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Reviews Written by
Len (Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada)
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The Lowland
The Lowland
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars “Lowland” is beautifully written with little plot and central characters that plod inevitably to their sad, lonely end., Feb. 28 2014
This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
Two brothers grow up in lowlands of Calcutta during the turmoil of the 1960s. As children, they sneak into a nearby golf course to steal golf balls lost in the bushes by the largely expat members. This is the beginning of a series of misadventures initiated by the younger Udayan. At university, they are exposed to radical Marxist ideas believed by many to be an answer to the poverty experienced by a majority of the Indian people. Udayan is swept up in the hope and romanticism of the movement while his older brother, Subhash, worries about completing his university studies and disappointing his parents. After completing his undergrad degree Subhash accepts a scholarship to attend on Rhode Island. In his absence, Udayan marries Guari, another university student, and they move into his parent's house. Udayan’s reckless behaviour and dedication to the cause eventually lead to his undoing and an end to the happiness of his now pregnant wife. Contrary to what I expected from the novel’s title, the majority of the story takes place in America, which was a disappointment to me. I know nothing about the Maoist movement in India and would have enjoyed learning more. “Lowland” is beautifully written with little plot and central characters that plod inevitably to their sad, lonely end.

The Internet is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius
The Internet is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After a particularly aggravating day at work, this book really helped put it in perspective., Feb. 18 2014
The book consists of posts published on Mr. Thorne's website, 27bslash6, he apartment number for George Orwell. His posts include the ideas and conjectures of fictional characters such as Josh, a young man who lives in New Zealand who informs us of his future plans to become king of that country and learn to drive the village car. His aunt who is also his second cousin pays him in shells to watch out for his Uncle Robert who’s also his nephew. Mr. Thorne's most funny bits involve him replying to emails sent by people asking for payment of services rendered, requests for a favour, or complaints about a posting on his blog. His website became viral when he posted a series of emails sent to the secretary of chiropractor offering a picture of a seven-legged spider instead of the 200 plus dollars owing. When his request is rejected, he insists that the picture be returned. If this sounds silly and a bit stupid, it is but isn’t that what makes people so endearing, their stupidity and silliness, myself included. Even though he makes fun of other people, he also makes fun of himself. After a particularly aggravating day at work, this book really helped put it in perspective.

Swag: A Novel
Swag: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another story of the hapless thief., Feb. 10 2014
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This review is from: Swag: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Swag follows the adventures of two armed robbers brought together when Stick, a talented car jacker attempts to rob the dealership at which Frank is employed. Frank reports the theft and so, Stick, otherwise known as Ernest is arrested. Frank realizes that he can use Stick’s skills at car jacking and so we have the partnership of Frank and Ernest. During the trial, Frank tells the court he can no longer identify the man who stole from the dealership and so Stick is freed. Following the trial, Frank takes Stick out for a drink when he shares his ten rules for success as a thief and the great opportunity available to those willing to take up the profession of armed robbery. They are highly successful and make a great team and so it seems they may live happily ever after. Then again, they are thieves caught in an American novel amongst other thieves with whom there is no honour.

Riding the Rap
Riding the Rap
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raylan's cowboy ethics make him a favourite with the ladies and many a reader, Feb. 10 2014
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This review is from: Riding the Rap (Kindle Edition)
Raylan Givens returns to help out Harry Arno who's been kidnapped by three hapless criminals led by Chip, a skinny, sixty-something hippy living in the house of his hospitalized mother. As in other Leonard novels, there is no honour among thieves which eventually leads to their undoing. In the mean-time, Raylan Givens must unravel the mystery of Harry’s disappearance and location before he can be taken to environs unknown. Raylan uses his own methods of legal jurisprudence and enforcement not entirely in keeping with the marshal service that employs him. Nevertheless, his cowboy ethics make him a favourite with the ladies and many a reader.

The Siege: Three Days of Terror Inside the Taj
The Siege: Three Days of Terror Inside the Taj
Price: CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly exciting and interesting., Feb. 1 2014
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Most interesting was the background of the young men who were recruited to carry out the siege and the zealots doing the recruiting and planning. Having paid eight dollars for a coffee in the restaurant in the Taj, I have some idea of the exclusivity of its clientele however I knew little or nothing about those willing to give their lives for a cause they didn't altogether understand or believe in. It is nice to know about the innocents under siege in the hotel but not in the kind of detail provided and I can’t help but wonder about the poor Indians shot on the platform of the train station or the tourists murdered in the Leopold Café.

We Need New Names: A Novel (NoViolet Bulawayo)
We Need New Names: A Novel (NoViolet Bulawayo)
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at life in Zimbabwe through the eyes of child., Feb. 1 2014
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The story starts in Zimbabwe with a group of children searching for guava fruit in an upscale subdivision known as Budapest. This is a bit confusing however the confusion is quickly overcome when they return to their village of shacks, dirt roads and inadequate footwear. Darling hangs out with Bastard, Godknows, Sbho and Stina. Besides stealing guavas, they play games like “Find bin Laden” and the “country game" which is explained in great detail. Written in the first person, Darling witnesses the bulldozing of her family’s once “normal” house, her father with Aids, and the uprising of blacks in the once white dominated country of Rhodesia. Then, she moves to Detroit, Michigan to join her aunt in America. Even though she appreciates the opportunities of the new country, she misses the sense of place and community she enjoyed in her old country. Few novels take place in Africa and so I appreciated the insight provided by this however lots of books have been written new immigrant experience in Canada and the U.S. so I was a bit disappointed when the setting moved to that location.

Pronto
Pronto
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great cast of characters to entertain the reader, Jan. 28 2014
This review is from: Pronto (Kindle Edition)
In “Pronto,” we are introduced to Raylan Givens, the hero from the television series “Justified.” Raylan allowed Mr. Leonard to combine his expertise in the Western genre with that of the crime novel. Raylan adheres to cowboy ethics much like the characters in Cormac McCarthy’s western novels. Raylan is a straight shorter who never tells a lie and does what he says he’s going to do. He provides a great foil for Leonard’s other hero, Harry Arno, the sports bookie, whose social contacts are always nuanced right down to the coded conversations he has on the phone. In “Pronto,” Harry is running from the Italian guys who have been led by the police to believe that Harry is cheating them. According to Harry, he’s always skimmed from the profits he’s made on the books so why should it be problem now? He escapes to a villa he’s purchased for retirement in Italy only to discover that he’s told enough people, including Raylan, about his plans for retirement for him to be easily found. His new home is his enemy’s old home and one where they, speakers of Italian are far more comfortable operating than he. Fortunately for Harry, Raylan has become his self-appointed guardian angel. Along with Joyce, the beautiful stripper, Mr Leonard has a great cast of characters to entertain the reader

You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations
You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 16.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming in places, funny in others and occasionally thought provoking, Jan. 25 2014
Mr. Black tells about meeting his wife, getting a dog, grieving over the death of that dog, having children and generally getting on with life. It’s heart-warming in places, funny in others and occasionally thought provoking.

Children Are Diamonds: An African Apocalypse
Children Are Diamonds: An African Apocalypse
Price: CDN$ 13.12

4.0 out of 5 stars A terrific montage of life in modern East Africa however not much of a story, Jan. 24 2014
“Children Are Diamonds” describes life for the people and expats living and working in Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan. We learn about the Dinka’s and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Lord’s Revolutionary Army of Uganda. Our first person narrative is told by Hickey, who serves and has served in various capacities as aid worker in the area, teacher, hospital worker, and transporter of various goods and people. At the Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, he hangs out with wealthy tourists and stewardesses while living the cheap, rundown hotel across the street. The main focus of his efforts revolves around helping Ruth, a nurse who runs an outpost clinic in the bush where no doctors will live. The narrative has no arc, no obvious beginning and end. It’s the life of this guy trying to help the people of Africa while maintaining some version of sanity for himself. The characters die of bullets, bombs, attacks from Mig fighter jets, eviscerations, disease, but never old age. Mr. Hoagland provides a terrific montage of life in modern East Africa however not much of a story.

The Last Crossing
The Last Crossing
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting, finely crafted tale, Jan. 20 2014
This review is from: The Last Crossing (Kindle Edition)
A father blessed with three sons loses his wife with the birth of the twins. Without the tender caring of a mother, the Gaunt twins, Simon and Charles learn to depend on each other while Addington, the eldest turns to a gardener, who provides him with the affection and guidance his father does not. Unable to find a meaningful existence in London, Simon, the more sensitive of the two disappears to become a missionary among the Aboriginals in North America. Anxious about losing his favourites son, their father send Charles and Addington to find him. In Fort Benton, Montana, they hire a metis by the name of Jerry Potts to help find their brother. Mr. Potts, of Scottish and Blackfoot decent, has lost the acceptance of his wife and thereby his sone, straddles the world of the Aboriginal man and the European. Lucy Stoveall, another Fort Benton seeks revenge against the Kelso brothers who have run off after the murder of her sister. Estranged from her husband, she manages to join the Gaunt brother entourage as a cook in hopes of running across the Kelso. Lovesick Custis Straw chases after Mrs. Stoveall with the intent of returning her to the safety of Fort Benton and his loving care. Mr. Vanderhaeghe weaves a terrific tale about the settlers, the metis, whiskey traders and aboriginal life. “The Final Crossing” is an exciting, finely crafted tale.

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