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Profile for Len > Reviews

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Content by Len
Top Reviewer Ranking: 226
Helpful Votes: 545

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Reviews Written by
Len (Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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The Sympathizer: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
The Sympathizer: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
Price: CDN$ 11.33

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Anthropological Study Than Well-Crafted Novel, Sept. 28 2015
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Beginning in Vietnam, the story starts with the American evacuation of Saigon at the end of the war. Our protagonist is a captain and translator to a general in the South Vietnamese Army and so, is one of the fortunate few to get on a list of those who will be evacuated to the United States. Unlike those he will accompany, he neither Vietnamese nor American. He is the son of a French priest and a young Vietnamese woman and a spy for the North Vietnamese. He lives in many worlds and none. His sympathies must lie both with Whites and Asians, the South and the North Vietnamese. Thus, the reader is exposed to world of many perspectives. Nguyen writes of the protagonist's experiences at university in France, the evacuation from Saigon, the life of refugees in California, the hypocrisy of making a film about Vietnam without input from the Vietnamese, post-war Vietnam and the process of re-educating the South Vietnamese. The writing is fantastic providing some truly terrific insights. Speaking of America's film industry, Nguyen writes 'Hollywood's function [is to launch] the intercontinental ballistic missile of Americanization,' or 'Americans on the average do not trust intellectuals, but they are cowed by power and stunned by celebrity.' The problem is that the novel begins to read as an anthropological study of post-war life for the South Vietnamese rather than a well-crafted novel. As a consequence, I felt transported from one episode to another without feeling that the coherent development of characters and plot.


Palace of Treason: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 2)
Palace of Treason: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 2)
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable and boring, Aug. 28 2015
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Many of Mr. Matthews story telling techniques become predictable in this second of his Red Sparrow series. It all becomes a tiresome cat and mouse game where you know that the bad guy’s not going to get her and she’s not going to get him. The only suspense comes toward the very end of the novel when it's still a little too predictable. There’s the same group of characters from the last novel; Dominka, the spy, Nate, her agent, Gable, the gruff but loveable father figure, Benford, the professorial leader of them all. Of course, there’s the evil dwarf, a new counter insurgent and of course, Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately, all these characters are very stereotyped, and not in the ironic or humorous manner of a James Bond but a bit too earnestly. The good guys and gals are beautiful, handsome, honest and straightforward while the bad guys are ugly, fat, short, and dishonest. Mr. Matthews has got to try harder to capture the magic of the "Red Sparrow."


Look Who's Back
Look Who's Back
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both funny and horrific., July 21 2015
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This review is from: Look Who's Back (Kindle Edition)
Could Hitler come back and be taken seriously? Obviously no one would believe it was actually him. He could spout all the crazy Hitler rhetoric and his audience would find it funny, a German audience anyway. That’s the premise behind Mr. Vermes’ book. And it is, in parts. In others, it’s quite alarming. His sense of amazement and wonder at the changes since 1946 would be the same for any character brought back from the past. The humour and alarm come from “Hitler’s” spin on these turn of events, the power of social media as a propaganda tool, the absurdity of television programming, the explosion of consumer products. Of course, there’s always the underlying horror of what the man represents. In the novel, the manifestation of his current being represents an absurdity of thought that evokes laughter for his audience. This is both funny and horrific to contemplate really happening.


While We're Young
While We're Young
DVD ~ Ben Stiller
Price: CDN$ 12.88
14 used & new from CDN$ 3.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and incisive., July 21 2015
This review is from: While We're Young (DVD)
Making decisions has been a problem for Josh (Ben Stiller) so much so that he's been working on the same documentary for eight years. The problem, he can't make up his mind about what film footage to delete. He's married to Cornelia (Naomi Watts) who has no more direction in her life than Josh except to say that she doesn't want children, an issue that came to the fore when their best friends have their first child. Enter, Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby Massey (Amanda Seyfried), who are young, self-confident and completely secure in their direction and everyday life decisions. Josh and Cornelia do their best to mimic the younger couple's lifestyle only to discover the value of their own lifestyle and aspirations. Funny and incisive


Red Sparrow: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 1)
Red Sparrow: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 1)
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 16.99

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

3 of 3 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
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

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.


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