OCDaniel by Wesley King

Good book. I enjoyed it.

Wesley King is the author of over a dozen novels for young readers.

His debut, OCDaniel, is an Edgar Award winner, a Canada Silver Birch Award winner, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and received a starred review from Booklist.

The author suffered in silence with Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) when he was a kid. This coming-of-age novel is quite autobiographical.

13-year-old Daniel is shy and smart. He’d be bullied if not for his best friend Max who is a school football star.

Daniel is on the team too — as back-up punter and water boy. He really doesn’t want to get on the field.

The only stranger kid in his Grade is Sara Malvern who does not speak to anyone. Though she keeps her grades high.

Daniel is shocked with Sara approaches him with a personal problem. And speaks.

She fears her father has been killed by her Mom’s new boyfriend.

It’s partly a murder mystery.

Simultaneously, Daniel is secretly writing a book called The Last Kid on Earth.

This book is ideal for kids and teenagers.

The author is most famous for writing kids books for Kobe Bryant.

He wrote a prequel, as well, about Sara ➙ Sara and the Search for Normal.

Mystwick School of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury

I’d recommend the book for kids as young as age-7.

Surprisingly, I’m STILL sending money to Amazon for 12 audio books each year.

I’d call their control over audio books a monopoly.

Prices have never come down since I joined. They’ve not innovated much.

A monopoly.

What Audible.com should do is offer services in addition to the books.

And since 2016 there is some ORIGINAL content. Podcasts. Short stories and novellas.

The Mystwick School of Musicraft is one of those Audible originals. FREE for those who pay for a subscription.

It’s something like the 1st book in the Harry Potter series. But at Mystwick magic is created along with music. The book is available, as well, but the audio version includes all the music. Better.

Amelia Jones has always dreamed of attending the Mystwick, as her mother had gone there.

She is accepted into the academy by accident — and faces plenty of challenges.

Click PLAY or watch a review on YouTube.

On the Plain of Snakes by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux is a jerk — but still my favourite travel writer of all time.

He’s age-81 as I post. Still going strong.

Theroux says he’s mellowed. And I’d admit his most recent books are much more positive than his scathing critiques of the past.

In 2015, he published “Deep South” detailing four road trips through the southern states of the United States. Excellent.

In 2019 he published On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey, his account of his extensive travels in his own car throughout Mexico.

In some ways it was a continuation of his Deep South investigation.

Near the start he recaps the deaths and damage done by the drug trade. The insatiable American market. The brutal competition in Mexico to supply it.

He does a terrific overview of illegal immigration before the pandemic. Mexico a net zero. Now mostly more desperate folks from Central America as well as many from India, the Caribbean, and even China.

Over the decades it’s gotten more and more difficult to cross the border illegally. And not because of any wall. Walls are considered a joke in Mexico.

In another instant, his comments come across as self-serving, as when he longs for a simpler Mexico with “inexpensive meals that were delicious, cheap motels that were comfortable, and friendly people who, out of politeness, seldom complained to outsiders of their dire circumstances: poor pay, criminal gangs, a country without good health care or pensions, crooked police, cruel soldiers, and a government indifferent to the plight of most citizens.” …

I was amused to read of all the time Paul paid bribes to crooked cops. An conspicuous car with Massachusetts licence plates — a sitting duck.

Theroux is mostly critical of ReTrumplicans. I like that too, of course.

“The per capita income in Oaxaca is the same as in Kenya and Bangladesh,” Theroux says.

“You’re dealing with people who have very little money and get very little help from the government. But they have a great culture they’re very proud of, their family values are very strong, and they’re very self-sufficient and creative. They mend their clothes; they fix their shoes; they’re actually able to take something that’s broken and repair it; they have a lot of cottage industries.

I admire that, and I admire the ones who pick up and go to the border. Most of the people I’ve met who crossed the border just wanted to earn some money to send back and then go home; they weren’t here to go on welfare or be the parasites they’re identified as.”

In fact, Theroux says, “the book was inspired by everything that Donald Trump and other people were saying during the presidential campaign about Mexico, Mexicans, and the border—their uninformed opinions and stereotypes.”

He adds, “One of the great reasons for traveling is to destroy stereotypes, to see people and things as they really are, to see the dynamics and the complexity of a country. As soon as he started saying things like, ‘There’s too many of them, they’re coming over the border, they’re rapists,’ I had a great reason for taking a year or two to get to the bottom of it.” …

Publisher’s Weekly interview

Personally, I’ve given up on travel in Mexico though I had a condo there for 20 years.

It’s gotten more expensive for the tourist. And on recent trips I found it too American. I’d rather go to Nepal.

However, reading this book has sparked some interest in getting to the far south of Mexico. I’ve never been.

No Plan B – Lee & Andrew Child

The 27th book in the Jack Reacher series was released October 2022.

I enjoyed it. As I enjoyed the rest of the audio books, most read by Dick Hill.

The worst thing I can say about No Plan B is that the audio book is read by Scott Brick, one of my least favourite narrators.

In this one Reacher deals with a gruesome private prison conspiracy in Mississippi. An interesting premise.

As usual, Jack Reacher stumbles into the situation.  He happens to see a woman murdered.  Pushed under a bus.  Chasing that killer leads him to another recent death in the town — a man believed to have died a natural death from a heart attack. 

He was also murdered.

Reacher books are typically very simple.  But the plot of this book is more complicated: 2 additional subplots that play out in parallel — until they intersect.  

If you like Reacher, you’ll like this book.

YES the story is absurd, as are they all. 😀

Light It Up by Nick Petrie

ACTION !

This is the 3rd book in the series featuring American war veteran Peter Ash, who suffers PTSD.

He can’t go indoors without physically suffering.

… Ash leaves a simple life rebuilding hiking trails in Oregon to help his good friend Henry Nygaard, whose daughter runs a Denver security company that protects cash-rich cannabis entrepreneurs from modern-day highwaymen.

Henry’s son-in-law and the company’s operations manager were carrying a large sum of client money when their vehicle vanished without a trace, leaving Henry’s daughter and her company vulnerable.

Then, when Peter is riding shotgun on another cash run, the cargo he’s guarding comes under attack from hijackers and he narrowly escapes with his life. As the incidents mount, he has to wonder: for criminals as sophisticated as these, is this money really worth the risk?

And if not, what about his cargo is worth more? …

NickPetrie.com

Good plot.

The best character is his buddy Lewis, the most dangerous person in the world. A Black man with a library card.

Three Pines – season 1

It’s very good. One of my favourite TV series of 2022.

Of course there are many things that fans of the books will criticize, especially the cast.

Too few francophones for a village in Quebec.

Most miscast was Tamara Brown as Myrna Landers.  Myrna should be bigger, happier, and older. 

Initially, I was disappointed in British-American actor Alfred Molina as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Too anglo. And he doesn’t look how I picture Gamache — BUT I was wrong.

Molina really does convey the unique philosophical approach to solving murders that we read in the books. Warmth and gravitas.

As many agree, Sarah Booth as Yvette Nichol is BETTER on screen than the character in the books. Comic relief.

Yes this TV series has absurd, ridiculous plot lines. There are no grizzly bears in Quebec — but that’s my main complaint with the books, as well. The book plots are absurd. The show consistent with that.

If you are generous, you could say there are traces of magic realism.

Of the many insights I’ve seen into the horrors of the Canadian Indian residential school crimes, this was the one that moved me most.

Of 150,000 children placed in those by the Canadian government over 100 years, estimates range from 3200 to over 30,000 who died there.

Many more lived having been abused. During a penitential pilgrimage to Canada in July 2022, Pope Francis reiterated the apologies of the Catholic Church who administered many of them, including the fictional one in Three Pines, Quebec.

First Nations Canadians are still suffering from that evil legacy. And that’s spelled out in this show.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

THE TRUTH by Peter Grainger (2021)

After 18 months retirement — DC Smith felt obliged to return to investigate a charge against a friend’s son.

Fact is … DC Smith is by far the best part of the entire Kings Lake investigation book series.

When DC Smith is not there, the books are far weaker.

DC Smith is glad to be back. His partner Jo is glad he’s back.

And now he has some kind of phoney Private Investigator card.

Thank God!

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

This is a very good debut novel.

Already picked up to be adapted for screen.

The author IS a corporate attorney in ATLANTA. She’s writing what she knows.


Family. Secrets. Murder.

When Atlanta lawyer Ellice Littlejohn discovers her boss dead in his office, she walks away instead of calling the authorities.

Why?

Because she has been keeping a cache of dark secrets including a small-town past and a kid brother who’s spent time on the other side of the law.

Also, she’s had a long term affair with her boss. And doesn’t want that coming to light.

After that, her life gets … complicated.

Legacy by Nora Roberts

The 4th book I’ve now read by Nora Roberts I’d say was the weakest.

Still good.

Still a sprawling, multi-generational tale well told.

The first time she met her father was the day he tried to kill her…

Adrian Rizzo didn’t have the easiest childhood, to put it mildly, but she’s worked hard to put it behind her and to the outside world she is a beautiful young woman with a successful, high-profile career and a wonderful family and friends.

When, out of the blue, she receives a death threat in the post, she is shocked but puts it down to someone’s jealousy of her success and tries to forget about it. But Adrian doesn’t realise that it’s more than just spite. Someone is very, very angry about her happy life and will stop at nothing to bring it all crashing down. …

Fantastic Fiction