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review 2018-08-15 04:17
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Sixteen people are invited to the reading of the will of Samuel Westing. This will stipulates that all the potential beneficiaries must play a game. The victor wins Westing's fortune, an estimated 200 million dollars. This game, a gauntlet of sorts, will put the players through bombings, blizzards, burglaries and mental puzzles. 

 

I heard about this book through some of my Booktube acquaintances. Apparently this is a common one for kids to get assigned in school these days? It never came up on my school reading lists but I heard so many rave reviews for this story that I was curious to see what I was missing. 

 

Well, now that I've tried it for myself ... this one is going on my list of "Did everyone else read a different book than me?" because I honestly don't get the hype here. The plot had a few entertaining moments but largely felt like a mess and was often pretty slow to boot, and most of the characters were BORING. To make matters worse for this reader, the ending struck me as aggravatingly pointless.

 

This novel won the Newberry Medal in 1978... but WHY? In the book's intro, Ann Durrell (Raskin's friend and editor) writes that when Raskin was crafting the puzzles for this story, nothing was pre-plotted... she just made things up as she went along! Initially, that sounds impressive... but I don't know, man. Sometimes there's something to be said for taking the time to craft an outline!

 

Personally, I found my curiosity struck more by the person Ellen Raskin rather than her writings, learning the little bio tidbits about her: 

 

*The Westing Game was her last book before she succumbed to a connective tissue disease in 1984 at the age of 56

 

* In addition to being an author, she was also an accomplished graphic artist, designing over one thousand book covers over the course of her career, one notable one being the first edition cover of Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time 

 

WrinkleInTimePBA1.jpg

 

 

* In 1960, she married Dennis Flannagan, founding editor of the modern day layout of Scientific American magazine. This was her 2nd marriage.

 

*Raskin was a diehard Schubert fan. "Death and the Maiden" was played at her funeral. 

 

 

What's your take on The Westing Game? Was it a favorite of yours as a child?

 

 

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text 2018-08-13 20:10
Summer of Spies - Tracking Post
Who is Vera Kelly? - Rosalie Knecht,Elisabeth Rodgers
Berlin Game - Len Deighton,James Lailey
The Mask of Dimitrios - Eric Ambler,Mark Mazower
Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes
Blowback - Valerie Plame Wilson,Sarah Lovett,Negin Farsad
The Traveller Returns - Patricia Wentworth
The Spy - Paulo Coelho
Zoo Station - David Downing
The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book - Simon Vance,Peter Finn,Petra Couvée
Night Soldiers - Alan Furst

Memorial Day Weekend -- Labor Day 2018

 

Finished, to Date:

Fiction

Emmuska Orczy: The Scarlet Pimpernel (revisited on audio, narrated by Stephen Crossly) ****1/2

Agatha Christie: N or M? (revisited on audio, narrated by Samantha Bond) ***

Ian Fleming: Quantum of Solace (short story only; new / audio, narrated by David Rintoul) *1/2

Kate Westbrook: Guardian Angel (new / audio, narrated by Eleanor Bron) ***1/2

Stella Rimington: Secret Asset (new / audio, narrated by Rosalyn Landor) ****

Francine Mathews: The Cutout (new / audio, narrated by Trini Alvarado) **1/2

Jane Thynne: Black Roses (new / audio, narrated by Julie Teal) ****

John le Carré: The Tailor of Panama (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) ****1/2

Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana (audio, narrated by Jeremy Northam) ****1/2

Agatha Christie: They Came to Baghdad (new / audio, narrated by Emilia Fox) ***1/2

Rosalie Knecht: Who Is Vera Kelly? (new / audio, narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers) ***1/2

Len Deighton: Berlin Game (new / audio, narrated by James Lailey) ****

Eric Ambler: The Mask of Dimitrios (new / print) ****

Helen MacInnes: Above Suspicion (new / print) ****1/2

Valerie Plame Wilson, Sarah Lovett: Blowback (new / audio, narrated by Negin Farsad) ***

Patricia Wentworth: The Traveller Returns (new / print) ****

Paulo Coelho: The Spy (new / English print version + German audio, narrated by Luise Helm and Sven Görtz) ***1/2

David Downing: Zoo Station (new / print) ****
 

John Le Carré: George Smiley Cycle

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) *****

The Looking Glass War (new / audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) ***1/2

Smiley's People (revisited on audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) *****

 

 

Nonfiction

Stella Rimington: Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5 (new / print edition) ****

Peter Finn & Petra Couvée: The Zhivago Affair (new / audio, narrated by Simon Vance) **1/2

 
 

Currently Reading:

Alan Furst: Night Soldiers
 

 

 

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review 2018-08-11 22:10
Audiobook Review: A Harmless Little Game (Harmless) by Meli Raine (Author), Andi Arndt (Narrator)
A Harmless Little Game - Meli Raine,Julia Kent

 

Audiobook Review: A Harmless Little Game (Harmless) by Meli Raine (Author), Andi Arndt (Narrator)

And thus begins the rollercoaster ride of betrayal, heartache and revenge. Lindsay is living out her worst nightmare, with the whole world watching. There is nothing harmless about the tragedy that unfolds. A Harmless Little Game is the type of violation, nobody should have to live through told through the eyes of the victim. Raine taps into the painfully dark mind of a courageous woman. The realism grows when narrator Andi Arndt brings it all to life.

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review 2018-08-09 14:42
Game Plan
Game Plan - Thomas J. Dygard

The Barton High Tigers’ head coach is injured and everyone is worried who’ll be the coach for Friday’s upcoming game, enter the student manager.  Game Plan by Thomas J. Dygard follows Beano Hatton as he is propelled from nobody student manager to acting coach with all the pressures of school work and getting players to follow his lead, all while figuring out how to actually coach and prepare for a game.

 

Except for the first chapter, the narrative follows Beano Hatton beginning for being called to the principal’s office for the first time in his life—though not the last he’d have that week—and being asked to coach the Tigers football team against rivals Carterville.  Except for telling his best friend Danny to cover for him as student manager, Beano keeps quiet until the Principal gives the team the news and hands it over to Beano.  What follows is an awkward, stressful week as Beano figures out how Coach Pritchard scouts and makes up game plans while at the same time attempting to get the team to follow his lead, easier said than done with the star quarterback having an issue with him.  But once Friday night comes and the ball is kicked, Beano has to manage the game.

 

From kickoff to the final whistle, Dygard writes a convincing flow of a football game which after the narrative build-up before and through the game of Beano making coaching decisions makes for a thrilling last third of the book.  The first two-thirds of the book reads like a made-for-television young adult movie, but actually good.  Though some of Dygard’s dialogue and words choices are a little off, they would be far superior to what one would hear and see on the aforementioned movie.  The only other fault would be Dygard basically not having Coach Pritchard not have any notes on upcoming opponents which sounds far-fetched even for a little town high school coach with a staff of one.

 

Game Plan is one of those young adult sports books that is simply a good read that can be done in a day because it draws you in and frankly is nearly perfect for a book of its genre.  Thomas J. Dygard hits all the right narrative keys to make this book keep the reader interested in how a nobody student manages to gain enough confidence of the football team to lead them through the last game of the season.

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text 2018-08-08 08:05
Cover Reveal - Shot On Goal

 

 

These two professional skaters are about to meet their match.
Shot on Goal by Jami Davenport is releasing on September 12th!
 
 

When you're at the top, there's nowhere to go but down. 

Two talented skaters. Two bright futures. Two shining stars. One ruined by a career-ending scandal and another by a father's ruthless ambition.

She was the darling of the winter games, winning a bronze in pairs figure skating one week after losing both parents in a car accident.

He was the future of the Sockeyes hockey team crowned the best young player in the league and heir-apparent to the hockey throne once occupied by his father.

Together they're fire and ice, and when things get that hot, they melt. Can these two broken souls find comfort and courage in each other's arms or will they find only pain and regret?

 

 

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