Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Friday, August 5, 2011

Late Rain & other book reviews ... and A Chinese Classic ...


Lynn Kostoff
Read by Kenneth Campbell

In many respects, this splendid mystery sounds more European than American. The action is cerebral (though still compelling), and the characters are well drawn, interesting, and unpredictable. Also, the humor is subtle and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Adding to the high quality is narrator Kenneth Campbell, who perfects the memorable characters: the good and bad cops who realistically outdo each other (listeners feel like eavesdroppers), the "loser" murderer and his creepy milieu, the charming, streetwise informant, and the elderly father suffering from Alzheimer's. Not only does the story keep listeners guessing until the end but there are moments of deep emotion and the characters are so good one hopes to meet them again. S.G.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine [Published: JULY 2011]

Sarah’s Key ... sold on the film I’ve yet to see (and will only see because of Kristin Scott Thomas), I did the kindle thing and bought the international bestseller. Author Rosnay touches on an impossible to ignore subject for me (anything to do with the insanity that was the holocaust grabs my attention).  The situation the book deals with in France under the Vichy government proved another lesson learned (TheVel' d'Hiv Roundup).  The author handled that aspect of the book deftly and the story quickly becomes a page turning thriller (as we cheer the little girl on). Yet, once some of the questions that keep us moving are answered, I felt the story wither and die, which is too far from the end, I thought ... and by books end, I was left feeling, “Eh.”

I will no doubt break one of my no more movie rules and see this one because Kristin Scott Thomas (I adore her and her films--especially those produced in France). Here’s the trailer:

Then last night, spurred on by yet another excellent review, (Benjamin Whitmer’s), except this one worked out for me, I did the kindle thing again and purchased Megan Abbott’s latest, The End of Everything. I was not disappointed. The reviews are for real. A story told by a 13 year old (Lizzie) whose best friend (Evie) suddenly goes missing and Lizzie was the last to have seen her. Abbott toys with the tricks memories can play, the why and how of those tricks and their concomitant results. Relationships (familial and otherwise) are dissected through the disappearance of a young girl in the mouthy town she's from; like a game of telephone, one rumor leads to another and so on. Kids at school do what kids at school do, especially at so young an age. Consequences too real for them to comprehend lay in wait. Yet it was some of the more subtle moments in this gripping novel that moved me most. Lizzie’s mother’s description of her initial weakness when her husband left her and her daughter alone was an exceptional moment for this reader. I couldn’t help but think back to what my mother had gone through when my father took off; the feeling of abandonment and rejection was crippling to observe as a 13 year old (myself). But Lizzie’s mother (like mine) bounced back, as do so many of the characters in this wonderfully written psychological thriller. Misdirection abounds as we try to get inside the head of the child the author has so deftly managed. This book is one not to be overlooked. Again, the excellent reviews are for real.

The Devils on the Doorstep ... a highly recommended film for those who favor a foreign touch, The Devils on the Doorstep is a quick changing mood masterpiece about a town held in the siege of a hostage situation. From Wiki: “ ... set in the last years of the Second Sino-Japanese War during World War II and tells the story of a Chinese villager who is forced by a mysterious figure to take custody of two prisoners from the Japanese Army (Yuan). Fearing both the mystery man and the Japanese, the village falls into a dilemma over what to do with the two prisoners.”

This one will take you from laughing out loud funny to cringing disbelief. Not for the fragile (not past the 3/4’s point, that’s for sure) ... a tough, yet wonderful film.

The Doc ... sent a very funny (as usual) piece that I’m having to put off until early next week because I’ve been behind schedule (writing, writing, writing) ... his post will appear early next week.

The wife’s birthday in a couple days ... she’ll be 40 or so ... again. Her freckles are in full summer bloom ... it’s a beautiful thing ... as is the wife.