Monthly Archives: October 2012
by Jay Payleitner
Yes, I know. You’re probably wondering about a review of this type of book being here on my blog. Well, I have two reasons I can think of right away to why I chose to put this here. First: It’s my blog and I can do what I like. Second: This book interested me.
Now, I don’t want anybody to get the idea I’m going to dive down the nonfiction or guidebook or self help path and I don’t want queries about sending me these types of books. Stick to my guidelines, please. This was a rare exception.
This is a small book (only 170 pages) with snippets of the things a husband need to do or not do in order to give his wife what she needs in their marriage. Topics range from kissing to leadership, being a dad, and not sweating the small stuff. Author Jay Payleitner begins with a simple rule of marriage: that is not a 50/50 process whereby each partner has his and her totally separate roles. He points out that duties and responsibilities are shared, overlap, and are sometimes separate but marriage is a 100/100.
He then moves into the 52 areas of concern starting with: realizing your wife is present and to acknowledge her presence and to remember why you married her in the first place. Subsequent chapters discuss the importance of church attendance and church activity, proper communication regarding bedroom intimacy, initiating apologies, and being the handyman. Payleitner constantly refers to Christian ideals and each chapter is summarized in a few sentences with quotes from various people and sources.
I’m a single man, but I found this book very enlightening and encouraging and educational. This is not just for married men although it pertains to marriage. However, this is a guide to improving oneself, not only with the wife, but with God, and children. It can help a man be a better person as well as a better husband. I think one of the most important chapters pertains to putting the wife second and God first and as both husband and wife move closer to God, they move closer together. I found it interesting that the longest chapter (just over three pages) dealt with the issue of pornography. There are discussions of adultery but Chapter 44 deals with the humanity of and men’s perceptions of women. Yes, the book is a fast read, but the short chapters are good because they can be quick reminders to husbands. There are some serious chapters but there is a lot of good-natured humor throughout. It accentuates positive over negative, doesn’t insult or degrade, but encourages and supports.
Since it’s not fiction there are no characters to discuss. Payleitner mentions himself and his wife Rita. Throughout the book you do get insights into their family life and a very surface view into personalities, but it’s not an in depth exploration. It’s not that kind of book and a couple of places he specifically tells you he won’t go deeper because the topic is between his wife and him.
Again no conversations but I can imagine sitting around chatting with the author about these subjects.
Short chapters. Short summary and relevant quote at the end of each chapter.
Simple to understand language. No profanity. High level of Christian advice and references. Fast read. This is not a long lecture type or lengthy complicated how-to. Some good humor, some humility and admittance of personal faults. Very supportive and encouraging.
by Bruce Bradley
Andrew Hastings is part of the team launching new healthful snack line for the biggest food distributor in the world. However, one of the key ingredients has had some problems and FDA disapproval will cost several people a lot of money. Solution: eliminate the people causing the problem. When Andrew starts asking questions and digging into files meant to be destroyed, his name is added to the list of problems to be solved. Suddenly on the run with his son, he must negotiate a path through corruption and greed to expose the killers.
Rather than weapons or chemical warfare, or spies trading information, this thriller comes from the Big Food angle. Sure it’s still about profits and power hungry people, but Bradley gives us an inside look at food manufacturers and how they’re just like any other business. Money means everything.
Andrew Hasting: Marketing Manager for B-Lean Snacks. Divorced with son, blond, blue eyes, 6’2”, fit, graduated top of class from Carleton College, MBA from Stanford
Dan Murdock: Andrew’s temporary boss, C.O.O. of U.S. Retail, married with five kids, sandy brown hair, owns a dog, father was an alcoholic
Heidi Pearson: Blonde, blue eyes, reporter for a Minneapolis television station, charismatic, leadership skills, classmate of Andrew’s at Carleton, dated Andrew after his divorce
Josh Sargent: Andrew’s friend, fit, wealthy, works in I.T. at International Food & Milling, 5’10”, short brown hair, brown eyes flecked with gold, scruffy beard, square face, single, avid golfer
Lia Merriman: vegan, works for Ethical Food Coalition
Aiden Toole: 58, CEO of IFM, wealthy, married, 5’6”, blond but balding, fit, wears glasses, steel blue eyes, has a inner insecurity
Chloe Stiles: 48, married and divorced four times, with two kids, IFM’s President of Innovation, Technology and Quality, skittish, child star beauty pageant winner, black hair going brittle, has had several cosmetic surgeries, very thin, dresses inappropriately for her age
Laura Long: owns a Cadillac STS platinum with a driver, owns Long and Company which houses lobbyist groups, Chinese descent, 5’3”, thin, shoulder length dark hair, born in Vietnam, dark narrow eyes, wears glasses, tries to hide her attractive features, orphaned as a child, has a brain damaged brother, valedictorian in high school, attended Harvard
There are a lot of characters in this book and the author introduces most of them in the first three chapters. I enjoyed the variety of personalities but I was a little disappointed to see the bad guys revealed before page 50. But, that’s how thrillers work. They’re not whodunits waiting until the end to reveal the killers. I hoped for a little more suspense. Good descriptions although a lot of the characters were blonde for some reason. Maybe because they’re from Minnesota. Lol. Bradley does a fine job of giving the bad guys good qualities and making the good guys not perfect. I thought it a bit of an imagination stretch to think of these characters involved with food, reporting and IT suddenly having attributes of international spies but, again, sometimes, this is how thrillers work. I enjoyed the ‘workability’ with the groups. The good guys work well together as a group, as do the bad guys.
To the point. Conversations aren’t frivolous and move the story along. Pretty distinctive voices, especially from Long and Dan, and Andrew’s ex. No extraneous material and nobody wandered. The dialogue was fairly tight and stayed on point.
Chapters and scene changes are headed by location, date and time. Tight, short scenes in every chapter. Bradley knows the mechanics of food producers and presents it well. The story moves slowly at first but when Andrew figures out he’s a target, the action picks up considerably. The story turns into the duck and run, give and take, make contacts and avoid enemies type of read I enjoy. No graphic details and the violence is just stated without a lot of blood. The food angle intrigued me to accept this book for review and although I wanted more action at the beginning, the background and build up was necessary and I was never bored. A couple of misspelled words but otherwise error free. Another stretch was the length of time of one of the characters being held prisoner. Over a week. I can’t imagine more fuss wasn’t made. Workmates and friends didn’t wonder why this individual suddenly disappeared, didn’t make more of a fuss. Plus, the longer someone is kidnapped, the more contingencies have to be considered (food, bathroom time, etc.) and there is more time for the bad guys to make mistakes. Especially considering the attitude of one of the kidnappers. I don’t believe he would have been able to resist his temptations. Bradley offers a message at the end to help answer some of the questions he’s been asked and he provides almost a page of websites offering healthful food related advice. Despite some of the minor problems this was a well written book.
By Raymond Khoury
Sean Reilly, FBI agent, only wants to enjoy a short respite from an exasperating case over the July Fourth holiday. He can try to recharge from some emotional stress in his relationship with his girlfriend, Tess Chaykin, former archaeologist, with whom he’s had a few adventures. However, his ex girlfriend, Michelle Martinez, calls pleading for help. Michelle and her four year old son, Alex, just escaped a kidnapping. She also tells Reilly that he’s Alex’s father. Hours later, he arrives in San Diego only to almost immediately step into a gunfight with the kidnappers that ends with Michelle’s death. Sean is plunged into a mystery that involves a biker gang, a Mexican drug lord, and recent kidnappings of scientists. Reilly’s past comes back to haunt him, specifically, an operation in Mexico five years earlier where a life or death decision left him with unresolved guilt. Working with local agents and with the aid of Tess, Reilly uncovers a plot to introduce a new super drug to the unsuspecting populace. However, more secrets lie in wait for discovering, including Alex’s strange behavior.
This is an intricate plot with some interesting puzzles. I enjoyed the mystical and speculative aspects although I did find one part introduced near the end to be a little reaching. The story still works well.
Sean Reilly: FBI agent in the New York’s counterterrorism unit
Tess Chaykin: Archaeologist, Sean’s girlfriend, writes novels, has a fourteen year old daughter
Jesse Munro: DEA agent, tanned, fit, Thick blond hair, cocky, served with Sean on an assignment in Mexico
Michelle Martinez: Sean’s ex girlfriend, retired DEA, has a four year old son, self sufficient, doesn’t like people doubting her, of Dominican Republic/Puerto Rican descent, blue eyes, brown hair, very attractive
Raoul ‘El Brujo’ Navarro: Mexican drug kingpin, likes Cuban cigars, has a voracious sexual appetite, had plastic surgery and his face is now handsome, living under an alias in the Yucatan, fascinated from an early age with seeking new realms of consciousness through narcotics
A little relationship news from Sean and Tess but read Khoury’s earlier novels featuring the pair to get more background information. Otherwise, good character development. I was a little saddened by the demise of a character early on, but I can see where it was needed. Sort of. Good development of support characters except for FBI agent Villaverde. He’s a contact Reilly uses but you don’t get too much information regarding him. One aspect of the story I did notice: a lot of characters names are a little different from the typical Jones, Smiths, and Petersens you see in other novels. Khoury came up with some funky names this time.
Relatively little dialogue. Basically, the conversations are a needed lull between action scenes. There are long explanatory passages regarding science and hallucinogens. Standard fare with a few distinctive voices coming through.
Fairly short chapters. The POV both first person (Sean) to third (various characters). I don’t quite see the purpose other than to maybe give a little depth into Sean. A little profanity, but not over used. Action scenes are well used and intense and logical. Solidly written book with a little homework. The story is essentially set in several California cities and I miss Khoury’s world travel to exotic or little known locales as in past books. The story and the ‘puzzle’ are interesting. I enjoy Khoury’s tales and will read whatever he writes next.
By Donald W. Tucker
Two Secret Service agents, a police officer, and a DEA agent are sent to Dallas’ new law –based convention center for three month’s of seminars on intra-agency cooperation. Within days of their arrival, one of the agents, asks a convention employee out on a date. The morning after, she is found dead in her home. This sparks an investigation from the foursome who slowly uncovers a web of conspiracy, racially based, and nationally wide in scope. The deeper they get involved, the more danger trails close behind.
This is an interesting plot. I don’t quite understand certain aspects of it (the reason behind using a certain drug in the murders, for instance), but the storyline is unique. It works well with the conspiracy theory fans. The one minor glitch I have with the scheme of the bad guys is that it’s backed, in part, by the Republican National Committee, but we’re supposed to believe that the benefactors of the scheme aren’t going to be investigated or have been ignored by the press. Not in today’s world with biased media outlets for both sides. Otherwise, I like the story as it is laid out.
Wesley Charles: Black, Secret Service agent out of Chicago, handles counterfeit cases, played football at Michigan State, divorced
Louis Boron: White, Secret Service agent out of Sacramento, Charles’ friend and teammate at MSU, blond/blue, divorced with children, directionally challenged.
Wendy Weissman: DEA agent from New York, attractive, redhead, Jewish, hearty eater
James Allen: Black, Seattle cop, has long legs, has kids but estranged from his wife
I liked the characters although one who I thought would stay, left the story early on. Tucker introduces several other supporting characters throughout. I had to laugh at the top bad guy. His personality and way of thinking are so over the top it’s a little humorous. The problem is, four people were introduced at the beginning and by the middle of the book, two are basically out of the picture. I wanted to see more camaraderie and the utilization of the skills and talents of each throughout. They are likeable characters but I didn’t get enough of them and I felt cheated to lose them so early.
Sometimes I could not tell who was speaking in some of the long conversations these characters shared. Louis likes to give long lectures. Some good-natured humor between the four main characters. On problem I found a little distracting is Tucker will occasionally have one character finish speaking either sentence or a paragraph, but continue speaking in the very next line when one would normally expect another character to take over the dialogue.
Other than some dialogue glitches, this is where I have the most concerns with this book.
Generally uneven writing. The book is separated into several Parts designated by Roman Numerals. A minor thing to mention, I know, but a single page with Part I written on it doesn’t exist as do the other Parts. It would, obviously, be at the beginning (barring a prologue), but isn’t written as such. Also, there are a plethora of format and editing errors. Misspellings, punctuation errors, extra spaces between sentences, indentation problems, and the misuse of italics or the non-use of such when needed. Tucker also repeats words or phrases too much. “The Divine Ms. Weismann” for instance.
A glaring mistake is made at the beginning of the book. The year this story supposedly takes place is 1981. However, everything after this opening in regards to events, facts, and technology indicates the story is set in present day. I thought the opening time period might be a typo but there is a list of events happening around that year and a few before to set the year. I looked for a mention of time passing, but none exists.
Not much action. Much of the violence is discovered after the fact. There is a bit of profanity but several uses of racist language.
This was a difficult read at times, despite the interesting storyline. I contemplated awhile but could not get over the many bumps. Unfortunately, I had to give this a ranking of:
By James Patterson and Neil McMahon
The world has almost been destroyed by humans but the rise of genetically engineered beings, known as Elites, has saved it. The Elites now rule. They enjoy the good life including various mechanical toys such as virtual reality machines, humanoid dolls, and talking and flying cars. Hays Baker, an agent for the Agency of Change is called in to investigate the heinous murders of representatives of the biggest toy manufacturer. During a chase after the killers, he is injured and while in hospital, learns a shocking truth about himself. Now, he is on the run, an enemy of those he once called friends, teaming with those he once hated, and trying to stop a scheme involving mass slaughter.
A very ‘tomorrow’ plot. Humans have almost destroyed the earth and genetically altered humans are now in control. This has a little bit of a ‘Jetsons’ feel with the robot maids and the flying cars but it’s more ‘realistic’ than silly. This is a nice little story showing that improved technology isn’t always better. This plays on the old adage about power corrupting. Elites are supposed to be more capable of running the world, yet end up being as bad or worse than the humans.
Hays Baker: An Elite. Agent of the Agency of Change, which is the authority police force of the new world. He is married with two daughters. He has super strength, agility, speed, and hearing.
Lizbeth Baker: Hays’ wife. Also an agent and an Elite.
Well defined characters with a nice range of emotions. You have some standard bad guys and some unique individuals in the human resistance force. I found myself interested in learning about each character, wanting to know more about them. They’re intriguing because of their abilities and personalities.
Each character has his/her own voice. The personalities come through even with many of the supporting characters.
First person POV with Baker’s narrative. Of course with Patterson you expect short chapters and quick action scenes. Nice use and explanation of technology without going over board. Decent explanations on the current state of the world and those who inhabit it. There are a few not totally unexpected surprises but still the story is entertaining. Fairly solid writing. A few unnecessary uses of profanity. The story spans the world, from Canada to Russia to England. Centered mainly in America, the globetrotting is included to show the state of the rest of the world, to let the reader understand the ramifications of the overall scheme of the Elites.