Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Golden Prey (Lucas Davenport #27)Golden Prey by John Sandford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Sandford never misses. He has figured out what I like about his books and feeds that to me in spades. Action, adventure and clever people. Both the good guys and the bad guys are smart and it makes for an interesting story. I like the new job and the new characters that I feel sure will appear in #28. Just a pleasure to read.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

This is a Special Guitar

I recently bought someone's old guitar. A used guitar built by the luthier Ron Meilynski of Fox river Grove, Illinois. The guitar was hand made by this violin maker/woodworker turned luthier.
The guitar is an absolute beauty. Ron tells me that it is one of five that he has built. I've only seen two for sale and I was lucky enough to find one.

The wood is incredible and the craftsmanship beyond anything I've ever played. It has Benedetto pickups and the sound is very mellow and sweet. The body is chambered which means its mostly hollow with a solid center to hold the pickups and bridge.

Notice the curved edges and the three piece neck. The black binding between the woods I believe is to keep the species from bleeding into each other. All in all, its a work of art that plays like a dream and sounds superb.

Here are more pictures:





Fast and Loose (Stone Barrington, #41)Fast and Loose by Stuart Woods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wish there was a new Stuart Woods book every week. Stone Barrington never disappoints. The story is clever and pleasant with just enough humor and adventure to make them easy to read and define page turner. Can't wait for #42.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second time reading this book, this time for a book club. I never would have guessed how different the read was in light of the divisive politics of our time. The extreme hatred of the Japanese following Pearl Harbor, while understandable, was never tempered by the reality of the Japanese citizenship status. We put our own, American born, not even naturalized, citizens into prison. We stole their property and we subjugated them, ripping away their freedom with the stroke of a pen.
Some will say it was in the heat of battle but, in reality it was just plain racism. We didn't inter Germans or Italians. There were cases of German infiltration of American political groups but still we didn't treat German Americans as traitors.
I do not think there was any collaboration between Japanese Americans during the war but there were many accounts of bravery and heroism among Japanese American Soldiers in Europe.
This book sheds a light on this period of history with a gentle hand. It recounts a teenage, first love that remains warm and tender to the end.
A book worth reading and maybe a good read for youngsters in today's heated political climate. Most Americans are immigrants and we should welcome new ideas and cultures so that ours will be broadened and kept vital and fresh.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Prussian Blue (Bernie Gunther, #12)Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Philip Kerr leads Bernie Gunther in and out of history, meeting and spending time with real people. We get to see the Nazi's time in Germany from the ground level and I often marvel at how much they look like some of us. In fact for Americans today its a bit frightening and unnerving to see how blind obedience and unwavering belief in perverted ideas can lead to national disaster.
This is a story about that. How bad people can be if given the chance. Bernie has little chance to change anything or make any of the evil go away. He takes us along as observers of the rot and stink of history.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Jockomo - The inlay people.


This is sooo much fun. I bought this guitar. Its an Ibanez Pat Metheny model. I bought it because its my kind of guitar, not because of Pat, a fine guitarist. There was a pearl inlay with his name at the 22nd fret. I replaced it with a new inlay from https://www.inlaystickers.com/. This is a Japanese company that sells all kinds of guitar inlays. They are like decals that transfer to the guitar and are completely removable. This one was custom made and came from Japan in about a week with free shipping.
I've put a few turtles on the back of guitar pegheads in honor of Sammy. He loved turtles and guitars too.
Here is the turtle on the back of the Ibanez. Its beautiful and looks and feels like a real inlay.

Friday, May 5, 2017

We Never Asked for WingsWe Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Timely and heart wrenching. This was a book club selection and the discussion was a bit off the topic of immigration reform and more on the personalities and motivations of the characters. I was struck by the matter of fact way that this underclass of illegals was woven into the society. Many of the haters profiting from the labor and hardship of the immigrants and their children. It is truly sad that we refuse to see children raised and educated in this country as our own.
Easier to understand why a demagogue would want to demonize and denounce those who work hard and seek the good life here in this country.
I read the whole book with these thoughts and this distracted me from the story and the characterizations. The book is highly non-political but rests on a a political issue.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Counting The Omer.... Why?

As a child, holidays came and went. Each had its own rituals and foods. Some I didn't even notice, others were pretty much good for a day off from school. Now that I am older, and have time to think about these things, I spend a little more time wondering what it is all about.

When my dear daughter asked me to write her an Omer counter I had to look it up to find out what it was. I find the idea interesting for many reasons. Most of which it makes the counter, if you choose to be one, cognizant of the passage of time and the season more than ever. It gives us a chance to prepare for the holiday that celebrates G-d giving us the Torah.

The Torah, everything you need to know about life in one easy to handle scroll, is an amazing gift and however you believe it came to be, it certainly has had a profound impact on Jews and non-Jews alike.


I found a couple of interesting articles on Counting the Omer. The first is from the blog PunkTorah regarding the counting:


So, what does this all mean to us now? Well, it can mean many things. Counting the Omer can be used as a tool of self reflection. We can take this time to recognize the miracle of the Exodus from Egypt, from the gift of our freedom. The Sages tell us that G-d freed us from slavery in order to give us the Torah on Shavu’ot, so this should be a time of preparation. Counting the Omer gives us the time to learn from the gift of freedom G-d has given us and incorporate it into our lives, to grow one day at a time, taking a spiritual accounting, to make sure that we are heading in the right direction, to look at what we are doing that is right or wrong and to try to make ourselves ready to receive the honor of the Torah.
Counting the days is another way of directing our mindfulness to the passage of time. Be aware of the days as they pass, count them, give them meaning. We have been freed from slavery, rejecting the confusion and idolatry (philosophically, literally, and spiritually) of our own Egypt’s and are being made ready to re-focus our lives.
I guess a good take-away from all of this is that one must make each day count. Make each day worth living for you and the people you love. 

(This is a repeat of a post from last year)
Lillian Boxfish Takes a WalkLillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. Its a delight to read. It is a savory stew of fascinating stories and language. It is getting to know and interesting person on a very intimate level but more.... It is a look at history and life through one intelligent, thoughtful and clever person. Its more.... I look through sensitive eyes that see almost everything and how things fit together.
I can highly recommend this book, get ready to laugh and maybe cry.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

The Traitor's Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray AmericaThe Traitor's Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America by Allison Pataki
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An interesting topic.... just handled in a way that seemed to make it trite. Maybe I was just not in the mood for this kind of story. The characters, real enough, seemed thin and predictable. I just wanted the book to be over. Often I want a book to go on forever, this one not so much. Peggy is the consummate air-head with a devious, selfish mind. Out for her own pleasure and damn everyone else.

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

One Man's Flag (Jack McColl, #2)One Man's Flag by David Downing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

David Downing is a great author. This book grabbed me from page one and held on tight all through the book. Sometimes the luck and pluck seemed a bit much but what good are heroes if they don't do heroic things. The love interest and the history are just the frosting on the cake. The characters are rich, complex and totally believable. I feel like I'm in that historical period. A great book, soon on to the third in this trilogy.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Man From Berlin (Gregor Reinhardt, #1)The Man From Berlin by Luke McCallin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book. The story is just what I like. Problem wa I didn't get to know the characters. The main character stared to come into focus near the end but it was too late to save the story.
The plot was convoluted but I like that. What was lacked was reality. Stretch the truth but in this case it was stretched too far. Gregor would have been put out of his misery several times. I was not put out of mine 'till the end.

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