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review 2018-08-23 02:11
MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis
Main Street - Sinclair Lewis
In a word tedious.  Sinclair Lewis wrote a satire about small time life.  His writing is tedious as he shows what life is like in a small town when you surround yourself with like-minded people.  No one wants to change.  Everyone knows everything about everybody.  No one wants to go out of his/her comfort zone.  And his uses his writing to show that. 
Carol marries Will, Gopher Prairie's doctor.  She's used to a big city and tries to change things and is discounted and laughed at and gossiped about.  She is a whiner and nothing and nobody does anything she likes.  She has an active inner life but drove me crazy. 
Will does not see Gopher Prairie as Carol does.  He sees nothing wrong with the town or the people.  He does take Carol to task at times.  He is also willing to let her do what she wants even if it is leave but she still is not happy.  They have a few blow-ups over her discontent.
My favorite character was Miles, the town handy man.  He was real but also an outcast.  I felt bad for him.
The place and time are written well.  I am glad I did not live then or there.
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review 2018-03-20 20:39
Unsettling, entrancing tale of escaping the traps we're born to
Along the Indigo - Elsie Chapman

Disclaimer: Reviewing pre-publication proof via NetGalley


I loved this. Vivid, strong character writing and a fully fleshed-out sense of place from the first page made this an engaging story, and the dark fantasy/paranormal elements, while light, tinted the story with a deliciously creepy atmosphere.


Marsden is saving up to skip town with her 8-year-old little sister before one or both of them get roped into joining Nina's girls like their mom. Their dad died (or killed himself) when she was her sister's age, and their mom started working the not-so-secret nightshift in the boarding house they live in/brothel.


Being pressured toward sex work isn't the only source of Marsden's misery. She's half Chinese in a white, rural American town. Her mother's job - and her likely future - are an open secret, and the predatory, bullying behaviour of her peers and neighbours has her self-isolating to survive. And she can't hear the voices of the dead - despite regularly visiting the covert behind the boardinghouse to strip the bodies of the dead for cash. It's the last remaining piece of family property, a sort of suicide forest, tainted by the murder spree of a mad ancestor.


So there's a lot going on here. The visible minority/POC/mixed ancestry thing is handled well and comes up in Mars & her sister's experience, as well as another boy in town's story. The absent/abusive parent thing is troubling but very well handled, as is the dysfunctional community. And the suicides. There's heaps upon heaps of messed up in this book, but the author doesn't bury you in it. It's an engaging read, atmospheric and challenging without feeling hopeless. It reminds me of Brenna Yovanoff's books, and Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood just a touch. I think it's set in eastern Oregon or Washington maybe, or one of the prairie/desert states further east of there, but it has more in common with Southern Gothic paranormals. Creepy, foreign and familiar at the same time, unsettling and entrancing. Will circle back to this author's earlier works and follow her future books with great interest. Highly recommended read.

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review 2016-05-29 18:07
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend - Katarina Bivald

What a delightful book! Sara comes from Sweden to visit Amy who has died before Sara arrived in Broken Wheel. The community decides to show the tourist a good time while she is there. Sara becomes an integral part of the community.


I loved this book! Wonderful characters. A wonderful story. I laughed. I cried. I went to bed after reading the book in Broken Wheel and woke up the next morning still in Broken Wheel. I loved that town and its competition with Hope, the next town over. I loved how they took on the INS and even got the sheriff on their side. Just fantastic! Definitely a keeper.

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review 2015-11-02 19:18
An intriguing case and even more intriguing investigator.
The Blue Crimes - Enrique Laso

The Blue Crimes is the first book in Enrique Laso’s collection of Ethan Bush Thrillers. Ethan Bush is a young FBI agent, one of the most promising, top of his Psychology class at Stanford and self-assured, or so he seems. He arrives to Jefferson County fresh from solving a serial murder case in Detroit and expectations are running high.

The story is told in first person from the point of view of Bush, and that is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel. If the actual procedural investigation, the process of solving the murders of two young girls that are very similar in details to a murder committed 17 years ago is gripping (and I particularly enjoyed the setting in small town America, with the prejudices and the difficulty understanding and fitting into the mentality of the place that it brings to the big city investigators), I found the insight into Ethan Bush’s mind even more interesting. Why?

Well, he is an intelligent man. He knows it and he’s reminded of that by quite a few of the characters he comes into contact with (sometimes in great contrast with some of the witnesses they come across). His intelligence does not always help him, though. Characters who are far less intelligent than him (the sheriff, local investigators, even his mother…) contribute greatly to the success of his mission. He acknowledges and admires the morality of some people (Jim Worth, a solid character that would make his perfect side-kick and foil, and I hope we’ll come across him again in the series), but he’s not squeaky-clean and has no qualms crossing the line of the ethically correct when he thinks it’s necessary to solve a case (not strictly for his own benefit). He has weaknesses that include his irresistible attraction to Vera, one of the witnesses, but also a suspect. He is somewhat obsessive in his methodology and has to be in control of everything, to the point of preferring keeping handwritten notebooks (in Moleskin, that become his trademark) as he does not like to be dependent on technology that could let him down. And during the book, he becomes as obsessed with running as he is with everything else, to the point of putting off the questioning of suspects to not disturb his running schedule. Running means more to him than the simple exercise, but we only become aware of this later on. (By the way, I am aware that the author is a runner himself and he has written non-fiction books about it so this would add to the interest for those who are keen runners.) Despite Ethan’s constant analysing everything and thinking non-stop (to the point of getting severe headaches although they could well be psychosomatic), he is not the most self-aware of characters, and keeps missing clues and hiding stuff because of his own unresolved issues. But those issues are what make him fascinating.

Ethan Bush is not the most likeable hero and has many flaws, and that is a plus for me. He is a man searching for explanations, about the case and about himself. And he never gives up. He’ll go as far as he has to, whatever that might cost him.

I’m not sure how challenging you’ll find the book if you’re one of these people whose main enjoyment is working out who the guilty party is (I did guess who it was early on, but I kept wondering if I was right) but if you enjoy complex characters, a solid story and interesting dynamics, I think this series could keep us guessing for a long time.


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review 2015-11-02 19:10
Un caso con mucha intriga y un investigador aún más intrigante.
Los Crímenes Azules (Spanish Edition) - Enrique Laso

La historia está narrada en primera persona desde el punto de vista de Bush, y ese es uno de los aspectos más interesantes de la novela. Si la investigación en sí y el proceso de resolver los asesinatos de dos chicas jóvenes que se parecen mucho a un asesinato cometido hace 17 años es fascinante (y a mí me gustó en particular el que la historia se desarrollara en una pequeña población americana, lo que conlleva prejuicios para los investigadores de la gran ciudad a los que se les hace difícil integrarse y entender la mentalidad de los habitantes), yo encontré las revelaciones de los procesos mentales de Ethan Bush mucho más interesantes. ¿Por qué?  

Bueno, él es un hombre inteligente. Él lo sabe y se lo recuerdan muchos de los personajes (y no todos los testigos son tan inteligentes como él ni de lejos). Su inteligencia no siempre le es de gran ayuda. Personajes que son bastante menos inteligentes que él (el sheriff, la policía local, incluso su propia madre… ) hacen contribuciones importantes al éxito de la misión. Él reconoce y admira la moralidad de algunas personas (especialmente Jim Worth, un carácter muy sólido y que podría convertirse en su mano derecha y su conciencia, y confío en que nos lo encontremos más adelante en la serie), pero no es intachable y no lo duda a la hora de cruzar la línea de lo éticamente correcto si cree que es necesario para resolver el caso (y no estrictamente en beneficio propio). Tiene sus debilidades, incluyendo la atracción irresistible que siente por Vera, una de las testigos, pero también una sospechosa. Es algo obsesivo en sus métodos y tiene que tenerlo todo bajo control, hasta el punto de preferir escribir notas en un cuaderno (Moleskin, que se convierte en su marca personal) ya que no le gusta tener que depender de la tecnología ya que podría fallarle.  Y durante el libro se obsesiona con volver a correr, hasta el punto de retrasar el interrogatorio de un sospechoso para no tener que cambiar su programa de entrenamiento. Correr significa para él mucho más que simplemente hacer ejercicio, aunque solo nos damos cuenta de ello más adelante. (Por cierto, sé que el autor es un corredor avezado y ha escrito libros sobre el tema así que eso podría hacerlo aún más interesante para gente a le que le guste correr.) A pesar de que Ethan está constantemente analizándolo todo y no para de pensar (lo que le lleva a sufrir severos dolores de cabeza, aunque también es probable que sean psicosomáticos), no se conoce muy bien a sí mismo, y se le escapan pistas y oculta detalles debido a sus propios problemas sin resolver. Pero esos problemas son los que lo hacen fascinante.

Ethan Bush no es un héroe de atractivo irresistible y tiene muchas imperfecciones, y eso es un punto a su favor, en mi opinión. Es un hombre a la búsqueda de soluciones, para el caso y para sus propios problemas. Y nunca abandona. Irá tan lejos como haga falta, le cueste lo que le cueste.

No sé si a los lectores que disfrutan especialmente del reto de averiguar quién es el culpable lo encontrarán a la medida de sus talentos (yo sospeché quién lo era bastante temprano, aunque me hizo dudar muchas veces) pero si disfrutáis de personajes complicados con relaciones interesantes y una historia bien escrita, creo que esta serie tiene el potencial de engancharnos y mantenernos en vilo por mucho tiempo.


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