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review 2017-06-23 21:15
The Concrete Grove - DNF
The Concrete Grove - Gary McMahon

Unfortunately, this one is a “nope”. I’m far enough in to know that the writing style will not work for me, but not far enough in to be able give it any kind of a rating. Ordinarily, I’d persist until at least 50 pages before making a decision about the book one way or another, and to feel comfortable assigning a rating, but as I’m going out of town this weekend, I just don’t want to deal with it.


So, DNF, no rating. I was reading this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoly square Cars Land 18: Read a book that was published in 2006, 2011, 2013, or 2014, the years of Cars and its sequels, or that has a car on the cover, but will choose another book instead.


eBook version on Kindle app. 

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review 2017-06-23 16:00
On Canaan’s Side ★★★☆☆
On Canaan's Side - Sebastian Barry

I had a lot I wanted to say about this book, as I had just finished it, but then I got into a long, work-related conversation with a colleague, and now I find my brain mostly empty of thoughts where this book is concerned. That, perhaps, is a good indicator of how deeply affected I was by it. Mostly how I felt, by the end, was as though I was covered in a heavy smothering blanket of depression. Perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps that was the author’s goal in writing this book. When I read “literary” novels, this seems to be how I most often feel, with the second most common emotion being impatient annoyance. The latter is most common in the ones that I’m not even able to finish reading.


On Canaan’s Side seems to be about grief and loss and the pointlessness of actually making human connections in life, when at the end everybody you loved is gone or has betrayed you in some way. There is some beautiful language and gorgeous descriptions of setting and emotions. The author chose to express some of these in stream-of-consciousness style of run-on sentences that literally went on as long as 1 ½ pages of text. Fortunately, these were mostly confined to the first and last few chapters, with the middle third of the book written in a snappier style that moved the plot and story (such as it was) along in a more tolerable fashion.


When I was a teenager, we had a saying that encompassed all the angst of that age: “Life’s a bitch, and then you die”. That’s pretty much how I felt by the end of this book.


Hardcover version, purchased as a circulation discard from a Friends of the Library sale. I read this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoloy challenge, for the square Trains, Planes, & Automobiles 14: Read a book that involves overseas travel, or that has a suitcase on the cover.  There is a brief description of the main character’s overseas journey from Ireland to America, and two other characters journey overseas for the Vietnam and Gulf wars.


Previous Updates:

6/29/17 182/272 pg

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text 2017-06-19 14:18
On Canaan's Side: 182/272 pg
On Canaan's Side - Sebastian Barry

Finally, the pace is starting to pick up. I'm starting to think I'll never be done with this book.

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review 2017-06-10 22:21
Shane: The Critical Edition ★★★☆☆
Shane: The Critical Edition - Jack Schaefer

There is a story, interesting perhaps only to me, behind my acquiring this book. My father, who is an enthusiast of all things representing the American West in the late 1800’s (movies, novels, histories, artifacts), gave me this “critical edition” together with an old dog-eared paperback edition of Shane, and told me a little of my own family history related to it. As little more than a boy himself, starting his journey toward manhood, he disembarked from a bus in San Antonio for his pre-enlistment physical. It was, I believe, his first time away from home where he was without the comfort of family and friends, and facing an uncertain future. He had decided to enlist in the Army, knowing that he’d be given more choices than if he waited until Uncle Sam drafted him for Korea. It was in that San Antonio bus station, on a spinning rack of paperbacks, that he discovered Shane. Schaefer’s story of the heroic gunslinger, the heroic settler, and the boy who idolized them, connected strongly with him. My father told me of falling completely into the story, finishing it on that last bus ride and re-reading it over and over during the next several years. And having now read it myself, I can see a little of both protagonists, the gunslinger and the settler, in the man that my father is, and in the man he has tried to be.


As for the novella itself, I found it an entertaining read, both in story and writing style, although I’m a little puzzled by how it could have inspired so many literary critiques. This “critical edition” contains many more pages in essays and critiques than the story itself, and these were considerably duller, especially as I’ve not read any of the other westerns that were referenced. I suspect that a true fan of the genre would have enjoyed the essays more than I did. But for my father’s sake, I read it all, and we can talk about it more when I see him next.


I read this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoly square Frontierland 2: Read a book with a main character who knows how to handle a gun, or where someone is shot.


Previous Updates:                                          

5/29/17 91/432 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1566898/shane-91-432-pg


5/31/17 139/432 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1567367/shane-139-432-pg



6/3/17 176/432 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1568132/shane-176-432-pg


6/3/17 191/432 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1568193/shane-191-432-pg


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review 2017-06-06 12:41
The Fold ★★★★☆
The Fold - Peter Clines,Ray Porter

I really had to slog through the first part of this book. This is, for me, the tedious part of Sci-Fi, where the author is establishing the technical How Stuff Works of the book’s events. Honestly, I don’t care, as long as it’s plausible enough for me to suspend disbelief. Not having a hard science background, my mind starts to wander as soon as a story begins delving into quantum theory, which seems to be the underpinning for every Sci-Fi book I’ve read that was written during the last two decades. But the story really takes off somewhere between the first third and the half-way mark. Then it gets to be tremendous fun, with crazy action and mysteries solved. Ironically, though,

the scientific answer in the end was we really don’t know why it works, only that it does.

(spoiler show)

Still, the exciting last half more than makes up for the draggy first half.


Audiobook, purchased via Audible. Ray Porter does a fine job in narrating, although I found his voicing of the female characters vaguely irritating. A little too breathy, perhaps.


I read this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoly challenge, for the square Mystery 8: Read a book that is tagged mystery or has a title that begins with any letter in the word “CLUE”. The first page of shelves shows 124 users tagged it “mystery” at Goodreads, which qualifies it, although I would personally class it as Sci-Fi and Thriller.


Previous Updates:

6/3/17 33% http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1568262/the-fold-33




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