Some Reviews

I am a proud member of Goodreads, both as an author and as an avid reader. One of this site’s best features is its annual readers’ challenge, in which it asks members to pick the number of books he wants to read for the year, and then tracks his progress. This will be the second year I’ve done this, and I’m off to a very good start. I’ll tell you why.

I’m relatively good at adding new books that I’m reading to my profile on Goodreads, but notoriously bad at recording my reading progress, and notating when I finish a book. Several of my 2017 reads were completed but never marked as such.


“Varengo read how many books today? Highly unlikely.”

And so today when I did a little housekeeping, going through my “Currently Reading” shelf and moving several books to the “Finished Reading” shelf, it looked a bit like I read five books… today! That’s not how it happened. That’s Dr. Spencer Reid reading, not S.J. Varengo reading.

Added to the confusion this could potentially cause on the Goodreads site itself is the fact that they joyfully wrote a post for each completed book and sent it along to Facebook. One or two people might have noticed on Goodreads. A whole lot more will have seen the FB posts. To wit: my wife, who pretty much ignores anything I do on Facebook, said to me tonight, “Why did you post about reading all these books?” That was actually my first indication that it had happened. I really had no idea what she as talking about.

“I didn’t post anything!” I protested vainly.

An instant later her iPhone screen was two inches from my eye-holes, accompanied by her sweet sing-song saying, “Ohhhhh noooooooo? What’s thiiiissss thennnnn?” (She really does talk with that many extra letters when she’s proving a point.)

The final maneuver in this choreography was the five emails I got, suggesting that I review the books, now that I’d finished them.


Emerson comes across as much kinder in his essays than his spiteful reanimated corpse would lead one to believe.

To that, I agreed. As an independent author myself, I know the importance of reviews. Perhaps a few of the writers on the list of books I allegedly read today are less concerned with what I have to say about their work. Two are dead, one for quite a while. I doubt even the one that was living when I began reading his work (James Michener), was overly worried about what I thought of Centennial, which I bought when it was released, but abandoned after 500 pages or so. I suppose that’s a form of review right there, but it’s far more an indictment of my attention span than of his writing. The other formerly living author in question was Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was so unconcerned with my feelings that he actually rose from the dead, borrowed a pen from an extremely frighted schoolgirl, and on a piece of scrap paper that he extracted from a waste can in the park, wrote these words:

“I could not possibly care less about what S.J. Varengo thinks of my essays. Your pal, R.W. Emerson.”

So I’m saving his review for last. At the very least it will give me time to calm down and get over the sting of his nastiness, allowing me to discuss his writing and not his post-mortal personality, which frankly does not impress.

The third author, still living in this case, who is not sweating my feelings on his book is Robin Cook. That’s a shame really because I have only good things to say about his work. The first time I read one of his books was when my son graduated from USMC boot camp on Parris Island, SC. in early 2010. It was at the house my mother rented for us, and I devoured it. Not too many guys or gals these days can say that they essentially invented a genre, but with the Medical Thriller, Cook did exactly that. So I will review his book Brain long before I give Emerson the time of day.

The final two books on the list are by independent authors, and they get the first write-ups.

The Wineland Sagas Book One The Saga of Leif the Lucky: The Lost Viking Colonies of North AmericaThe Wineland Sagas Book One The Saga of Leif the Lucky: The Lost Viking Colonies of North America by Milton Norman Franson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This first book of The Wineland Sagas by Milton Franson is a very interesting look at what the “true” discovery of the New World, at least by Europeans, might have been like. His characterization of Lief “The Lucky” Erickson breathes life into a figure that was little more than a name learned in passing during my (and I suspect most other people’s) education.

Franson writes with strength and confidence. He’s not afraid to make us laugh, and he’s very skilled at making us want to turn each page a little faster. I recommend this book without reservation!

View all my reviews

The Murder Files - 8 Stories of Murder, Lies and Mystery: (A thriller and suspense short story collection)The Murder Files – 8 Stories of Murder, Lies and Mystery: by Terry Keys

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Murder Files is a great collection of action-packed thriller/suspense short works by some of the best independent authors currently working. The editor and final contributor to the work, Terry Keys, has done a good job of selecting some very intense stories, and his own, Red Eyes is brilliant.

The other highlight for me was The Son-in-Law by some guy named Craig Hart, (my writing partner on the Assignment: Adventure SpyCo Novellas), who has once again written a tale that dares you not to turn the page.

This is not a book you’re going to want to pass on!

View all my reviews

That’s it for tonight. Actually, this is a much better indication of my endurance that the so-called “Five Book Massacre,” as absolutely no one but me is tagging my exploit.

Stop back soon to hear my rave reviews of Michener and Cook, and see me exact my revenge upon Emerson!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.