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text 2016-06-23 20:55
Lazaretto
Lazaretto: A Novel - Diane McKinney-Whet... Lazaretto: A Novel - Diane McKinney-Whetstone

3.5 stars.

Even a quick summary will give away too much of the story, though it might not be obvious. Or maybe it would be.

Lots of characters (I love that) living in a Philadelphia post-Civil War African American neighborhood. But the story revolves around two white orphans, Linc and Bram, who are raised as brothers because they arrived at the orphanage as infants within days of each other. What are their back stories? Because they spend a lot of time with Meda, their wet nurse, and in the home of the Benins, her employers, they have more opportunities than many orphans--and the other kids know it. They also learn a lot about gambling and the African-American community from hanging out at Meda's brother Buddy's gambling hall.

As they grow up and run from the law, they end up in New York. Only Meda's death years later brings them back to Philly. And that is where the meat of the story begins—and the book is already half over.

After all the lead-up and several story lines that have nothing to do with the main story, there is a very abrupt ending. I want to know more! How does Buddy react? What happens with the quarantine? What happens with Bram? The doctor? Where does Linc go after the quarantine ends? What about Vergie? So. Many. Questions. So many loose ends.

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review 2016-05-18 18:16
The Two-Family House
The Two-Family House: A Novel - Lynda Cohen Loigman

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the writing or cadence of this novel. It is also very "clean" (no cursing, no sex scenes, no gore--my mom's kind of book, basically). And all that is fine too, because a good author should not rely on sex and violence to keep a book interesting.

My hangup with this novel is the "surprise". Though not stated outright, it is very obvious within the first 50 pages. And then the entire rest of the book is the reader waiting for the characters to figure it out. So, while the story could have been great, it was mostly frustrating.

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review 2016-05-06 21:32
Now and Again
Now and Again - Charlotte Rogan

Wow this one is hard to review. There are 2 separate storylines here--that of Maggie and the rest of the folks in Red Bud, where a munitions plant keeps the war effort stocked and a prison of inmates is used for some sort of labor. And then there are Penn Sinclair, Danny, Pig Eye, Le Roy, and Joe Kelly--a group of soldiers who had been together in Iraq and have largely come back together to expose the lies of the war effort to the American public.

The only character in both of these stories is rather minor--Dolly, Danny's girlfriend and a midwife in Red Bud.

I kept expecting these 2 stories to come crashing together to resolve something. But it never really happens. And nothing is really resolved (not that the issues in this book could truly be, since they are real and they are current and ongoing in real life). Yet what one might expect if this were to go down in real life doesn't really happen either. Or at least Rogan doesn't actually finish that part of the story.

So, ultimately this was disappointing.

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review 2015-11-25 20:26
A Map of Betrayal
A Map of Betrayal: A Novel - Ha Jin

Lilian Shang, the American daughter of the highest-placed Chinese spy ever captured by the FBI decides to search for her father's first wife's family in China. Her late father's long-time mistress provides key knowledge--and his diaries--to her.

In her search, she finds and learns more than she expected, as do the relatives she finds.

A good read, I kept having to remind myself that this is fiction. However, I doubt I will remember this book in a year.

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review 2011-04-28 00:00
Northeast Snowstorms - 2 Volume Set: Vol. I: Overview; Vol. II: The Cases - Paul J. Kocin,Paul J. Kocin If you live in the northeast and are really interested in the weather, that automatically makes you a snow nut. This book is the best ever that deals with snowstorms. It not only gives a surface and aloft analysis of every major northeast snowfall along with accumulations, but it goes into additional detail about the features aloft and at the surface without getting overly technical. Anyone with a bit of background in meteorology can comprehend it. Plus there are loads of photos. This is a two volume work, with the first book dealing with nor'easters and how they develop and background information. And a CD is included.Since these books were published in 2004 there have been a number of big snowstorms in the northeast. I hope one day the authors will release a third volume to keep these books up to date.
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