Monday, March 31, 2014

Done: "Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane" by Kelly Harms

Done: The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms, 2013, 9781250011381.

Committee book.  Chick book.  Feel good book.  Cooking book.  Romance book.  Humorous bits book.  I enjoyed it.

Janine Brown #1's great aunt Midge enters her in to a house sweepstakes.  Janine #1 is a self-imposed shut-in.  Janine has developed severe stranger anxiety and can barely speak to people.  She breaks out in hives when around new people.  She has been this way since her fiance Ned died.  88-year-old Midge puts her house on the market (was it Cedar Falls or somewhere else in Iowa?), they pack up their belongings and drive to the new home in Maine.

Janine Brown #2 entered the sweepstakes on her own and is so damn sure to win she cracks her violent, deadbeat boyfriend over the head with a coffee mug to stop him from yanking her hair and interfering with the live television announcement.  Janine #2 drives boyfriend's car to the bus stations and starts over to Maine.

Well, Janine #1 is the rightful winner.  Janine #2 heard her name on TV and drove right off.  Janine #2 can be impulsive.  Janine #1 and #2 meet.  #2, called Nean, is upset she is so damn wrong.  Nean starts staying in the huge seaside house after Aunt Midge takes pity on penniless Nean and Nean tells tall tale of being wanted by the cops.

Things happen.  Janine is in her early thirties and after Ned's death has spent several years shutting herself in her small apartment and constantly cooking new and obscure dishes.  Janine eats her dinner and throws the rest out.  Janine loves the massive new kitchen and the many and varied appliances.

Nean loves living in a real house and not having to depend on a convenient boyfriend to have a roof over her head.  Nean is a former foster kid with no money and has class issues.  She starts learning to bake.  Nean and Janine start to talk.  Janine begins coming out of her shell and Nean starts to relax.

Things happen.  Nean is hot for the gardner.  Janine is hot for guy who grows produce for the local shelter.  Midge is hot for everyone.  Not a lot of conflict.  Romantic tension and worry.  Many cooking scenes.  Wine.  One dead great aunt. One of those fancy-schamncy endless pools that generate a current you can swim against.  Everyone lives happily ever after.

1.  I wish I had one of those fancy-schmancy pools.  I remember when I first read about those several years ago.  Even if I had the money I'd no place to fit it though.  I think the overall height made it too big for basement.  I'd be stroking my arms up out of the water and hitting the floor struts above me.  Never mind the splashing.  Stupid house.
2.  Not much made of Maine except for some seafood and lobster.
3.  Humor. 
4.  Some sex.
5.  Foolish overreactions driven by pride and fear.
6.  The talk about baking bread did motivate me to try out our breadmaker.  Something I'd been intending to do and never got to until yesterday.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Heard: "The Bomb" by Steve Sheinkin

Heard: The Bomb: the race to build - and steal - the world's most dangerous weapon by Steve Sheinkin, 2012, from

Wife brought the print version home to Boy #1 and it looked interesting.  I was trolling for audiobooks, saw this, and took it. A Newbery Honor book in 2013.

A neat telling of building the first atomic bombs.  Especially interesting because Sheinkin folds in the Soviet espionage operation that stole most of the working designs by having two moles inside the Manhattan Project.  Sheinkin also covers the British commando raid on the heavy water plant in Telemark raid in Norway.

Neatly told.  Some comments I recall from listening.

1.  The Telemark raid was originally a British operation.  Norwegian resistance fighters were trained in England and dropped in the Norwegian mountains.  The scouted out a landing site and the plant in preparation for the English commandos.  The English flew in by glider and both gliders crashed.  The soldiers who survived the crash landing were captured, tortured and murdered by the Gestapo.  With the commando operation scrubbed the Norwegians were tasked with the job and succeeded.
2.  Oppenheimer was a genius.  An absent minded professor.  He would focus on a physics problem and tune everything and everyone else out.
3.  Oppenheimer was anti-nuclear escalation after the war. Heck, he was anti-escalation after the first bomb went off.  His disclosure brought him grief and he was railroaded into losing his top secret clearance.
4.  The Soviets were amazingly effective in their spy operation.  maybe part of that was luck in finding a couple guys willing to spy.  But, the Manhattan Project was so freaking huge and with so many scientists that the odds were more in their favor.  The two spies were sympathetic not just because they were sorta-Commies but because they felt the Russians were getting screwed by the Allies while taking all the casualties.
5.  The effectiveness of the spy operation makes the 1950s Red Scare more understandable.  Talk about secret commies had been going on for decades but here were a couple guys who take top secret material and handed it over.
6.  I wonder what other secrets came out of the Soviet archives once the government fell apart.
7.  Sheinkin slightly covered the German efforts to build a nuke.
8.  Some stories about Paul Tibbets and the Enola Gay.  Eyewitness accounts of the two bombings.
9.  It's still amazing that WWII fire bombings killed more people than the nuke bombs did.
10. Civilians always get it in the neck.
11. Civilians always get it in the neck.
12. Civilians always get it in the neck.

Listened: "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" by Lemony Snicket.

Listened: Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket, 2012, download.

Kid Noir.  Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler for 11-year-olds.  Not necessary to read A Series of Unfortunate Events.

13-year-old Snicket escapes his current chaperones and joins the organization.  I assume the organization is VFD no one ever says the group's name.  He is assigned as a trainee with the 52nd best agent, S. Theodora Markson.  They head to Stain'd-by-the-Sea to work a case assigned to Theodora.  Theodora refuses to say what the "S" stands for.

Stain'd-by-the-Sea is a dying town.  It's covers the bottom of a drained sea and it's main industry is running down.  That industry is using massive syringes that are poked into watery pits where the syringes are used to suck out octopus ink.  Their client lives in mansion on the edge of town and claims a neighbor stole a rare and valuable statue from her home.

Snicket endures Theodora's stupidity and meets the client's neighbors.  One of the neighbor's is a girl Snicket's age who intends to be a journalist.  She shows Snicket the statue. The statue is in dust covered storage along with other local artifacts and has obviously been there for some time, it was not in the neighbor's library where the client said it was.

Snicket and Theodora run into the local cops.  Snicket and Theodora stay in the town's only hotel.  Snicket sees suspicious characters.  Snicket follows Theodora's instructions to burgle the neighbor and steal the statue back.  Snicket avoids the cops and meets another girl.

The new girl says she is looking for her kidnapped father.  The new girl steals the statue from Snicket.  Snicket is on the clock to recover the statue.  Snicket has to handle Theodora.  Snicket worries for his sister in the big city.  Snicket wonders why the 2nd girl conned him.  Snicket wants to know who the client really is.  Snicket has to keep out form under from the suspicious and brainless police duo.

I liked this.  The MacGuffin is not so important.  Snicket is trying to work around Theodora, trying to catch people spying on them, trying to resist his romantic impulses towards New Girl and her conning ways. 

1. Double crosses. 
2. Femme fatales. 
3.  Mysterious bad guy pulling the strings.
4.  Snicket is lost and not sure what to do. Everything is staring him in the face but he cannot see it until it is too late.
5.  The client is a fraud and liar.

Read: "The Last Whisper in the Dark" by Tom Piccirilli

Read: The Last Whisper in the Dark by Tom Piccirilli, 2013, 9780345529008.

I think this novel is better than it's predecessor, The Last Kind Words.  I cannot explain why.  I just think so.  The novel's plot is kind of a hot mess.  Just like Terrier's mind.

Terrier Rand is still with his family on Long Island.  Terrier is still in a mental mess.  He talks to himself without realizing it.  His memory seems to be going and he worries about Alzheimers (he's only about 25 years old).  He does not want to be a thief but is by nature and lineage.  He deeply pines for his ex-girlfriend and the fjords.  He is obsessive.  He is nosey.  He is worried.  He is anchored at home with his family but he is also restless and wandering.  He knows he is making crook mistakes that he shouldn't.  Anyway.

Terry's spree killer brother is dead and buried.  His teen sister is still acting in school productions.  His grandfather is hidden within his Alzheimer's shell.  His dad is restless, prowling at night, and seems to be showing Alzheimer's symptoms.  Terrier comes home one day to a man who looks exactly like Terry's dead Spree Killer Brother.  This is Terry's long-lost cousin from his mom's side of the family.  Mom was kicked out of the family 30 years ago when Mom married Dad.  Cousin John is a glad hander and looks like trouble to Terry.

Terry is shadowing his former best pal Chub's business.  Terry wants to convince Chub to stop lining up burglaries and robberies for other people because Terry does not want anything to happen to Kimmy, Terry's ex-love and Chub's wife, and Chub and Kimmy's daughter.

Terry takes up with a part-time hooker and starts to fall for her.  Terry is creeping his sister's room and looking through her phone.  Terry has boundary issues.

More things happen.  Terry's newly introduced grandfather wants him to burglar the granddad's motion picture company.  Cousin John wants to recruit Terry's sister as an actress.  Terry worries about where he buried his dead uncle in the backyard (last novel, don't worry about it).  Chub set-up a score that leaves three people dead and the local mob looking to kill the crew and Chub.  Terry wants to save Chub.  Terry wants to save his sister.  Terry wants to the hooker to be with him.  Terry wants to protect his father.  His mother.  His grandmother. His dog. His sanity.  Terry cannot see beyond his obsessions.

1.  Long Island love.
2.  '60s and '70s muscle car love.
3. Late nights and cracked ribs.
4.  Tough guy posturing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Read: "Let Him Go" by Larry Watson

Read: Let Him Go by Larry Watson, 2013, 9781571311023.

Someone I follow online listed this as one of the top five books she read in 2013.  The novel is pretty dang good but I cannot help but feel that as a non-writer I am missing out on things that Watson does.  Watson packs a lot into a short novel.

Short version: Grandparents in North Dakota drive to Montana to try and get their dead son's wife to move back to ND with their grandson, Jimmy.

Long version:  Grandmother in North Dakota is intent on either getting her former daughter-in-law to come back to North Dakota or let Jimmy, the grandson, live with the grandparents in North Dakota.  She is going no matter what and when her husband, George, comes home doing lunch the car is packed and the house shut down.  He can join her or stay.

Lorna their former daughter-in-law has married a shiftless guy.  Donnie Weboy is a ratty stepdad.  They up and left for Donnie's home state of Montana without a forwarding address.  Margaret and George drive to one town and ask around.  They end up in a second town, Gladstone,

The Weboy's do not have a good reputation.  M&G find a Weboy uncle and say they want to see Jimmy.  The uncle is a slick acting guy.  He's shiny veneer with rot underneath.  M&G visit the remote Weboy farmhouse and meet Blanche the matriarch.  Blanche is a spider.  A smile plastered on her face and what seems to be a streak of cruelty driving her actions.

M&G do not get along with the Weboys.  Tension covers the dinner table and a fight almost breaks out.  M&G meet Lorna in Gladstone during her lunch break and ask her to return with them.  Lorna is not a good mom.  Marilyn knows she'll just as soon give Jimmy up and go on her way.

Blanche and brood hear all about it, of course.  Blanche and brood force themselves into M&G's motel cabin.  Blanche makes her character and needs clear.  Uncle Veneer pulls a hatchet and Blanche's two other sons hold George down.  George can now wear factory second gloves.  The Weboys tell them to leave town.

George in the hospital for several days.  Blanche is the good frienid and former lover of the Sheriff.  The DA tells them to get out of town and he won't press charges on George. Margaret makes fast and good friends with a hospital nurse.  George gets out of hospital and they start to leave town.  Instead, George drives to the shack of a young Indian man they met a couple days ago.

Margaret awakes to George driving off.  George goes to the Weboy house.  George holds a gun on Donnie and he tells Lorna this is her last chance to leave.  Lorna takes the Weboy car.  George burns the house down.  George also dies.

Margaret tells Friend the Nurse that she knows Lorna will have her head turned soon enough and run off with the handsomest car she can get.  Margaret will be left to care for Jimmy but declares herself fit to the task.

1.  A sharp look at the long relationship and marriage between Margaret and George and how well they simultaneously get along and tolerate one another.  Margaret is driven and purposeful.  George is more laid back and accepting and willing to wait on things. The band together under the stress but the fractures are still there.
2.  Blanche came across as pretty evil.  To Blanche Jimmy is property and a tool to exert power.  She controls the Weboys and since Jimmy now lives at the Weboy ranch he is Weboy property.  At one point Blanche says to Margaret that if the tables were turned Margaret would act the same.  I don't see that.  Blanche may have developed an emotional attachment to Jimmy - a heavy emphasis on may - but Jimmy showed up with the new daughter-in-law only a month ago. Jimmy is a way to start a fight.
3.  The tension of the Weboys forcing their way into the hotel room made me stop reading.
4.  Watson is a writer with skill.  He puts a lot of emotion and character into 269 pages.  The book feels even shorter. Nothing rings dull in here.
5.  "Rings dull"?  What the hell does that mean?  Where did I get that from?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Completed: "The Repeat Year" by Andrea Lochen

Completed: The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen, 2013, 9780425263136.

Committee book.  Chick Book but I liked it anyway.  I think the book ran too long.  The novel is just shy of 400 pages.  I like time travel stuff, this kinda fits with one character going back to relive the previous calendar year.

Olive awakens on New Year's Day in some guy's bed.  Uh-oh.  Is this Alex, who she had a summer fling with?  Nope.  The guy in bed is Phil, her ex-boyfriend who completely cut her off last Spring.  Olive quickly dresses to leave but Phil is lovey-dovey and kind.  What the hell?

Phil drives Olive back to her place. Huh? I don't live here anymore.  Olive finds her old apartment still has her old rommate and pal.  All of Olive's stuff is there.  Her computer and phone say she is back in 2011.  Olive has some freaking out to do.  Olive goes to visit her mom for consolation.  Her mom is hosting a New Year's Day party.  Olive finds out from another party guest (I don't recall the characters name but maybe it was Sherri) that Olive is reliving her year.  The other guest had the same thing happen to her a few times already - and is doing it this year as well.

Why is she reliving the year?  To correct mistakes?  What mistakes?  Save people?  Somehow save herself?  Who the hell knows because there is no voice from God or the beyond.  Sherri does not know.  Heck, Sherri is a bit of an asshole and in the middle of her own hot messes.

Olive starts trying to redo what she thinks she may have done wrong.  Appreciate Phil.  Not boink Alex the doctor.  Finally start to heal her grief over her father's death.  Come to terms with her widowed mother's new marriage.  Re-learn how to deal with the stress and grief of being an ICU nurse.  Adjusting to being an adult and her seemingly shiftless best pal and roommate, Kerrigan.  Learning to let go and not worry.  Yadda yadda. So on.  So forth.

For me the weak points of this are the constant self-nagging and guesswork Olive gets into.  Understandablae and realistic behavior but I tired of it.  Mr. Perfect Phil got on my nerves.  Talk about overdoing the lovey-dovey bits.  Other characters would declare to Olive how perfect Phil was.  Yeah, yeah he's a manly man and oh-so sensitive and understanding.

1.  Gratuitous Madison geography.
2.  I dig time travel stuff.  I would like to find a novel where everyone goes back in time to relive a year.  But a novel where everyone would have traveled back.  Peole and know what awful things they may have done and so would their victims.  People who died during that time would be clueless.  Relationships would bust.  Tackles avoided.  Crimes stopped.
3.  Olive is stricken with guilt over what she did the first time around to destroy her relationship with Phil.  That incident, boinking the doctor, is revealed to Phil and he takes a powder.  But, it's a weird thing.  If Olive is reliving everything then that infidelity never actually happened.  It's like getting mad at someone for having a dream.
4. Lochen teaches at UW-Waukesha.  I think I went to a meeting there once.  The meeting was a bust.  Maybe that was the tech college I went to.
5.  I liked the book even with the length and mushy parts.  Lochen did some fine work.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Heard: "Echo Park" by Michael Connelly

Heard: Eco Park by Michael Connelly, 2006, Overdrive download

I've read or heard at least one or two other Bosch novels.  At least I think I have.  I really enjoy the Mickey Haller series but have not read the most recent from that line.  Spoilers await.

Bosch is un-retired from the LAPD and back at work with a cold case unit.  One of Bosch's obsessions - one of his many investigative obsessions - is the missing-presumed-dead case of a woman.  He had the case about 13 years ago and had zeroed in a likely suspect.

Bosch gets a call that a recently arrested serial killer is looking to make a deal and name his victims so the killer can avoid the death penalty.  The killer is naming Bosch's obsession.  Bosch joins the case.  An assistant DA is running the serial killer investigation and also running for office.  Bosch distrusts the DA.  Bosch distrusts the DA's main LAPD investigator.  DA investigator finds evidence Bosch may have screwed up in initial investigation 13 years ago.

Serial Killer says he'll take them to the buried body.  Field Trip!  Bosch, the DA, and others trek through one of the big LA parks.  Serial Killer grabs the DA investigator's pistol, kills two policemen, wounds another policewoman and gets away.  Uh-oh.

Things happen.  Bosch asks a would-be-girlfriend with the FBI for help.  Bosch is on leave after after the shooting since he shot back at Serial Killer.  Bosch is suspicious of DA and thinks DA set Bosch up with fake screw up evidence.  Bosch is told to stay at home.  Bosch digs instead in effort to find serial killer.

Bosch is impulsive.  Bosch is a liar.  Bosch considers himself a True Detective. Bosch alienates friends and colleagues. Bosch and FBI gal find Serial Killer.  Bosch kills Serial Killer.  Bosch accuses DA of setting up the whole event with Serial Killer to get Obsession Killer off the hook in return for DA campaign money.

Bosch is wrong.  Bosch abashed.  Confession by a bad cop.  Violent death.  Would-be-FBI-girlfriend tells Bosch to take a hike because he is reckless and she thinks he set-up violent death.

1. Bosch can be a real asshole.  Not a people person.  An obsessive workaholic.  If it is not a murder it is unimportant - his cases have all priority so fuck you.
2. One scene has FBI Woman and Bosch getting a juvenile offender file to track down serial killer.  They give outright lies to get the file by promising a warrant is coming and then, essentially, they steal the file by walking right out of the building.
3. Gratuitous jazz
4. Gratuitous public library
5. Gratuitous Sarah weiman and Duane Swierczynski.
6.  Bosch would certainly have b3een fired, outcast or killed by now with all the bullheaded things he pulls.  On the hunt for a serial killer who just murdered two police officers and seriously injured a third?  A killer who just kidnapped a woman off the streets?  And, Bosch strolls up to a possible hideout to search inside by just Bosch and FBI Woman?  He has no respect for his safety, his temporary partner/girlfriend's safety, the kidnapping victim's safety, the safety of his fellow officers who will have to keep chasing the bad guy after Bosch might fuck-up, safety of all the neighbors and people on the street if he instigates a gunfight.
7. I looked Echo Park up online.  Is the park renamed Elysium?  I cannot tell.  I saw the LAPD academy is in the park.  The academy looks tiny from the Google Maps map view.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Did: "My Life as a Silent Movie" by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Did: My Life as a Silent Movie, by Jesse Lee Kercheval, 2013, 9780253010247.

Short version:  Grieving widow goes on wild goose chase for biological family.
Long version:  Emma lost her husband and only child in a car wreck.  She has shut herself into her house.  No, she cannot be in her house, she spends her time in their home's empty basement apartment.

Emma's Aunt Z shows up and lets slip that Emma was adopted.  What?  Huh?  Really?  Emma's family lived in France when her father was in the Army.  One day her dad brought Emma home.  The family later moved to the U.S.  Emma tracks down their former French housekeeper/nanny in New York.  Emma travels there for information.

Nanny says her former roommate became pregnant and Emma's adoptive father took Emma in.  Who was the father? says Emma.  This guy, the famed silent movie actor Ivan Mousjakine.  Emma's dead husband was a silent film scholar and Emma studies to find Mousjakine died in 1939.  Nope, says Nanny, he was alive.  Here is an address to try out in Paris.  People in Paris don't move around much, maybe your bio mom is still there.

Emma travels to Paris.  Emma finds the house.  Neighbor says the guy living there runs a canal boat tour.  Emma goes to tour boat and sees a guy who likes just like her.  Emma has a brother.

More things happen.  Emma learns the sad past of her lousy biological parents and her brother, Ilya.  Their mom was a hardcore commie.  Mom rejected Mousjakine and kicked him out of his own apartment.  Mom took Ilya to Prague so she could be a loyal Party member.  Ilya later immigrated back to Paris and lived with Mousjakine.  Mom stayed in Prague to carry on the Revolution.  When Ilya was 13 Mousjakine traveled to Prague to see Mom and Mousjakine disappeared.  Ilya left on his own.

Emma sees a silent film scholar in Paris for more research on Mousjakine.  Amongst the scholars files is a letter she received from someone in Moscow saying Mousjakine is alive and a monk outside Moscow.  Impossible.  He'd be 112 years old.  Nah, says Ilya, he lied about his age, he'd be 102.  Emma.

More things happen and I will not recap them.  Emma quickly attaches onto Ilya.  She is swimming alone and he is a buoy. Emma abandons Indiana with nothing but a toothbrush and extra underwear in her purse.  She impulsively flies to Paris once she gets an address.  She moves into Ilya's apartment.  She gets possessive with Ilya.  Emma is not coping well.

Ilya is not coping well.  He lived on his own for a long time.  Emma - upon prompting - has the vaguest memories of Ilya.  Ilya remembers Emma.  Ilya missed her for years.  Ilya hates his parents.  Ilya was married to a doctor.  DoctorWife was a drug user and drug use induced a premature birth of their daughter.  DoctorWife skipped out and moved to Australia.  Premature daughter was brain damaged and lives in the care of a home run by nuns. 

Daughter dies during the story and Ilya calls his ex-wife in Australia (the nuns had the number).  Total cunt of a woman did not even know the girl was still alive.  Total-Cunt-of-a-Woman says,"Unusual" for someone like that to live so long. If that is not enough, Ilya thinks he has lung cancer again and has been self-medicating with morphine.

1.  206 pages.  A good book but not my bag. 
2.  Parisian geography love.
3.  Throw-it-away-and-start-over love.
4.  Gratuitous Parisian bakeries.
5.  Happy-but-bittersweet-ending love.  Especially with all the death, depression, and despair from the rest of the novel.

Done: "Jewelweed" by David Rhodes

Done: Jewelweed by David Rhodes, 2013, 9781571311009.

Committee book. 
Not my kind of book.  Not my cup of tea.  Not my bag.  Not my scene. But fairly decent and gives you characters that are worth pondering and remembering. Jewelweed seemed full of symbols and literary allusion.  I could not identify any.

A passel of characters in rural, southwest Wisconsin.  Rhodes writes about the Driftless area of WI (this guy has nice photos of the area) and I think this has characters from his last novel, Driftless.  I did not read Driftless so I don't really know.  The Driftless region is so-called because it missed the glacial drift.  The glaciers did not come through and scour everything down.  Driftless is filled with lots of hills and valleys.

Rhodes gives us a bunch of characters and gives those characters plenty to do:

  • Winnie Helm is pastor of a small church, her husband owns a mechanical repair business, her son, August, is a smart kid. 
  • August has a large vocabulary and a way of talking that can be mistaken as pompous. August has a wild bat that is part pet and likes to ride in August's shirt pocket.
  • Nate Bookchester is a recently released convict.  Winnie arranged Nate a job at her husband, Jacob's, repair shop.  At the end of the novel Dart refers to Nate as "dumb as a box of rocks".  He is also impulsive and quick to anger and take offense.  Nate spent a lot of time in prison for his impulsiveness and stupidity and believes prison is a scam by politicians and vendors.
  • Danielle "Dart" Workhouse is Nate's old girlfriend and suffered abuse under her father and stepfather that still adversely effects her behavior. Dart is very protective of Ivan.  Dart has trouble trusting anyone and kindness is suspect; love is fake.
  • Ivan Workhouse is Dart and Nate's son but neither Ivan or Nate know this. Ivan has had trouble at school and will repeat fifth grade.  Ivan and August are best pals.
  • Blake Bookchester is Nate's father.  Blake is a long-haul truck driver who loves food and has decided to pursue a romantic relationship with his cousin, Dee, who he has not seen in years.
  • Dee used to work with both Dart and Nate at a cement plant.
  • Amy and Buck Roebuck own a large construction company and hire Dart to their live-in housekeeper.  Amy did not have much of a childhood and likes to keep things in control.  Buck is a giant but a very kind and considerate man.
  • Kevin Roebuck is Amy and Buck's 17-year-old son with cystic fribrosis.  Kevin has been facing death for 17 years and can be very negative.
  • Wallace Roebuck is Buck's older father.  Wally records his dreams.  Wally carries a notebook of the things he will miss when he is dead.  He frequently writes those things down: the smell of pancakes, wet dogs, fog.
  • Florence is Amy Roebuck's 108-year-old grandmother.  She spends every day making rosaries.
  • Lester Mortal is a long-term combat veteran who lives as a hermit in an underground sod house.  Mortal is a PTSD survivor.
  • Wild Boy appears at the fringes of the forests and, supposedly, lives wild in the woods.
The novel focuses on some characters more than others.  Ivan and August take up most the book with Dart and Nate the other focus.

Small town relationships.  Small church dynamics.  Looking at poor decisions from the character's point of view.  The start and growth of new relationships among the many characters.  Philosophy of everyday life.

1.  Rhodes's writing life has an interesting history.  He was pegged as being a future "big deal" in literary circles but like a lot of authors that did not turn out.  Mainly because Rhodes had a motorcycle accident that left him partially paralyzed.  That accident kinda got him off track.  A few years ago Rhodes last agent looked him up and Rhodes had a book ready to go.  Drifted was published.  Drifted did well.  Jewelweed came out last year.
2.  Rhodes may not have been publishing but the guy's talent and skill did not languish.
3.  Motorcycle love.
4.  Outdoor love.
5.  Rural boneheads. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Heard: "The Tenth Planet" by Kit Pedler

Heard: The Tenth Planet by Kit Pedler, 2006 for audio version, 1966 for Limey TV broadcast, downloaded from Overdrive. 

Another audio track with partial narration from the original Dr. Who TV series.  This one was not that good.  The audio track had varying sound levels from different the actors and the narration was the loudest.  The teleplay also had a fair amount of dialogue-free action that required plenty of narration.  That narration did not play well for me.

The Tardis lands on the South Pole in 1986.  Who, Polly, and Ben land near an underground control station for spacecraft. The three are spotted and taken captive by the station's American crew.  At the same time a manned capsule mission reports some power anomalies and a strange disturbance in the universe.  Alderaan has not blow-up but Mondas has appeared.

Mondas, it turns out, is Earth's sister planet and had been away on a trip to the outer universe.  Mondas has returned, is low on power, and is populated by the Cybermen.  The capsule goes missing.  The Cybermen land, kill some guards, and announce their intentions to suck all the power from the earth to save their own dying planet.

More things happen.  Cybermen became cyberriffic by replacing everything on their human bodies.  They did not keep emotions.  They do speak like 1950s robots.  A couple more people are killed.  Dr. Who goes into a deep sleep or coma.  Polly, Ben, and the rest are left to defeat the Cybermen.  The general in charge of the station wants to launch a nuclear missile to destory Mondas.  The geneal's astronaut son was sent up to investigate the missing capsule and the general is pushing to destroy Mondas and save his son.  Conflict occurs amongst the humans.

The Cybermen are ultimately defeated.  Mondas melts like a candle - I can only imagine those cheesy special effects.  Dr. Who regenerates.

1.  I suppose the story is of note to Who fans because of the regeneration of the Dr. and the introduction of the Cybemen.
2.  There is a nice interview with the narrator, Anneke Wills, who played Polly in the show.  Wills said that the show attracted some great actors who wanted to appear in the current hit show.  The show was a lark for famous or established stage and screen names.  Overacting was encouraged.  William Hartnell, who played the Doctor, was very ill at the time.  The plot point of Dr. Who being unconscious was due to Hartnell's very poor health.
3.  Further information on the show is at:
4.  Not the novelization entitled Dr. Who and the Tenth Planet and published in 1976 (or so the internet says...).
5.  The Overdrive entry lists William Hartnell as author.  Hartnell played the Doctor.  That's a problem with the catalog records for these BBC productions.  The actual writer is often obscured or missing.
6.  The Tardis Wikipedia says Hartnell was not that ill, but was let go by new producers.  But, Wills said different.

Listened: "NOS4A2" by Joe Hill

Listened: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, 2013, Overdrive download.

Good stuff.  Narrated by Captain Janeway.

Vic McQueen is "The Brat".  She's about 10-years-old.  She lives in Northern Massachusetts.  Her parents fight a lot.  The latest summertime fight is over what happened to the mom's bracelet.  Vic leaves the house on her Raleigh bike.  Vic heads into the wooded paths by her house and travels over a closed off covered bridge.  Vic exits the bridge into New Hampshire.  That's weird.  Vic walks over the lunch place the family stopped at earlier that day.  The lunch counter guy gives Vic the missing necklace.

Vic falls ill after her return journey on the bridge.  She has a fever and delirium.  Vic remembers the covered bridge as a dream.  This happens a few more times through her childhood.  Each time Vic falls ill and thinks of her real trip across the bridge as fevered dreams.  One trip takes Vic to Homoe, Iowa where a woman, Maggie, is there to meet here.  Maggie can also take weird trips through space.  Maggie's trips are through Scrabble tiles.  Maggie explains things to Vic and us, the readers.  Maggie warns Vic about The Wraith, a killer who uses his car to travel the country, kidnap children, and take the children to Christmasland.

Vic's family falls apart and her dad skips north.  As a teen Vic has a vicious argument with her mother and takes off on her old bike.  Vic goes through the bridge and ends up near Gun Barrel, Colorado.  Vic ends up at The Wraith's house.  Vic escapes the scary dude.  Vic rescued by Motorcycle Guy.  The Wraith, Charles Manx, is caught.

Time goes on.  Vic and Motorcycle Guy have a kid.  Vic is screwed up from her time with Manx.  Vic receives phantom phone calls from the children in Christmasland.  Manx's body disappears from the morgue.

More things happen.  I will not recap them all.  Hill does a good job with screwed Vic working to rebuild her life.  With the uber-nerdy Motorcycle Guy and his deep love for Vic and their son.  Things end fairly happily with a nice mix of reality versus magical bridge.

1.  Hill provides a very nice afterword for the audio edition.  I had forgotten who his parents were.  Hill never uses his real name but talks about his family and how their activities drove his interest in writing and reading.  He had much praise for his mother.  I recall reading how his dad would pay the kids to read and record audiobooks for the dad to listen to.
2.  Hill's afterword praises Captain Janeway.   She previously narrated a short story by Hill and he really liked her work and she was hired for this.  Hill spoke about how he really loves two greatly different books.  He realized his fondness for them both is attributed to the narrator who read the books.  Much like my fondness for John Lee's work.
4.  Many commonalities to a novel I just finished, Jewelweed.  Motorcycles, bats, damaged women whose past traumas drive them to act against their best interests.
5.  Gratuitous Triumph motorcycles.
6.  Gratuitous, and Gerard approved, slam on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
7.  Manx is a neat bad guy because he believes in what he is doing.  He truly believes he is saving the children he kidnaps.  He murders their parents of course, but those adults were awful people who would have destroyed the kids.  Christmasland is Christmas morning every day.  Who didn't love Christmas morning as a kid?