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Profile for Len > Reviews

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Content by Len
Top Reviewer Ranking: 148
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Reviews Written by
Len (Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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A Treacherous Paradise
A Treacherous Paradise
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Portuguese exploitation of the Africa peoples on their own continent., June 1 2015
The story begins in the late 1800s with a young woman leaving her home in Sweden for life in Australia. Her journey by boat is brought to an unexpected, tragic end and she leaves the ship in Portuguese colony located in west, central Africa where she seeks refuge in a brothel. There, she befriends both the clientele and the African prostitutes. The novel consists of a series of events that take place during her time in Afric a culminating a rather unsatisfactory conclusion. It seems that Mr. Mankel the exploitation of the African people within the borders of their own country, which he does with some success.

Galveston: A Novel
Galveston: A Novel
by Nic Pizzolatto
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.85
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A bleak, dark and pretty darn satisfying read., June 1 2015
This review is from: Galveston: A Novel (Paperback)
What begins as a road trip morphs into a game of waiting. Roy Cody has become a liability to his syndicate boss and is set up to take a hit. A fearless, resourceful fighter, he escapes the attempt along with a young prostitute, an innocent bystander who was supposed to die along with him. Complications arise when she rescues a younger “sister” from her deadbeat father’s cabin in the woods. We flash forward to the present to an older, deformed Roy living a pathetic existence in a run-down motel. The question is why. It’s a bleak, dark and pretty darn satisfying read.

Live by Night: A Novel (Coughlin Series)
Live by Night: A Novel (Coughlin Series)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars It’s all exiting stuff but becomes somewhat predictable toward the end, May 1 2015
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This follows the story of Joe, the youngest of the Coughlin brothers, and the baddest who loves to live by night. The night, when the normal rules of everyday life and law are discarded in favour of the "honour among thieves." After his release from jail, Joe moves to Tampa where he takes over the rum running operations for a New York mafia gangster. It’s the roaring '20s and prohibition has made gangsters very wealthy men. With the help of the Cuban ex-pat population, his business expands so that he comes to the attention of the Klu Klux Klan. Closely tied to the local police chief, the Klan hate his connections with Black and Hispanic elements so they bombing his speakeasies and threatening more. Joe is ruthless and it’s all exiting stuff but becomes somewhat predictable toward the end.

The Given Day (Coughlin Series)
The Given Day (Coughlin Series)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific story of the post-World War I U.S., April 25 2015
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I was surprised by how entertaining this book was. Because of its length I thought for sure I would get bogged down at some point. But I didn't. It tells the story of the Coughlin family in America that began with the father stowing away on a ship as a teenager back in the late 19th century. He and his fellow stowaway become cops in Boston where Thomas Coughlin rises to the rank of captain. After marrying a mousy, unhappy woman, he has three sons; Danny, the eldest, Conner and Joe, the youngest. Bookended by anecdotes about Babe Ruth who started in Boston and then moved to New York, '"The Given Day"' focuses on Danny and his friend Luther Lawrence. As evidenced by his performance in a pickup game with Babe Ruth and other World Series contestants, we learn that Luther would have qualified to play professional baseball if he wasn''t black. As a consequence, he is left pursuing careers in which he has little interest. His penchant for adventure pushes him to the wrong side of the law and later, Boston. Danny is a cop in 1918 as the first World War is reaching its end and the U.S. is about to roll into depression with a bunch of young men returning from Europe searching for employment where little exists. Finances are tough and the city of Boston cannot afford to give its police force the raise promised back in the 1905. Police officers consider organizing and the worker in Danny is pitted against the employer in his father. This is a terrific story of the times.

You Are One of Them: A Novel About Secrets, Betrayal, and the Friend Who Got Away
You Are One of Them: A Novel About Secrets, Betrayal, and the Friend Who Got Away
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific book, April 14 2015
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Despite being written by a man, the beginning of this novel reads much like a memoir. The childhood friendship between a young outcast and the new girl across the street with all their secrets and intrigues is told in such detail as to seem to come from fact and not fiction. Sarah, our hero, is unlucky enough to have been born to a paranoid mother who obsesses about the possibility of nuclear attack during the Cold War years when the beginning of this novel takes place. Her father leaves them for a younger woman who he takes to London to begin a new family and so, Sarah is left alone to deal her mentally ill mother. Her saviour is the new girl, Jennifer Jones whose family is seemingly perfect and who are quite willing to embrace Sarah as one of them. Life for the two is practically idillic until adolescence changes their friendship as it does that of so many young people going through those turbulent years. Jennifer is embraced by the cool gang and ostracizes Sarah so they drift apart. Then tragedy strikes and the Jones family disappears. As the subtitle states, this is a story about secrets, betrayal and the friend who got away. It's a terrific book.

Most Secret (Vintage Classics)
Most Secret (Vintage Classics)
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars As usual, Mr. Shute combines his tales of adventure and excitement with an element of heart-warming humanity, April 14 2015
It’s World War II and the Germans have occupied France. Anger seethes in the French people who can do little against their well-armed rulers. Fortunately, Charles Simon, a British ex-pat has lived in the country for years, can mix the people without notice and wants to serve his country in whatever capacity he can. He’s enlisted as a spy by the British and then returns to his homeland to serve as an officer in her navy. His put in charge of a small fishing vessel equipped with a flame thrower. Under his command is a young aristocrat who recently lost his pregnant wife in a German bombing raid on London, another young man who lost his dog and best friend also in a bombing raid and to captain their ship, an older American with extensive experience smuggling liquor by boat during years of U.S. during prohibition. Together, they make a formidable team that causes much damage and chaos for the Germans along the French coastline. The story is told by their commanding officer stationed on shore whose focus is not only on his team accomplishing their missions but also surviving them. As usual, Mr. Shute combines his tales of adventure and excitement with an element of heart-warming humanity.

A Man and A Motorcycle: How Hamid Karzai came to Power
A Man and A Motorcycle: How Hamid Karzai came to Power
Price: CDN$ 10.29

4.0 out of 5 stars At just the right length, it is both entertaining and informative., March 16 2015
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Ms. Dam made over 150 interviews in order to chronicle Hamid Karzai’s rise to power from relative unknown to become president of Afghanistan. Basically, Mr. Karzai, a Pashtun, was able to garner support from the other major tribal groups that make up Afghanistan by promising favours to the leaders of these various tribes in the form of government positions. Francis Fukuyama would refer to this as clientelism and is not a promising starting point for true democracy to take place. The title of the book is derived from the fact that Mr. Karzai rode a motorcycle into Afghanistan after the introduction of UN troops into the conflict following 9/11. His objective was to spearhead the capture of the city of Tarin Kowt in his home province of Uruzgan. There he endeavours to seek the support of the members from other Pashtun clans plus the pragmatic leaders of the Taliban seeking a place in the new regime predicting the old will fall. Mr. Karzai is under the protection of an elite combat troop called American A Team plus all the ferocious airpower they have at their command. That airpower would decimate attacking Taliban troops as well as nearly kill Hamid Karzai in friendly fire. This helps potential followers to believe that, by following Karzai, they following a winner, someone likely to lead the future government. Ms. Dam leaves her editorializing until the epilogue where she questions American tactics in the region based on an ignorance of tribal politics in the region. “A Man and a Motorcycle” is part story-telling, part political analysis and part editorializing. At just the right length, it is both entertaining and informative.

The Swimmer
The Swimmer
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The plot unfolds at a searing pace that makes the book very difficult to put down., March 16 2015
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This review is from: The Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
The book begins in Damascus, Syria, circa 1980, with the death of a narrator’s wife and child and continues apace for the rest of the novel. Each chapter features the perspective of a different character. There’s Mahmoud Shammosh, a university professor in Stockholm writing a book on the privatization of war, Klara, a pretty but innocuous government bureaucrat working in Belgium’s European parliament, George Loow, an up and coming commercial consultant, and Gabriella, lawyer and childhood friend of Klara. They are all observers and participants in a series of events that begin with an attempt by a past military companion of Mahmoud’s to pass on top secret information he would like to see publicized for the enlightenment of the masses and to the detriment of extremely powerful, well placed private and government officials. The reputation and livelihood of those who exist above and beyond the reach of the normal practices of the rule of law are threatened and events quickly move beyond the control of the participants. Through a series of narrators the plot unfolds at a searing pace that makes the book very difficult to put down.

The Whites: A Novel
The Whites: A Novel
Offered by Macmillan CA
Price: CDN$ 15.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Whites” has all the components for a great thriller, character, plot and suspense enmeshed in the glutinous mass of moral uncer, March 2 2015
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Is the state the sole arbiter of justice? Are there any circumstances when this shouldn’t necessarily be the case? What about the men and women in positions of power, like the police? Should they be able to right wrongs? Billy, our protagonist must make a decision. Which is more important, allegiance to his fellow officers or the state? All five had begun their detective careers together and grown a deep attachment to one another naming themselves the “Wild Geese.” Each had let a murderer get away, their unfinished business entitled their “white.” Billy chooses the state but his indignation must be questioned when loved ones become the target of righteous revenge. What if forgiveness trumps action? The first half of the novel introduces characters that are far more rounded than is normally found in a genre novel (if this is what Mr. Price is trying to achieve with his nom de plume.) The plot unfolds in the second half like the best of Elmore Leonard. Mr. Price has a terrific turn of phrase with passages like “that Eeyore world of low expectation,” “geriatric twin elevators,” “the bakery warmth of her body,” “the canyoned street,” among others that use language too colourful for a "PG" book review. “Whites” has all the components for a great thriller, character, plot and suspense enmeshed in the glutinous mass of moral uncertainty.

Chasing Mavericks (Bilingual)
Chasing Mavericks (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Gerard Butler
5 used & new from CDN$ 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Both uplifting and tragic. Terrific., Feb. 23 2015
Mavericks are rogue waves that exceed the height and intensity of most others. Frosty played by Gerard Butler has been chasing them for years and they become the obsession of high school student, Ray Moriarity. At first, I thought this to be have an entirely predictable plot with a young man finding his mentor, at first rejecting by his mentor and then, through a series of trials, being accepted and even exceeding all expectations of the mentor. Sure, it was that but so much more. This is a story about not only chasing mavericks but chasing your limits. Putting yourself on the line and finding out what you can really do. It's a terrific story both uplifting and tragic, a boy finding the father he never had, the man finding a son and the development of a bond that only can be realized when boundaries are tested. Plus, the surfing scenes are amazing. Well worth your two hours.

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