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Random Reviews in Random order from Random Library Staff and Volunteers: 08/2014

We work in the library. We like to read. True. We do read. A lot! However, none of us read nearly as much as the entertaining Mr. Von Hatch. Giving credit where credit is due… the best of these reviews have been put forth from his computer to ours. So… very short reviews that we hope will pique your interest. We’d love to have your short reviews to include next month. Just ask us!

ANY OTHER NAME by Craig Johnson
News Flash for some TV fans: If you are a follower of the series Longmire you can leave the dark side and get your Longmire in Mental 3-D, totally unexpurgated, and commercial free from your local library and the latest one is in. Too hot for you in AZ? Every Longmire book-including this one- has a killer Wyoming blizzard (also in 3-D but blizzard effects come from APS). Good, clean Western-modern fun that’s way more fun than looking for the remote.

FLYING THRU MIDNIGHT by John t. Halliday
This book recounts the conduct of one of the secret aspects of the war in and near Viet Nam. It is the tale of the men who flew C-123 cargo aircraft based in Laos over the Ho Chi Minh trail to locate N. Vietnamese supply convoys and then either call in air strikes or artillery to destroy them. Part of their job was to drop 1 million candlepower flares to light the jungle for ground troops. By this time it should come as no surprise to any one that not all of our combat efforts in that long ago mess were made public at the time. This is a lively tale that brings some light to some of them. Like most “war stories” this one, I fear, might contain some embellishments but that is not uncommon, nor unforgivable.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green
Now I know what all of the fuss was about. If you, like me, are a latecomer to this book then I urge you to get on the bandwagon. We have compelling characters, humans facing their mortality long before they should have to, and a malady that many of us have faced one way or another: the big C. There is certainly some sadness associated with the book but the author manages to avoid the mushy, maudlin tone of Love-Story-type tales. Our protagonists are witty, a bit cynical, and face reality with as much fortitude as they can muster.

 MERCEDES by Stephen King
Not the best nor the worst Stephen King but more entertaining than not. It is short on unworldly horror and long on characters, more of a mystery than a horror book. But what can be more horrible than a twisted human mind? There is much more evidence to support that contention than pets returning from a grave in the woods.

IRON HEARTED VIOLET by Kelly Barnhill
Loved this book. Violet and Demetrius set off on an adventure that keeps you wanting to find out where all of this is going to end. I had a hard time putting it down. It’s a Young Adult Fiction book.

THE TROOP by Nick Cutter
This is a really creepy book. It’s not “Lord of the Flies” or “Carrie”, both books referred to by the author as inspirational, but it’s a fine contribution to those styles of story telling. The tale is about a troop of Boy Scouts off for a weekend of activities of a scout nature on an uninhabited island. A medical research project gone very wrong intrudes and things begin to go south in a hurry. A bunch of 14-year-old boys, left to their own devices, and driven by very different mentalities with survival at stake…what could possibly go wrong? If literary creepiness is your bag, put this one on your list. Hint: think worms.

THE HEIST by Daniel Silva
I know absolutely nothing about the art of restoring 300-year-old priceless paintings but I know about really good spy/mystery books and authors and here is one of them. Gabriel Allon, a brilliant art restorer and a sort of tired Israeli master spy has the occasion to use both of these skills in Daniel Silva’s latest novel. As usual, Silva’s style is intricate, somewhat amusing, and gripping. In this tale the most tension and fear might have to do with our hero. Allon is a geezer but he is about to become the father of twins. Scary stuff. But I digress. Sometimes you just have to steal stuff to get some other stolen stuff back. I vote read this book.

GOOD TALK DAD…THE BIRDS AND BEES AND OTHER CONVERSATIONS WE FORGOT TO HAVE by Bill and Willie Geist
Bill and Willie Geist, father and son TV personalities on two different networks, have produced an amusing and well-done book. If they had stopped after the chapter on the birds and bees it would have been hysterical and brilliant, but really short. Hard to charge someone $27 for an eleven page book. Anyone can read this book but it should be mandatory for guys around 60. That would mean your father has probably passed so it’s too late for that conversation and it’s too late to do anything with your own son(s) and you have grandchildren who don’t have to ask you anything because it’s all online. You will also come away with a different view of who these two authors really are.

NATCHEZ BURNING by Greg Iles
Mr. Iles has written a number of books and if they are as good as this one, I will be a big fan. I’m a junkie reader. It doesn’t take much to amuse or interest me as long as I’m reading. Rarely does a book make me want to cancel longstanding appointments just so I can keep reading. This book involves itself with the area in and around Natchez from 1964 (more or less) to the present (more or less) and concerns itself with the racial tensions of the time. The nature of that period’s legal system, and all of the characters you can imagine mingle in that volatile stew. Mr. Iles plays with time but his “time exposures” do not reveal all and his shifting from sub-plot to sub-plot is designed to keep the tension high and your attention from wandering. It was certainly successful with me. And this is the first of a trilogy. Give me strength.

BURNING THE PAGE by Jason Merkoski
This book follows the development of the eBook from the view of one of its inventors.  It is one of the first books I have seen on this subject & the perspective is unique and fascinating.  It was an easy read not bogged down with jargon.  For information about how eBooks came about and for insight on their future and the future of publishing in general, I would recommend this book.

THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND by Elizabeth George Speare
I love reading about life in the past and this one takes place in 1687. Life for women was not very pleasant unless you were born into or married into wealth. This story is about a young lady born into a wonderful life in Barbados then sent to America to live with a family she had never met. Adjusting to the Puritan lifestyle wan’t easy and she struggled to adjust. I really enjoyed the way the story turns out and have decided that had I grown up in those times I would be like Hannah Tupper, the local widowed “witch.” A good short and entertaining read!