Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Perilous Adventures Of The Cowboy King


This historical novel relates the life of Theodore Roosevelt, nicknamed The Cowboy King, from his childhood until he takes office as President.  Roosevelt grew up a sickly child; his hero was his father known as Braveheart, who fought for those who were poor and persecuted.  As Roosevelt grew, he incorporated many of his father's ideals.  He couldn't abide to see those who were victimized by the wealthy, those despised because they didn't have the ability to be educated and make it in the upper crust.

Roosevelt moved from occupation to occupation in his early years.  He went out West where he fought for the ranchers.  He was one of the early police commissioners in New York, where he rooted out corruption.  He was an Undersecretary of the Navy.  From there, he found the role that defined his life.  He raised a regiment of volunteers to go to Cuba and fight the Spanish overlords who ruled the natives.  This regiment was the Rough Riders, and their battle of San Juan Hill gave Roosevelt the identity he had the rest of his life.

After that war, Roosevelt soon found himself being elected as the Governor of New York, then on to be nominated and elected as the Vice President under President McKinley.  When McKinley was assassinated, Roosevelt became President and there the novel ends.

Along the way, Charyn explores Roosevelt's character.  Written in first person narrative, the reader comes to know Theodore through his words, actions and thoughts rather than through the words of others.  He is a man fiercely devoted to those he takes on.  His first wife died in childbirth, leaving him with a daughter, Alice.  His second wife, a childhood friend, gave him five more children.  He was protective of his brood.  But he also had a second family; those men who served with him in Cuba.  He spent the rest of his life tied to each and every Rough Rider; helping them whenever he could as they readjusted to civilian life.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Booksie's Shelves, January 11, 2019


It's a new year and of course, there are so many books to look forward to.  In 2018, I read 129 books.  Of those, the ones I rated highest were:

1.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers by Tom Rachman
2.  All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
3.  Dark Saturday by Nicci French
4.  Oscar And Lucinda by Peter Carey
5.  Cryptonomicon by Neal Stevenson
6.  Circe by Madeline Miller
7.  Possession by A. S. Byatt
8.  The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

To celebrate the beginning of another year, I bought books.  I made a shipment from Book Depository for some books from overseas authors and then I stopped in and bought some more at a local bookstore.  Here's what's come through the door:

1.  The Noise Of Time, Julian Barnes, literary fiction, purchased
2.  The Girls In The Picture, Melanie Benjamin, historical fiction, sent by publisher
3.  John Crow's Devil, Marlon James, literary fiction, purchased
4.  Milkman, Anna Burns, literary fiction, purchased
5.  Rivers Of London, Ben Aaronovich, literary fiction, purchased
6.  English Animals, Laura Kaye, literary fiction, purchased
7.  Golden Hill, Francis Spufford, historical fiction, purchased
8.  Man V. Nature, Diane Cook, anthology, purchased
9.  Disclaimer, Renee Knight, mystery, purchased
10.  The Rook, Daniel O'Malley, thriller, purchased
11  The Child, Fiona Barton, thriller, purchased
12.  Visitation Street, Ivy Pochoda, mystery, purchased
13.  The Trespasser, Tana French, mystery, purchased
14.  Moonglow, Michael Chabon, literary fiction, purchased
15.  LaRose, Louise Erdrich, literary fiction, purchased
16.  The Wrong Side Of Goodbye, Michael Connelly, mystery, purchased
17.  Sycamore, Bryan Chancellor, mystery, purchased
18.  The Past, Tessa Hadley, literary fiction, purchased

Here's what I'm reading:

1.  Rembrandt's Eyes, Simon Schama, hardcover
2.  Autonomous, Annalee Newitz, Kindle Fire
3.  The Perilous Adventures Of Cowboy King, Jerome Charyn, hardcover
4.  Lethal White, Robert Galbraith, audio
5.  The Children's Crusade, Ann Packer, hardcover

6.  There But For The, Ali Smith, paperback
7.  The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton, Kindle Fire
8.  Quietus, Vivian Shilling, paperback


Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett


Sancia Grado is a thief.  She lives in Foundryside, a slum which is home to all those considered not worthy of living in the gated merchant enclaves that make up most of the city Tevanne.  Sancia wasn't always a thief, although she has a hard time remembering her life before being one.  She knows that she was a slave on one of the plantations and she remembers pain and fire. 

Sancia has talents that the average person does not.  She can touch things like walls and receive data, knowing where the weak spots and footballs are.  This ability is the reason she is known in Tevanne as the master thief to hire if the job is difficult.  Sancia is hired to steal a small box for an enormous sum.  She accomplishes the task and that is where her life change begins.

What she has stolen is an artifact of the old masters.  It is a key and it begins to talk to her, introducing itself as Clef and telling her about its ability.  Clef can open any door.  Most doors are sealed by magic as magic is the ingredient on which all the great merchant houses are built.  The houses employ scrivers who have the ability to program inanimate objects and change their properties.  Clef can talk to the object and find the weakness in its program that allows him to change its function. 

Sancia soon realizes that she has an object that is in high demand, one that others will kill to obtain.  Clef is the necessary piece that will allow the unlocking of all the knowledge of the old masters, and the ability to force every individual to the powerholder's will.  She must form an alliance with unlikely allies such as Gregor, a soldier born to the elite class who wants to bring justice to Trevanne, and Orso and Berenice, scrivers employed by the house Gregor comes from.  Can this group thwart the plans of those who want to enslave humanity?

Robert Jackson Bennett is considered one of the best young fantasy writers.  He has twice won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel.  He has won an Edgar for Best Paperback Original and a Philip K. Dick Citation Of Excellence.  This novel is the beginning of a new trilogy.  The plot is intriguing but the main interest comes from the characters who populate his world.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Sunstroke by Jesse Kellerman


When Gloria Mendez gets the call from her boss, she is concerned.  As far as she knew, Carl had gone for a vacation, giving her time off as well as his secretary.  But his message says that he is in trouble and even worse, she didn't get the message immediately so she has no idea where he is or what has happened to him.

Gloria is thirty-six, a divorcee with a policeman ex-husband.  She has worked for Carl for several years and always felt that a romance would eventually happen with them.  There has never been any overt action by Carl that would make one believe that but self-delusion is common and Gloria couldn't believe that her crush wouldn't one day lead to a relationship between them.

Now she feels that she needs to go find Carl.  He has no one else and she feels responsible.  She goes to Mexico which was his destination but finds little answer except that he has died in a car crash.  She is sent home by a disreputable law officer with a vase of his cremated ashes.  When she gets home, however, she discovers that the urn doesn't contain human remains.  Then a mysterious stranger shows up and he is also looking for Carl.  They decide to join forces and as they search, Gloria learns things about Carl she would never have suspected.  But will her new knowledge help her find him?

This is the debut novel for Jesse Kellerman.  He comes from a writing family; his father and mother, Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, are both writers in the mystery genre.  Prior to this novel, Jesse Kellerman has written plays and found success in that field.  Readers will be interested to read his first entry into the mystery genre.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Monster In The Box by Ruth Rendell


Walking around town one day, Chief Inspector Wexford sees someone he never expected to see again.  Thirty years before, he was a raw policeman, new to everything.  When he attended his first murder, a woman who was strangled, he saw a man on the street who gazed at him with a challenge in his eyes.  That man was Eric Targo.  When Wexford was assigned to get his statement, Targo was smug and condescending and somehow Wexford knew he had done the murder.  He reported his suspicions but there was no motive or proof tying Targo to the crime and he was never charged.

Afterward Targo moved to another town but Wexford kept an eye on him over the years.  Targo didn't seem to like people very much but he loved animals and always had a dog.  He ran kennels and was involved in dog breeding.  He went through women fairly quickly.  There were several other unexplained and uncharged murders in the towns Targo lived in but no one seemed to find him a suspect.  Wexford, however, continued to think of him as the monster who got away.

Now Targo is back in his town and is again his responsibility,  When there is a new murder surrounding him, Wexford is sure Targo is back to his old crimes.    Can Wexford bring him to justice at the end of his career to come full circle from the beginning of his career? 

This is the 22nd Inspector Wexford novel.  Ruth Rendell is a master of suspense and Wexford is her most successful character.  He is a policeman who has risen through the ranks, not gifted with superpowers but an insight into human behavior and a reliance on police procedure.  He sees things in behavior that often escapes others and his deductions often prove to be true when no one else can see what he sees.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.