Miss Selaine-ious
David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell PDF Print E-mail
Written by Selaine Henriksen   
Sunday, 16 February 2014 15:11

Gladwell writes so well he's a pleasure to read. I certainly enjoyed reading his latest. I found that, compared to his first books, everything he presented here was fairly self-evident.For example: David must have been really good at his thing, ie had a great arm and great aim? Makes sense. If you push people and oppress people enough they'll fight back whatever it takes? Um, yeah. Rich people's children have a hard time learning the value of hard work and money? Right. Rich and/or successful people tend to be driven for whatever reason? Okay. People who are happy where they are (ie in a school where they feel smart and valued) tend to do better than those who are miserable? Sure.
Although, in his defense, I have to say it's always worth beating the dead horse to prove statistically what seems self-evident. Because what seems obvious to me may not to someone else and so we'll always need an objective measure to determine what is of value. It's not about what "feels" right.

 
Life After Life Kate Atkinson PDF Print E-mail
Written by Selaine Henriksen   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 14:24

 

After all the high praise I approached this book with great expectations which may have been a disservice to the book. I did not find it compelling, in fact, after putting it down the first time, I had a hard time returning to it. "Boring" comes to mind. I kept expecting bigger things and being disappointed.
It's almost as though it could have used another draft. To quote Stephen King's "On Writing", you should read through your work with the theme in mind and then punch up those elements that stand out. 
Possible spoiler ALERT: It seemed in the beginning that Ursula as a child was aware of being reincarnated and consciously making different choices. Then as she grows the story slides away from that idea and the different choices she makes aren't shown to be by choice, more like a possibility. I would have preferred if Ursula hadn't been such a passive protagonist. The only action she seems to take is to shoot Hitler. Even then it feels unfinished. Maybe that's the idea but it felt unsatisfying.(less)
 
Mystery Times Ten 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Selaine Henriksen   
Thursday, 30 January 2014 20:35

Really fun anthology of mystery short stories. All the stories are a tad tongue-in-cheek. Lots of humor. Full disclosure: I have an entry:"My Grandmother's Attic."

A couple of stories are more supernatural in their mystery than typical mysteries, but all are well-written.

Fun. Definitely the word that comes to mind.

 
John Rain series Barry Eisler PDF Print E-mail
Written by Selaine Henriksen   
Sunday, 26 January 2014 14:10

This series is brilliant. The development of the main character is superb over the five books. I randomly picked up "Hard Rain" in a used bookstore. At first I wasn't interested and about put it back. "Assasins" and cia type thrillers don't particularly interest me. I hadn't found anything else, though, and was in a rush. I needed something for the cottage.

I read it and promptly read the first and all the rest. And I've re-read all of them at least three times now. That's how good they are. All credit to the author who has created this wonderful character and then added all these layers of information regarding the CIA, spy-craft, fighting, Japan and Japanese culture. I wouldn't have been interested to read about those things on my own; the character drives the books.

And now he has a new one in the series coming out next month. I'm thrilled and nervous. Nervous because he's going back in time, a prequel, to John Rain at a younger age. His character arc is so complete I'm worried it will be hard to stomach him as young, maybe stupid.

However, I trust Barry Eisler's writing skills well enough to give us a new glimpse into John's life (yeah, I'm on a first name basis with him after three readings). Truth be told, I can't wait!!

 
Coincidence Detection Selaine Henriksen PDF Print E-mail
Written by Selaine Henriksen   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 03:00

This is a review by  Judge, Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards:

There's a rich tradition of mystery novels where with a heroine, & even a ones where the heroine is a reader or where she has some kind of special powers that help fuel her career.  Here we get it all and it's hard not to like the ways in which these coincidences are presented or constructed.  Though it seems like the story gets off to a slow start, really it's all important backdrop to better understand Jane & how she's come to think about her life & her insight.  The reading throughout is compelling & well-paced, & really focuses on building action in a way that motivates the reader.  In addition to Jane, George is another character that really seems to be well-realized, fully alive.  His actions & talk all seem pitch-perfect.  Chapter 11 is a highlight where the author really is able to balance dialogue with character and information that pushes the plot forward but not in a heavy handed way.  Like so much about this book, it's handled gracefully and keeps the reader embroiled in the world being created page after page.

This was a contest so I didn't pay for the review directly. I thought it fairly good, although it would have been nice to at least place. I'm looking forward to reading the ones that did.

It's hard to find good self-published books, I've found. Many are so riddled with typos or grammatical errors that I can't get past the first few pages. And then I get overwhelmed with the selection out there and don't want to sift through the "slush pile".  So anything that helps narrow down the search, the better.

 
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