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Reviews Written by
Len (Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada)
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Get Shorty
Get Shorty
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better Elmore Leonard's romps., Sept. 19 2014
This review is from: Get Shorty (Kindle Edition)
Shorty’s an actor. Go figure. It’s all about the power and allure of Hollywood. You’ve got Chili, the Mafia guy looking for a way out. Harry, a long time producer and director looking for a way back in. Karen, the beautiful, aging heroine caught in an existential void not looking for anything. Leo, finding a way out of a fix only to land in another. Catlett hoping to grab a rising star. Bear, the aging stunt man looking to stuntman wanting to rid himself of the anchor he once thought his lifeboat. And Michael (Shorty), the answer to all their problems. This is one of better of Elmore Leonard's romp held together by the wise gangster as the lone cowboy able to see all in perspective because he’s never personally involved.

City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit
City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read full of cliches and surprises., Sept. 6 2014
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Mr. Leonard’s transition from the Western genre is both full of clichés and surprises. Raymond Cruz is your cowboy like tough independent cop who seeks his own justice when the system’s justice fails. His nemesis, Clement Mansell, is an unrepentant killer who feeds on the innocence of young women, intimidates and exploits the fears of the upstanding citizen and seeks vengeance who do him the most inconsequential offence. He must be stopped and Raymond Cruz is the perfect man for the job.

I Am Pilgrim: A Thriller
I Am Pilgrim: A Thriller
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 11.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Preposterous and irritating, Sept. 2 2014
More secret and more powerful than the FBI, Scott Murdoch will uncover any conspiracy, solve any crime, find the terrorist and defeat him. He’s like James Bond without any weaknesses. He seeks neither glory, money nor the girl. Pure of heart and purpose, he is perhaps the most irritating protagonist I have come across in many years of reading and viewing. By the end of the novel, I wanted him to fail. Somebody has to get this guy. Every girl he meets his beautiful and beguiling and wonderfully proportioned. Yet, he never falls in love, goes for the one night stand, or even engages in a licentious thought. He mentions a predilection for enjoying recreation drugs at the beginning of the book and never mentions it again.
The plot verges on the ridiculous. One man, using a basement lab and a rudimentary knowledge of genetics, can reproduce a virus that is immune to vaccine. A terrorist whose father is killed by the Arabs develops an unexplained hatred for Americans. A man who’s learned to sail laser style boat as a young man can suddenly navigate the waters of the Mediterranean in a sea worthy sloop.
It’s all very preposterous and irritating.

Russians: The People behind the Power
Russians: The People behind the Power
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A unique insight into what is happening in a deeply troubled international power, Aug. 30 2014
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“Russians” is a perfect introduction to why Putin and his cronies are in power, how they got there and how they manage to stay. Mr. Feifer argues that the Russian acceptance of dictators and oligarchs has always been a reality. The people looking for a father figure to take care of them and for that they are willing to forego the freedoms normally enjoyed by the west. The level of corruption depicted in the book is staggering. Putin’s rise to power is mostly considered a consequence of successful infighting. Initially he became president because Boris Bereovsky and a group of fellow billionaires saw him as a supporting their pursuit of incredible wealth through the exploitation of natural resources. Once in power, Putin looked to overthrow the very people who ihad nstalled him, one being Boris who south exile in Britain where he was poisoned in 2012. Putin’s need to maintain his leadership may have much to do with Russia’s recent incursions into the Ukraine. It feeds the Russian desire to return to the world stage and Putin’s endless pursuit of power.
Mr. Feifer’s father was a diplomat and foreign correspondent during the 1960s and 70s where he met the author’s mother. His knowledge of the Russian language and travels around Russia as a foreign correspondent make him an excellent guide. He provides incite into the impact Russia’s dire economic conditions has had on the lives of the ordinary citizen. A fascinating chapter documents the excessive alcohol consumption of the average Russian male who, largely as a consequence, isn’t expected to live to be much more than 64 years of age. As well, Mr. Feifer provides a glimpse into the terrible environmental damage that’s occurring in many areas of the Russian north. “Russians” provides a unique insight into what is happening in a deeply troubled international power.

Storm of Steel
Storm of Steel
by Ernst Junger
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.00
24 used & new from CDN$ 5.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific description of life at the front in World War I, Aug. 10 2014
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This review is from: Storm of Steel (Paperback)
Based on his notes and diary from World War I, Mr. Junger writes of his experiences as a front line soldier for the German Army. His matter of fact descriptions of the events makes them surreal. A fellow soldier is there one minute, killed by shrapnel, sniper or a stray bullet the next. His calf is pierced by a bullet that finds its way through a small opening in the house where he’s standing yet does no damage to his bones or major artery. Luck plays the major role in separating life from death. Battles are not described in terms of strategy and little judgment is made on decisions made. What is left is a terrific description of life at the front.

Lost for Words: A Novel
Lost for Words: A Novel
Offered by Macmillan CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr. St. Aubyn Eviscerates the Booker Prize Selection Process, Aug. 10 2014
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Every organization involves politics however there are some we hope would put individual ambition in check for the pursuit of a greater goal. Not so with the Elysian Committee. Each member has a different motive for choosing his or her preferred candidate for the prize. All this leads to an outcome so ridiculous as to only be the result of satire. However, like all good satire, it exposes the absurdities that are observed in everyday life. Based on my own personal taste in literature, “Lost for Words” helps explain some of the choices that have been made over the past years. Mr. St. Aubyn’s piercing cynicism is particularly well suited for this endeavour.

American Romantic
American Romantic
Price: CDN$ 17.72

4.0 out of 5 stars The American Romance, as ephemeral as the American Dream., Aug. 10 2014
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This review is from: American Romantic (Kindle Edition)
In the middle of the Vietnam War, Harry Sanders, a U.S. diplomat, has a short but intense relationship with Sieglind Hechlar a German X-Ray technician. She's working on a German hospital ship. He's attempting to negotiate a deal for peace with the Vietcong before the war should escalate to what it was later to become. Harry and Sieglind spend one night together and then, that very night, without warning, she leaves. In vain, he attempts to find her and then proceeds to live his own life as a career diplomat. Romance returns to his life and he marries another. The beginning of the novel made me believe "American Romance" would include some drama related to the Vietnam War however that was very limited. It really is an American Romance in pursuit of an ideal like the ephemeral American dream.

The Kings of Summer (Bilingual)
The Kings of Summer (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Megan Mullally Nick Robinson
Price: CDN$ 9.97
12 used & new from CDN$ 5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific coming-of-age movie., July 5 2014
Young men seeking independence yet too young to achieve it will on occasion look for their own right of passage. For the aboriginals it was the walkabout, Bar Mitzvahs for the Jews, or the Mandan hook ritual where splints are used to pierce the skin of young men and then hung by them. Joe, a freshman in high school has recently lost his mother, his sister has left home and his father, Frank, is just coping. Fed-up with what he believes are his father’s unrealistic demands on his time, he decides that he’s going to build a house for himself in the woods. Invited to join him are his friend Patrick and Biaggio, a guy who just is “just there.” Spookily at times. Of course, there’s the girl as well and the whole friend versus girlfriend conflict. Based on real incidents, the script by Chris Galletta is terrific with some very memorable lines. When Frank is asked whether he’s heard of the story about the boy who cried wolf, he replies that “yes, I experienced a childhood on planet earth.” This is a terrific coming-of-age movie.

Mash: A Novel About Three Army Doctors
Mash: A Novel About Three Army Doctors
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly fresh after all those years., July 5 2014
I was surprised by how fresh this book was for me after having grown up with the television show. By the time the series had ended, I was tired of Hawkeye and Trapper John and hot lips and whoever took over from Colonel Blake. Like the television series, the book records a series of misadventures beginning with Hawkeye and Duke meeting on the way to their Korean MASH unit. We quickly learn that the two docs enjoy more than the occasional libation and hijinks to help pass time and relieve the stress of the attending to the horrific casualties of war. Unlike the television series, Hot Lips Houlihan and Major Burns are only one of many characters to be the targets of their practical jokes. The two with the help of Trapper John arrange for the “suicide” of the unit’s bipolar dentist, seek vengeance on a hapless minister and the surgeons so the Tokyo Army Hospital where they arrange an extended stay so they can join a local golf tournament. Pathos delicately treated can provide the funniest source of humour. Men living on the edge, doing their best for their patients, losing some, achieving the near impossible for others are going to need an outlet for their frustrations somewhere.

Decoded: A Novel
Decoded: A Novel
Price: CDN$ 16.53

5.0 out of 5 stars Both entertaining and an interesting insight into the Chinese culture, June 30 2014
This review is from: Decoded: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
For some reason when I ordered this book I thought it was about those dudes from the NSA and CSES who monitor our emails and the internet and try to break into similar systems used by the governments and companies of other countries. But no, this is about Jinzhen, a genius cryptographer working for the Chinese government back in the 1950s. He suffers from aspergers and is the orphan son of a math genius who was the daughter of a math genius who was the son of one in a thousand years math genius. Without a computer capable of millions of calculations per second, Jinzhen has only his brain to unravel a seemingly impossible enemy code. The novel is very Kafkaesque with its detachment from the world outside cryptographer perhaps mirroring Jinzhen’s own separation from the people around him. Despite my initial disappointment, I found the novel both entertaining and an interesting insight into the Chinese culture.

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