Monthly Archives: November 2020

The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow

The Prague SonataThe Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An old musical manuscript, a piano sonata, falls into the hands of Meta, a young woman musicologist, but it’s incomplete. She sets about to unite the piece she has with its other parts. She travels to Prague where she meets characters both benign and less so. This novel blends mystery, arts, and romance with music and music history. The story arc is all too predictable, but it’s a satisfying, entertaining read. My biggest complaint is that there’s way too much music history and music scholarship for the average reader. I find the raptures of ecstasy the characters fall into over the score a bit over-the-top, too, but maybe classical music mega-fans really do get that excited. The author skillfully weaves in an aura of impending disaster to add suspense for those of us who crave a bit more oomph to a story.

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Ultimato Cliff Knowles Mystery #11

For those of you who are desperate for more reading during these upcoming self-isolation months, here is something to read: the latest Cliff Knowles mystery.

Hardkorps is a video blogger, memorializing his three-year quest for the Ultimato Challenge geocache on his vlog. Success means big money and big fame. But not all is as it seems. A shocking surprise leads to a death and an FBI investigation. When Cliff Knowles comes to believe his wife Ellen, the FBI agent on the case, is helping to prosecute the wrong man, he steps in. Cliff and Ellen find themselves working on opposite sides of the case. Only their mutual knowledge of geocaching can lead to discovering the truth.

Amazon Kindle link: Ultimato

I will have a free copy available on my Cliff Knowles Mysteries website in the next few days. For now only the Kindle version is available. The paperback book is being processed by Amazon and should also be available in a few days.

The Movie Lover’s Tour of Texas by Veva Vonler

The Movie Lover's Tour of Texas: Reel-Life Rambles Through the Lone Star StateThe Movie Lover’s Tour of Texas: Reel-Life Rambles Through the Lone Star State by Veva Vonler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This charming book, written by a university lecturer on writing and confessed movie devotee, combines literary panache with homespun folksiness. The book is divided into seven sections, each devoted to one region of Texas. In each are descriptions and reviews of specific movies, focusing on the sites and features that are real-life Texas. It’s a combination travelogue/movie review book. If you’re planning a driving trip through some part of Texas, this book would be an excellent companion. In addition to pointing out movie locations, it identifies local points of interest and the best places to eat and stay, especially in some of the small towns.

You aren’t going to want to read this book straight through. The content in each section is much the same, although on different movies and towns. If you’re a fan of old westerns, this book could serve as a source for finding a gem you overlooked. Maybe you can find it on Netflix or your local library. The indexes in the back are helpful. There’s one on movie titles and another on location names.

Full disclosure: the author is my son-in-law’s mother.

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New stuff

It’s been two weeks since I posted, so I suppose I should post something. The election and Biden’s victory have certainly changed the national dialog. I hope things return to normal, or as normal as possible in the middle of a pandemic. Maybe now my grandchildren won’t have to worry about being thrown into cages and tortured if they try to cross the border, although that’s closed to non-essential travel right now.

We just bought a new stove. The cooktop is induction, so we have to get rid of all our non-magnetic cookware, such as the copper-bottom pans. We also got a new television. It’s only slightly larger than the old one, but it’s a newer generation and can run YouTube TV, which we signed up for. U-verse was getting ridiculously expensive. These are new things requiring getting used to.

The End of October by Lawrence Wright

The End of OctoberThe End of October by Lawrence Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This mid-apocalyptic sci-fi novel is remarkably prescient about a global pandemic. The one in the book is more severe than COVID-19, but the idiocies of the U.S. and other governments is amazingly like what has come to pass in real life. This book is yet more proof that the current pandemic was foreseeable and its effects largely preventable. Although this book was published in April 2020, just after the start of the COVID pandemic, it was clearly written many months or years before, yet the course is so accurately described you would think it was ripped right from today’s headlines. Many will put a political spin on the book, but I think the author wasn’t trying to be partisan or even political, beyond a general warning that we should be well-prepared for a pandemic.

The book is an entertaining read for those of us who enjoy science fiction, but it would actually be more fun if it didn’t adhere so closely to what comes across on the evening news. It can give you the willies to think about it. The author writes well and the plot holds together. I do think it was overly long, but that’s a minor fault.

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