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Linda Bulger (United States)

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The Chase
The Chase
by Clive Cussler
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Snakes on a train, 12 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Chase (Hardcover)
I've always been a fan of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt and NUMA Files adventures, and THE CHASE is the same kind of story. There's a larger-than-life hero who faces impossible challenges and is viciously injured but gets right up. There are fast cars, a discreet liaison with a beautiful woman, loyal associates, and big transportation (in this case trains rather than boats). Oh, and a sociopathic villain.

All that's to the good. Of course we also have writing from the Hardy Boys school of literature and fantastic plot elements. That's no surprise and if you're a fan, you just read around it. Here's an example of an overloaded sentence from the beginning of Chapter 15:

"Cromwell's chauffeur drove the 1906 Rolls-Royce Brougham, made by the London coach maker Barker, with its six-cylinder, thirty-horsepower engine, from the garage to the front of the palatial Nob Hill mansion Cromwell had designed himself and constructed from white marble blocks cut and hauled by railroad from a quarry in Colorado."

Hmmm ... anyone got a red pencil?

The hero is one Isaac Bell, an independently wealthy private detective. The villain is a bank robber-murderer known as "the Butcher Bandit." Bell, through hot detective work and breathtaking good luck, gets on the trail of the Bandit by page 168 (of 404). The rest of the book -- the better half -- involves a lot of fast driving, a locomotive race, some shooting and robbing, and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Oh, and of course a satisfactory ending.

THE CHASE does have a structural device that kicks it up a notch. While the story takes place in 1906, the book opens and closes with a 1950 underwater salvage operation in a large Montana lake. This is reminiscent of James Cameron's 1997 movie TITANIC, and was a very nice touch.

Cussler's at his best with the action scenes, and THE CHASE has some epic action. The train scenes really are playing to his strength. The story is according to formula but the formula works: familiar and therefore safe style, combined with wild action. This is a very satisfactory offering from Cussler and if you like this kind of book, you'll probably enjoy it as much as I did.

Linda Bulger, 2008


Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way
Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way
by Leonard S. Marcus
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We don't forget our first books, 12 Jan. 2008
This is the most enchanting book I've had in my hands in a very long time. I was at a dinner party recently and GOLDEN LEGACY was on the coffee table -- for about thirty seconds. All evening it went from hand to hand, with squeals and sighs following it around the room. I had to have it.

The text is a fascinating history of Little Golden Books, first published in Racine, Wisconsin during the Second World War. What a visionary leap -- affordable quality books for children, with great production values and marketed everywhere. Yet the Western Publishing Company was originally a printing company; when they got stuck with railroad cars full of children's books due to a publisher's bankruptcy, the company sold them directly. The books sold well, the company directors were inspired to publish more, and the rest is history. You can read all about it if you buy this book, which is bound to be of interest to book collectors, readers interested in cultural history, and nostalgic baby boomers.

Just as absorbing as the text, the illustrations are an astonishing collection of history. If you ever had Little Golden Books, or bought them for a lucky child, you'll be sighing with happy recollections as you leaf through these pages. We don't forget our first books, and you'll see old favorites and smile at the memories they evoke.

GOLDEN LEGACY honors the 65th anniversary of Little Golden Books, and I recommend it to anyone whose love of books was fostered by a collection of these 25 cent treasures.

Linda Bulger, 2008


Up Close and Dangerous
Up Close and Dangerous
by Linda Howard
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No magic formula, 12 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Up Close and Dangerous (Hardcover)
Sometimes a reviewer points out that a book follows a formula, and that could be a good thing or a bad thing. This book, unfortunately, follows at least two formulas -- and it's quite a bad thing.

The romance: young Bailey is the widow of a wealthy older man who left her in charge of his adult son's and daughter's trust funds. They hate her, she's walled off her emotions, enter handsome sexy pilot, Cam ...

The survival thriller: Cam pilots the charter flight taking Bailey on vacation, and they crash in the remote mountains of Idaho. He's injured and she saves his life. They realize that the crash was caused by outside interference. Will their resourcefulness and stamina overcome the rigors of weather and altitude and enable them to survive?

Oh wait, segue to Formula Romance: sharing body warmth under a pile of clothing in a makeshift shelter, him concussed and her infected from a puncture wound ... sparks fly.

Neither theme is developed convincingly. The hot relationship between Bailey and Cam feels circumstantial; the Uber-Girl-Scout performance of Bailey is never explained; and by the time we find out what REALLY happened to the plane, we don't care and it seems as if the author doesn't either.

With much more attention to character development and the other elements that make a book worth reading, this COULD have been a decent book. An opportunity missed.

Linda Bulger, 2008


Sucker's Bet: A Pete Morris Mystery
Sucker's Bet: A Pete Morris Mystery
by Woody Hanstein
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars This small-town legal thriller is a gem, 12 Jan. 2008
SUCKER'S BET is a solid legal thriller that kept me turning pages right to the end. It's number five in a series about a small-town Maine lawyer named Pete Morris; I won this book in a Christmas raffle at my local library, and what a great prize! For some reason I missed out on the first four books but I've already bought one of them and am looking forward to filling in the "back-story" on this series.

The book has a highly effective opening: the late-night visit from a police detective informing Pete Morris that his friend's twin boys had died -- killed by a drunk driver that Pete had successfully defended just days before on another felony OUI. That's just too tough for him to bear and he quits his law practice.

Pete is talked into taking one more juvenile case, defending a fifteen year old boy in detention for a string of burglaries. The boy has had a terrible life so far and Pete gives his best effort to the defense.

Mr. Hanstein, a small-town Maine lawyer himself, did a fine job in developing the principal characters. There may be just the tiniest bit too much nice-neighbor in them, but not enough to fault him on; if you're going to spend nearly three hundred pages with a set of characters, they'd better be either easy to like or gloriously villainous. I'd like to see what the author can do with an out-and-out bounder, and that's one good reason for reading the rest of the series. Will I find a villain? Oh, there are a couple of baddies in this book but you don't really see it until close to the end.

SUCKER'S BET has a great small-town atmosphere. For example, when Pete Morris makes some investigative inquiries at an automotive parts store, he "nails it" -- you've been there, you know you have. He writes, "If there is an unwritten law that all auto parts stores need to look the same, then the people at Aardvark Auto hadn't broken it." And from that point the store tells its own story so you can form your own judgment.

As I got near the end, I began to be afraid that the story would wrap up just too, too tidily. But in an excellent and very plausible series of events, that tidy ending was shredded and the last thirty pages were a thrill ride. I won't even hint at the ending, but I DO recommend that you read this little gem for yourself and find out.

Linda Bulger, 2008


Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lynne Truss Has Got A Little List, 12 Jan. 2008
As someday it may happen that a victim must be found,
She's got a little list -- she's got a little list
Of illiterate offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed -- who never would be missed!
There's the greengrocer's redundant and reviled apostrophe
Granting unapproved possession of the carrot and the pea --
All the dangling expectations when the commas aren't in pairs --
All the chaos that's created in semantical affairs --
All editors eliminating semis from your list --
They'd none of 'em be missed -- they'd none of 'em be missed!

She's got 'em on the list -- she's got 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed -- they'll none of 'em be missed.

There's the muzzy-headed journalist whose phrases roam like sheep,
Who thinks that commas don't exist -- she's got him on her list!
And the pedants whose subordinated clauses bring on sleep,
They never would be missed -- they never would be missed!
There's the manuscript that always gives infuriating pause
By the wrongful punctuation of the inoffensive clause,
And ambiguous intentions when a colon should be placed
But the author for some reason holds that mark in great distaste,
And the cavalier exclaimer who from screaming can't desist --
I don't think he'd be missed -- I'm sure he'd not be missed!

She's got him on the list -- she's got him on the list;
And I don't think he'd be missed -- I'm sure he'll not be missed!

And the sentences that ought to end but will not mind the stop
So the readers lose the gist -- she's got 'em on the list!
And the badly punctuated placard shilling for a shop,
They'd none of 'em be missed -- they'd none of 'em be missed.
And the foes of readability with dashes everywhere,
They inch along in fits and starts, they make you want to swear,
The intolerant authorities whose standards are not yours,
Those moral weaklings oozing indecision from their pores,

It's a stickler's job to see they all are placed upon the list,
For they'd none of 'em be missed -- they'd none of 'em be missed!

In homage to THE MIKADO; libretto by W.S. Gilbert and music by Arthur Sullivan.

Linda Bulger, 2008
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2009 1:38 PM GMT


Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
by Kerry Patterson
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When the stakes are high, 12 Jan. 2008
This book was a most enjoyable read but left me with a touch of ambivalence. As a handbook for communicating more effectively, it's helpful but perhaps a bit simplistic.

"Crucial conversations" are defined as those in which opinions vary, the stakes are high, and emotions run strong. The book targets situations in business and personal life, and is extremely readable with its many illustrative dialogues from both sectors. An extensive vocabulary is introduced and I've had some of the terms floating like a ghostly subtext under my own conversations: Sucker's Choice; Safety; Salute and Stay Mute; Silence or Violence; Freeze Your Lover; Pool of Shared Meaning. It's all useful even if reductionist.

The techniques offered for effective negotiation are generally quite obvious, yet they bear repeating and codifying. They are, however, techniques, and as such they probably won't give earth-shaking results without an understanding of what's making people tick. Conversation and negotiation are so much more than technique.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS is an ideal offering for the best-seller market and would be a great springboard for leadership development workshops.

My two picks for the best advice in this book:

(1) Stay focused on what you really want.
(2) If you give this book to a partner or business associate, don't take a yellow highlighter to the parts you think they need before you give it; better to work on your own side of the crucial conversations.

Linda Bulger, 2008


Chic Knits for Stylish Babies: 65 Charming Patterns for the First Year
Chic Knits for Stylish Babies: 65 Charming Patterns for the First Year
by Patricia Wagner and Jean-Francois Chavanne
Edition: Paperback

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully different, 3 Dec. 2007
This book of baby knit designs completely enchanted me. The garments are helpfully arranged in "wardrobes," with each set containing some combination of trousers, overalls, pullovers, jackets, dresses, hats and boots. The photography is a treat for the eyes. The styles are definitely NOT what you see every day on babies; since the author and photographer are French, presumably the designs are too.

I found the directions clear and concise, well diagrammed, with charts where applicable. The designs are all tiny - mostly to 12 months size though a few to 18 months - so if you want to knit for a particular baby you'll need to get an early start. The book doesn't contain any knitting directions (I'm glad they filled it chock-full of adorable garments instead) and some of the patterns could be challenging for very new knitters. These are not drawbacks, as long as the buyer is aware that a certain knitting mojo may be needed to produce these eye-catching garments.

My first choice was the swing top from the "Perfect Little Girl" wardrobe. Much as I want to knit the rest of the pieces to go with it, the llama romper is claiming my attention next.

Infants probably don't care that much about looking stylish. But if you want to please yourself and some new parents or parents-to-be, there's sure to be something in this fantastic book that will send you running for your needles.


Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself
Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself
by Alan Alda
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying himself to feel alive, 3 Dec. 2007
THINGS I OVERHEARD WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF is a great example of recycling done right. Each of the sixteen chapters is built around a commencement speech or other talk given by Alan Alda, but with a wealth of new material from him on the Meaning Of Life.

It's a difficult topic but Alda has as much right as anyone to give it a crack. He builds on his near-death experience in Chile and tells stories of his childhood, his family, his career, and people who touched his life. In each case the story is entwined with the speech to illustrate a life lesson. The editing may be a bit loose in some cases, and the book meanders toward a conclusion, as if you were taking a leisurely stroll with a wise and confident friend.

An example of Alda's meandering is the chapter named "A Passion for Reason." For reasons not made entirely clear, he was asked to give a talk on Thomas Jefferson to a group of historians, Jefferson scholars, and trustees of Monticello. Also for reasons not clear to him at the time ("Sure ... That sounds like fun"), he accepted.

Alda came to understand that he accepted because the prospect terrified him. "Nothing feels as good to me as doing something I know how to do. But if I do it too many times, it feels easy and a little slick; it loses some of its pleasure." In the end he found a key to the meaning of Jefferson's life through the work of a scientist in China. I was interested in the way Alda challenged himself and coped with his fears, even if for me there was no "a-ha! moment" in the connection between Jefferson and the Chinese rice paddy.

In the chapter "Celebrity and its Discontents," Alda writes about his Grand Rounds lecture at Cornell Medical School. His subject: celebrity and its central role in modern life, from entertainment to politics to marketing. The points out the positive and negative impact on public health of celebrity role models and the personal challenge of being yourself when that isn't what the public wants of you. "The difficult part of celebrity," he writes, "is when you're recognized not for what you do, but simply for being famous." It's a chilling commentary on our modern values.

The final message of this book, Alda's distilled wisdom about life, is to NOTICE life. An excellent message, whether to a graduating class or to the readers of this book.


KRISTIN KNITS: 25 Inspired Designs for Playing with Color
KRISTIN KNITS: 25 Inspired Designs for Playing with Color
by Kristin Nicholas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.21

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love at first sight, 3 Dec. 2007
KRISTIN KNITS will pop off the shelf at you and if you love colorful knits, it's bound to be love at first sight. More than just a book of patterns, it's a primer for designing with color. The 27 patterns are of simple construction but show you color techniques that can be incorporated in your own design. Fair isle techniques, embellishments and surface decorations are among the featured elements.

This is a bright book with spacious layout, organized by type of project: scarves and afghan, hats, socks, gloves and mittens, and sweaters. The photos are beautiful, the patterns presented clearly in a tabular format that looks very easy to follow. The sweaters are women's sizes.

Kristin Nicholas is most deservedly held in the highest regard in knitting circles. Some of my most satisfying projects were from her 1995 book KNITTING THE NEW CLASSICS: 60 EXQUISITE SWEATERS FROM THE STUDIOS OF CLASSIC ELITE, a book containing many complex construction and texture elements. That brings me to my only reservation about KRISTIN KNITS, and it is definitely a personal preference: while I always reach for the books with eye-popping color designs, it's the construction and texture of a project that hold my interest.

My plan is to knit some of the smaller projects in this book and see whether the great colors take my knitting in a new direction. At least I'll have some bright and beautiful gifts out of the exercise!


101 Designer One-Skein Wonders
101 Designer One-Skein Wonders
Price: £11.67

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take-along knitting, 3 Dec. 2007
My shelf of small-project books gets a lot of action, but who can resist a new knitting book? I leafed through a friend's copy of 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders and decided I had to have my own copy.

All the projects are displayed in color photos at the front of the book rather than with the patterns, a feast for the eyes and the imagination; I like browsing the projects all together. This is a familiar look from Storey Publishing and it helps to keep the price very reasonable.

The patterns are laid out clearly and with a lot of detail, possibly more detail than an experienced knitter wants but excellent for the less experienced. Nowadays, however, most knitters prefer to see charted patterns and it would be great to see charts in future One-Skein Wonders editions.

Yarns are specified but it will be easy enough to find projects for my precious skeins. Given that you can only do so much with a single skein, there is a surprising variety here. I have several projects tagged for my "take-along knitting." A few that caught my eye are the alpaca hand warmers, a mini-purse, the lace beanie, and Kat's Hat. I'm not sure which baby sweater to knit first, Blue Wave or Feather and Fan. There's a very pretty Three Season Lace Vest that looks wonderful. As for Elizabeth's Perfect Hat, what's more beautiful than Noro Silk Garden? but it would be great in other variegated worsteds as well.


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