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Sunday, December 21, 2014

THE REBELLION OF MISS LUCY ANN LOBDELL by William Klaber



THE REBELLION OF MISS LUCY ANN LOBDELL   by William Klaber
This was such an interesting story and yet so sad.  Lucy Ann, who lived most of her life as a man, was a remarkable person.  Abandoned by a beater husband and left with a small daughter to care for. She returned “home” to an unforgiving family.  After donning men’s clothing and cutting her hair she left her daughter behind to establish herself as a “proper wage earner” in a society that did not look kindly on divorce or even spinsterhood.
Klaber’s well researched volume relates Lucy Ann’s life with sympathy and sensitivity.  He deals with her misfortunes when discovered to be a woman dressing as a man and a woman living as husband with another woman.  The late 1800’s were not good years for a non-conforming woman.
Book groups will find a wealth of topics for discussion – our treatment of non-conformists, religion, woman’s roles, men’s roles, mothers who desert their children, “fallen” women, lesbians, mental illness, insane asylums and many others.
5 of 5 stars

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Good Dream by Donna Vanliere



THE GOOD DREAM    by Donna Van Liere
This was a quick read that held my attention to the end.    The story has two problems that occur to me. Although the action takes place only over a summer, the relationships that developed would likely take much longer to develop in “real life.”  Also, the boy’s disability (cleft palate) is unrealistically presented.
Setting aside the believability factor, the tale is well told, the characters are well developed and the place and time of the story are realistic and well described. The conversation and actions of the characters are correct for the time and place. 
Van Liere is described as a “Christian” writer but this tale is only briefly and peripherally “Christian”, rather the people and actions are those of well-meaning and moral people of any, or no, faith. I was pleased that not all the situations and persons get a happy ending in this charming tale of life in small town 1950’s era Tennessee.
3 ½ stars of 5

Monday, December 1, 2014

THE JOB by Evonovich and Goldberg



THE JOB  by Janet  Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
If you can suspend belief and think that FBI and CIA folk actually work the way they are depicted in this book, then you will like this take down of a notorious bad guy by an FBI operative and her criminal “charge.”  The authors have done a good job of explaining how the take down worked.  The characters are likeable and well crafted.  The “love story” element is just believable enough to be interesting. There is plenty of action. All the loose ends are neatly tied up.  This is a fun and quick read even if not very memorable. 
There is one problem with the story. I cringed when I read the arrogant “ugly American” remark in reference to the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace.  “I know all about them. I saw a special on the Travel Channel...”   I have seen the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace in person and a “TV special” could not possibly do them justice.  It was a throw away remark, but it jumped out at me as it would to anyone who has been in Istanbul and it would be quite offensive to locals.  Evanovich and Goldberg should know better. If they don’t, then their editor/fact checker should have challenged this remark and others.
4 of 5 stars for the genre.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

GRAY MOUNTAIN by John Grisham



GRAY MOUNTAIN  by John Grisham
This book has something for, and about, everyone – rich people and poor people, innocents and the guilty, environmentalists and clear cutters, big law and legal aid, murderers and the murdered, the cheats and the honest, those who love and those they love. Because Grisham is a good writer he can take all these disparate ideas and combine them into a cogent and quick moving novel. 
Gray Mountain used to be a primeval wonderland of pristine acreage in the Appalachian Range, but now, after the land has been taken over by big coal, it is a wasteland of detritus and denuded mud leveled into a “stump” of a mountain. Additionally, big coal is the bad guy in an ongoing dispute over black lung and the minors who suffer loss of health and loss of jobs.  The downturn of the recent recession makes its appearance and enables suddenly unemployed, but talented, big city lawyers to become  legal aid interns in backwater hamlets.
The characters are human and well developed. The conversations and situations are believable and convincing.  The good guys and the bad guys are obvious, so if you are a proponent of big coal or cutthroat lawyers you might find yourself cringing a bit.
Altogether a well written, fast paced mystery with a bit of romance and a lot of environmentalism.
5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

THIEF OF GLORY by Sigmund Brouwer



THIEF OF GLORY   by Sigmund Brouwer
Jeremiah tells his story as an old man remembering the years of World War II when his family was interned by the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies.  This is a little known part of the Japanese invasion that is overshadowed by the Burma Death March and the bridge over the River Kwai.
Jeremiah’s family is quickly separated. His father and three older brothers are sent to work as slaves for the invaders. Jeremiah, his two younger sisters and younger brother are left with their mother who suffers from an unnamed mental illness.  Laura Jansen and her grandmother and Georgie, a boy about Jeremiah’s age, also figure in the camp years as internees.
The horror of the camp and the privations are clearly shown. Camp life makes up the majority of the book with several incidents proving to affect the lives of the main characters long after the war is over.
The writing engages the reader immediately and doesn’t let go until the end.  The characters are fullu fleshed, the incidents believable, the plot and conflict are layered. 
5 of 5 stars

THE ART RESTORER by Jullian Sanchez



THE ART RESTORER  by Julian Sanchez
A mystery unfolds within this tale of art, artists, writers, secrets and beautiful scenery. The locations range around the world and are delightfully rendered.  The characters are well developed and engaging. The mystery is interesting and will keep you guessing until the end.
Because this is a translation, you will find a few awkward constructions, but persevere; this tale is well worth it.  The main characters, Enrique and his former wife, Bety, find themselves embroiled in controversy when the art restorer and writer researching  Sert  paintings disappears.  Bety and Craig, the restorer, had become friends while he studied the paintings in the museum/church where Bety worked.  Enrique, a renowned writer, is enticed to delve into his disappearance and the secret contained in the paintings.
You will learn a bit of history, a bit of art construction, and a bit of the craft of writing, all the while enjoying the intrigue of mystery.
4 of 5 stars