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 time. Just ask us!
Note: if you are wondering why we don’t compile lists of new books anymore, it’s because now you can get to that information from the Library’s Online Catalog. Look for the “New at Yavapai Libraries” box and click on the link of your choice to see the new titles that have been added for the month.
BLOOD ACES: the wild ride of Benny Binion, the Texas gangster who created Vegas poker by Doug J. Swanson
I like poker. I like draw and stud poker. I am a terrible poker player. I can’t stand Texas Hold-em. Having that confession out of the way let me say that this book is a straight flush. Billed as the wild ride of Benny Binion, the Texas gangster who created Vegas poker, this biography hits the jackpot. It is the Horatio Alger story of a dirt poor Texas boy who made it big by dishing out beatings and murder to build himself a gambling empire or two all the while counting governors and other high ranking politicians and upstanding citizens as his dear friends and vice versa. The book is written in a casual style with a fair amount of humor.
“THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN SHOT” the assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L Swanson (Playaway MP3 Audiobook)
Unbelievable! Well presented. It felt like you were there when it actually happened. I felt that he presented it in an unbiased fashion. He also presented information that I had no knowledge of.
THE GIVER by Lois Lowry
I was expecting more. What I got wasn’t bad but I think I’m a little long in the tooth for this one. The concept that to get your own memories and own your own life comes at a high cost is not new. I don’t wish to minimize the importance of becoming aware of this concept. As Sammy sang, “I gotta be me.” And that’s a good thing. There is also a certain amount of pain involved. So for those of you who are of an age to begin the task of discovering who you are, this is a terrific book. You can never be too young or, I suppose, too old for this. And good luck to all of us.
GLORIOUS by Jeff Guinn
I don’t dislike Westerns, I just rarely read them and, while I find them mildly entertaining, I rarely get very excited about them. This book is big exception to that rule. It is fairly lengthy, unlike many books in this genre, and has a intricate plot line and extensive character development. Those of us of a certain age have seen this movie but this is a more updated version. Think “Unforgiven” as opposed to “The Good, Bad and the Ugly.” The tale is about a man drifting into a nothing kind of town in the wilds of Arizona Territory. He has a past, everyone has a past and because of the greed of a local rancher none of them might have a future. Throw in a three sided romance and rumors of wild Apaches in the hills and the possibility of a major silver discovery and you’ve got yourself a genuine, shoot-em up oat-burner.
THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDAR by Leslye Walton
I chose this story because I have never read a book quite like this one. Ava was born into a family that has relationship issues, and if that isn’t hard enough to cope with, Ava was born with wings! A very interesting story of the Lavender family and Ava’s growing up! She struggles with adolescence and finding her place in the world, as her mother struggles with her own issues and memories. In summary, I am thinking this is a fantasy book with a few good twists and turns!
THE SON by Jo Nesbo
The author of the Harry Hole series of mystery thrillers, has written a standalone book. A really good book. If you have read some of the Harry books you will know a little when I say this is Harry on steroids. Good set up of the major problem that needs resolution, crazy buildup of tension, and an ending that will have you talking to yourself. It did me, at any rate. If you read Nesbo, get this one now! if you don’t read Nesbo, start.
WAYFARING STRANGER by James Lee burke
This book takes Burke away from his beloved Louisiana swamps, but not too far. The tale of two WW II veterans and friends starts with a chance meeting with Bonnie and Clyde, moves to The Battle of the Bulge, and ends up in Texas after the war. The pair discovers a radical new way to weld steel and become major players in the oil business. Much anti-Semitism and intrigue follows. Remember the Bonnie and Clyde connection because you will need it at the end.
CLAPTON: the autobiography by Eric Clapton
In a way, this is another celebrity tale – all of the misdeeds, excesses, name dropping and eventual return to grace. It is all of that but this tale meant a bit more to me because I am a big Clapton fan from Cream to this day. I believe that this book was written more for the benefit of Eric Clapton than for you and me. It is part of his recovery. He has worked very hard in the past couple of decades to not be that guy anymore. When his son, Connor, went out the window many of his sins were paid for. His good works are many and his fans are legion.
THE DEAD AND THOSE ABOUT TO DIE: D-Day the Big Red One at Omaha Beach by John C. McManus
There are only two kinds of people on this beach: the dead and those about to die. The beach was Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 and the words were spoken by an officer of the 1st Infantry Division, The Big Red One. This book is a look at the activities of this division during the first 24 hours of the Normandy invasion. The 1st has been overshadowed in historical coverage according to the author and this is his attempt to help balance things out. His depiction of the awfulness of that day is superb. For history fans or fans of the bravery humans can exhibit. This is almost the only way we can learn of these events because most of the people who were there are very old and some of them are still very young.
TIBETAN PEACH PIE by Tom Robbins
A friend of mine, upon hearing of the death of Kurt Vonnegut, went back and re-read all of his works. Tom Robbins, thankfully, is not dead but after reading HIS memoir, sort of autobiography I want to go digging into the dusty corners of my library, get my copy of “Another Roadside Attraction” and read all of Tom’s books again. I was just back from Viet Nam and out of the Marine Corps and I wanted to switch to the Peace, Love, Hope and Dope Party. I was prime soil for the seeds of fancy that Mr. Robbins was sowing in those turbulent times. As I quietly nibbled at the crust of the respectability pie, Tom was a great escape from 15 second sound bites, and supposedly bright people saying and writing “busted” when they are describing something that is broken. I am an English Major – and I apologize to taxpayers everywhere who paid for it via the G.I. Bill – so I am one of those people who insist that words have meaning; they also have color, tempo, quivering rifts from the base section. They are hippopotamuses in tutus. They are albino cobras lying in wait for the next poodle. They are things you learned at your Mother’s knee. They are what you need them or want them to be, and ain’t they fun? For those of you blessed with keen perception and the ability to recognize foreshadowing when you see it, I am about to say what you already know. Read this book. Then get your copy, dog eared or brand new, of “Another Roadside Attraction” or “Even Cowgirls get the Blues,” take some deep breaths, and let ol’ Tom take you for a ride.
LAST WORDS by George Carlin with Tony Hendra
The Hippy Dippy Weatherman is dead and the world is a much less vibrant place. I realize many people think only of the 7 words you can’t say on TV and dismiss George Carlin as a potty mouthed sort of comic. That is hard to deny but if you are a fan of language – the idea that words have meaning – you can’t help but love his observations of how we misuse and otherwise abuse our native tongue. Carlin was guilty of many mistakes in his life and he owned up to all of them and used them as humorous moral stories. This book is his story in his words and might make you go look through all of that dusty vinyl you’ve been hauling around and find one of his comedy albums or find somewhere you can get one of his HBO concerts. Or transport yourself back to NAU in the early 70’s when he was the opening act for Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids.
UP COUNTRY by Nelson DeMille
Every now and again I find myself reading a book by an author who has a sizable body of work and I wonder how I managed to not read this person before. Here’s another. This book was suggested to me by a friend and I was drawn to it initially because there is a strong Viet Nam war element to it. Well there was all of that and a terrific story line to boot. The story is about revealing the facts of a murder that happened during the Tet Offensive in 1968. One US Army officer murdering another. How this came to be a big deal 30 years after the fact and who is doing what to whom come together to keep the reader turning pages as fast as you can. Is there a surprising ending? Why would I bother with this if there weren’t? A word of advice: do not get the large print version unless you love 25 lb. books.
FOURTH OF JULY CREEK by Smith Henderson
The jacket notes for this book are, of course, laudatory and full of high praise. I recognized none of the names. They may have been pseudonyms. They certainly did not reflect my feelings about the book. Not that my perception of the book is any more valid than the next person’s, but I like mine more. The book is kind of about an anarchistic child welfare worker in Wyoming whose clients are the children of seemingly murderous end of timers. He is also looking for a young girl who is the product of a loveless, dysfunctional back ground. She is a runaway learning what she must do to survive on her own. She is his daughter. The style of this book is rather frenetic, the characters are hard to like or empathize with, and it’s hard to see where it is all going. And when I got to the end I wondered why I made the trip. Other than that, it’s OK.
THE ZEALOT by Simon Scarrow
It’s a Western where the hero wears a skirt; where slingin’ iron means throwing a spear and decimate really means to kill 1 out of every 10 people. That’s right, our heroes are Roman Centurions. In spite of giving our heroes very humane, civilizing traits that strain credibility somewhat, the author creates a pretty believable environment and entertaining characters. Our good guys are a pair of Legionaries who have a long history together and come close to finishing each other’s sentences. There are a number of books in this series and I may have to check out some of the others. If you like the idea of westerns but don’t like gunfire and cow crap, this series might be for you.
THE SKIN COLLECTOR by Jeffery Deaver
Lincoln Rhyme is rolling in on another convoluted mystery. I you are a Rhyme devote then I don’t need to tell you much. I will tell you that there is a little more on the surprise plate than usual in this book. If you are unfamiliar with the works of Deaver and his characters that work with the wheelchair-bound Rhyme, you could do worse than check a couple out.