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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Locked Up in La Mesa by Steve Peterson

So this is the next book in line from my free Kindle books.  This is the story of a white guy in the late 70’s that got caught smuggling pot from Mexico into the US.  His bad was luck was that he got caught on the Mexico side with no bribe money and was sent to La Mesa. Apparently this is a famous Mexican prison, but I had never heard of out before I read this book. 
It was an OK book, the writer has some wild stories, but it is not well written.  The chapters are short stories almost, but the writer has a tendency to go off on tangents.  The stories are believable, and not as crazy in this day and age as they might have been in the 70's.  I have pretty neutral feelings it was an easy filler book, but not something I would read again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Halestorm by Becky Akers

Halestorm
This is a book I picked up from for free from Amazon, and I have decided instead of randomly reading these free books that I have no idea what they are about other than free to start at the A’s and work my way to the Z’s. 
This book was better than I expected, it is about the American revolution and the only American Revolutionist hung for spying Nathan Hale, he is famous for his final words "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."  This is novel that is full of love and conflict, murder and betrayal.  From the beginning the reader knows Nathan dies, yet his character is still endeared to us and we find ourselves hoping fervently for a different ending.
WARNING: PROCEED PAST THIS POINT ONLY IF YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT SPOILERS.
The main character is of course Nathan Hale,  his “step sister” Alice Adams, and his rival Guy Daggett.  Of course both Guy and Nathan are in love with Alice, and it is this conflict and Alice’s stupidity that leads to Nathan’s capture and death.   
Guy is portrayed as a typical useless popinjay, and of course he is a nasty loyalist.  Guy embodies everything evil and dirty about men, he is greedy and lusty, he has no concern for anything but his own needs and wants, and if he doesn't;t get what he wants, well why it isn’t because he is lazy or selfish it is someone else's fault, and 9 times out of 10 that other guy is Nathan.
Alice, oh she is the most beautiful girl in the county yada yada yada, but man she has no political savvy or common sense in a way she is just as selfish and awful as Guy, the mean part of me had hoped that once Nathan had died she would find herself unhappily married to Guy.  Admittedly, Alice did not mean to blow Nathan’s cover and get him caught, but if she had thought about things for a day rather than rushing blindly into a situation that she knew nothing about and even said was against his nature she might not have gotten him killed.  But there is still a bitterness in me that this great character of Nathan was so easily screwed over by his “Love.”
The other person that is to blame is Nathan’s pious father Deacon Hale, who had a one night stand with his second wife years before his first wife died.  Not so pious and upstanding was he.  Well this affair led to Alice.  Which leads to a really different twist as to why Alice and Nathan can’t marry.  However, Deacon isn’t man enough to own up to his affair to his children and won’t explain his reasoning behind forbidding them to marry.  The kiddos are of course confused and angry, especially since Alice’s older sister Sarah married Nathan’s older brother Jonathan.  If the Deacon had been able to own up to his own mistakes Alice wouldn’t have pined for Nathan and chased him down and blew his cover.  It would have been quite a blow, but at least they would have understood and all of history could have been changed.
As I said earlier in the review, even though I knew the ending, I was hoping for a different outcome.  That speaks volumes to me of Akers writing skills, she was able to draw me in and keep me hooked through the whole book, in fact there were times that I couldn’t put it down.  Now I’m sure Akers did her research, but I have no idea if the fats actually line up the way she said they did, but that is the fun of historical fiction right…take a story we know some about and flesh it out.  This wasn’t so amazing that I am scouring for her other works, which I have no idea if she has any, but it was a good solid 3 star.  The price at the kindle store has gone up from $0 to $2.99 and I would say, hey if you have $3 this is a pretty good read.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Peaches
I read this a filler for the week off between my BOTM books, it was a freebie from Nook I got a few months ago, it looked like some light reading.  It was light reading, this is a sort of typical teen book about three girls from very different backgrounds who become the best of friends and stick by each other through the hard times.  It is a story that we have read a bunch of times, but thanks to Mrs. Anderson’s  writing I didn’t mind.   As a kid I loved the “Babysitter Club” series and this book reminded me of it, not storyline wise, but the flow and the writing style.
The three main girls are Leeda, who is the vision of a Southern Belle.  She is wealthy, beautiful, popular, perfect.  At least at first glance.  Her mother prefers her older sister, and Leeda is often pushed aside.  Murphy, is a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks, she is wild and a bit slutty.  She has anger issues stemming from her mom parading all sorts of men through her life.  Birdie, is the sweetheart of the story and the glue that holds Leeda and Murphy together as friends.  Birdie is a na├»ve country girl, homeschooled and very shy.
The story is set in Birdie’s father’s orchard.  Leeda is Birdie’s cousin and to prevent Leeda from spending time with her boyfriend Rex her parents sentence her to the Orchard for Spring Break.  Murphy gets caught trespassing on the Orchard and is sentenced to serve her “community service” there over spring break as well.  Spring Break turns into the entire summer as the Leeda and Murphy help Birdie work the orchard that is almost bankrupt and about to be sold to the neighboring golf course.   There is boy drama, and friendship drama, and family drama.   All so classic in a teen novel.  The girls are so likable and the setting it is so picturesque that I found myself drawn in.  In fact as soon as I finished I downloaded the next two in the series to read at a later date because I want to know what happened to these girls.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Lonesome Dove
So this was a BOTM book.  I had seen the miniseries when I was a child and vaguely remembered liking it but I didn’t remember any details, which is nice because I can take a fresh view of the book.  I thought I would like this book, I didn’t.  I didn’t absolutely hate it, but I wish I had checked it out of the library rather than purchasing it.
The book is originally set in Texas and is the story of a cattle drive to Montana by group that is led by retired Texas Rangers Call and Gus.  They have two of their fellow companions Deets and Pea Eye, and a young boy with them.  Plus some hands they hired on.  Along for the ride but separate are another of the former Ranger Jake and whore Lorena.  The description to Lonesome Dove Texas and the characters were so bleak. The characters felt depressing and dull, Lorena is hopeless, the hands are witless, the landscape is god awful. Thankfully, that feeling only lasted until about chapter 8 or this would have been a really long read.
I did not feel a connection with this book is ok and I do find that I want to know what happens, but I'm not excited about it. Sadly I barely took any notes while reading. Which says to me that I have pretty neutral feelings about the book.
What few notes I did take were about the female characters....why are they all whores? There were non whores in the west, why aren't they in the story? The female main characters are all either currently whores or previously whores and hiding it. Does Mr. McMurtry have poor opinions of women? And if the woman does have brains she is unliked and portrayed as a bitch.  For example July’s sister-in-law Peach is unlinked because she is an intelligent woman, but man someone in this book needs some brains.
The story is rambling and pointless, nobody seems to have a plan, even Call who is supposed to be this great worker. And I know that back in the west the there was little education, but that doesn't mean everybody was simple minded. The two characters that did have some brains and are made out to be eccentric old fools. And there were tons of death that just seemed pointless, like McMurtry created too many characters and didn’t know what to do with them so he killed them.

All that being said my favorite character is still Gus. He seems like a decent guy. He seems to genuinely care about people, which is a bit refreshing in this book.
This book reminds me so much of my dad, that I keep picturing him when reading, for example when Call gives Newt the gun and says "Better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it." I heard my dad saying it not Call. My dad says that sort of thing all the time. When ever I read a western I can't help but to compare the characters to my dad, he is one of the last real cowboys in my eyes. And the character that reminds me the most of him is Gus, the way he jabbers and sees things in the people around him is like my dad, but when it comes to actual verbiage, my dad is more like call. Also, the way Call never stops working reminds me of my dad, at 78 my dad is still breaking horses and works most of the day, although the ranch is smaller than it used to be.
I'm glad it is over. But it felt incomplete, leaving Newt and the boys in Montana while taking Gus back to Texas. Nothing seemed resolved,what was the point of the story?  I feel like I missed something. It gives me warm and fuzzies because of my dad, but that is it’s only redeeming thing.