The Redeemers by Ace Atkins is the fifth book in The Ranger series. The series follows Quinn Colson, an Army Ranger who came back to his home in MissiThe Redeemers by Ace Atkins is the fifth book in The Ranger series. The series follows Quinn Colson, an Army Ranger who came back to his home in Mississippi and got voted in as Sheriff.
Quinn Colson has lost the re-election for Sheriff to Rusty Wise, a local insurance salesman. At the time, a local businessman’s home has been robbed and the safe where he supposedly keeps a lot of cash in has been literally ripped out and stolen.
The safe, however, contained much more than cash. The businessman kept ledgers of every dirt transaction he ever did with the town’s bosses and lowlifes which could bring them all down.
The Redeemers by Ace Atkins is another great installment in The Ranger series, and probably the funniest one. Mr. Atkins certainly knows how to write characters and whether they are likeable or not, they are interesting. Quinn’s girlfriend, Anna-Lee, who, it seems, is only liked by Quinn, is still favored by him even though she is not very appealing to the reader.
But in true fashion, Mr. Colson doesn’t care.
The book is full of action and tension, the recurring characters are growing and become more complex. The villains are hilarious, a bunch of bumbling idiots who are just a vehicle to move the larger story forward. The new Sheriff reminded me of Andy Griffin being transported from Mayberry to Jericho, with all the comedy that ensues when life hits him in the face.
While this is a standalone book, I still highly recommend reading at least the first book in the series. The book is still enjoyable and Mr. Atkins does a great job, as always, recapping the pivotal plot points of the novels throughout the book.
The Forsaken by Ace Atkins is the 4th book in The Ranger series. The series follows Quinn Colson, a former Army Ranger, who comes back to his home inThe Forsaken by Ace Atkins is the 4th book in The Ranger series. The series follows Quinn Colson, a former Army Ranger, who comes back to his home in Jericho, Mississippi to be near his family and gets elected Sheriff.
A white teenager is raped and killed in Tibbehah County, MI while her girlfriend manages to escape after being raped. A black man who wonders into town is blamed for the crime and lynched.
More than three decades later, Sheriff Collson and his deputy open up the file to investigate what really happened. The officers are also fending off a wrongful accusation of murder (after being setup by the county’s unofficial boss) and helping the area recover from a devastating tornado.
I have read all of the Quinn Colson novels and enjoyed them all, so I was looking forward to read The Forsaken by Ace Atkins especially because of on the cliffhangers from the previous novel. Like the rest of the series, this novel is a standalone story and Mr. Atkins does a good job reintroducing the pertinent parts of the characters, however I would recommend to read at least one of the novels in the series (if possible, The Lost Ones) to get a better understanding of the characters and have a better experience reading the novel.
I was never in the deep south of the United States, and I can only assume Mr. Atkins writes about what he knows, but the novel reads much like I would imagine a small-town-America in the Bible belt would be. The dialogue is wonderful and it was nice to reconnect with old, memorable characters.
The previous novel, set me up to believe that this novel would be a mystery / legal thriller with the Sheriff and his assistant on trial. I thought this would have been a perfect opportunity for Mr. Atkins to stretch the series a bit and go in a different direction. What I got, though, was the same old same old formula with a mystery which only serves as a vehicle to enrich and the characters and further their development.
I did enjoy the book very much and would certainly recommend the whole series. Mr. Atkins keeps on writing great characters, great narrative and excellent stories.
Congo: The Epic History of A People by David Van Reybrouck is a fascinating non-fiction book about the titled region. The "epic" in the title is not tCongo: The Epic History of A People by David Van Reybrouck is a fascinating non-fiction book about the titled region. The "epic" in the title is not to be taken lightly, this book is indeed epic in scope.
I bought Congo: The Epic History of A People by David Van Reybrouck because I had Amazon credits, it was on sale, I like history and the title was fascinating. It took me a long time to start this book, it was long and my initial interest waned after a few days. But I’m glad I bought it and I’m glad I read it.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the most screwed up places I ever read about. It seems the folks in the Congo can’t get a break, going from colonial oppression, to anarchy only to be “saved” by a violent dictatorship which, in turn, spawns two civil wars. All that turmoil in a regions which is rich in beyond the hopes of most of the countries on Earth.
I enjoyed the history and the narrative very much, I felt bad for the poor people of the Congo who struggle with enemies from within and without. Every time I started to feel some sort of hope between the pages, Mr. Van Reybrouck crushes my beliefs in humanity within a few moments, for the struggle to start again.
The beauty of entertainment, whether it be books, movies or roller coasters, is that you can distance yourself from the issues, know that you are relatively safe and that the feeling of anxiety is temporary, unfounded and often illogical. I tried to tell myself that until the author hit me over the head with the following passage: “Congo does not lag behind the course of history, but runs out in front”. Globalization, over population and wartime economies in a microcosm.
This book is brutal in its narrative, criticizing Europe and the world for treating the area which gives much of its needed resources to the world, and to the Congo leadership that abuses the populace as much as its previous European masters. I knew nothing of the Congo before reading this book, now I know a bit more and have a better understanding of their struggles.
Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard is a mini biography of the person who will bHero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard is a mini biography of the person who will become England’s most prominent and famous Prime Minister. The book follows the time Winston Churchill was a soldier, journalist and an amateur, struggling politician.
Two of the best books I read a few years ago were The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic so when I saw Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard I immediately asked for a review copy and was very happy to receive one.
The story, told in style and grace, features a young, conceited Churchill on his way to cover the Boer Wars in South Africa, 1889. Churchill is an arrogant man coming from an arrogant society. It is unthinkable that the British would lose, or even have a difficult victory, fighting the Boers.
The Boers, led by farmer Louis Botha, fought a guerrilla style warfare, taking the British by surprise. Two weeks after arriving, Churchill is taken prisoner but manages to escape. After traversing hundreds of miles by himself, he manages to get rescued. Appropriately enough, he finds his way back into the war, this time as an enlisted soldier and rescues his fellow prisoners.
The lessons young Churchill learned during these times will shape the 20th Century, but this book doesn’t dwell on them. Ms. Millard tells a story full of adventure and heroism. Churchill’s escape help rally the British forces (he was the son of a famous diplomat and a member of the aristocracy) and fight off the enemy.
The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner is a fictional book about two teenagers and their experience on September 11, 2001 and days afterwards. Ms. PolisThe Memory of Things by Gae Polisner is a fictional book about two teenagers and their experience on September 11, 2001 and days afterwards. Ms. Polisner writes women fiction and young adult books.
Kyle Donohue, a 16 year old student at Stuyvesant High School, witness the first tower in the World Trade Center comes down on September 11, 2001. Kyle walks home with thousands of people across the Brooklyn Bridges when he sees a girl, suffering from amnesia, covered in ash and brings her home with him.
Kyle’s father is a detective working in Ground Zero, his mother and sister are on a trip to California and he is taking care of his disabled uncle until the world calms down around him. All this while trying to figure out what to do with his new guest.
The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner is a fast, easy read but thought provoking nonetheless. The terrorist attack in New York City on 9/11/2001 changed America, America’s foreign policy and the world. A generation of kids is now growing up not knowing the profound effect this event had on the whole world.
The author wrote a profound book which captures the helplessness against a great tragedy, but also the profound human relationships which can occur from such a tragedy. While 9/11 is in the background of the story the throughout the novel, it is not “about” 9/11 and the author manages, somehow, to steer clear of sensationalism or sappy narrative.
As someone who lived, and witnessed, 911 I found this book to be an allegory to the loss of innocence of a nation, which spoke to me, in parallel to the loss of innocence of young adults. This book, an easy and immersive read, has something for everyone.
Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero is a novel taking place in the Lodz ghetto during World War II.
Elsi, a Jewish teenager in the Lodz Ghetto, discovers heBroken Angels by Gemma Liviero is a novel taking place in the Lodz ghetto during World War II.
Elsi, a Jewish teenager in the Lodz Ghetto, discovers her mother is being used as entertainment by German officers and is suffering trhough an abortion. Elsi the joins a resistance group.
At the same time, Matilda, a Romanian girl who happens to look Aryan is taken from her family and brought to Germany so she can be molded as an Aryan child. Matilda is not to be molded, however, and has a strong mind and a brave spirit.
Willem is a Nazi docotr, officer and son of an important general. As a doctor Willem wants to save the lives of women, but that is difficult to do when he is assigned to Lodz and Auschwitz.
Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero is a novel about a subject matter which is always difficult to read. The author tells the story from the view point of three people, which, inevitably intersect.
The narrative moves fast and the storytelling is clear. Every now and then it seems that the dialouge is forced, but even then it doesn't really break up the narrative.
The author presents the moral dilema a Nazi gynecologist is facing. He is a man who prides himself on helping women but finds himself in a situation where his patients are considered sub-human, barn animals to be experimented on for the "greater good".
Native Believer by Ali Eteraz is a novel about a secular Muslim living in today's America.
Native Believer by Ali Eteraz is a dark satire and social coNative Believer by Ali Eteraz is a novel about a secular Muslim living in today's America.
Native Believer by Ali Eteraz is a dark satire and social commentary from a different perspective, that of an American who is also a secular Muslim. Our narrator, “M” is the son of immigrants, married to a white Christian woman. M lives in Philadelphia, happy and content with his life and his job at an advertising agency.
M’s life turns upside-down when he has a party for his co-workers (always a bad idea) and his boss finds a Koran in a pouch, a gift from M’s mother. M didn’t even know the book was up there (he’s too short) and assumed the shelf was empty, and anyway, the handmade pouch had value, not the book. That doesn’t matter though, and M finds himself jobless.
For the rest of the book, M tries to find out what it means to a Muslim, devout or secular, in America. He moves around the diverse Muslim population in Philadelphia, from Muslim pornography to creating a marketing campaign for a rich Arab trying to bring Islam to the United States via exercise tapes, and becoming part of the State Department’s Muslim Outreach program (the pay is good and you get to travel).
Mr. Eteraz wrote an interesting and witty novel which is unpredictable and informative. While reading, I found myself wondering how much of the novel is actually true about the secular Muslim culture in America.
For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming is the eight book in a series featuring British secret agent James Bond, 007. Four of the five stories started as ouFor Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming is the eight book in a series featuring British secret agent James Bond, 007. Four of the five stories started as outlines for a Bond TV show commissioned by the BBC, however the show was dropped before filming began.
For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming is a collection of short stories, ranging from “Excellent” to “just OK”. I wasn’t thrilled to read this book, simply because I’m not a fan of short stories. The stories take place in between the longer Bond missions and are a fun read.
It seems to me Mr. Fleming had some stories in his head and somehow tried to tie them up into a common character (Bond). For example, the short story Quantum of Solace mostly compromises of a man telling Bond a story about a couple in the Bahamas (for what it’s worth, I did enjoy this story even though it’s not the usual Bond adventure and is quite sad).
Three of the stories (From a View to a Kill, For Your Eyes Only and Risico) are straight out Bond adventures. The other two (Quantum of Solace and The Hilderbrand Rarity) show a more compassionate side for Bond.
As always with a short story collection, it is difficult to rate. The rating above simply indicates an average.
The Mastermind by David Unger is a novel about corruption and its toll on Guatemala. Mr. Unger, Guatemalan, writes in English but was still awarded GuThe Mastermind by David Unger is a novel about corruption and its toll on Guatemala. Mr. Unger, Guatemalan, writes in English but was still awarded Guatemala’s Miguel Ángel Asturias National Prize in Literature for lifetime achievement in 2014.
Guillermo Rosensweig, a Guatemala Guatemalan lawyer with wife and kids has a string of lovers. One day he meets Maryam, a Lebanese woman which he falls in love with, and she with him.
Maryam’s father, a client, is an honest businessman who refused to land a hand to the corrupt government. While doing so he puts in danger all who are close to him, including his daughter and lawyer.
My initial issue with The Mastermind by David Unger is that I did not like the protagonist, Guillermo Rosensweig., Mr. Rosensweig is a jerk, a bad father, bad husband, bad business partner and even cheats on the woman he cheats with. But he is a good and successful lawyer.
The novel, though, kept my interest by describing the corruption in Guatemala and how it affects many people throughout society. Having lived in New Jersey for most of my life I know how corruption in institutions has a way to become legalized and even moralized (not that I’m comparing the level of corruption) by community and political leaders.
This novel is certainly engaging and interesting even though it takes almost half the book to build up, and the corruption is only secondary to the protagonist’s interest in leaving his wife for his lover. The nuances in the text about the corruption and lifestyle in Guatemala could easily be glossed over.
The novel is based on a Guatemalan lawyer named Rodrigo Rosenberg who planned his own assassination while leaving a video claiming president Álvaro Colom had him murdered.
While the novel was not what I expected, it was an interesting read and the last third of the book was very quick and engaging. I was actually very surprised that the book was written in English, as the narrative style reminded me of many books from Latin American I read which were translated.
The Yanks Are Starving: A Novel of the Bonus Army by Glen Craney is a historical fiction book telling the long forgotten story of the Bonus Army of WoThe Yanks Are Starving: A Novel of the Bonus Army by Glen Craney is a historical fiction book telling the long forgotten story of the Bonus Army of World War 1 vets and how they were treated.
The Yanks Are Starving: A Novel of the Bonus Army by Glen Craney is a long book, but is very enjoyable for history buffs and those who enjoy historical fiction. I have heard of the Bonus Army before reading this book, it is one of those events we don’t like to talk about very much, but never read anything about it besides and article or two.
From my limited reading about the World War 1 and the Bonus Army, it seems that the events depicted are based on facts and is worth reading. From the treatment of our veterans, to that of consciousness objectors. While some of the main characters are fictional, I found them to be most interesting and engaging, even more than the one who did exist.
This is not a “war” book, even though there is plenty of that as well. The book talks about the struggles of veterans which paralleled the struggles of the country. The complex relationships of the people, the commanders, and the country are well illustrated in this book.
When I finished the book I was very impressed with the scope of what it covered and the author’s wonderful effort to cover it. You can certainly tell that the author picked a side, but he handles the subtleties gently and elegantly.
Goldfinger by Ian Fleming is the seventh novel featuring James Bond, 007, agent of MI6, the British Secret Service. The book’s original title was TheGoldfinger by Ian Fleming is the seventh novel featuring James Bond, 007, agent of MI6, the British Secret Service. The book’s original title was The Richest Man in the World, it was written in 1958 and published in 1959.
Bond first meets Auric Goldfinger, a millionaire, after being asked by a rich friend to find out if Mr. Goldfinger cheats at Canasta. Coincidentally, Bond’s boss asks him to discover how Goldfinger manages to smuggle gold out of the country and also if he has any connection to SMERSH, the Russian anti-spy agency.
Bond discovers Goldfinger’s dealings with smuggled gold and, of course, other misdeeds. He meets Oddjob, a henchman for Goldfinger, and manages to entrench himself in Goldfinger’s get rich quick scheme.
Goldfinger by Ian Fleming is another fun book in the series. The story is, of course, dated and some of it seem downright laughable or cringe worthy if not keeping in mind the attitudes at the times towards women and minorities.
The book features two very memorable villains, Goldfinger and Oddjob, which have become the classic stereotype of Cold War rogues like many of Fleming’s inventions. The character of Pussy Galore, is a strong, smart, independent woman but Fleming still manages a few sexist remarks regardless and Fleming’s antiquated views on the subject of feminism. I just took his old time views with a chuckle, but it’s amusing to read about those and I don’t know if his views are representatives of the times or even of the majority of men in the era. For example, Fleming “blames” the suffragette movement and women voting on… lesbians. Quite laughable these days, but a bit disturbing to think that those views actually existed and maybe even still exist.
With the exception of From Russia with Love, I thought that the character of Bond grew in this book more than the previous ones. Bond is more human and develops some form of a sense of humor, verbally jabbing at Oddjob simply for his own amusement.
Frankly, another fun and silly adventure which has to be read with a wink and a nod to another time. A page turner which, to today’s audience, might seem funny at all the wrong places.
Galerie by Steven Greenberg is a novel about a woman looking for her roots and a family secret from World War II.
Vanesa Neuman, an Israeli historian aGalerie by Steven Greenberg is a novel about a woman looking for her roots and a family secret from World War II.
Vanesa Neuman, an Israeli historian and daughter of a Holocaust survivor gets her hands on her father’s journal after his death. In the journal she finds stories of long lost people and strange symbols.
Vanesa starts digging about the meaning of the symbols, using the jounal, Yad Vashem and the Jewish Museum of Prague as her starting points. Along the way Vanesa overcomes many obstacles, physical and emotional to discover a deep buried family secret.
Galerie by Steven Greenberg is a very well written and researched book. Sometimes the narrative was a bit heavy, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and appreciated the author’s stylistic choices. Mr. Greenberg also knows how to tell a story, from a prose perspective as well as slowing down and simply telling a good, thought provoking, story.
The book moves between timelines and continents. Israel in the 1970s and 1990s (“present day”), and as wartime Europe, the US and other locations. The story and characters grow and become more intricate as the story unfolds, building up to a satisfying end.
The novel explores the Holocaust from an original point of view and does not shy from addressing issues which are easy to gloss over (treatment of Holocaust survivors after the war in Israel, for example). This is an intriguing book which will certainly holds the reader’s interest.
One Step Ahead: Private Equity and Hedge Funds After the Global Financial Crisis by Timothy Spangler is a non-fiction book focusing on the mysteries oOne Step Ahead: Private Equity and Hedge Funds After the Global Financial Crisis by Timothy Spangler is a non-fiction book focusing on the mysteries of finance which seem to evade the layman.
One Step Ahead: Private Equity and Hedge Funds After the Global Financial Crisis by Timothy Spangler is one of those books I always wanted to read but couldn’t find. Mr. Spangler offers a very informative, high level, information about alternative investments in a most readable way.
The book is dense, choke full of information for people like me, those who not just enough to cause damage before being stripped naked by Wall Street sharks. While I do not intend, nor do I have the funds, to invest in hedge funds or private equity, it is an interesting subject.
The section which I found the most interesting was about taxes and why the income made from investments is taxed at a much lower rate from income earned by actually working. Mr. Spangler argued both positions quite clearly, I did not change my mind, but I certainly understand the other side of the argument much better. The author did change my mind about thinking that the whole private equity financial system is based on stealing money from the middle class, he does delve into that perception as well and admits that those financial industries do have a big PR problem.
Mr. Spangler talks about the structure of the funds, the operations of both private equity and hedge funds, as well as their role in the 2008 financial crisis. The author also discusses financial regulations, laws and enforcement (or lack thereof) and the issues with them (can you say “Congress”?).
This book has a lot of high quality, helpful financial information, yet it is very readable. The author does not vilify, nor defend bad behavior. The author presents the facts about these financial vehicles, both the contributions to society as well as the theft and other shenanigans.
Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge by Daniel A. Sjursen is a non-fiction book about the author’s experience in IrGhost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge by Daniel A. Sjursen is a non-fiction book about the author’s experience in Iraq. Mr. Sjursen served as an officer in the US Army during, what is now known, as “the surge” which has been credited by politicians as helping turn around the war.
Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge by Daniel A. Sjursen is the author’s account of his time in Iraq. The book really gives a good impression on what it’s like to be “boots on the ground” during the occupation.
Mr. Sjursen talks about doing the job, how it’s viewed from ground level and what is being sold to the American public. Leading his men, the author saw the problems that they all faced on the battlefield as well as their own private hell they faced when returning home.
Mr. Sjursen also shares his own personal views about the war, professional soldering, the ugly business of managing an occupation and the even uglier politics of inserting yourself in the middle of a sectarian civil war. The author obviously had much love and respect for the men he led and those he served with, he writes beautifully about each and every one of the, a testament to the his character as well as theirs.
I do agree with the author’s analysis that the majority of the American people have no stake in the war, either in blood or treasure, which is why there was never major opposition to them. While the issues are complex and staggering, the men on the ground sometimes feel, and rightly so, that the American public is not with them except meaningless faux patriotism gestures.
As well as the personal story, the author does an outstanding job explaining the long and complex feud between the Sunni and Shia Muslims. Anyone who, at least, would like to understand this issue and the affect it has on the US troops who are stuck in the middle of it would benefit from reading it.
Above all, this book is unblinking and intimate, while you might not agree with everything the author has to say it is certainly a worthwhile read.
The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee is a non-fiction book covering the histoThe Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee is a non-fiction book covering the history of the famous novel Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak and how it was used by the CIA for propaganda purposes.
The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee is an exciting, well researched and well written book. The authors go to great length not only to tell a story, but give the reader the historical context in which the events were happening, as well as the social and political climates.
The Soviet Union’s literature in the 1950s had to go through so many layers of bureaucratic censorship that what was finally published was simply propaganda. If a writer, poet or artist went against the system, they suffered financially, publicly, physically and sometimes all three as well as forfeited their lives. Famous author Boris Pasternak was spared some of these punishments because Stalin, it is said, liked his poetry.
Mr. Pasternak’s masterpiece, Dr. Zhivago, was not allowed to be published in the Soviet Union, it was seen as too critical of the 1917 revolution as well as the chaos and disorder that followed. In an act of courageous civil disobedience, knowing full well the consequences of his actions, the author allowed the work he has written over decades to be smuggled to Italy and published.
The CIA, trying to encourage dissidents and get under the skin of the Soviet government, printed hundreds of copies of Dr. Zhivago in Russian to be passed out at the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels, when Russian tourists enter the Vatican Pavilion. In 1958, Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, he paid dearly for the prize, being denounced and expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers (which means he could not get published in his homeland). Sadly, Mr. Pasternak was forced to reject the Noble Prize.
This is a wonderful book, the title is a bit misleading since the CIA operation is not a big part of the story. A book about a brilliant, and brave writer, a system that tried to destroy him and a system that tried to use him to win a very small victory in the Cold War.