Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January book review by Ted

Have you ever wondered what a person in his 70's does when the weather is not good enough or "arther" is hurting joints that you did not know you had? Well, we had quiet holidays and I actually spent more time reading than playing computer games on Pogo. So I have 4 books that I read---actually 5, I'll use the 5th for next month.
I am a writer's best friend.....I actually buy books! Thank goodness there are book clubs, it saves me a lot of money. I always have a stack of them around that I have yet to read. I also have recently discovered a used book store that sells and then buys back older books. Fixed incomes in retirement are not fun.
I've been talking in this blog about different types of readers, tailoring stories to a focus group, and I want to add another this time. Using catchy gimmicks to catch the readers attention and enhance the story. Well, I want to mention one of those. I bought a book called "Santa Clawed" by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown.
Our youngest granddaughter has a 6 month-old kitten and since she ( not the cat) was spending several days with us, I thought it might be a good book for her---she really does not like to read. I read it first-- The story is a mystery, in addition to the people, there are a pair of cats who talk ( to each other ) . So now meet a person who does not like cats. That is OK, because they don't like me either. Now how do I write a book review about this book? It is well written, well constructed, definitely not for a 9 year-old. If you like cats, it is a good useful gimmick......but for a non-cat-lover, I would not buy another. A bad book? No! A bad reader? No, just a case of the focus group did not include the possibility of a person not liking cats.

Ever read anything by William Peter Blatty? NO?!! While neither had I, in fact I do not remember hearing his name before. Yet his work is well known. He is the author of " The Exorcist".
"DIMITER" is an excellent mystery---it catches and holds your attention. It begins with a strange story and then moves forward...you wonder what the connection is. Just about when you think you have it figured out, there comes a new twist...I'll leave you with the problem of trying to figure out what a body was doing in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, lying on the slab of rock in the tomb where Jesus was laid. Love a good mystery??? This is one.

Do you like Country Music? I don't mean Taylor Swift, I'm talking about the country of the 70', 80's,90's. " Nickel Dreams" was written in 1997---found in another pile of books that I had not read!
If you like biographies, want to know about how stars begin, become superstars and come close to becoming a Super Nova, then "Nickel Dreams" by Tanya Tucker ( Yes, the "Delta Dawn" singer) tells it all from her early beginnings to the time of the publishing of the book. Child star, the Lindsey Lohan of her day, battered woman, single mother of two children, Tanya tells the whole story. I made it to about the first 10 pages and came across the name of one of the people she looked up to, a personal friend of mine, Johnny Western---singer and writer of " The Ballad of Paladin" for the "Have Gun, Will Travel" TV series. I was hooked. The book is not great literature--- she tells it with the aid of Patsi Bale Cox--authors, another way to make money as a writer. Great literature? No, not supposed to be. It tells the story and holds your interest......What else is it supposed to do?

Now for the fourth and best book , I am highly recommending "The Wolves of Andover" by Kathleen Kent. I almost said the best book I read in 2010, but I am not sure that is true. Kathleen wrote " The Heretic's Daughter" which I also read last year. She is a newer author- these are her first 2 works ( published anyway). They both deal with the Carrier Family legends of which she is the 10th generation.
The time frame is the 1600's in the area of Salem. Now, if you remember your history, this is the time of the Puritans, Salem Witch Trials, the Restoration of the Monarchy in England. I'd highly recommend you read "The Heretic's Daughter" first, though it is not a requirement.
"The Wolves of Andover" shifts back and forth between the Salem/Boston area and the streets/palaces/dives/brothels of London. She accomplishes this by alternating the places between the chapters...first in Salem, next in London, and so on until the action is all in the new world until the end when the salt barrel is opened in London.
Characters did actually live---most anyway. Their adventures, lives, loves are all part of the story. Is it all fact? Of course not--it's a novel not a history book, but it is well told and one of ( or two) those books that is "Hard to put down" once you begin it. This is one of those books written by a woman that will make an interesting read for males readers also.
Kathleen also has her own website: www.KathleenKent.com Check her out---she reminds me a lot of Nancy.


Marilyn Brant said...

Just read this over on Nancy's Facebook page! Ted, thanks for another great set of reviews -- I really enjoyed reading them ;). p.s. And I definitely remember Tanya Tucker from the '70s! Will have to check out her memoir...

Anita said...

Great recommends! Thanks for sharing!