the definition of a page turner

The Last Mconfile by David Baldacci; 2016; $29 .00; 420 pages; Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY; 978-1-4555-8645-5; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gregory Heights; 1/23/18-1/25/18

Why did I read this? I have read several of Baldacci’s books and I enjoy them especially this series, Amos Decker is a engaging series.

Amos is heading from his home to his new job in Quantico when he turns on the radio and hears about the imminent execution of Melvin Mars in a Texas prison.  Melvin was convicted of killing his parents and he is about to be executed when someone in prison in Alabama confessed to the killing. The confession contains details that only the actual killer would know.  Amos decides to ask his task force teammates if they can take on the case to find the truth in the case.  As they dig into the case, things start getting dicey.  People attack them and political strings are pulled to prevent further investigation, but Decker insists on staying with the investigation even when he has no legal protection.  As Amos pulls at the threads he has found more and more things in peoples pasts.  The threads run all the way to Washington D.C., through a multi millionaire defense contractor and to a racist police chief in Alabama.  I stayed up late, and did everything I could to keep reading.

Grade 10/10

The Wangs vs the World

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang; 2016; $26.00; 354 pages; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, New York, NY; 97805444734098; purchased at Multnomah County Library’s Title Wave Used Bookstore; 11/29/17-12/6/17

Why did I read this?  This is the January selection of the Corner Reading Society, the book group that I belong to.  When we meet the host (me, this time)  tries to make a menu from the food mentioned in the book, so as I read the book I noted all the food mentioned.  I am wondering how I am going to get In N Out food when the closest restaurant is five hours away.

George Wang is a immigrant from Taiwan who came to the United States with a connection to a urea supplier and a dream.  After building a cosmetics empire, it all comes crashing down around him due to some financial missteps.  He collects his second wife and a daughter still at home and begins to drive to across to reach his oldest daughter in upstate New York.  He drives from Los Angeles to Arizona to pick up his son at university and then heads to New Orleans, where he temporarily misplaces his son.  The family dynamics are all over the place during the drive.  It is an interesting story of interpersonal relationships and family history.

Grade-B

 

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen; 2015; $26.00; 371 pages; Grove Press, New York, NY; 978-0-8021-rec2345-9; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gregory Heights; 6/8/16-6/17/16

Why did I read this?  I am trying to read all of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize winners and this is the winner for fiction.

The main character is a communist spy who works on the staff of a South Vietnamese General. The story begins at the fall of Saigon in April 1975 and continues as the General, his family, staff and some friends are relocated to Southern California.  There the General opens a liquor store, his wife a Pho restaurant and begins to plan for an army to return to Vietnam and overthrow the regime.  The main character is half French and half Vietnamese and attended college in Southern California, and tends to see both sides of many things.  He continues to report on the General’s activities to his communist handler, he also gets recruited to act as an adviser for a movie about the war, it bears an amazing resemblance to a movie starring Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando. He returns to Vietnam to overthrow the regime (wink, wink) and to protect a friend.  He is captured and put in a reeducation camp and forced to write a confession, which it turns out is what we have been reading.

Grade-A Nguyen’s writing style reminds me of Pat Conroy.  This is a story filled with drama, pathos and friendship.  Be warned there a couple of very graphic scenes, not just of battles but of interrogations.

Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian

Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian; 2015; $18.00; 82 pages; The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL; 978-0226-20703-2; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 6/3/16-6/5/16

Why did I read this?  Back in 2012 I read a book about the Armenian Genocide from 1890 to 1922 called The Burning Tigris and the author of that is also the author of this, also it won the Pultizer Prize for poetry in 2016, and I am trying to read all the Pulitzer winners for this year.

Some of this poetry is extremely vivid and evokes some very powerful emotions, however there are portions that I read multiple times and still could not make sense them.  The author uses his emotions when he was helping to uncover bodies from the Armenian genocide as a starting point for a journey through time and his life.

Grade-A, how could a Pultizer winner anything less and some one it really moved me.

 

And the pendulum swings

bernieOutsider in the House by Bernie Sanders with Huck Gutman; 1997; 244 pages; Verso, London, UK; 1-85984-871-0; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 6/28/15-7/1/15

In 1997 Bernie Sanders  was a fairly unknown independent Senator from the state of Vermont.  Now is he gaining on the lead for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016.  In this book he expounds on what he believes is best for the United States to alleviate the huge gap between the top 1%  of the population and the rest of us.  He lays out step by step how to balance the budget and eliminate welfare, corporate welfare that is.  He speaks to the injustice in the way the law is used against the poor and abused by the rich.  As Larry Norman once said if all men are equal tell me why the rich are more equal than other.  I hope the publisher or someone see fits to reprint it.  It has been out of print for awhile and to top it off it was published by a company in the United Kingdom, I guess he couldn’t get anyone in the United States to publish it.

Grade-A

Did I enjoy it?  Yes, I thought I agreed with Bernie Sanders before I read it and now I know I do.  If he is to be elected many people will have to be convinced that their vote actually counts for something and that they should vote.

What is with the title of the review?  The pendulum of popular opinion has for years swung hugely to the right and to me I think it is swinging back to the left.