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techeditor has commented on (162) products.

No Book But the World by Leah Hager Cohen
No Book But the World

techeditor, May 17, 2015

This story, if true, might break your heart. Even as a novel, NO BOOK BUT THE WORLD will leave you sad and angry at the waste of a life.

Ava and her younger brother Fred have been raised by two parents who are free thinkers. They believe that most school systems are confining and putting a name to mental difficulty is labeling so also confining, not free. Therefore, they run their own school and do not get Fred, who clearly has mental difficulties, the help he needs.

Ava begins her story as an adult. Fred is in trouble with the law and hundreds of miles away. The book then consists, alternately, of her point of view and that of her best friend/sister-in-law, husband, and, finally, poor Fred.

The book goes back and forth from present, while Fred is in jail, to past. Descriptions of their childhood were overwritten sometimes. But the reader does need to know and understand how Ava and Fred were raised, how Fred dealt with his world, and how his parents, as free thinkers, just let him be.

The writing is beautiful. It made me think of Ian McEwan.
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No Book But the World by Leah Hager Cohen
No Book But the World

techeditor, May 17, 2015

This story, if true, might break your heart. Even as a novel, NO BOOK BUT THE WORLD will leave you sad and angry at the waste of a life.

Ava and her younger brother Fred have been raised by two parents who are free thinkers. They believe that most school systems are confining and putting a name to mental difficulty is labeling so also confining, not free. Therefore, they run their own school and do not get Fred, who clearly has mental difficulties, the help he needs.

Ava begins her story as an adult. Fred is in trouble with the law and hundreds of miles away. The book then consists, alternately, of her point of view and that of her best friend/sister-in-law, husband, and, finally, poor Fred.

The book goes back and forth from present, while Fred is in jail, to past. Descriptions of their childhood were overwritten sometimes. But the reader does need to know and understand how Ava and Fred were raised, how Fred dealt with his world, and how his parents, as free thinkers, just let him be.

The writing is beautiful. It made me think of Ian McEwan.
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Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman
Cover of Snow

techeditor, May 13, 2015

Nora's husband had been a policeman in the small town where they live. In her quest to learn why he committed suicide, she learns some disturbing secrets about the police department. She also finds out more about her husband's past and how both his secrets and those of the police department are linked.

Although it has some faults, this book really grabbed me. That is, it kept me reading instead of eating and late into the night. I didn't want to put it down.

That grab-me factor is the biggest test of a good book but not the only one. While it seemed to me that Jenny Milchman was careful not to overwrite, go on and on when a simple sentence or two will do, I sometimes wished for more description. For example, her emphasis on the cold and the small-town surroundings were excellent, but some of Nora's findings about her husband's past and the people from his past were a little confusing.

Also lacking are good transitions from present to past and vice versa, differentiation between the past of 25 years ago and more recently, and careful use of pronouns. But these are not overwhelming and just mean the reader sometimes had to read sentences more than once.
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The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles
The Devil's Punchbowl

techeditor, May 6, 2015

Although I already have 40-some books in my wishlist, I now have to add at least one, maybe five, more. I like this book a lot.

THE DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL is my first Greg Iles book, which is the third in a series about the Penn Cage character. While Iles is good about supplying background information, so a reader can start these books out of order, THE DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL ends on a cliffhanger. Now I want to read the next and maybe the next and the next (still to be published) in the series.

In this book, Cage is the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi. A casino there, which he had hoped would help revive Natchez's faltering economy, is owned by a corrupt Irishman who is bilking Natchez out of tax money, running dog-fighting rings, and supplying his customers (and himself) with prostitutes. Cage gets wind of it when his old friend, who had worked as a dealer in the casino, is murdered, and the murder is apparently tied to the casino.

A couple parts of this book (descriptions of dogs and rape scenes) were hard for me to read; they were too graphic for me. But you can skim those if they bother you, too, and not lose track of the story.

One other criticism has to do with two of the other characters: Cage's friend Daniel Kelly (note Iles' use of a good-guy Irish-American to balance the bad-guy Irishman) and girlfriend Caitlin Masters. They seemed superhuman to me, especially Kelly. He was a Bruce-Willis-type character. She could kick off a tin roof with her bare feet after she walked up a wall and while she was upside down. They are both a little too amazing.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more by Greg Iles.
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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Red Tent

techeditor, April 25, 2015

I do not rate this book because I did not finish reading it. If I were to rate it, the rating would be, obviously, low.

The concept is a good one: fill in the missing details of a bible story, in this case, the story of Jacob and his family as told by his daughter Dinah. But there were problems with Anita Diamant's retelling that I couldn't stand and so gave up after Part 1 plus two pages of Part 2.

To quote a Goodreads reviewer, Stefani, this book is the "chick flick of biblical revisionism." I don't like chick lit. Those who give this book a high rating apparently do.

Also, as an adult, I don't care for young adult novels. And the writing in this novel seems to aim for the sixth grade reading level.

Again, to quote Stefani, while this book elaborated "on the amazing sisterhood and bonding that happens around the red tent," it implied "all the way that women have all the power, men take all the credit." It irritated me.
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