short term

West Like Lighting, The Brief Legendary Ride of the Pony Express by Jim DeFelice; 2018; $27.99; 357 pages; William Morrow, New York, NY; 978-0-06-249676-8; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Fairview; 8/27/18-6/1/18

Why did I ride this?  Because the old west intrigues me and the Pony Express is an almost mythological part of the history of the frontier of the United States.

The author takes us on an intriguing ride along the route of the Pony Express from St. Joseph, Missouri to San Francisco, California as the results of the 1860 Presidential election are being spread across the country.  We are introduced to riders, station managers, the Express owners, politicians, Native Americans, the countryside the ride traversed and a  sense of what the context of the times was.  This is so much more than just a history of the pony express, the author does a great job of putting the times in a context that makes sense.  I would recommend this who anyone is interested in the frontier history of the United States.

Grade 11/10

What is with the title of the review? The Pony Express only lasted for eighteen months and was only supposed to last until the transcontinental telegraph system was completed.  Its mythological footprint in the history of the United States is much  bigger than its actual impact on the United States.

What’s next

King and Maxwell by David Baldacci; 2013; $28.00; 419 pages; Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY; 978-1-4555-2131-9; checked out from Multnomah County Library,Troutdale; 8/25/18-8/27/18

Why did I read this?  Because I am reading my way through the various David Baldacci series and this is the latest in this series.

A career U.S. Army soldier disappears  with a over a billion dollars in Euros in Afghanistan and his son is told he is dead.  The son takes off running in the rain where he is almost hit by a car driven by King and Maxwell.  The son then receives an email from his supposedly dead Dad and engages the services of King and Maxwell.  As they investigate they began to uncover a conspiracy that seemingly involves every one of the alphabet agencies that infest Washington, D.C..  They uncover a plot that out does Iran Contra for sheer chutzpah.  The plot ranges all over the country and the atmosphere and involves people at all levels of government.  Maxwell ends up saving the life of a highly placed government employee.  Ultimately though this is a story of trust, between a father and son and partners.

Grade 10/10

What is with title of the review?  This is the latest in this series and it is five years old and I am wondering if there will be any follow up or if this is the last word from King and Maxwell.

 

unexpected consequences

Locking Up Our Own, Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman, Jr.; 2017; $27.00; 239 pages; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY; 978-0-374-18997-6; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 5/20/18-5/25/18

Why did I read this?  Back in 2016 I decided that I would read all the Pulitzer Prize winning books. LOCKING UP OUR OWN was the 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner for General Non-Fiction.

The author takes a look at what drove African Americans to vote for measures such as maximum and minimum sentences, three strikes and other strident anti-crime measures.  Even though these measures would have a strong effect on the African American population of the United States.  The United States only contains 5% percent of the worlds population, however we house 25% of the worlds prisoner.  The author looks at the effects the heroin and crack epidemics, and the violent crime that came with them, had on the African American population.  Crime was so rampant that the population thought these measures would be effective in curing crime.  However due to the systemic racism in our law enforcement and judicial systems there has been an explosion of numbers of African Americans imprisoned.  Unfortunately we often look at the short term solutions without thinking about the long term effects of what we are doing.

Grade 10/10

What is with the title of the review?  The population was looking for a solution for a crime wave and they imposed measures that helped stem the crime, but didn’t foresee the long term consequences.

a changed man

The Fallen by David Baldacci; 2018; $29.00; 417 pages; Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY; 978-1-5387-6139-7; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Kenton; 5/18/18-5/20/18

Why did I read this?  I have been trying to read through as many of David Baldacci’s series as I can and this is the last book in the Amos Decker series.

Amos Decker and Alex Jamison are on vacation in the rust belt of Pennsylvania when murders happen too close to home.  The unemployment mess, the opioid epidemic, fulfillment centers and robotic works all take center stage in this story.  Amos sees a dead body in the home behind Alex’s sisters home and the story is off and running.  The local police at first are resistant and then welcoming, but still reluctant.  The DEA becomes involved and jurisdictional things become part of the story.  This story has everything from buried treasure to life long animosity and everything in become.  Amos and Alex are a wonderful team.

10/10

What is with the title of the review?  Amos suffered a brain injury at the beginning of the series that gave him a photographic memory and causes him to associate colors with death and other sensations.  At one point in this story he is hit in the head and his injury again causes some things to change in his brain.

12 strong

Horse Soldiers, The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan by Doug Stanton; 2009; $18.00; 395 pages; Scribner, New York, NY; 978–1-4165-8052-2; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Hollywood; 5/9/18-5/18/18

Why did I read this?  Because I saw the trailer for “12 Strong”, which is the movie based on this book and I wanted to read the accurate account.

Shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 12 U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers traveled to Afghanistan to assist the soldiers of the Afghan Northern Alliance in their guerrilla war against the Taliban.  When they reached the headquarters of the Northern Alliance Generals, they found the headquarters in a cave and an old mud fort.  When they traveled and entered the battlefield they did so on horseback.  Most of them had never ridden a horse before and suffered from saddle sores and sore limbs.  Most of them were not willing to show to the Afghans that they didn’t know how to ride and wanted to respect the Afghan militia and their customs.  They augmented the Afghans’ weapons, many of which were left behind by the Soviets, with some cutting edge guided bombs and other more modern equipment.  Both sides had left over Soviet weapons, although the higher technological weapons like tanks and jets were utilized by the Taliban.  At the point the story here ends the Northern Alliance had seemingly defeated the Taliban.  The way the US Army special forces worked alongside the Northern Alliance has become a model for how U.S. Troops can work with fighters from other cultures.  I hope the United States military does not forget the lessons they learned from the Horse Soldiers.

Grade 10/10

What is with the title of the review?  12 Strong is the title of the movie starring Chris Hemsworth that is based on this book.

 

I’m Alright

Caddyshack, The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story by Chris Nashawaty; 2018;$26.99; 291 pages; Flatiron Books, New York, NY; 978-1-250-10595-0; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 5/8/18-5/9/18

Why did I read this? Because Caddyshack is one of my all time favorite movies.

This traces the path from the Harvard Lampoon through Lemmings to Animal House to Caddyshack for the writers and stars of Caddyshack. It has interviews with most of the people involved in the creation and production of the movie. It is an enjoyable read of what was a largely improvised comedy. The movie involved two of my favorite actors, Michael O’ Keefe and Bill Murray (what is the secret 800 number) in a movie that was targeted at the demographic I was in at the time. It was fun to read the behind the scenes recollections of those involved and to see how the movie evolved to what it was.

What is with the title of the review?  it is the name of the title song of the movie by Kenny Loggins.  It is a song that always makes me smile.

Grade 10/10

an american triangle

An American Marriage Tayari Jones; $26.95; 2018; 320 pages; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; 9781616208776; checked out from the Multnomah County Library; 4/26/18-4/26/18

Why did I read this?  I read this because I read a review of it that was glowing.

Celestial grows up next door to Andre, her best friend, but when she goes away to college she meets Roy and falls in love with him.  Set in the southern part of the United States these three African Americans deal with more than their fair share on racism. One night while Celestial and Roy are staying in an inn, Roy is accused of raping a white woman, and this being the south he is quickly sentenced to prison.  While he is in prison he discovers things about his family.  While Roy is in prison Celestial begins a business that is part art and part commerce.  Celestial also learns about herself and those around her.

What is with the title of the review?  A  critical part of the story is several different triangles of people.

9/10

 

 

origin story

Warning Light by David Ricciardi; 2018; $27.00; 323 pages; Berkley, New York, NY; 978-0-399-58573-9; checked out from Multnomah County Library; North Portland; 4/26/18-4/26/18

Why did I read this?  I read a review of it over at The Real Book Spy  and decided I would give another debut novel from a new author a chance.

The CIA is mounting a recon mission to Iran when they find out that the agent that is supposed to go on the mission has been compromised.  So analyst Zac Miller is tasked to take on the mission.  After he is inserted into Iran he is arrested and interrogated by the Iranian Army he manages to escape and travese the country.  He confronts forces allied against him from several agencies and country, he is also hamstrung by personal vendettas and turf wars within the CIA.  He  is a compelling character which I am looking forward to reading more of his adventures.

10/10

What  is with the title of the review?  Many of the series these drop you into an adventure with an origin story coming several books into the series, but gives us the origin story first.

 

 

 

turf wars

6thThe 6th Man by David Baldacci; 2011; $27.99; 416 pages; Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY; 978-0-466-57310-8; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 4/25/18-4/25/18

Why did I read this?  Because I enjoy reading stories by Baldacci and am trying to read through his multiple series.  I am currently reading through the King and Maxwell series, of which this is the penultimate book.

King and Maxwell are contacted by King’s old law school professor to look into an alleged serial killers life.  The professor is defending the serial killer but before they are able to meet with him he is assassinated.  The serial killer is a former intelligence analyst, one of the all time best the government has ever seen.  The DHS Secretary and other intelligence agencies are jealous and overly protective of their turf.  The agencies are pulling out all the stops to sideline the agency and company the analyst works for.  King and Maxwell are subjected to all kinds of terrorism by their own government and forces within it.  King and Maxwell manage to figure out the conspiracy and shut down the rogue elements within the government.

10/10

What is with the title of the review?  It is well known that the intelligence agencies within the United States Governments don’t play well with each other and that they will do whatever is necessary to protect their turf and Baldacci builds on that.

 

 

The Vitruvian Man

Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope; 2018; $26.99; 323 pages; Minotaur Press, New York, NY; 978-1-250-07288-7; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Midland; 4/25/18-4/25/18

Why did I read this?  Because I read the first book in the series and enjoyed it, so I will continue to read them.

A judge finds a Styrofoam cooler in his house, inside is a pair of fully clothed feet.  Steps, who can see the aura (shine as the author calls it)  that every person leaves behind.  Steps and his FBI handler are assigned to the case and initially can’t identify the killer but are able to figure out who the victim is.  They are able to backtrack and put two and two together and figure out who the killer is and figure out the motive for the feet that have been left in various people’s homes and they are able to find the killer and his latest victims.  Meanwhile they have gathered more evidence about Leonardo, a serial killer that has attracted their attention.   Steps is a unique hero with an outstanding supporting cast, I look forward to more from Spencer Kope.

10/10

What is with the title of the review?  A serial killer that the task force has nicknamed Leonardo poses his victims as Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man with the limbs pointing in a specific direction each time.