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Kris (Oxnard, CA)

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Rock Star
Rock Star
by Jackie Collins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Drowning in the shallowness, July 19 2004
This review is from: Rock Star (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is shallow all around, maybe to purposely reflect Collins's view of Hollywood. The characters are shallow and uninteresting. They can't seem to see beyond their own desires. Spirituality? Forget it. The few children in the book are shuffled off to live with the poor losers, like Kris's ex-wife.
Yes, I finished the book. It was not difficult reading, with lots of dialogue and short chapters. But it was essentially boring. Sure, it was prurient, lots of sex, and a bad guy (Marcus Citroen) who was about as stereotypical as you can possibly imagine. Marcus didn't seem to have an altruistic bone in his body.
The fools that were trying to rip him off got caught. Know why? Because the manager of the catering service at Citroen's party, a woman, "fell in love" with the ex-con wannabe thief. Even this catering manager was absorbed by her carnal desire, at what seemed like the drop of a hat. She's going to leave her post and go hunting around for this loser, well, he was a good looking loser, I guess.
No matter how much carnal desire there is in Hollywood, people do have limits, don't they? But not here in this novel. Maybe that's why some people liked the book so much. It goes all the way: all the way to stupidity and inanity.
Collins's constant dwelling on her men's obsession with female breasts was and is disturbing, to me. The chief guard at Citroen's party is just so bowled over by one woman's large breasts, he just forgets everything for a little instant action. Well, there may be men like that, who just lose all track of their jobs and everything else because of large breasts, but it seemed pretty shallow to me.
The plot is generally shallow. It goes nowhere. The three protagonists don't make up for one solid one, but none of three was interesting, just narcissistic. Is that the real Hollywood? Or just a fictional "device" to titillate readers?
Plow through this book if you like cheap thrills. Nobody's going to remember it in a few years. Diximus.

Angels Flight
Angels Flight
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
104 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Police detectives age, too, July 12 2004
And so do authors. It's nice that authors can write about aging protagonists as they themselves pass through the decades.
Apparently, movie actors and other entertainers have a harder time with this transition, because so much depends upon their appearance. We see authors only on the book jackets, usually, but some writers, like Janet Evanovich, decide to leave their protagonists at one age only.
I think it's more realistic the way Connolly is doing it with Harry Bosch. Harry's a lot mellower now that he's retired, but he's still a bulldog about his mission in life, which has something to do with sticking up for the under "bull" dog.
You'll like this book, if you have these same preferences. Living in Los Angeles helps to make everything near and dear also. Diximus.

Lost Light
Lost Light
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.55
178 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic, up to a point, July 12 2004
This review is from: Lost Light (Mass Market Paperback)
Harry Bosch goes from the beginning of this book to the end with what seems like maybe four hours of sleep, no cigarettes, several cups of coffee, and a churro (maybe). This guy has the constitution of a bulldog.
He never quits, never says "die," and knows when to give in to the powers that be. You'll speed through the book like he does through the murder case, jumping from one episode to the next. This is a great book for insomniacs or those who "only stand and wait," a thing I do a lot.
Only one thing to note, how at the final climax, Harry gets lost in South Central and runs into a mob of rioters, who bodily unload the "shooter," a cop, from the backseat of Harry's car (where the man's been handcuffed). Chastain, the personage in question, deserves what he gets, of course. He started the riot by shooting a popular black lawyer.
But why can't Harry find his way around South Central? All of the main streets are perpendicular. This book's riot is close to where the 1992 "flashpoint" was, Florence and Normandie. This riot is just a little further south, being near Florence and Manchester (86th).
Anyway, living in South Central, as I do, I enjoyed his little jaunt there, but reading about how they did Chastain reminded me a little of what happened recently in Iraq. Diximus.

Lost Light
Lost Light
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.55
178 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Retiring with grace, July 7 2004
This review is from: Lost Light (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is told entirely in the first person, through Harry's eyes and mouth. For that reason, it takes on a very personal aspect that some of the other Bosch books don't have. Harry's personal foibles, his mistakes and his lost love make him a bit easier to relate to. He's fallible, but he doesn't fail. He's outside the loop now, but he still solves the mystery. Moreso than usual, Connelly grabs you by the collar and won't let you go until the end. This is the kind of book you want while you're waiting to serve jury duty or get on a delayed airplane flight. Diximus.

Murder at the Library of Congress
Murder at the Library of Congress
by Margaret Truman
Edition: Audio Cassette
7 used & new from CDN$ 4.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, June 29 2004
I listened to part of this mystery on the second of two audio cassettes. The first cassette was defective and had been discarded by the library. So, I read the first half. The hardbound version is really nicely printed, with big print and big margins. This was my first experience with Ms. Truman. Guess what. I didn't even know she was Harry's daughter!
Truman did a good job of joining the Columbus-Las Casas angle with the mystery story. Some of the library people didn't really seem to much character, like Sue and Consuela. Walter Munsch, one of the bad guys, was a gas. Tell me: Are you going to walk around a Mexican brothel with a couple of thousand $ cash in your pocket? Munsch did. No wonder his life span was short. How did he even live that long?
I had a hard time empathizing with Dolores, who fell in love with Michelle Paul and then murdered him. If Paul was such a jerk, and everyone else thought so, how could she have loved him? Well, I guess it didn't last, the love, that is.
Does David Driscoll get off scot free, then? It's not really clear.
Anyway, Margaret Truman is definitely worth trying out. I have another one I'm going to start soon. Probably take only a day or two to finish it, because she's easy reading. Diximus.

Chances
Chances
by Jackie Collins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.08
84 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Hollywood wives or husbands here, June 17 2004
This review is from: Chances (Mass Market Paperback)
How did the Monkees sing it? "Now, I'm a believer!" After plowing through two Hollywood novels by the same author, this long novel was a welcome change. It offers interesting characters with interesting quirks and interesting biographical stories, for the most part.
As I read the book, I looked forward each day to picking the book up to read, and basically that's what a "good" book is all about (wouldn't you agree?), keeping the reader interested, wanting to find out what happens next, like an intriguing "soap opera" (I don't watch them, so maybe Collins is a substitute for that TV storytelling....and she works fine as a substitute....better, I'd say).
The only criticism I would make is about the abrupt and somewhat unbelievable ending of this book. Yes, I know, this is the beginning of a series, but check this out. You are a long-time, experienced gangster (Enzio Bonnatti), already an old man, and you want to "hit" two rivals: Do you send a timid, ineffectual son to kill his own father and sister? No, you send a professional.
Now, the hit fails (everyone but Bonnatti seems to see the failure coming) and one of the intended victims (Lucky) shows up at your home, which is guarded by whom? One overweight, incompetent lout ("Big Victor")? Just one fat thug? (Russo doesn't count, because he's out picking up the wannabe movie producer.) I don't think so. Let's have a team of bad guys here, please. Now, does the lout frisk the intruder? No again. Instead, you, the old mobster who knows he has to be careful all the time meets the intruder in his own bedroom and, well, the rest is "history." Jackie's history.
But the rest of the book works better than this implausible ending. One more minor complaint. Why is it that Ms. Collins always has her men interested in the upper portion of the female anatomy, and not the bottom portion? She seems not to realize that not all men are interested in the female upper anatomy, as much as they are the lower anatomy. No men in this book have these different tendencies. They're all "upper anatomy" men. A shame for those of us like the lower half better, poor sniveling ingrates that we are.
Why is it that I kept imagining most of this book taking place in Los Angeles/Hollywood? I know the blackout was in New York, but I kept seeing L.A. There are some references to Bel Air and other parts of L.A., but most of the action is in New York. Can you tell I'm not a New York person? I can. Diximus.

How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socializing In Person and Online
How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socializing In Person and Online
by Susan RoAne
Edition: Audio Cassette
14 used & new from CDN$ 23.39

2.0 out of 5 stars People who love people, June 16 2004
Who would want to "work a room"? Someone trying to sell something, maybe? If you're not selling anything overtly, this book will not be of interest. I say overtly because, as someone once pointed out, we're all selling something, but we need not do so overtly or manifestly. But by our behavior. Actions and words and all. This book, and others like it, all have us looking outward for gratification, basically from other people, people "in the room." "In the room" can be a metaphor for the "in crowd." Do you want in with the in crowd? Maybe you'll learn some tools from this book. Then again, you might do better looking inward at yourself. Listen to one of the great modern inward-seekers, Vernon Howard (excuse the gender specificity, it's an old book): "A man owes nothing to any other human being on earth except to be himself, but since few see this, most men stagger under the burdensome debt of artificial behavior. It is a tragic illusion that we can do anything for others before we have done something for ourselves." The writer of "How to work a room" is essentially focusing on how to improve your artificial behavior. Diximus.

Human Medicine: Ethical Perspectives On Today's Medical Issues
Human Medicine: Ethical Perspectives On Today's Medical Issues
by J Nelson
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 2.15

3.0 out of 5 stars Dust to dust, June 3 2004
Yes, this is a good compendium which does just what the title suggests: ethical perspectives on today's medical issues. It's not easy reading.
For me, it was like stuffing unwanted food down the throat. I had to take it real slowly, a few pages at a time.
Nelson et al. do a good job of martialing the legal cases related to abortion, death and dying, transplanted organs, artificial inseminations, and such.
The "Christian" perspective seems to stand out most in the final chapter, when the authors discuss how medical treatment and care has become absorbed into the "free market," and why it possibly should be taken out of that sphere and rendered as a "right" for all citizens. This sounded pretty good to an individual lacking medical insurance. But the authors also delineate precisely how such efforts have failed in the past and are unlikely to soon overcome the inertia built into the profit-system of medical care.
Too bad for those of us on the receiving end. Anyone want to try a curandero instead? Or how about Christian Science, what Harold Bloom called America's "self-help" application to religion. It would be a lot cheaper. Diximus.

Heartbreaker
Heartbreaker
by Julie Garwood
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.02
125 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Stark Raving Mad, June 2 2004
You're a romance writer, but you want to do a "genre shift," kind of like going from baseball to football. What do you do? You write a romance and then plop down right on top of the romance "a crazy person," a control freak who is strong and intelligent but more than a little sick: his name is Stark, but he's masquerading as Justin Brady, a simpleton. No matter, he can't fool Mr. Hero, that is, Nick the FBI Guy. Nick is all-around alpha-male what-every-woman wants, so how can he lose? You see the problem here? We all know what's going to happen: Down goes Stark, up goes Nick, he gets the girl (whoops, woman) in the end. Ever heard that one before?
On the good side, the book will keep you occupied and the paperback copy has a nice type font with space between the lines, making it easy to read. Lots of conversation. But way too much "kitchen and bedroom" talk, for me, but for romance lovers, of course not.
Jules Wesson is the only character who doesn't follow a formula: Jules, the unliked FBI Guy in Charge ("jerk"), does a good deed at the end and never gets his comeuppance, at least not in this book.
Which brings to mind another problem: Where did Stark come from? Obviously, he has a past history, but it's only alluded to in this book and never really explained. Something about Nick shooting Stark's wife, who was trying to kidnap a child? Wow! There must be a prequel, but the book cover never mentioned it.
Well, you don't absolutely need the prequel, but I still say Stark was a little too crazy to be believable. But, as a good writer should, Garwood offers something for everybody: Noah's cool. Diximus.

Welcome to the Monkey House: Stories
Welcome to the Monkey House: Stories
by Kurt Vonnegut
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.68
52 used & new from CDN$ 4.76

3.0 out of 5 stars Makes You Think, June 1 2004
Well, most of the 54 previous reviewers raved about this collection of stories, but I did see one reviewer who felt the story, Monkey House, seems to encourage a certain illegal behavior. I agree with that observation, and while I was reading the story I was certain people today would notice that point: Maybe in 1968 (the publication date), people didn't notice?
Some of the stories seemed like "starter" stories, something a "wannabe" writer might write. But some really do make you think. What if you were forced to be "equal" to everyone else (Harrison Bergeron)? What if an anti-aging concoction was discovered and the population explosion covered the earth with people of all ages (Tomorrow etc.)? These kinds of questions are certainly relevant today, and that may be one measure of their worth: longevity.
I could not read this book like a novel, with growing interest as the plot unfolds. For me, it was the type of book one would have to put aside from time to time, to kind of "digest" the contents, before reading more. That could be another measure of literary worth: it doesn't go down like cotton candy but kind of "stays with you," the way a good meal should. Diximus.

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