Saturday, September 29, 2012

Two More Reviews

Last August, I did a blog about W.E.B. Griffin.  At that time, I had read 38 of his books.  Now, 13 months later, I have just finished #40.  The Spymaster is book #7 of the Men at War series.  When I was describing all of his series, I referred to this one as a confection.  It's lighter, less involved, shorter in length (that shouldn't be a factor but oftentimes is), and not as well written as the other military series (I only read 1 book in the police series - and didn't care for it).  Now that I've read book #7, I agree with everything I said about Men at War from last August.  It was okay.

The series takes place during WWII and centers on the OSS, which was the precursor to the CIA.  The OSS was formed to be the intelligence agency during the war.  It was led by Will Bill Donovan at the personal behest (fancy, eh?) of FDR.  There are a lot of OSS agents and station chiefs during the war, but, basically, the hero of the series is Dick Canidy, a 26-year old very effective and very loose cannon.  He always gets behind enemy lines and wreaks havoc while, at the same time, rescuing his guys and spiriting away scientists, and the like, for USA purposes.  He hasn't lost anybody yet!

I can't enthusiastically endorse this series although the other 4 military series (The Corps, The Brotherhood of War, Presidential Agent, and Honor Bound) are all fantastic.  Even with that lukewarm approval rating, it's still entertaining reading.  And Griffin not only knows a whole lot about the military but also respects its traditions and its people.  I applaud him for that.

I just finished Mitch Albom's latest, the time keeper (his lower case, not mine - you know how anal I am about spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.).  Let's get my biggest pet peeve out of the way first.  The book is very small (typical for him) and has 222 short pages.  It takes about 2 hours to read.  And it's $24.99!  That's a lot of money - if you pay sticker price (which I don't).  Of course, all of his books are wildly popular so he gets away with it.  Who am I to knock it - especially when James Patterson is putting out 6-8 poorly written books a year (I can't resist throwing his name in there once in a while) and raking in the money.  Okay, I have now officially vented.

Albom has written 3 novels and 2 non-fiction.  Tuesdays with Morrie is still the best-selling memoir of all time.  That's darn impressive.  His 2nd non-fiction is Have a Little Faith.  The 2 other novels, besides this one, are The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day.  I've liked all 4 of his other books better than this one.  The story in the time keeper (see line 1 of the paragraph above) is about Father Time, the first person to measure time.  FT (I know, pretty ridiculous) is holed up in a cave for about 6 millennia because he had the audacity to measure one of God's greatest gifts:  (say it altogether now) Time.  During his imprisonment, he hears every voice around the world (he understands all languages!) that is complaining about time - either too much or too little.  Finally, he is released back to earth and finds himself drawn to 2 people - an 80+ year-old billionaire who is trying to cheat death even though he has terminal cancer and a teenage girl whose love life has put her in the doldrums.

Although I enjoyed the ending and definitely felt connected to the central characters, the story itself didn't really do it for me.  If I didn't have my normal teary-eyed reaction at the end, I might even have given it a non-recommend.  Obviously the message is good - enjoy the time you have and try not to wish for more or less.  I say good for him for that.  But all of the stuff with FT I found to be a bit boring and a little confusing.  I know that I'm no mental giant (I refuse to read the "classics"for fear of uttering "huh" at the end of the book), but I do like my books to flow a bit better than this one did.  Should you read it?  If you like Albom, I would say yes.  Just revise your expectations a bit.  

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