Has anyone "out there" seen the movie, "Moneyball", with Brad Pitt and Phillip Seymour Hoffman? It's the true story of a Gen. Mgr. of a major-league Baseball team, the Oakland Raiders, two years ago with their mgr., Buddy Beane, decided to try something radically different to win the National League pennant as the best team in Baseball. So, he talks to a "nerd", well played by, I think, an actor named Jason or Jonah Hall, who has this theory of ignoring the usual rules in building a winning team and go strictly by mathematical percentages of the individual players--regardless of injuries, runs batted in, how much he drinks, or age--just the math, dude. So, he decides to go with "Peter", the nerd, and back his statistics and pick his team that way and the first time--year--he tries this is just after the A's have lost to the Yankees by one game and 3 of their players are going to become part of the Yankees team. Great story and Mr. Pitt is believable as the G.M. and, as I said, this is a true story and Pitt is featured on the cover of the new Sports Illus. with the headline, ""The New Moneyball" and go see it--trust me on this. The date is Sept. 26 of the magazine, and the lines underneath the title page says, "Intellectual firepower is mandatory, but no guarantee of success now that the game's financial giants have cracked the code." Still, a fascinating story and the article goes onto tell about the Boston Red Sox blazing success also.
Okay, enough about movies and back to books. As I've often said, while I certainly enjoy many Non-Fiction titles, the Fiction ones sort of win the race, perhaps for the same reason that I like movies--escape from my immediate environs or schedule or "gotta-dos", so opening a box of Fiction titles to review is like opening a box for Christmas! Yes, I know I have suggested to my director many of the titles we get in, in Adult fiction, but I certainly can't remember even half of them, so they all seem new. It's always been a source of secret amusement to me that the initials of my daughter, when born, was BLY for Bonnie Luise Yoxall and that always reminded me of the newspaperwoman, Nellie Bly. Well, it was amusing to me.
So, now, there's a novel with the intrepid Nellie Bly as a traveler and detective as well as newspaper investigative writer for Joseph Putlizer's New York newspaper, in 1899, and she's taken on a challenge from the writer, Jules Verne, " who challenges her to beat the 80 days it took his fictional hero to race around the world" in the book, "The Illusion of Murder", by Carol McCleary.Â The thing that stands out to me, as a traveler, is she traveled with only one small--quite small--valise with a single change of clothes!Â A single change of clothes to last 72 days?Â Please! Even with diamonds to "dress outfits up", it's ridiculous.Â I couldn't go to Wichita for two days without several changes of clothes--and shoes--two jackets--a large and small purse--my 18 vitamins each day--and 4 books!
To continue--Her official account of "Around the World in 72 Days" omits one important fact--"a mysterious death in Port Said, where Nellie witnesses a heinous crime that makes her a target for a killer and drags her into a web of intrigue with the fate of the nations at stake." On the ships that take her around the world "are the most famous magicians in the world--but a murderer also stalks the decks." She's a spunky lady who, against the advice of older, wiser heads takes on the challenge, and I love where, after stealing a key to be able to search a cabin on the ship, asks herself, "Why in God's name would I put myself in harm's way again? The real question is why I have these moments of remorse only after I have done something completely insane?" Everyone in the country gets caught up in it and a man from Topeka, Ks. tells her she could be elected Governor if she wanted to run! She was very popular and a spunky, get-it-done kind of gal. You'll enjoy this, I know.
The following title has rec'd rave notices, i.e. "Light from a Distant Star and it stands as an incredibly moving and powerful novel from one of America's finest writers"--the author is Mary Morris and has been nominated for a Pen/Faulkner and--and--National Book Award and several other honors, and I, personally, was curious to learn more about "Light From a Distant Star."
A gangly, awkward, full of questions but keenly observant Nellie Peck "is on the cusp of adolescence and the person she most admires is her father, Benjamin, a man of great integrity."Â His hardware business is failing, her mother has had to go back to work, her older half-sister is determined to search for her birth father,and Nellie has to spend long, hot days with her younger brother, Henry, "whom she is determined to toughen up--herself as well."
To add to the mix, three strangers are around to bring laughter, worry, fright and the need to make decisions that not only affect nellie but also her family. "Brooding Max Devaney is an ex-con who works in her surly grandfather's junkyard, reckless Bucky Saltonstall has just arrived from New York to live with his elderly grandparents, and pretty Dolly Bedelia is a young stripper who rents the Peck's family small, rear apartment." (There's gonna be trouble in River City, friends--I guarantee it!) And guess who constantly eavesdrops on Dolly? Miss Nelly--and you can readily understand a young girl's curiosity and with the small apt. having thin walls--yep!
Violence comes forth "and the prime suspect is obvious to everyone--and only Nellie knows the truth--and she is silenced by fear and, for her family, the threat of scandal'. Facing a courtroom, she not only doubts what she knows but is sure that nobody will listen to her. She asks, of her dad, as he's dropping her off for school and she's telling him who she thinks is guilty and he's not believing her--doesn't want to--she says, as he's urging her to get out of the car and go into school--"But, Dad, wait!.Wait! You always say you'll help, all I have to do is ask, so what if Max didn't do it, and it really was (I leave this name out, intentionally, so as not to give out secrets!) and I'm the only one who knows it, what should I do?" And her father replies, "You shouldn't ruin a good man's life, damn it, Nellie, that's what you shouldn't do", he said so bitterly that she was stung, shocked into silence. But which man did he mean?" An excellent story, characters well drawn, and you will stay up past your bedtime reading it.
Harry Dolan hooked me for a loyal reader in his first book, "Bad Things Happen", and you know how I know that? I don't want to finish the book! No, seriously--I undoubtedly will but that means a book that I have enjoyed is over--gone--so, you can imagine my delight at finding he's written "Very Bad Men". The editor of a mystery magazine, Gray Streets, is David Loogan, from the previous book, and he's now living in Ann Arbor, married with his wife's daughter. There's also, at the same period of time, a man, Anthony Lark, has drawn up a list of names, "and to his eyes, the names glow red on the page--they move." Anthony Lark is hunting them--and he intends to keep going until they are all dead--deceased--erased. You see, 17 years previously, they all were involved in a crime that got a lot of press and notoriety--the robbery of the Great Lakes Bank.
The names are Terry Dawtrey, Sutton Bell, and Henry Kormoran; one day, when he comes to work on the magazine, Loogan finds an envelope under his door--"begins with a deadly manuscript inside entitled "I Killed Henry Kormoran". It's inevitable that David and Elizabeth are drawn into Lark's world as it becomes necessary to uncover Lark's motives and David befriends a tabloid reporter with her own theory as to what happened--and will happen in the future. Her possible theory involves, as it so often can, very powerful people who have a vested interest in there not being a solution which may entrap them. So, does David Loogan believe the possible dangers that Lucy Navarro "puts on the table" to consider? David believes her when she turns up missing. I have not read Mr. Dolan's new book---I'm saving it---and will be anticipating reading it a.s.a.p. You, dear Poppets, on the other hand can go check it out soon or get on a waiting list.
Let me re-review a book that I so genuinely liked and the author lives here, in Kerrville, Tx. and Leslie Williams is not only a funny, warm person to know and have "a cuppa" with but she's written a really intriguing book, "The Judas Conspiracy" and her characters bring this well-researched story to life. The name, "Judas", immediately alerts the reader to the possible intrigue and mystery involved, all of us knowing of the Dan Brown books and others, all touched with mystery and speculation. Okay, let's look at the first sentence on the back cover, concerning the plot--"The discovery of a complete manuscript of the Gospel of Judas in a New Haven basement threatens to uncover a secret religious sect that has been growing underground for two millennia--a brotherhood active, dangerous, and determined to remain a secret."
There is a detective involved, Isabella O"Leary, who teams with scholar Paul St. Clair and the wonderful Washington Cathedral is almost a character in its own right, with a second murder being committed there. One of the murders the two are investigating is a top international specialist in the Sethian Gnostic Brotherhood, and, as Isabella says, "I think we're up against something big and dangerous--they wanted that manuscript and they got it, Dr. Barnes silenced and they got it. The Sethian Brotherhood is used to getting what they want. Whatever their theology is, they've convinced themselves that the end justifies the means." From what can be gathered of human nature and bad purposes, that would apply to a significant percentage of people, unfortunately, but what distresses me, personally, is when it involves people's trust and belief in religious organizations who are slyly discrediting God and His teachings.
To go on, "apparently, the Sethians had been a well-known Gnostic sect before the birth of Christ and incorporating the new Christian religion into their beliefs, they Sethians believed that Jesus was the reincarnation of Seth." Then, Sethians Gnosticism seemed to die out but "pockets of believers" kept it alive and a main goal seemed to be to do whatever was necessary to, in a word, bring down Christianity as its thought of now. How far would they go? Actual killing of those who stood in their way? Slander? The dangers mounts and spread out from targets of scholars in U.S. and England to "a much larger plans of destruction." I like a story to move smoothly, be believable, have main characters you want to see evolving (and keep me reading)and Ms. Williams does it well. Do the Sethians bring about a catastrophic event? Do Paul ST. Clair and Isabella remain together? I want people to read the book and find out for themselves.You'll thank me!
The title, "Bad Intentions", by Karin Fossum is a new one to me, in the mystery field, continuing the Insp. Konrad Sejer series, and this time the detective must face down his memories and fears as he investigates the deaths of two "troubled young men." So, my first foray into the novel is the one I do in every book I review--I start flipping through to read enough "bits" of the story to try to understand, first, the plot and second, how easily does it move and are both plot and people believable? This detective investigates the deaths of two troubled young men. The first victim, Joe Moreno, drowns in Dead Water Lake, and Insp. Sejer hesitates to call it a suicide. The second young victim is a Vietnamese immigrant--"and the beat goes on." Sejer beings to feel "his age weigh on him" and wonders if he has the drive and stamina "to pursue the elusive explanations for human evil"?
So, it's now the next morning, Poppets, and I continued last night working in and around my two evening TV shows, to read "bits and pieces" of this book and when I began absentmindedly scratching a mosquito bite and wondering where the pretzels were and yawning--it was evening, after all--it occurred to me that I wasn't being "held" by the story, its characters, or waiting with bated breath for the ending. So, if you wish to read it, fine--go check it out--but there are other murder mysteries that are written better; i.e. anything by Ariana Franklin, "Mistress of the Art of Death'. Gracious me but she's good! Her newest, that I'm enthralled with, is "A Murderous Procession".
Okay, dear readers, I'm wishing you all a pleasant Fall, a good week ahead, and keep walking, only one dessert a week not a day, look ahead and make your holidays as easy as you can and eliminate stressful people and events from your life--who needs them? Bye!