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Bobbewig (New Jersey, USA)
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The Amateur
The Amateur
Price: £8.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading -- But Probably Not Much New After Experiencing Over 6 1/2 Years Of Obama As President!, 8 Oct. 2015
This review is from: The Amateur (Kindle Edition)
If after having Obama as President for the past 6 1/2 years or so you think you know all you need to know about the type of person he is, perhaps you might want to rethink what you know -- or think you know -- and read Edward Klein's The Amateur. Admittedly, the time to have read this book was shortly after it was published in May, 2012, so that it perhaps could have given you food for thought regarding your decision to vote to (and not to) elect Obama to a second term as President.

The Amateur is not a straight reporting of facts about Obama, but rather it is based on facts and information Klein obtained from nearly 200 interviews of people from both inside and outside the White House who came to know Obama well -- or thought they did. To paraphrase from the jacket flap, The Amateur is Klein's expose that pulls back the curtain of one of the most secretive White Houses in history, and reveals Obama to be a callow, thin-skinned, arrogant president with messianic dreams of grandeur supported by a cast of true-believers, all of them united by leftist politics and an amateurish understanding of executive leadership. If this portrayal upsets you or if goes against your beliefs about Obama as president, then I highly recommend that you avoid reading this book -- unless you are willing to keep an open mind to reading about some things you might not have REALLY known.

Some of the things you'll get insight into in The Amateur are:
•Why the so-called “centrist” Obama is actually in revolt against the values of the society he was elected to lead
•Why Bill Clinton -- who originally referred to Obama as an "amateur-- loathes Barack Obama and tried to get Hillary to run against him in 2012,
•The spiteful rivalry between Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey
•How Obama split the Kennedy family
•How Obama has taken more of a personal role in making foreign policy than any president since Richard Nixon—with disastrous results
•How Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett are the real powers behind the White House throne.

Whether you are or are not in agreement with Klein's (and others, myself included) referring to the President as The Amateur, I'll provide the author's rationale for doing so to help you decide if "the shoe fits" or not:

"A president who is inept in the arts of management and governance, who doesn't learn form his mistakes, and who therefore repeats policies that make our economy less robust and our nation less safe. A man who blames all his problems on those with whom he disagrees ("Washington," "Republicans," "the media"), who discards old friends and supporters when they are no longer useful (Democrats, African-Americans, Jews), and who is so thin-skinned that he constantly complains about what people say and write about him. A person who derives no joy from the cut and thrust of politics, but who clings to the narcissistic life of the presidency."

I hope this review is of help in deciding if The Amateur is a book you'll want to read.


The Truth about Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President
The Truth about Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President
by Edward Klein
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Worth Reading!, 5 Oct. 2015
Keeping in mind that I read this book 10 years after it was written, I'm trying to keep my review based solely on what is presented by Edward Klein as "the truth" about Hillary, and not bring into it much of what has become known about her actions, decisions and personality during the past 10 years since its publication. Admittedly, this is not easy to do since "the Hillary" over the past 10 years mostly tears apart any doubts or skepticism I had about "the truth about Hillary" in Klein's book.

This books clearly demonstrates the extensive research and interviewing Klein and his staff did with many people who had close, personal and first-hand involvement with Hillary (and Bill) over the years, ranging from when they first met through the period leading up to the 1992 presidential election. In my opinion, Klein provides a very insightful perspective on the character (or lack thereof) of Hillary Clinton, and should have influence on potential readers (and voters) who are willing to keep an open mind about the woman who is possibly the next President of the US. On the other hand, those people who have been so mesmerized by the Clinton (and the Hillary) mystique over the years, and thus too blind to any longer be able to see her true character, should save themselves the effort of reading this book. The close-mindedness of these people will only result in those who read The Truth About Hillary viewing it to be a total hatchet job to "get" Hillary that is full of lies, and that the author is a "professional Clinton hater"; which seems to be borne out by many of the 187 1-star reader reviews posted to-date.

My question to these people would be if the book was so inaccurate in the material presented and was nothing more than an attempt at character assassination (which, to me, is ironic since the Hillary and Bill team are considered by many to be masters of character assassination), then why hadn't she sued for libel at the time this book was published?

Personally, while I recognize that Klein wrote this book with a slanted point of view, I consider it to be mostly factual and very insightful, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in broadening their perspective of Hillary. As a matter of fact, I plan to read Klein's recently released book about Hillary, titled Unlikeable: The Problem With Hillary.


THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE DEAD
THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE DEAD
by Michael A. Draper
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun, Attention-Holding Mystery!, 1 Oct. 2015
I've been an online friend of the author for quite some time, as we share a strong interest in mysteries and thrillers and I've selected many books to read based on his well-written reviews. So, when Michael Draper offered me a copy of his latest book to read and review, I was interested to see if he writes books as well as he writes helpful reviews.

Having now finished Three Strikes And You're Dead, I can honestly say that this mystery works very well in maintaining reader attention from beginning to end. Without going into detail about the book's plot, it centers around the efforts of a team of three relatively new private investigators and some law enforcement agencies to capture a disgruntled fan who is killing some of baseball's superstars when MLB suspends play due to a contract dispute. In addition to its interesting plot, Draper does a good job in creating some well-developed characters, and I hope he brings these characters back in future books.

Three Strikes And You're Out is a book I'd recommend to baseball fans who enjoy a good mystery or, actually, to anyone who enjoys an entertaining mystery, in general. That being said, Draper's second book is not flawless, but then again, how many books -- especially second efforts -- are flawless? Basically, I have two criticisms with this book but both of them are quite minor. One is that I, at times, had to suspend disbelief in regards to the ease with which the team of three relatively new private investigators' could uncover clues, leads and evidence relative to the much more experienced and larger law enforcement agencies. Further, I found the ending, while satisfying, to be a bit abrupt.

Nonetheless, as mentioned, Three Strikes And You're Dead is a fun read and Michael Draper is an author that deserves a large fan base.


The Nightingale
The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Most Emotionally Impactful Books I've Read In Quite A While!, 1 Oct. 2015
This review is from: The Nightingale (Paperback)
The following few lines from the Amazon book description hits the nail right on the head in terms of describing The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah. "With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime."

Hannah does an excellent job of keeping the plot moving in an interesting and exciting, yet very disturbing, way. I found her characters and the settings she describes in The Nightingale to be so realistic that I felt that I was "right there" personally experiencing all of the hardships and tragedies -- and, a times, love -- that occurred during this period in history. Further, Hannah's writing style had me turning the pages at a very fast pace throughout the book; and by the time I got to the last 100 pages I couldn't put the book down at all.

Needless to say, The Nightingale is a book I highly recommend! In closing, let me reassure any men thinking about reading this book but are perhaps concerned about it being a "woman's book," that you could put your concerns to rest. The Nightingale is a book for everyone; everyone, that is, who is not concerned about reading a book that is very emotionally impactful.


The Dog Master: A Novel of the First Dog
The Dog Master: A Novel of the First Dog
by W Bruce Cameron
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.40

5.0 out of 5 stars W. Bruce Cameron Scores Big Again!, 15 Sept. 2015
Although I didn't enjoy this author's past two books nearly as much as A Dog's Purpose and A Dog's Journey -- which I consider to be two of my all-time favorite books -- Cameron's The Dog Master has me, once again , considering him to be one of my favorite authors. While I found A Dog's Purpose And A Dog's Journey to be more-emotionally charged books, The Dog Master, for me, is much more expansive in its scope; and it in many ways reminded me of Jean Auel's The Clanf Of The Cave Bear.

Without summarizing it's plot, I'll just quote from the Amazon Description provided above to, hopefully, give you enough of a sense of what The Dog Master is about to enable you to decide if it is a book you might want to read -- that is, "it is an evocative glimpse of prehistory, an emotional coming of age saga, a thrilling tale of survival against all odds, and the exciting, imaginative story of the first dog."

The Dog Master is a book I'd highly recommend...and not just to dog lovers. Actually, while wolves (one of which becomes the first dog) are central to the book's tale, the primary focus of The Dog Master is on a few clans of nomadic people. And Cameron does an excellent job in dimensionalizing the large cast of characters that live within these clans so that the reader comes to develop strong feelings and opinions about them. Of particular interest to me is the character, Mal, who is responsible for a wolf becoming the first dog, and, of course, the wolf itself that becomes "Dog." I think you will find that several of these characters will stay in your mind a good while after you finish the book.

Unlike many books I read, my attention level while reading The Dog Master never waned, remaining in high gear from beginning to end. As such, I never wanted it to end - but the good thing is that it seems highly likely that Cameron has a sequel planned. If that is the case, I will be one of the first to get a copy; and I think you'll feel the same way if you decide to read The Dog Master.


The Racketeer
The Racketeer
by John Grisham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Time And Money!, 25 Aug. 2015
This review is from: The Racketeer (Paperback)
Prior to reading The Racketeer, I've been a fan of John Grisham since The Firm was published and enjoyed -- though to varying degrees -- all of the many books of his that I read, but one. Now, after finishing The Racketeer, it becomes the second Grisham that I disliked.

I won't spend time offering a summary of this book since this can be found in the Amazon Book Description above and in many reader reviews. Instead, this review will focus on why I was disappointed in it and, thus, why it is not a book I'd recommend you rush out to read.

In fairness to Grisham, my problem with The Racketeer had nothing to do with his writing style, as Grisham does a good job in moving the book along at a pretty fast-paced, easy to read manner. As such, I never felt that the book dragged or was boring. Rather, my problems with The Racketeer stem from two factors: 1) without getting into specifics and run the risk of providing spoilers, the scheme on which the plot is based is almost totally preposterous; and 2) none of the characters are credible to me, nor are any of them likable; resulting in my not caring what happened to any of them.

While I am usually very liberal in my willingness to suspend disbelief when reading a thriller, The Racketeer, despite its moving along at a fast pace, pushed me well beyond my limits in this area. As a consequence, although it was readable for me, it is not recommendable. I hope this review is helpful in deciding if The Racketeer is a book for you.


Those Who Wish Me Dead
Those Who Wish Me Dead
by Michael Koryta
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars My First Book By Koryta And Definitely Not My Last!, 14 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Those Who Wish Me Dead (Paperback)
I won't spend time providing a description of this wilderness thriller's plot, as this is provided quite well in the Amazon Book Description above. I will spend a little time telling you why I consider it to be an exciting, well-researched thriller that I think most thriller lover's will enjoy.

Those Who Wish Me Dead is a book that got my serious attention on the first page and maintained my attention because of all it offered me -- which is Koryta's excellent writing style that enabled me to feel that I was "right there" in the middle of all the action, a plot that contains an above average amount of twists and turns that (for the most part) kept me guessing as to what happens next, a cast of well-developed central characters including two VERY, VERY bad guys, and providing a lot of interesting information about the locale in which much of the book takes place, survival training in mountainous areas, and forest fires in such a way that these elements almost seem like they, themselves, are major characters in the book.

Although I was highly entertained by Those Who Wish Me Dead, I didn't find it to be evenly paced throughout the book; resulting in my deducting one star from my overall rating. That is, I was very engrossed in the first third of the book (and, particularly its first few chapters) and in the last third of the book (which was filled with lots of action). However, I found the middle of the book -- which Koryta largely used to include a lot of the interesting research he did on how to survive while living in the wilderness -- to, too often, slow down the pace of the plot. That is, I found myself at times saying "Okay, this is all interesting stuff, but let's get back to the action and excitement."

All in all, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a book that has made me a "Koryta fan" and I'm looking forward to reading more books by this talented author.


Mr Mercedes
Mr Mercedes
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining But Just Okay, Overall!, 7 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Mr Mercedes (Paperback)
Up until about twenty-five years ago any book by Stephen King was a "must read" for me. However, starting with Rose Madder, I became increasingly disappointed with King's books -- to the point that about ten years ago he went from a "don't miss" to a "don't bother" author. Although, after the many favorable reviews Mr. Mercedes received I decided to take "get behind the wheel and take it for a ride."

Having finished it, on a comparative basis, I found it to be his best book of the last several King books I read; but, on an absolute basis, I felt that while it was entertaining, it was nothing special in this genre and just an okay read. My reasons for this overall opinion are as follows: (1) I felt that while the "good guy" characters were, for the most part, likeable they were often unbelievable; (2) Though King packs a lot of suspense in Mr. Mercedes, I found that he allowed the book to drag on for too long a period of time before much of the suspenseful actions finally took place; and, as a consequence, I rarely felt compelled to pick up the book to find out what happens next once I took a break from reading it, and (3) I found that much of the suspense and thrills that occur were not very surprising and, at times, contrived.

Nonetheless, despite my "just okay" feelings about Mr. Mercedes, I did enjoy it enough to keep King from returning to my "dead authors" list and plan to read his follow-up to it, Finders Keepers.


The English Spy
The English Spy
by Daniel Silva
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Silva Once Again Srikes Gold!, 18 July 2015
This review is from: The English Spy (Hardcover)
In The English Spy, the fifteenth book in the Gabriel Allon series, Silva not only provides a gripping thriller that seems like it could be ripped from today's headlines, he provides an excellent understanding of the lives led by spies, their handlers and their bureaucratic allies.

In this story, while waiting to finally move into the role of Chief of the Office, Israel's secret spy organization, Allon's target is Eamon Quinn, an IRA mercenary famed for his bomb-making skills, who is found responsible for the murder of the ex-wife of the future king of England as well as for having helped make the bomb that killed his first child several years ago. Without going into detail about the plot, Allon partners with Christopher Keller -- who has appeared in a few other books in the series and is an ex-SAS, turned mercenary, now on track to become an agent for MI6. As Allon and Kellor soon learn, the former Princess's death was brought about by an enemy of theirs in order to enact revenge for past actions. The actions that take place in The English Spy are much more personal for all involved than in most of the other books in this series.

As is typical in this series, The English Spy is one of slow-building but non-stop tension and suspense that will likely make new and old readers to this series anxious to turn the pages to find out what happens next. And in telling this tale, Silva masterfully weaves between characters, blending action with bureaucracy. And particularly satisfying to me is that the conclusion of The English Spy finally leads me to believe that Silva is ready to end Allon's career as a field operative and to begin his role as the head of the Office.

I am fully confident that future books in this series involving Allon in his new role will be at least as engrossing, well-researched and well-written as the existing fifteen books in the series. For me, this confidence stems from my belief that any book by Silva is worth its weight in gold!


House of Echoes
House of Echoes
by Brendan Duffy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.24

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 1/2 Stars -- Good "Scary" That Had The Potential To Be Very Good!, 11 July 2015
This review is from: House of Echoes (Hardcover)
House Of Echoes is a very atmospheric "scary" reminiscent of the "good old days," when "scaries" didn't have to be filled with vampires and the like to be suspenseful. Without going into detail about the plot, I'll just say that House Of Echoes is a tale of how a young family's dream of a better life by moving to an estate in a small village in upstate New York turns into a nightmare.

To his credit, Duffy, in his debut novel, does a very good job in making the reader clearly feel that he/she is right there with the Tierney family every step of the way as they work to restore the sprawling estate, in their efforts to fit in with their new village neighbors, and as their lives start to turn into a living hell.

This book just oozes with atmosphere!

However, Duffy's focus on atmosphere tended to dominate this book, and resulted in this reader experiencing little "first hand" thrills and edge-of-the-seat suspense until the last quarter or so of the book. Put another way, Duffy kept the pace of the book in second and third gear for too long before shifting into fourth gear.

Further, Duffy fills the book with characters that are serviceable enough to maintain interest in the story; but, in my opinion, they are not developed well enough to really care much about them. Further, when an author takes the time to describe how much the family dog is loved and then has it disappear, he should at least spend a little more time on creating some sense of emotion about it from the family members.

Despite these flaws, I enjoyed House Of Echoes enough to consider reading a second book by Brendan Duffy to see if he has further developed his potential as a suspense writer.


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