RaveThe New York Journal of BooksWhether your politics travel on the left, the right, or somewhere in between, Chris Matthews’ recent memoir is one that you will not want to miss ... Through each of these books, Matthews’ chapters are, for the most part, short, but his clear, concise, and tight writing gives the reader the idea that nothing has been left out. He presents a positive attitude toward all of his experiences, even those disappointments that could have stopped him cold ... It should be noted that while his story is based primarily on the many journalistic and political experiences, there is a poignancy to his writing when he talks about meeting Kathleen, his wife, and the deaths of his parents. The closeness of family is an underlying foundation to this story as he shares the importance of the people closest to him and how their support moved him forward ... It’s difficult to share the finite details that rise to the surface as Matthews takes the reader from his youth through his life experiences. The bottom line is this is a book that should be read and shared and enjoyed ... As one finishes reading This Country, one is left with the sense that the story is not over yet— and we should all stay tuned to this station for the next chapter of Chris Matthews’ experiences.
Jean Hanff Korelitz
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksKorelitz is skilled at dropping the clues and fixating Jake on his uncontrolled desire to move forward. In Jake, she has designed a protagonist who is self-centered and at times somewhat arrogant, but considering he is also designed as a mega-star with his writing success, the reader tends to ignore these characteristics ... One clever piece of plot writing on Korelitz’s part is that she inserts brief sections of Jake’s book into the story and with these brief pieces, she begins to connect Jake’s plot with reality ... Korelitz tends to write heavy in narrative with an abundance of parenthetical asides that don’t seem to be entirely necessary. That said, however, she lays out a strong story without distractions, and the reader easily turns the page to learn what happens next ... To say the end of the story is a real twist would be a huge understatement and certainly an ending that was not expected. The Plot is hard to put down and worth the (short) time it takes to read it.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksA pretty strong premise but the first half of the story reads more like a Hollywood gossip column than a mystery ... A strong opening but the story starts to sag from there through the first half of the book, as Tapper takes the reader into a lengthy backstory that leads up to finding the body ... just as the overkill of Hollywood and political stories starts to get old, the reader gets to the second part of the book, and activity starts to pick up ... there is a sense that many things are happening around Charlie and Margaret over which they have no control, and as protagonists, they don’t really take a strong role in resolving these mysteries ... Once one gets past the first half of the story, the pages begin to turn in more rapid succession. For those who are younger and not aware of many of the stories that Tapper relates, the gossip column aspect can be fun, but they still have to muddle through those stories to get to the meat of the matter ... However, Tapper is to be congratulated on the heavy research he did in order to bring these stories to the forefront.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThis story is not a mystery as we all expect, but a mystery of how people react to one another. Silver’s approach to these characters is dynamic not in the relationship between the families as much as the relationships within the families ... While the story is thin of plot, the underlying theme of the story—how tragedy affects each of us—rises to the top to be considered in its entirety ... Silver’s writing is strong—probably her strongest skill. Her vocabulary is varied and robust; she chooses words carefully, designed to color the settings, the characters, and, yes, the plot ... character driven, and the reader will get wrapped up in each character’s purpose and the story’s theme. A definite keeper.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"It is a gripping story about a Bonnie and Clyde couple way before Bonnie and Clyde ever made the scene ... One of the more intriguing aspects of the story is the treatment by the press and the resulting admiration by the public ... And yet Stout brings the story to its obvious and expected conclusion with the reporting of several trials—the one Richard basically won in Buffalo, and the one he definitely lost in Baltimore ... Stout...ties up the loose ends nicely ... definitely worth spending time with a couple who, for just a short time, lived their wild dreams.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksGates has created a good set of suspects, and a strong premise for an interesting cozy mystery. She includes a good romance between Lucy and the mayor of Nags Head, Connor MacNeil, and yet does not let that romance take the story off in another direction. Everything fits in well. It should also be noted that Gates’ police officer is portrayed as an intelligent detective who recognizes the value of Lucy’s input—a nice switch from other cozies. The writing is strong with good description, heavy tension, and a good sense of location. Gates does a particularly good job of setting clues and red herrings for the reader to deal with and ties up all the loose ends. It’s a fast read; save a weekend for this one. It won’t be disappointing.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... sheds new light on President Truman’s role and the initiatives he was involved in, including bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, establishing the Truman Doctrine, and supporting Israel, just to name a few.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksThe Silent Conspiracy by L. C. Shaw is a story that bends in the wind. It is two separate stories that are pulled together unexpectedly. In this story, Shaw has created two main characters, two protagonists, each with his and her own failings that are intricately woven into the foundation of the story ... The Silent Conspiracy is wrapped in tension and conflict on all levels and yet there are moments when a scene here or there stops the reader, because an outcome is just too convenient. It’s as if Shaw realized that she went down a path and came to a dead end, then had to construct a simple way out ... the premise is a good one, the tension is high, and the characters are well developed. The end, however, is constructed to leave the reader hanging and with a desire to buy the next installment. Not a good wrap-up to the end of a good story.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksBetter than pulp fiction, close to noir, maybe with a touch of Chandleresque thrown in for good measure ... As with all good thrillers, at the end, Last Dance throws out all the red herrings, ties up the loose ends, and sets the story for the next in the Sam Carver series. Fleishman’s writing style is reminiscent of the 1940s style of the likes of Raymond Chandler, and yet Fleishman seems to take it one step further. The story is alive; it breathes; every paragraph brings the reader a sense of being there, of being Carver. Fleishman’s writing in the first person ensures that the reader is always in Carver’s mind.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksBetter than pulp fiction, close to noir, maybe with a touch of Chandleresque thrown in for good measure ... As with all good thrillers, at the end, Last Dance throws out all the red herrings, ties up the loose ends, and sets the story for the next in the Sam Carver series ... Fleishman’s writing style is reminiscent of the 1940s style of the likes of Raymond Chandler, and yet Fleishman seems to take it one step further. The story is alive; it breathes; every paragraph brings the reader a sense of being there, of being Carver. Fleishman’s writing in the first person ensures that the reader is always in Carver’s mind.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksLucky Luciano, Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, and a multitude of other criminal names are often recognized before the names are even spoken. But what about Abe \'Kid Twist\' Reles? ... In A Brotherhood Betrayed author Michael Cannell introduces the reader to Reles in minute detail, starting with his minor league crimes in Brooklyn until he rises to \'assassin-in-chief for an underworld death squad loosely known as Murder, Inc.\' ... Cannell winds up his story with what happened to many of the characters, and he closes the loop well. Cannell’s telling of this story is page turning. His research is unquestionable, his descriptions chilling, and his character development is absolutely visual ... This book is a fast read and informative.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksGrisham designs his characters in three dimensions to ensure that the reader not only sees them but understands them, even with all the warts that make them human. Even his secondary characters such as Jake’s wife Carla and Stuart Kofer’s father Earl have depth to them that so often eludes other writers’ skills ... The last quarter of the book is the trial and is probably the fastest read in the entire story, but that is not to say the book doesn’t move well from beginning to end. It does, and Grisham has a knack for throwing curves into the story that, with any other writer, could be distracting, but with Grisham every curve is woven into the story and builds the tension through to the end ... Grisham is one of the premier authors of mystery thrillers of contemporary writing. He explains the law in terms that the average reader can understand while at the same time laying out a story that moves quickly and is hard, if not impossible, to put down. After 30-plus novels, Grisham proves that he is not about to let up.
Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe questions are well designed to give the author the opportunity to expand on their own lives and what, if any, specifics they have used in their writing ... The double interview they do with Michael Chabon his wife Ayelet Waldman is particularly interesting ... This is a very good read, especially at introducing writers at all levels to authors they may want to know more about.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a fast, and at times, hilarious read. Osman has done an outstanding job of bringing his characters to life and making them as individual as if they were real. This is definitely a read for a cold, rainy night with a cup of tea and some scones.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksSager weaves these stories together, chapter by chapter, until Ewan’s chapters end. Sager then wraps up Maggie’s side of the story with very neat details that make sense and leave the reader with a satisfactory ending ... Although the multiple first-person points of view (written in different print fonts) can at times be distracting, Sager has laid out an exciting story that is hard to put down.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksIf you are searching for a nonfiction, historical study that romanticizes the Old West (U.S.), do not look here. But if you are looking for a Western tale that gets down into the nitty-gritty of late 19th and early 20th centuries, look no further ... The book delves deep into Cassidy’s history, his family, his beliefs, and his ethics . . . be they what they were. One can’t help but like this man as presented in the pages of Leerhsen’s book. The ending is particularly interesting in that people chose not to believe that Cassidy and Sundance were cut down in Bolivia. At the location where they are said to be buried, the question still remains today: Who’s really buried there? ... a fast read, and Leerhsen’s writing style is engaging and believable—a good way to spend a quiet weekend and learn the truth about the Old West.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksIn each of Weir’s creative nonfiction novels, she is careful to develop the primary character of each queen, to the facts of history. Her research is excellent, and her creative imagination develops each character in her books to be good and true, or devious and greedy, depending entirely upon the facts she has uncovered and the individuals involved ... Weir is a respected historian, an expert on the Tudor line, and she applies her creative imagination to present a novel that is hard to put down. The queens are not cookie-cutter characters, but lifelike, real persons with flaws that often dictated their downfall. The same holds true with her presentation of King Henry VIII as a man of great power, who wields that power to his benefit, but also as a man of human feelings and frailties ... Weir is exceptionally good at showing how a young woman, unfamiliar with life’s treacherous twists and turns, can be easily manipulated, even as she grows into a queen who, herself, wields power that she does not understand.
Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman
MixedNew York Journal of BooksThe good news is that the story’s premise holds water ... Suffice to say all of the characters come together at the end with several interesting twists and unexpected turns, and issues are resolved . . . perhaps not to the best interest of all the characters, and justice may not always be served, but everything is tied up neatly. The not-so-good news is that the writing is messy and difficult to get through. DePalma and Lehman use an omniscient point of view that is authorial in nature. That is, the reader is told what is going on rather than participating in the story and experiencing the characters’ actions. Parenthetical asides abound throughout the story, asides that are either designed to be cute little comments or to inform the reader of what they already know. There is also a lot of second person point of view that slows the pace of what is an otherwise good story premise. DePalma and Lehman use a lot of background that would be better brought forward early in the story. This is another distracting activity that slows the pace ... If the creative writing technique failures don’t bother the reader, they may enjoy the story itself.
Phillipa K. Chong
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksAlthough there are times when Chong gets a bit wordy and perhaps repetitive, her overall take on book reviewers and their work is well organized and informative. A must read for anyone interested in the challenge of book reviewing.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThere are moments in McBride’s story that are drop dead funny ... McBride does an amazing job of bringing everything together, tied up in a neat little package, with some unusual twists along the way ... James McBride fans will add Deacon King Kong to his list of successes. As is his strength, McBride brings characters to life through humor, pain, anger, and poignancy as few authors can.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksFor that author who wants to expand his or her horizons and try something new, Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk is the book to pick up ... His presentation is very casual, and at times laugh-out-loud funny as he relates episodes in his life that have taught him how to write, or what not to do with his writing! ... Chuck Palahniuk writes short . . . that is to say, his message is concise, given to us in few, well-chosen words that get the point across without a lot of fuss. And yet his message is detailed ... For the author who is looking for a new way to express herself, Consider This is a good place to start that journey. You may not agree with everything he says, but listen carefully. There is a world of information in this small book.
Michael Crichton and Daniel H. Wilson
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksWIlson has taken Michael Crichton’s story and reawakened the terror of that invasion from space but added some interesting twists ... picks up the same chills that Crichton gave us, right from the beginning. Wilson applies an interesting style to his writing. The Andromedia Evolution is, in many instances, written as a report—that is, written after the fact, while at other times the reader is taken right into the story as it unfolds through the points of view of the various characters ... Wilson has constructed a good follow up to Crichton’s Andromeda Strain. It’s a fast read and well-constructed. There are moments in the writing that are more authorial than character driven, but the story is so well told and fast-paced that the viewpoint issues are of little concern ... Crichton fans will not be disappointed.
MixedThe New York Journal of Books... difficult reading for several reasons—its extreme length, its wandering story arc, and its disappearing protagonist, just to name a few ... Although the story follows this general arc, Connolly has created so many new characters and places and organizations, and detailed so much backstory for all of them, that the story wanders through a maze of history and crime that leads the reader off track. The story would have potential were it not for these extensive backstories ... While it might be said that some of the information adds depth to Parker’s chase, one wonders if it could not have been done with less extensive wandering detail. It is not until one reads over 400 pages that the story actually starts to pick up speed ... One of the most discouraging things about reading A Book of Bones is that the main protagonist, Charlie Parker, seems to get lost in the mist – disappearing for too many pages and too many chapters – while other new characters have their own story to tell. Charlie’s role as the major protagonist fails ... It should be noted that Connolly writes grisly murder scenes that can disrupt one’s sleep! Now, thrillers are expected to have some grisly scenes, and that is all well and good, but in this book, one loses count of all the murders that take place—good guys, bad guys, and so many in between ... Connolly’s research of real places is excellent; his description clear and visual. His characters are well-developed, and his writing style creates a good story. Perhaps in the next Charlie Parker adventure, he will shave off a paragraph or two of backstory and give Charlie and his other characters more visibility on a regular basis.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksTo say that Deborah Crombie\'s most recent book, A Bitter Feast, is a page-turner would be an understatement ... Crombie lays before the reader a maze with stops and starts at every turn. Her writing style invests in every character as she designs scenes full of detail from that character\'s point of view. She details information in brief scenes that lead the reader out of the dead-end maze only to make another turn and wait for the next crumb of information ... Plan a full weekend of tea and scones because this one is not to be put down.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksFive Days Gone by Laura Cumming is a passionate and poignant story about a search for five days in her mother’s life ... Cumming, an art critic, journalist, and author, has a grasp of the language that flows through a number of twists and turns that the story takes. Cumming’s curiosity forces her to follow even the smallest of crumbs, determined to learn about her mother’s abduction, and further still, the secrets of her birth ... Five Days Gone is a book that is hard to put down. Even the side stories prove to be metaphors of the life of a little girl who grew up without a past. It is a satisfying ending to a curious mystery.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThe once welcoming small-town environment has become a large city and is no longer fun to read about. Having said that, however, the story itself is strong, the plot a good one that has the reader turning the pages with lightning speed ... It is comforting for fans of both the TV and the book series to rely upon the appearance of regular favorites ... As with all Murder, She Wrote stories, this one culminates in a satisfactory ending ... With the changes to Cabot Cove, and the twisted ending, it’s difficult to determine how any of the stories in this series will continue. With Cabot Cove’s growth, the entire sense of location is lost. Will Jessica and her group of cohorts move to another small community and start over? Probably not, but the sense of community is adrift, making future readings disappointing for true fans. That consideration notwithstanding, the story is a good one and a fast read.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksFrieswick writes a good story—a real page-turner. She perhaps spends a bit too much time on character background ... Regardless, it’s a quick read with lots of plot twists and an exciting finish ... Frieswick leaves several loose ends ... It should be said however, that several of the loose ends leave the door open for another Carys Jones story in the making. One can only hope.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"... a well-designed web knitting history together with the story of Brooklyn, NY—before it became a borough and after—and the lives and experiences of the queer people who populated the community ... One of the most interesting aspects of Ryan’s work is his deep research into queer individuals whose lives intertwined with Brooklyn’s growth ... In When Brooklyn Was Queer, Ryan digs deeper into both the history of Brooklyn, and its queer community more than any other book ... For those who know little or nothing about either topic, this will be a fascinating read and a learning experience. For those who are familiar with both topics, it will be an acknowledgement of a topic all too often buried in the sands near Coney Island.\
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksMarcantonio brings her characters to life through vivid storytelling. Felicity is especially engaging as the protagonist. An independent, well-educated, wealthy woman, she is gifted with a flawless memory, absolute recall of everything she has encountered throughout her life ... The story moves quickly, it never wavers or moves off point. Clues are cleverly positioned for the reader to find ... Marcantonio really does an excellent job of keeping her protagonist one step ahead of the reader, while still giving the reader all the clues. It does, however, become obvious who the killer is, just a few steps before Felicity determines the identity, and yet the story continues to be intriguing to see how Felicity will resolve the problem and dispatch the killer ... the first in this series, and if Marcantonio continues in this vein, she will have a good series with many fans.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Robertson has approached the story from a different angle. Although the first part of the book is dedicated to the murder, it is the second part of the book that is so fascinating—the trial, in all its truths and mistruths ... Without giving away the end, Robertson guides the reader through the maze of false starts and abrupt stops, unexpected turns, and frightening revelations ... In The Trial of Lizzie Borden, Robertson displays her writing and researching skills in this piece of creative nonfiction that reads almost as a novel. It’s hard to put the book down from the very beginning through to the end.\
D. W. Pasulka
MixedNew York Journal of Books\"American Cosmic is at times difficult for the average reader to understand. It frequently takes the shape of a doctoral thesis—an academic dissertation waiting for its final argument ... American Cosmic is an intriguing book that lays bare an enormous amount of research to prove a point. While Pasulka’s theory joining religion, technology, and UFOs should not be discounted, it is at times a difficult read, and may put off the reader who is not totally convinced.\
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"For the anglophile who revels in long-ago history of England, Scotland, and those general environs, then Kate Williams’s new book, The Betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots should be on his or her immediate wish list ... the depth of Williams’s research dredges up behaviors and bad treatments that surrounded Mary throughout her life, much closer than Elizabeth ... Williams does an exemplary job of researching Mary’s life and placing it before us as a series of betrayals ... In spite of the depth and detail of this book, it is a fast read and worth sitting with a cup of tea by a warm fire from first page to last.\
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Gaynor has woven a good story here, as she travels backward and forward in time to connect these women’s lives. Her command of the language is excellent, her ability to put the reader right in the story—experiencing the tragedies and the joys—along with the characters, is well done. If there is anything that draws one away, it is her use of three first-person points of view as well as two third person POVs. It is often confusing and difficult to determine who’s mind we are in ... Having said that, the story is well laid out, all of the clues are tied up at the end of the story, and it is a satisfactory read.\
MixedNew York Journal of Books\"Now, Daly has a good setup here, but her carry-through is weak at times ... It should be noted that Daly does a good job of keeping the real culprit under wraps until the end of the story, so the reader has all the suspects, just needs to figure out whodunnit before the end of the story. It’s a good premise and Daly does a respectable job of laying out all the clues ... Not a disappointment, just some things that are hard to figure out.\
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksEvan Fallenberg’s novel The Parting Gift takes the reader through the emotional turmoil of love, lust, trust, and mistrust that often accompanies affairs of the heart ... Fallenberg has designed a main character who is not terribly likable, and yet, an Everyman, because \'he\' experiences those same tough sides of life that everyone experiences, and he deals with them in much the same way as Everyman does. The story is so well put together that the reader almost takes the lead from one step to the next. We think we know what’s going to happen next, and then we discover we are wrong . . . or are we? And at the end, Fallenberg leaves the reader wondering the true purpose of this lengthy letter—until the very last sentence. This is a small book, quickly read, and definitely belongs on the library shelf!
Therese Bohman, Trans. by Marlaine Delargy
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThe reader is challenged to follow the gossamer threads of the story as conveyed through Karolina’s thoughts, as these thoughts often digress from the storyline, which itself is often opaque ... Her thoughts often veer off in unusual directions as she considers things such as experiments with apes and traumatic events with ferries crashing into towns. And yet, as the human thought process often goes, these thought mazes are accepted as normal. It is at times difficult to maintain the interest that this book deserves because of the internal narrative of the main character ... There are moments when the clutter of Karolina’s thoughts drags the reading almost to a halt, but taken on the whole, the book puts us in mind of our own thought processes and the many directions they take on any given day. The book is a good read for when there is plenty of time and few distractions.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThose Wild Wyndhams is a beautifully written, thoroughly researched tale of family, friends, and history. It is an easy read, with humor, pathos, and the curious behaviors of its fully three-dimensional characters.