Terrific book; amazing writing. This book isn't for everybody, but I loved it. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I respect it.
Billy Lynn is a...moreTerrific book; amazing writing. This book isn't for everybody, but I loved it. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I respect it.
Billy Lynn is a nineteen year old veteran of the Iraq war. He was caught on film in a terrible firefight where he heroically fought jihadis. He and his band, Bravo troup, are back in the US for a "Victory Tour", as the US government endeavors to gin up flagging support for the war effort.
All the action basically takes place on one day, Thanksgiving Day, at Cowboys Stadium (the old one). Written in present tense by a narrator with an amazing voice, this is a book as much for fellow writers as it is for readers. Put it on your To-read shelf. Better yet, just read the damn thing.(less)
The most underrated book I read in 2012 is The Globe by R. Doug Wicker. It’s underrated because it’s not selling particularly well, but should be. It’...moreThe most underrated book I read in 2012 is The Globe by R. Doug Wicker. It’s underrated because it’s not selling particularly well, but should be. It’s a great read. You know when you read a certain book, you just know the author is extremely smart and you would like to have a beer with him? I feel that way about R. Doug Wicker, whom I’ve never met or communicated with, but would like to.
The Globe is a cruise ship, but not any ordinary one. It’s actually a floating condominium, and each cabin has a wealthy owner. Murders take place, and Reynard Chevalier, the erudite security officer must solve them. I love those murder mysteries that take place in a closed environment (the locked room conundrum popularized by Agatha Christie – think Ten Little Indians – and others). There’s a finite number of potential victims and suspects. Reynard is inexperienced as a murder investigator, and the number of plot twists tests his abilities.
Wicker handles all this cleverly with great deftness and an elegant writing style. You’ll be glad you discovered this delightful gem of a book. Five out of five stars. (less)
What happens to your heart when you encounter human need so intense your soul can no longer ignore it? When you find yourself absolutely compelled to...more What happens to your heart when you encounter human need so intense your soul can no longer ignore it? When you find yourself absolutely compelled to respond to the second Great Commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself?” The answer is your life becomes wrecked, but in a way that is both pleasing to God, profoundly blesses others, and gives your own life newfound meaning.
Wrecked is author Jeff Goins’ (he helpfully assists us in the pronunciation of his unusual surname – ‘Goins rhymes with coins’, he says) personal account of a wrecked life. First he lives it, then he writes about it. The result is a story which will encourage and challenge the reader. I can hardly imagine a person who completes this book without resolving to live and act in a more compassionate way.
Goins is an uncommonly wise young man, and a very fine writer. His account lags a bit when he reaches the point in his story when he is also called to be a husband and father, and those demands impinge on his inclination to live Mark 16:17 (preach the Word, make disciples, drive out demons, heal the sick.) Yet one gets the sense that the reason is the story of his wrecked life is not fully told – that he has a stirring sequel on its way. By the way, for middle-aged men and women of my generation, I recommend Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance, a wonderful book by Bob P. Buford, but I digress.
I give Wrecked five stars out of five. Goins deserves to be discovered by many and read widely. (less)
When author Bonnie Trachtenberg penned her novel, Wedlocked, I don't believe I was her target audience. Wedlocked is chicklit whose main character, Re...moreWhen author Bonnie Trachtenberg penned her novel, Wedlocked, I don't believe I was her target audience. Wedlocked is chicklit whose main character, Rebecca Ross is a Jewish American Princess from Long Island. On the other hand, I'm a football and rugby playing, cigar-smoking, whiskey-drinking middle-aged man who grew up in rural Iowa as a Protestant.
Yet I found the writing sparkling and every page brought a little gift in the form of an enlightened observation, a well-crafted phrase or a funny situation. Rebecca, our protagonist, annoyed me from time to time with her intolerance for all things smoking-related and for her penchant of sabotaging her chosen acting career. But she was hard not to root for, especially when she married the Worst. Husband. Ever. (As an aside, I gave my wife a copy; Craig Jacobs is one of the only non serial-killer characters who makes me look good.)
This entertaining novel has a satisfying end and is a tremendous value. You will be glad you read it. (less)
Allen Schatz has crafted a winner with his novel, Game 7: Dead Ball, book one of his Marshall Connors series of contemporary thrillers. Marshall Conno...moreAllen Schatz has crafted a winner with his novel, Game 7: Dead Ball, book one of his Marshall Connors series of contemporary thrillers. Marshall Connors is a Major League umpire, and when he is inexplicably tabbed to be crew chief for the World Series, people in the know wonder why. Connor’s elevation is a result of actions by shady characters, who have only begun their mayhem. While baseball can be seen as a character, and fans of baseball will find the backdrop of the World Series adds to their enjoyment, one need not be a baseball geek to enjoy this book.
Marshall Connors, while likeable and smart, is not a protagonist in the conventional sense. He has major responsibilities related to his umpiring job and though he is connected to events, he has little ability to control or influence them. Connor’s friend Thomas and an assortment of FBI agents and MLB security types do the heavy lifting in solving a kidnapping and dealing with the bad guy(s). While Connors may not be a typical protagonist, the antagonist is an extremely cunning, dangerous and scary bad guy.
The cast is extensive and the plot intricate. When I set the book down a quarter through to concentrate on more pressing projects, I felt I needed to start again at the beginning in order to get current. However, once back into the book, it was a sharp page turner. I liked the fact that the characters and situations all seemed authentic and required no suspension of belief on the reader’s part.
Allen Schatz tells the story in an unconventional, but effective manner. He lets Connors narrate his part of story in 1st person, but deftly shifts to a 3rd person point of view for the bulk of the story. Such techniques are above the skill level of most inexperienced writers, and I was surprised to learn Dead Ball was his first novel. I look forward to the rest of the Marshall Connors series, and likely anything else that comes from the ordered but creative mind of Allen Schatz. (less)
Fans of contemporary romance will enjoy “Wilderness Heart” by Jacqueline Hopkins. When Lyn Taylor, operator and guide for an outfitting service in the...moreFans of contemporary romance will enjoy “Wilderness Heart” by Jacqueline Hopkins. When Lyn Taylor, operator and guide for an outfitting service in the Idaho wilderness meets chauvinistic client Nic Randall for an elk hunt guided by Ms Taylor, sparks inevitably fly despite the obvious physical attraction the pair have for each other. But Lyn is already engaged to domineering fiancé Brad, so the chemistry between her and Nic must be ignored. Right? Right?? Nic also has hired Lyn under false pretenses so of course he can’t be trusted, can he?
I was drawn to this story. Some forty years ago my late father and some of his friends embarked on an elk hunt in this exact area. Dad told the story of how ruggedly beautiful the country is, and the kind of hardships they endured on their hunt (inclement weather, poor choice of footwear - they wore cowboy boots rather than hiking boots). He also told about the colorful outfitter and guide who eventually helped my father bag a bull elk.
Jacqueline Hopkins captures all this nicely and deserves a chance to be read. You won’t be disappointed. (less)