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Len (Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada)
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The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel (Vintage International)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel (Vintage International)
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 12.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book that’s hard to read., Nov. 20 2014
Tragedy plays uppermost in this story about love and war. I mean nothing goes right and the stuff that does go right, our hero, Dorrigo Evans declares meaningless. The guy lives through tragedy after tragedy without feeling good about anything. It's hard to support my argument with specifics without spoiling the story. I don’t feel right about spoiling the story so I won’t reveal specifics. The narration begins with Dorrigo as an older man so we know that he survives the Japanese prisoner of war camp in Burma. He and his fellow captives have been charged with building a railway to Siam (present day Thailand) through malaria infested jungle. As an officer, Dorrigo is responsible for both leading men and also attending to their injuries and ailments. Conditions as a Japanese prisoner of war were brutal in the extreme and Mr. Flanagan does a pretty fantastic job of describing it. Hatred for those responsible is a natural response to such descriptions however an attempt is made to understand the Japanese mentality of the time. The God-like reverence given to the emporer seems have justified every act of cruelty in desperation to complete the near impossible task of cutting a railway through the jungle using rudimentary shovels, pick-axes and axes. That said, plenty of cruelty of the emotional type is handed out by the Aussies. Deception is used to thwart true love and heartache is the result for all. This is not to say that’s this isn’t a great book. It’s just a great book that’s hard to read.

Trustee from the Toolroom
Trustee from the Toolroom
Price: CDN$ 2.98

5.0 out of 5 stars An ordinary man acting extraordinarily is a relief in this age of extraordinary cynicism., Nov. 15 2014
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
Ordinary guys performing acts of great courage for honorary reasons has been a story lost in this day of hopped up media coverage and our search for another superstar. Keith Stewart engineers miniature replicas of motors such as steam engines that power miniature trains and diesel engines for tiny generators. He then publishes these in a magazine which is read by followers from around the globe. This, during the 1950s in a time long before the age of the silicon chip and instantaneous communication. Keith has one sister who married a nobleman and commander in his majesty’s navy. At the beginning of out story, the commander has retired and the plan is for he and his wife and daughter to move to the west coast of Canada. But first, the couple plans an extended sailing trip to their future home stopping off in Tahiti along the way. Keith and his wife agree to take care of their niece while her parents make the journey. Of course, tragedy strikes requiring Keith to venture into the unknown in search of his sister’s grave and his niece’s legacy. Reading a story about decent people behaving decently is a relief in this age of ego driven states of continual dissatisfaction.

Tishomingo Blues
Tishomingo Blues
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The usual good read from Elmore Leonard, Oct. 31 2014
Ce commentaire est de: Tishomingo Blues (Kindle Edition)
Without a detective or the obvious hapless criminals, this was a different Leonard novel. The lone cowboy is still there in the person of Dennis Lenehan, Stunt diver peddling his talents to a small time Mississippi casino where he comes in contact with the Dixie mafia. After witnessing a murder from his perch 80 feet above his tiny dive tank, he comes to the attention of a police detective, a Detroit mobster and a beautiful television reporter. All are brought together by a civil war reenactment, which must be an obsession of the side that lost. As usual, Elmore Leonard provides a good read.

A Thousand Shall Fall: The True Story of a Canadian Bomber Pilot in World War Two
A Thousand Shall Fall: The True Story of a Canadian Bomber Pilot in World War Two
by Murray Peden
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.80
16 used & new from CDN$ 16.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific!, Oct. 31 2014
“A Thousand Shall Fall” chronicles the life of Mr. Peden from when he signs up to the air force to when he returns from Europe. It’s a great book. His use of the vernacular is a bit dated. He seems to have felt a need for the clever twist of phrase, which can become somewhat irritating. I did need to remind myself this was written during the time of Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut.
Because Wop May, the WWI fighter pilot was his hero, his ambition and those of many of his fellow trainees was to become a fighter pilot. Yet, later in his tour, when he’s given the chance to be one, he turns down the opportunity in preference for the camaraderie of his bomber team. Easily the most interesting portions of the book document their actual bombing runs. If I have one complaint about the book, it would be that he didn’t tell enough about these escapades that almost 60% of the pilots and their crew didn’t survive. That said, his description of the cramped quarters inside the cockpit and the steps required for urinating on the six to eight hour flights were illuminating. The greatest threat to his and the crews survival came on one of the final flights when they were engaged by a German fighter plane that they were unable to shake. One of the engines was disabled and burning while attempting to dodge any further possibility of damage from the fighters machine guns. Mr. Peden makes it abundantly clear that he and his crew were lucky to be alive while other were not. I wish I’d read this book while my father-in-law who was also a bomber pilot, was still alive.

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
Ce commentaire est de: 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
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
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$ 14.99

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
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
“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$ 15.88
24 used & new from CDN$ 5.53

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
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
Ce commentaire est de: 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$ 10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr. St. Aubyn Eviscerates the Booker Prize Selection Process, Aug. 10 2014
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
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.

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