Friday, December 30, 2016

In the Dreaming HourIn the Dreaming Hour by Kathryn Le Veque

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Victory Hembree committed the greatest sin possible in pre-civil-rights era Mississippi and her nasty redneck father responded just as we knew he would. The doctor who delivered the baby smuggled her from the ante-bellum mansion in a Coke crate covered with bloody towels while claiming she had been stillborn. Eighty years later, Victory’s granddaughter receives a letter from beyond the grave charging her with the responsibility of finding the woman who had been that forbidden child. Add to the mixture, creepy cousin Clyde who has a perverted attraction to granddaughter, Lucy, and knockout Sheriff Beau Meade who has a more acceptable attraction to her. Lucy is reeling from a recent divorce and fantasizes leaving her defense attorney job in Los Angeles to restore the family estate to its former glory. Maybe she will also let the alluring sheriff make his move, but first she has a task and only a few days to accomplish it.

In the Dreaming Hour is a well-crafted tale of love lost, racism and redemption with a component of terror and violence. Katheryn LeVeque is a fine storyteller whose characters are well developed. The author calls In the Dreaming Hour a contemporary romance. In the opinion of this reader, it is more than that. In fact, the romance element is secondary to the rather complex plot.

Katheryn LeVeque was kind enough to speak to our La Verne Writers' Group. She is a very successful self-published author with sixty books to her credit. The group agreed that we should give her a try. My opinion is that she is a better storyteller than writer.

Price is $4.99
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Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Wright BrothersThe Wright Brothers by David McCullough

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everything that was known about aeronautics was wrong. The Wright brothers started in a hole of misinformation and had to discover all of what they eventually learned the hard way—often by falling out of the sky. Beginning with gliders on the soft, sandy hills near Kitty Hawk, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, they studied the physics of lift. They abandoned that first glider to a local fisherman whose wife removed the fabric from the wings and made dresses for her daughters. Two years later the first powered Wright Flyer flew exactly four times. The longest flight was fifty-nine seconds. When the brothers began to publically demonstrate their machine in a field outside of Dayton, the United States government paid no attention. The first real notice they received was from France. Wilbur and Orville agreed that they should never fly together so that if one were killed, the other could continue their work. Another remarkable fact herein revealed is that the team did not solely consist of the Wright brothers, there was a Wright sister, Katherine, whose support played an invaluable part in the success of her siblings’ endeavor. Plus, they had a mechanical genius running the bicycle shop who built the Flyers’ engines. There is infinitely more to the story of first flight than we learned in school.

David McCullough has a long reputation of being one of America’s greatest historians. In The Wright Brothers he has told the story of a uniquely American triumph. The insight into the singular characters of these obsessed inventors from Dayton, Ohio, is told in brilliant clear and clean prose that reads like a novel. The depth of Mr. McCullough’s research is, as always, phenomenal. The reader is drawn intimately into the race to build the first successful airplane. We share the determination, single-minded persistence and emotional backlash as the Wrights devote their nearly ascetic lives to the goal of flight. If the term ‘Must Read’ is a cliché, so be it. The Wright Brothers is definitely a must read.

Great last minute Christmas present.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

It Was Required Reading in The La Verne Writers Group

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The lives of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy come together during wartime in the light of an enormous diamond with a curse. Werner has a gift for building and operating radios. Marie-Laure’s uncle has a secret transmitter in the attic. The diamond is hidden in a wooden model of the house. A Nazi gemologist is determined to find it.

All the Light We Cannot See is for readers who love word paintings. I do not. Mr. Doerr’s literary gymnastics are extraordinary. This is a very long book that would be halved by the elimination of the metaphors. The prose is tortured with unorthodox word usage. ‘He upholsters himself in his uniform...’, ‘...blood gallops through his ventricles...’, ‘breath smells like crushed insects’ are some jarring examples. There are also some anachronisms. Continental drift is said to be identified during the war 1938-1945, whereas, it in fact was not accepted until the fifties. I also objected to references to miles and yards in Europe where it should have been meters and kilometers. Whole chapters seem to do nothing to advance the story and curious statements appear baffling. For example: the blind girl hears a dove, that’s fine, but the next sentence is: ‘Out in the harbor a sturgeon makes a single leap like a silver horse and then is gone.’ First, sturgeons are fresh water bottom dwellers that, to my knowledge, are not prone to leap—I could be wrong, however, the sentence has nothing whatever to do with the blind girl inside her room. The viewpoint shifts are myriad and being written in present tense is not a style that appeals to me. If you love to linger long in novel phrasing, this for you. It wasn’t for me.

Very Long, almost 600 pages on a Nook
Price $13.99
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