full of crap, that Fouquet was likely embezzling (and had arranged the country's finances in such a way that he was, literally, too big to fail). Turns out he wasn't - once he was tossed into the jug (or rather the Bastille), the early Louis got to work. Never again did he give away the running of his country to advisors and counselors. He ran it as if it was his own affair (which it was), holding two long meetings a day, reviewing reports and gathering intel. His wars (most of them) were carefully thought out, supplied and timetabled. His diplomatic movies were as deliberate as chess. He turned France around, filled its coffers and reduced its taxes.

He also sensed the old saying about keeping enemies closer - Versailles was arranged to keep his nobles at court under his watchful eye and not out in their provinces where they could stir up trouble. And that strategy seemed to work - unlike the Fronde (where the nobility clutched at the power of the royals, and he barely survived his mother’s regency) he kept them under control, under virtual golden lock and silver key, busy with the etiquette and gossips of court, misdirected in their efforts for a half-century. He never really had contention from them.

He also bred like a rabbit. Working his way through wives and mistresses, he managed to produce numerous offspring. He even placed a grandson on the throne of Spain (which looked rather like a mistake, but author Olivier Bernier makes a strong case that it wasn't).

Overall, a very interesting story of a very interesting man, a powerful statesman who realized what needed doing in his time and did it.

Now, pardon me while I race over to the library - got a book to return!

>>>IF YOU DON'T WANT TO CHECK THEM OUT, YOU CAN BUY MY WORKS HERE. HAVE A LOOK DOWN THIS LINK FOR GOOD BARGINS ON GOOD STORIES!<<<

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 July 2017 15:05
 
I call Bullshit (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 23 July 2017 00:00

n these days of "Fake news" and presidents and parties who don't care if what they spout is a lie or not, it's fun to read a book that, as the title says, works at "Debunking the most commonly repeated myths".

For example:

Do you think Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone?

Mammals arrived after the dinosaurs became extinct?

Humans only use 10 percent of their brains?

The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space?

Author Jamie Frater piles through many, many myths, things we only know through hearsay (i.e. Facebook). I'd wished I'd read this book before spouting off about toilets flushing one way north of the equator, the opposite south. And there was the interesting one about how artificial sweeteners don’t cause cancer (when you read about the tests and how misrepresented they were, you'll add a touch of sweetener to your coffee again (as I have) and breathe easier). Sadly, cell phones don't cause cancer (I was rooting for that one). But no, it was a very interesting book.

Up until the end. It's as if the writer ran out of materials (and with all the information out there, I'm sure he could have trolled Snopes for ideas). In the last section he began to literally repeat himself, cycling through several myth groups: nudists, Wicca, Muslims, Catholics and ninjas. After a while, by the fourth (or more) clarification (many of them close to earlier ones) it got a bit fatiguing (I actually skipped some of the last). I thought the book should have ended on a crescendo but instead it closed on an echoing whimper. Too bad.

Still, a fun read.

>>>NO LIES, NONE AT ALL, IN EARLY RETYREMENT WHERE A COMPUTER SCIENTIST FALLS BACK INTO TIME AND HAS TO SAVE TYRE FROM ALEXANDER THE GREAT. ALL TRUE!<<<

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 July 2017 13:28
 
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