Saturday, December 23, 2017

ECHOES OF THE FALL by Richard Weaver

ECHOES OF THE FALL  by Richard Weaver
After a somewhat slow start this novel of the Viet Nam War is tense, dramatic, honest, searing, and a really good read.  Written by one who has been there, the story deals with an idealistic young man dropped into the hellhole that was Viet Nam.  Filled with believable characters and dramatic portrayals of life in the jungle, Lt. Billy Straw’s story manages to be filled with faith, abject failure, stirring heroism, tyrannical bullies, blind obedience, betrayal, innocent love, pettiness, terrifying combat and, finally, friendship and courage.
Anyone who lived through or is interested in the Viet Nam era will find this book presents the conflict in the voice of the young officers and enlisted who struggled with the morality of war.  The plot starts slowly and builds in an ever increasing tempo as the plot reaches its resolution.  Book groups will find a plethora of discussion topics.

5 of 5 stars

Monday, December 18, 2017

CALEB AND KIT by Beth Vrabel

CALEB AND KIT  by Beth Vrabel
Caleb, 12, has Cystic Fibrosis and is not happy about it. The first 50 or so pages of this book are his very own pity party.  Young people of the age group this novel attempts to reach will find the first 50 pages pretty boring.  The tale picks up significantly when Kit enters Caleb’s life. The book switches from detailing all of Caleb’s restrictions and gross symptoms to the actions and interactions of two rebellious teens.  Kit is a free spirit who encourages Caleb to do “what he wants to do.”
If you make it past the first 50 pages, the plot and characters come alive.  Caleb is a real person with needs and desires teens will identify with and preteens will find the mystery that clings to Kit intriguing. Shelly and Patrick are two supporting characters clearly drawn and interesting.
Adults dealing with the trials of chronic illness in teens will find this this book challenging and helpful.  Perhaps they are the real audience for this novel.

3 of 5 stars as juvenile fiction, 4 of 5 for adults 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

THE STARS ARE FIRE by Anita Shreve

THE STARS ARE FIRE  by Anita Shreve
I picked up this book because I thought it was historical fiction about the devastating fire in the Northeast during October of 1947. It is, but first you have to get through the bad sex (there is more bad sex later in the book, too).  The fire is only peripheral to the book. It is really about a young mother finding herself, standing up for herself and her children and finally finding her true love. If that is the book you want to read, this one is well written, the characters are interesting and speak and act like real people.  There is a bit about the fire that is quite terrifying and a bit about the damage fire can cause to a human being.
The psychology part is also well written. I’m not quite sure about how the title fits the story.  I’m still disappointed there is not more about the fire. Oh well, it was a decent read.

3 of 5 stars

Saturday, December 2, 2017

DEAD IN THE WATER by Denise Swanson

DEAD IN THE WATER   by Denise Swanson
If you can suspend credulity and don’t mind at least one cliché per page, this frothy mystery is a fast read good for a lazy afternoon.  More laws are broken than you can shake a stick at (even by the police).
The characters are mostly stock, but are likeable – except for the biker bad guys who have a heart of gold.  The conversations are stilted, but good hearted.
There are only chaste love scenes. The bad words are limited to “geez” and “f***” (yes, there are stars in the print). 
The audience this is written for will love every word – but it is not my cup of tea.

3 of 5 stars (This review managed to contain more clichés than some chapters.)