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 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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Monday, February 20, 2017

The Magic Strings of Frankie PrestoThe Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very pleasant book. A story told of a guitar player and how his life played out. Told often through the voices of real performers and musicians. The story is well endowed with musical terms and musical metaphors. I truly enjoyed it but its not my usual cup of tea. Might be a bit metaphysical and fantasy for my taste.
If you play or sing and its a big part of your life, then read this book. You will find your musical life in it...

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Below the Belt (Stone Barrington #40)Below the Belt by Stuart Woods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Stuart Woods. His books are witty, with-it and just plain fun to read. I don't want to give any of this story away but it was fast moving and well constructed. The characters jumped off the page and came to life, as his characters often do. Some of the characters may be too close to real at this point in our history. I wish he would write more books.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Deep BlueDeep Blue by Alan Judd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great story but parts were tedious and at one point I longed for the end. Compelling story but possibly too small a story for a book. Characters were thin and could have been so much more interesting. At times they seemed like comics. I'd like to see the movie because its hard to believe the story could be presented seriously. The bad guys are just plain stupid and the good guys are driven by so many bureaucratic imperatives as to be almost frozen. Not one I'd recommend.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Norwegian by NightNorwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller

Must have been a good book. I couldn't put it down or get some of the images out of my head. The story seems unlikely yet plausible. I could almost see Oslo but that might be because I traveled there a couple of years ago and it has a warm place in my heart. It has many threads that are thought provoking and troubling. It also has some warm, tender thoughts that might balance out the dark. I want to learn more about these people in the story. The policeman, the granddaughter and other characters could blossom into more. In the end, if Derek Miller writes another book I'll read it.

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