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Profile for Len > Reviews

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Content by Len
Top Reviewer Ranking: 159
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Reviews Written by
Len (Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Red Sparrow: A Novel
Red Sparrow: A Novel
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good entertainment, July 20 2015
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Dominika, an aspiring ballet dancer, has her dreams shattered when the lover of a jealous rival breaks her foot. Without direction, she is recruited by her uncle, a high level official in the Russian Federal Security Service. Her beautiful blue eyes and striking figure make her a perfect candidate for the sparrow program that trains its recruits seduction techniques to be used against foreign diplomats, politicians and government officials. Nathaniel Nash is her American counterpart, a good-looing a CIA agent responsible for Marble, a Russian official with contacts in the highest level of the Russian government. Nate’s her target and the game of cat and mouse begins in Helsinki, Finland. Mr. Matthews provides a good balance of the comfortably predictable with the surprising to keep the reader interested to the end. As a retired CIA officer, Mr. Matthews provides enough insights into the bureaucratic mess that constitutes every large scale institution that any employee of a like institution can relate. Good entertainment.

Where All Light Tends to Go
Where All Light Tends to Go
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A little bit of “Romeo and Juliet” and little bit of “Rebel Without a Cause” set in the little known N. Carolina, June 20 2015
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“The apple never falls far from the tree” is one of those “truisms” that can burden youth with the faults of the parents. This is the case for Jacob McNeely whose father is a drug dealer and whose mother a drug addict. It’s all very sad and Jacob can see no other life for himself even though his girlfriend is the quintessential “girl next door” and his scholastic abilities would qualify him for university. It’s a little bit of “Romeo and Juliet” and little bit of “Rebel Without a Cause” set in the little known N. Carolina where current events reveal significant social problems.

So You've Been Publicly Shamed
So You've Been Publicly Shamed
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The horrific consequences of public shaming, June 20 2015
Mr. Ronson convincingly argues that shaming can be single worst human emotion. It can be so overwhelming as to prompt suicidal ideation rather than face society’s disapproval. In the past, social shaming was used as punishment for crimes until it was outlawed at the end of the 19th century in the U.S. because it was considered cruel and unusual punishment. With social media, it’s come back with a vengeance. For most of the shamed individuals that Mr. Ronson features, the shamed to lost their jobs and had considerable difficulty finding further employment. Twitter presents a problem in that it’s almost impossible have a comment taken out of context using a maximum of 140 characters, the context of course being that the individual is meaning the comments to be read by those who know them and understand the nuances of their message. Mr. Ronson argues convincingly that the horrific consequences of public shaming are an issue that needs to be explored and he does it admirable.

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$ 12.84
39 used & new from CDN$ 3.53

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.

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