Ride The River (Louis L’Amour)

A quick yet enjoyable read. Somewhere in the Tennessee hills in 1840, there is a young gal named Echo Sackett and she never wastes a bullet. Whatever this feisty girl aims at – she hits – and can ride and hunt as well as any man. One day a traveling peddler comes across her family name in a newspaper. Upon reading it, Echo decides to travel to Philadelphia because the newspaper reveals there is an inheritance waiting for the youngest living Sackett. Arriving in Philadelphia, however, Echo discovers that a greedy lawyer never intended the article to reach Tennessee, let alone hand the rightful heir the money. A kindly, old lawyer becomes involved and after attaining about three grand and a ruby in a box, Echo undertakes a perilous journey home with thieves and murderers constantly shooting at her or stealing her bag. But these legal shysters and evil doers do not know who they are dealing with…

Amid all the horse riding, stagecoach hopping, stream rolling, canoeing, and in between shooting off bad guys’ ears, Echo develops a crush on the kindly lawyer’s nephew, who has come along attempting to help her reach home safely. Echo shows us all that she is certainly capable of making it on her own, and with her sense of humour intact too. The only thing I didn’t like was the prose. Whereas I understand the use of uneducated prose when people are actually speaking, I found it unnecessary when Echo was simply narrating. This is a refreshing adventure that pits a small Sackett female against a bunch of big men a couple of decades before the Civil War. Neither city slickers nor run-of-the-mill woodsmen are going to steal from this mountain girl! Old fashioned fun but the two page ending is pretty abrupt. 🙂

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Domain (James Herbert)

This novel is better in every way than its predecessors and could be read as a stand alone. However, reading all three gives you the ongoing story of the evolution of the Rats and the twists this takes are genuinely shocking. Herbert’s style may be a bit pulpy for some and some of his characters nothing more than stereotypes but like many enjoyable Hollywood films, what it lacks in depth it more than makes up for in high impact thrills. The author has added a little more depth and intrigue to the characters, missing in the first two, this time round.
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The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)

This is for any reader who goes weak at the knees for a group of tragic boys with tragic pasts who are outwardly dangerous and feared, but are actually soft marshmallows underneath and love each other more than life–and would die for each other. Yes, its another book about sensitive teenage boys who alternately get into gang fights, hug one another and burst into tears. Then there’s the tight T shirts and lots of muscle admiring. Even though they’re always complimenting each other’s pretty hair and doing gymnastics, it’s not gay at all because it takes place in 1965, shortly after James Dean had made crying and homoerotic tension cool. [Read more…]

The Christmas Train (David Baldacci)

There is something enchanting about a train ride experience. And this is a pleasing Christmas read that takes place on a cross-country train trip from Washington DC to Los Angeles. It has fun settings, train facts and interesting characters. I am really impressed by this story. Reading like an old b& w film, our middle-aged hero wants to gain some peace and encounters romance, mystery, humour and adventure during his soul-searching journey. [Read more…]

Phantoms (Dean Koontz)

At the beginning of this novel, the author has added an apology for writing it and I understand why. Phantoms is scary! There is something so extraordinarily powerful, capable of wiping out a whole town, capable of being everywhere at once, something omnipresent and omnipotent…and yet I had no clue what it was for a good chunk of the book. But I was aware that everyone in that town pretty much got their asses kicked (and worse), and I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t there with them. But I won’t give away any major plot spoilers. [Read more…]

The Hour Of The Oxrun Dead (Charles L Grant)

Those staples of horror–the rundown graveyard, the sinister shape in the fog, the strange noises in the night–they’re all here in spades, but rather than feeling clichéd, the late Charles L. Grant (who wrote under 5 other names as well) has fashioned them into an engaging little novel of 1970s paranoia. And his style is very moody and languid. He makes you wait, and if you enjoy the journey, that seemed to be his goal. Grant was a leading proponent of the quiet horror movement. Other than the odd quirk that might annoy the reader, like his heroine repeatedly fainting, if you like misdirection and mystery this just might be your cup of tea.
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Noble House (James Clavell)

Ignore the “New York Times Bestseller” blurb on the cover. That is like an Oscar. Very annoying and no guarantee of quality. (But this is a good novel, despite the New York Times endorsing it) It’s rare for a book of this size to maintain its pace, but this one manages it. A great business novel with a large cast of larger than life characters from governors to coolies in the cauldron that is Hong Kong. The plot twists and turns with many unexpected turns and stories within stories. The characters themselves are far removed from anyone I have ever met and operate in a moral framework that is utterly alien. Yet one can’t help but sympathize with them as every one of them goes about achieving their own aims with ruthless rationality. [Read more…]

The Dog Of The South (Charles Portis)

This is one of those books that will make you shake your head in wonder at how much contemporary fiction is dull, lifeless trash, just because it’s so subtle and hilarious that to admire its virtues is to bring the flaws of others into sharp contrast by implication. The Dog of the South provides a sprawling panoramic view of a particular strain of American culture, with its mix of simple, uncomplicated religious belief and modern economics that seems to winnow the very life and meaning out of the country.  The prose style is very artful and the character of the doctor is an American type very reminiscent of the traveling hucksters and other marginal types found in Mark Twain’ or in O’ Tooles “Confederacy of Dunces”. [Read more…]

The World Of Suzy Wong (Richard Mason)

(This post is for the guy who discovers that Miss Right has turned out to be Miss Wong)

I will own up to finding many Oriental names amusing: Ping, Pong, Wing, Wang etc. So, Ms Wong’s name cracks me up. What a classic title, whether for book or film, or stage play. Her infamous moniker conjours up images of seedy red light districts and STD clinics. Here its the novel I’m focusing on. Some 21st century snowflakes are horrified by this book, screeching how wacist it is because a western man wrote it. These SJW’s desperately search for evidence of ‘stereotypying’ ‘Yellow Fever’ ‘misogyny’ or ‘colonial attitudes’ – all wrapped up in Trotsky’s r word. These types of reviewers are the ‘hateful’ ones, not the author. They probably even object to the name of the friggin hotel much of the action takes place in. [Read more…]

The Butterfly Garden (Dot Hutchison)

This is a psychological/mystery/horror thriller – that won’t be to everyone’s liking; due to the subject matter. (And there’s bound to be a big screen version) It starts off with two FBI agents, Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison, interviewing a young woman, Maya/Inara, who was rescued with other girls that were being held captive by a person only known as ‘The Gardener.’ The garden is a New York–set paradise complete with beautiful trees and flowers, streams and ponds, a cliff and a waterfall. But in reality it is a prison, fully enclosed by walls and glass within a larger garden from which there is no escape. [Read more…]

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