October 26, 2022

3-stars for "N is for Noose" by Sue Grafton

N is for Noose (Kinsey Millhone, #14)N is for Noose by Sue Grafton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Until this book, Iíve been a huge fan of Graftonís Alphabet series of Kinsey Millhone detective mysteries, most of which involve murders. N is for Noose involves murders, but Iím not a fan of it. Iíve been reading her books in the series in order and this is my first disappointment. After reading the top reviews on Amazon, itís clear Iím not alone. The first reviewer summarized, and I agree, ďI Love Sue Grafton, But This Is My Least Favorite Thus Far.Ē Iíve been a novelist, and a fan of all sorts of fiction, so I know a lousy plot when I read one. As the Amazon reviewer complained, ďThere were parts of this story that really did not make sense to me. I also felt there were certain questions concerning the mystery aspect of this novel that went unaddressed. Ö there are gaps in this case that I could drive a bus through.Ē I considered writing a paragraph of spoiler alerts to all the plot holes, red herrings, and ignored clues, but decided not to do that to future readers.

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Posted by maggie at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2022

4-stars for "My Name is Anton"

My Name is AntonMy Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After finishing Hyde's Have You Seen Luis Velez? I had to read another of Catherine Ryan Hyde's novels. No surprise to anyone reading this, I couldn't pass up a book called My Name Is Anton. I was shell-shocked by the emotions that ricocheted through me reading this novel; there are so many subtexts involved. On the surface we have the basic romance where love triumphs over all kinds of adversities, where kindness and generosity overcome meanness and cruelty. But underneath thereís how (not why) people, family members in particular, are unable to acknowledge mental illness and therefore canít/wonít seek help or treatmentóa dynamic still prevalent in society today. Also unexamined is how/why one spouse abuses the other, or parents abuse/neglect children. All these are things people are ashamed of and keep hidden. I didnít see even a hint as to why Antonís parents kept his deceased brotherís room just like before, when one would expect for them to move to a different apartment asap. Or what the motherís absent parents were like to have produced such a daughteróas Anton himself describes heróneither helpful nor kind. But all in all, an excellent read.
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Posted by maggie at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2022

5-star review of "Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient World"

Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient WorldForgotten Peoples of the Ancient World by Philip Matyszak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very well-written book that is a pleasure to read. Non-archaeologists will appreciate it just as much, and maybe more, than professionals in the field. I learned a lot about ancient societies in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, but despite the misleading title, unfortunately not much about Asia, and nothing about the Americas. But that's not why I'm reading it. Author Philip Matyszak has a background in Western Classical Antiquity and appears to have purposefully limited Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient World to "give a picture of the busy, brawling, multicultural mass of humanity which occupied the ancient Middle East, Mediterranean and parts of Europe." While this clearly omits the rest of the world, it is in keeping with his academic background and his own stated intent. View all my reviews

Posted by maggie at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2022

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred TextsThe Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts is over 20 years old and some of its archaeology is already outdated. The authors clearly have an agenda to challenge the Biblical legends, but I wish they weren't so obvious about it. We don't even have evidence that Jesus or the Talmudic rabbis actually existed, so why would anyone think we'd know more about Moses? Other scholars also criticize Tel Aviv University archaeologist Israel Finkelstein as known largely for his minimalist views. But once I took his prejudices into account, that left plenty to learn from this book.

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Posted by maggie at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2022

5-star review of "Have You Seen Luis Velez?" by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Have You Seen Luis Velez?Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say - I loved Have You Seen Luis Velez?. It was the perfect book to read in the days approaching Yom Kippur. I'd never heard of this novel until I saw it recommended by the Jewish Book Group on Goodreads, although I quickly learned that author Catherine Ryan Hyde had also written Pay It Forward.

I was astounded to find a book that begins with an actual "save the cat moment." *And from a NY Times bestselling author. Yet it's a wonderful beginning and I knew our protagonist Raymond would meet some interesting, though incorrect, other Luis Velezs before finding out about the one is searching for. But I didn't expect such a lovely, heartwarming (and heartbreaking) story as teenage Raymond experiences the tribalism in our society today. I don't think it's a spoiler alert to say that this story shows how kindness and friendship can help overcome the unfairness in every day life. And gives us hope that in the end, justice will be served.

*The Save The Cat template was first published in Blake Snyder's best-selling Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need, a guide to plotting dramatic structure. Its name from the movie ďAliensĒ (1986). In the film, the audience is incited emotionally, when Ripley's cat disappears. The audience anticipates that the cat may be the prey of a vicious extraterrestrial that is aboard her spaceship. It plays with the idea that if you show your character doing something that makes the audience root for them (such as saving a cat), then the audience will be immediately more invested in those characters.
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Posted by maggie at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2022

4-star of "M is for Malice" by Sue Grafton

M is for Malice (Kinsey Millhone, #13)M is for Malice by Sue Grafton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Over the Rosh Hashana break, I read M is for Malice, the 13th of Sue Graftonís alphabet murder mystery series. That should mean Iím halfway through them, except that Grafton died after finishing Y is for Yesterday I appreciated how Kinsey grows and changes with each novel, and also how Grafton keeps turning out great, yet different, plots. One would think the stories would become repetitive after a time, but they donít, even if the characters spill over from one novel to the next. On that note, I really liked that Robert Dietz was back, and though Kinsey has mixed feelings (to put it mildly) about him, I hope heíll be a recurring character. Both of their efforts were needed to solve the mystery. I would have given this volume 5 stars, but the ending was too sudden and unexpected. Also I found it sad; I felt sorry for both the murderer and the victim, yet it looked like the actual criminals wouldnít face justice. So much family dysfunction and suffering. But definitely worth reading
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Posted by maggie at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)