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Reviews Written by
Len (Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada)
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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$ 12.79

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.

Red Plenty
Red Plenty
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A story of high ideals and noble ambitions turned to a bureaucratic quagmire., Jan. 9 2014
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This review is from: Red Plenty (Kindle Edition)
This is really a series of short stories recounting the dream of the communist party's attempt to create an economy of plenty. The book begins with Brezhnev travelling to New York to talk to the most powerful businessmen in the country. Ironically, he travels in a car designed after an American luxury vehicle. Brezhnev is wants to transfer the same dedication used by the Soviet Union to increase industrial production that was a focus of the Stalin to years to the production of consumer goods. As well as politicians, there are academics, economists and bureaucrats and criminals populating the rest of the book. The stories are well written and engaging however the transition between them can be jarring. I just became interested in one character and Mr. Spufford is moving onto the next. The book does however provide a terrific insight of how the Brezhnev’s dream of creating a consumer paradise based on communist principles turns into more of the same after Khrushchev comes to power. It’s a story of high ideals and noble ambitions turned to a bureaucratic quagmire.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific insight into what life might be like for a sufferer of Aspergers, Dec 19 2013
Part story, primarily observations, this book explores the isolated world of an adolescent child suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. Beginning with a disturbing stabbing of the neighbour’s dog, the book follows Christopher’s adventures as he attempts to solve the murder of an animal his father would like him to forget. Christopher's mind is like a camera that records things and events but not feelings. He would know the number of ceiling tiles on the roof of his classroom or the colour of the dress his teacher wore last Monday but would have no idea about whether she was happy or sad at any particular moment nor would he particularly care. So, to reflect the cognition of his protagonist, Mr. Haddon records many of these observations for the reader. Although Christopher’s cognitions are often interesting and amusing, they are sometimes not. Nevertheless, observation and action are balanced so as to provide the reader with an entertaining story while at the same time providing a terrific insight into what life might be like for Asperger sufferer.

Song Yet Sung
Song Yet Sung
by James McBride
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.91
70 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As a terrific story teller with a great ear for dialogue, Mr. McBride has much wisdom to purvey, Dec 4 2013
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This review is from: Song Yet Sung (Paperback)
What’s it like to be owned? What would it do to your self-esteem? Would you create a secret code to share with other slaves? Would your owners ever allow your owners to know what you’re thinking? What would owning slaves do to your psyche? Would they be like another piece of furniture? Would their humanity eat away at your psyche until they became a human being and what would that do? These are all questions posed in “Song Yet Sung.” Plus a pinch of mysticism to provide a connection with the present day existence of the African American. Liz, a beautiful slave miraculously escapes the evil clutches of Patty Cannon, an attractive female slave trader who thinks of her prisoners strictly in terms of debits and credits. Amber is owned by Kathleen, a beautiful widow who with her son, Amber’s sister and son, are dependent on him to maintain the farm and therefore, their existence. He’d love to catch the Underground Railroad which he’d ride the short 80 mile distance to freedom if he didn’t feel sympathy for Kathleen and her son. To round out the cast of major characters, there’s Denwood, the tracker, lured from retirement by the exorbitant price to be paid for Liz’s return. As a terrific story teller with a great ear for dialogue, Mr. McBride has much wisdom to purvey.

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