Reviews

S

ome books are easy to read and some end up on a stack. Many books should be read over and over and the stories shared. My own work has been reviewed, but should I post about them here?

No this page is for I have read, and I’ll not write a review for most of what I read.
View my goodreads reviews.


William Faulkner’s Light in August is the tragic story of life in the mid-south during the early twentieth century, but probably would not be published today. It is a good story but the use of our time’s rightfully forbidden racial terminology would turn off an agent, publisher, or many readers far before the story of pregnant and unwed Lena Grove, the father of her child, the mixed race Joe Christmas, and the supporting characters could be told.

I agree with what another reviewer said, “Dogged by guilt, shame, and humiliation, they strive—some ceaselessly, others successfully, and still others for naught—for forgiveness, salvation, and a place to call their own.”

Faulkner’s writing style is, well, it is Faulkner’s style. Most of our English teachers would mark up the long run-on sentences and the dropping of apostrophes in contractions, un-paragraphed switch of speakers, etc. Another technique he uses (at least in this book) is to introduce a situation and then back up to what caused the event. That style is little distracting to me but he did get the Nobel Prize for literature and most writers never get close to that level of recognition.

I started to read The Sound and the Fury, but quit after reading the first chapter. His stories just reflect the times of where and when his characters lived. His childhood and other exposures gave him the background to be accurate. I understand the historical significance and his ability to say how it was, but I quickly grew tired of reading the language in Faulkner’s works.

Sometimes accuracy is repugnant.


Frozen ReactionFrozen Reaction by Spencer Jacobson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! Frozen Reaction by Spencer Jacobson starts fast and never slows down. Near the beginning, a secondary character named Johnson said, “… this is beyond bizarre.” His observation, intended for the story or not, continues throughout. Almost expecting a Ukrainian connection, I kept looking for the next twist and nearly every chapter brought out a new one.
Specific locations will have meaning only to those of us who lived or spent considerable time in Alexandria, Minnesota: “As Tommy prepared to turn left off of 3rd Avenue and onto Broadway towards the hospital…” and “We are at the intersection of 6th and Broadway…” Then there was “… into the woods on the northern end of Lake Carlos.” And, “Noonan’s park. Yellow house.”
If you enjoy reading about intertwined conspiracy with social and political ramifications, local and international participants, coordinated and random violence, graphic descriptions, character confirming use of language, and urban war in and near a small Minnesota town Frozen Reaction is a good read. However, without most of those elements, the story could go flat for what it appears to be Jacobson’s intended audience.
As did many lives, the story ends. But reading between the lines, it may be set up to continue, but perhaps in a more realistic setting and with one more person who could become no more honorable than the rest.


Jonathan Haidt wrote The righteous mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion like a college professor – oh he is one.
Many years ago, I learned that a presenter should tell what’s going to be told – tell – tell what was told. Haidt does just that in the format of his book.
Having said that, the book is a great presentation of his studies of human behavior based on what different people perceive is right or wrong and related to where and how they were raised. His arguments are backed by extensive research, but my experience with research is the researcher will quite often find the results sought.
I will not say I agree or disagree with each of his premises, however I cannot doubt the quality of his presentation of them.


J

ames R. Hannibal is a good writer, but Gryphon Heist just was not my cup of tea. Thus the 4-star rating is on the writing, not the story.
I tried to read it in short bursts, but couldn’t get back to what I’d already read, so I started over and read it all in a two-day period. Talia Inger and her foster sister seemed real and the rest of the characters nearly plausible. When ‘thiefs’ were selected for the mission, I thought of a movie The Dirty Dozen and couldn’t get the thought of misfits doing a critical job out of my mind. Then they each had a set of nearly super-powers which made the like a video game with too many opportunities to get new weapons, etc., I lost interest, but continued with prejudice. My experience with CIA people is that they are just people doing a job, not super-heroes saving the world with just in time moves.


Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

W

hat an imagination Writer Roger Hobbs had.
But could there be such a man as Ghostman? What do most of us really know about the underworld? Author Hobbs keeps the reader (at least me) looking for the next shoe (phone) to drop. And just like in good guy stories the ghostman, whomever he is at any one time, Delton is superior at most things, at most times, but he does have serious flaws. Except for his being on the other side of the law and polite society, the ghostman reminds me of characters from Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler books in the 1930s and 40s.
In my novel Nescient Decoy, Jason Finn, a young CIA agent, receives instructions then destroys cell phones just as Jack Delton, a criminal, does as the ghostman. So, if one of the good guys does this, one of the bad guys can also.


John Morris Benson review of Young Whit and the Traitor's TreasureYoung Whit and the Traitor’s Treasure by Phil Lollar and Dave Arnold.

Who would believe the Hardy Boys were real? Who would believe the same about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer? How many young people fantasized living in those days and knowing them?

My granddaughter said, “As a kid I always thought it would be cool to be on Adventures in Odyssey.” From listening to those tapes and radio shows, she knows many of the characters including John Avery Whittaker (Whit) nearly as well as she does her own family members. But what does she know about young Whit? The answers about young Whittaker are coming into focus with the first in a series about him as a young person.

Focus on the Family’s Young Whit & the Traitor’s Treasure by Phil Lollar and Dave Arnold tells a ‘can’t go to sleep until I’ve finished it’ story.

Nine-year-old Whit and his family move to North Carolina for his father, Professor Whittaker, to work at Duke University in the mid-1930s. A new friendship is formed with a neighbor girl, then the new boy in school commits an unintentional faux-pas on a school assignment. The intelligent and daring Christian boy enlists his new neighbor to help solve a family mystery and break some small-town traditions based on facts hidden away to protect another family’s image.

The book is written for young readers, but the story held this octogenarian’s interest to the very end. And I believe it is a must read for any ten-year-old.


John R Bruning’s Indestructible, a biography of Paul Irving (Pappy) Gunn, reads like a novel. However, one could not make up Gunn’s accomplishments during the battle for New Guinea and the Philippines during WWII. Gunn not only did battle with the Pacific enemy, but he had continuing conflict with antiquated military regulations and protocol.

And, Indestructible is as much of a love story of the times as Bill Lascher’s Eve of a Hundred Midnights.
PI’s wife from before their marriage was a devout Catholic and he wasn’t necessarily agnostic but didn’t share her devotion to God and church. The one thing they did share without deviation was their love for and devotion to each other. Polly and their children, separated from him by war on Christmas Eve, 1941, survived incredibly difficult conditions as prisoners of the Japanese.

As if good fiction with a happy ending, Gunn and his family are rejoined when MacArthur’s “I shall return,” was in progress. In real life, just as in fictional irony, Gunn survived the worst and most intense air combat, but died in a weather caused civilian air crash.

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