Nightingale Wood

by Stella Gibbons

Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons

Ah, refreshing, refreshing Stella Gibbons. I really like her style. When my husband and I were dating, or perhaps I waited until we were engaged, I made him read Cold Comfort Farm aloud with me. The poor man had to endure my constant, “I saw something nasty in the wood shed.” It must not have put him off too much, because here we are. But I digress. I was prepared to like this book, and I did. Read More »

Every Man Dies Alone

by Hans Fallada

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada

I loved this book. Loved it. I’ve read my fair share of forgettable WWII novels. This wasn’t forgettable at all, and I was crying at the end. You have to love a book that makes you cry. To understand and appreciate this book one needs to know its writer. Hans Fallada is the pseudonym of Rudolf Ditzen, morphine addict and author who was institutionalized multiple times and lived through the Third Reich. He was neither overtly supported, nor criticized the Nazi Party. He took the middle of the road route that he so detests in his novel Every Man Dies Alone. Understanding Fallada’s self loathing helps one greater appreciate what he is trying to say. Read More »

Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution

by Joel Richard Paul

Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution by Joel Richard Paul

I know some people don’t like non fiction. They get bogged down in the dates and the details, and if it doesn’t pertain to their immediate circumstances… they just don’t care. I am not one of those people. I LOVE non fiction. I like obscure settings, and obscure people. The older, the better. Sadly, Unlikely Allies seemed to be history light. Read More »

Faithful Place

by Tana French

Faithful Place by Tana French

This novel is the third in French’s Murder Squad series. I raved about the first, and enjoyed the second, and I liked Faithful Place, but I am finding with each book, I am less invested. Read More »

The Weird Sisters

by Eleanor Brown

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

This book begs the question, should Shakespeare enthusiasts be allowed to write novels? I am not sure they should. I get it, he was a playwright, he was witty, he was innovative… but people, it’s been a long time, we can move forward. But no, Brown, lets her love of Shakespeare flow in this novel. Read More »

Always Magic in the Air: The Bomb and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era

by Ken Emerson

Always Magic in the Air by Ken Emerson

I have a slight confession. I don’t usually read the preface, introduction, or forward in books. I find that if I’ve never read the book I get too many spoilers. If the preface is written by someone I find interesting, I will go back and read it at the end. Most of the time; however, I am content to read the book and have done. I read Ken Emerson’s introduction, and I am glad I did. Read More »

The Victoria Vanishes

by Christopher Fowler

The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler

This novel is the second in A Peculiar Crimes Unit series. If you recall the first book received decent marks, and I was interested in the sequel. Unfortunately, the sequel isn’t as good as the first book. Again we find Arthur Briant and John May in the midst of a possible unit shutdown as Bryant decides it is time to retire. Before retirement can happen, one last case must be solved.  Read More »

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling

by Maryrose Wood

The Incorrigilbe Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

Can you tell a book by its cover? All I know is when I saw the cover illustration which sports three children and a pale governess, I was sold. My husband commented on how nicely bound the book was, and he IS the authority in this house, as he did take a class on book binding in college. More than a nice cover, The Mysterious Howling is a fun, feel good story about how a little love and understanding can make even the most daunting situation, rewarding. Read More »

Past Imperfect

by Julian Fellowes

Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

Oh, Julian… why did the book have to end that way? Why? Wait, I feel I am spoiling this review by letting my feelings overcome me. Let us start at the beginning. I have long had a love for Mr. Fellowes (which is why I feel I can call him Julian). Read More »

One of Our Thursdays is Missing

by Jasper Fforde

One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

Those of you know know me are aware of my love for anything Jasper Fforde. It is with great disappointment that I report I really could have done without this latest installment in the Thursday Next series. Like all in the Thursday Next series, it was entertaining, but it wasn’t exciting. It didn’t reveal any exciting plot points. It didn’t help you like the characters any more or any less, and I am sincerely wondering why it was written at all. Read More »

Waiting for the Barbarians

by J.M. Coetzee

Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee

I am skeptical when I pick up books by Nobel Laureates. There is something so pretentious about the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes. Read More »

Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander In Chief

by James M. McPherson

Tried by Way: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M. McPherson

In modern parlance I would consider myself ‘a fan’ of Lincoln. From the many biographies I’ve read, to the bajillion hour Ken Burns Civil War Documentary that my nocturnal newborn and I watched, Lincoln stands out as an all around good guy. More importantly, he wasn’t a hypocrite which in these days of political intrigue and outrage, is a pretty amazing fact. The only problem with Lincoln is the in flux of information about the man. Read More »

The Likeness

by Tana French

The Likeness by Tanna French

I bought this book with the expectation of being disappointed. I really enjoyed French’s In the Woods and figured that she would use many of the same devises she’d used in the first book, but that I would see them coming and it just couldn’t be good. How pleasantly surprised I was to discover that not only did I absolutely enjoy the book, I can’t wait to read the third installment in her Murder Squad series. Read More »

The City of Falling Angels

by John Berendt

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

I like to think that if John Berendt and I ever met, we’d go to some cafe somewhere (in this little fantasy I live in a place that actually has cafes in the European sense and not in the Route 66 sense) and talk. We’d tell stories about the people we’d met. We’d laugh about the things we’d seen. We’d be friends. I would imagine that the differences in our beliefs and life experiences would not separate us, but we would feel a comradarie that only people who love people can understand. Read More »

The Clothes on Their Backs

by Linda Grant

The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant

Another self important and whiny story about a girl whose parent’s survived World War II. I’ve read a lot of these types of books in my day, and this wasn’t a great one. Read More »

No Wind of Blame

by Georgette Heyer

No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer

I remember my first Georgette Heyer novel at the tender age of 12. Friday’s Child. I loved it and it began a quest to read every Georgette Heyer Regency Romance I could find. I also started on her mystery and her other historical fiction, but didn’t appreciate them, and stuck with what I liked. Now that her mysteries on in re-print, I thought it was high time to give them another try. Read More »

Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests, and Captivity in the 17th-Century Mediterranean

by Adrian Tinniswood

The Economist said this was a novel about how a biography and social history can ‘work magnificently together’. No, no, no, Economist. No. Social history can NEVER work with biography. That is the law. When you try to view the actions of a bunch of Barbary Pirates through the lenses of a social or political theology (if you will) of the 21rst Century… well, you are going to get someone’s ideological crusade. Adrian Tinniswood would have done well to stick with writing about country homes. Read More »

A Red Herring Without Mustard

by Alan Bradley

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce has done it again. That eleven year old scamp has stolen my heart and solved another mystery all while learning the secret art of not overreacting in order to confuse her elder sisters. There is something tender about the motherless young detective that makes me want to take care of her, and in the next second send her to her room because she is so sassy. Read More »

Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System

by Roberto Saviano

According to the cover, this ‘novel’ is now an award-winning film. I have a hard time believing they could make a film from the contents of Saviano’s novel. It isn’t a story so much as an expose that has no actual narrative. Though I found it interesting, highly interesting, it would be better served for a magazine article, and not a book. Read More »

In the Woods

by Tana French

In the Woods by Tana French

I am a crime drama junkie. There, I admit it. I occasionally watch true crime shows, no matter how sordid, so In the Woods was exactly what I like. Read More »

Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne

by James Gavin

Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin

Initially, I wanted to give this book a bad grade, but I realized I really wanted to give Lena Horne a bad grade. The book was good. Well written. Well balanced. Well researched. I just don’t like Lena Horne. I thought she wasn’t a talented singer and really didn’t understand the fuss. Stormy Weather confirmed my feelings. Read More »

Of Shelves and Romance

The other day my husband sent me this cartoon.

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Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War: A Story of the Three Greatest Generals of the Greatest War

by Terry Brighton

Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War by Terry Brighton

I am not sure why historians can’t seem to choose shorter titles, but they can’t, and as a result we know what they want their book to be about from the cover. For some reasons over the past year or so I’ve read several WWII books. Both fiction and non fiction. None have focused at all on the North African theater of war, so the novel was refreshing in that aspect. Read More »

The Magicians

by Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I wish that this book wasn’t so crappy, that or that Lev Grossman wasn’t such a good writer because this book was a wasted opportunity. There are so many problems that I don’t know quite where to begin… One of the largest problems is that Grossman has attempted to write an Urban Fantasy. Unfortunately, this genre doesn’t exist and I’d be willing to wager that the Venn Diagram that includes fantasy fans and those who read urban novels doesn’t exactly have a large cross section. Read More »

The Mysterious Benedict Society

by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

THIS is the kind of middle grade novel I love to read. The largest difficulty I encounter in the middle grade novel is that the author feels a need to dumb it down. Or when they try to be clever, they oversell it. The Mysterious Benedict Society was a refreshing change. Read More »

Full Dark House

by Christopher Fowler

Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler

Sometimes I get all book snobby, and feel like I know what a book will be like just by picking it up. When I picked up Full Dark House I expected something like a Jasper Fforde novel (which we know that I love) and I didn’t quite get it. Not that I didn’t enjoy Fowler’s novel, because I did. Read More »

Don’t Mind if I Do

by George Hamilton and William Stadiem

Why did I want to read about the life of the darkly tanned old Hollywood lothario? Why, not? And that pretty much sums up George Hamilton’s philosophy on life, at least according to himself. Before picking up this book I knew very little about George Hamilton. After reading it, I don’t necessarily feel like he is an old friend, but it was a fun read. Read More »

The Vikings: A History

by Robert Ferguson

This book took me forever to read, and I am not a slow reader. One of its chief problems is clear lack of thesis or theme. It follows the vikings throughout what we consider the viking age. Though most books follow the conquest of Great Britain, and possibly the new world–this novel followed the viking’s conquest of every place at every time. Read More »

American Priestess: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem

by Jane Fletcher Geniesse

When I picked out this book highly discounted I knew nothing about the American Colony. It sounded vaguely familiar, almost as though in my internet ramblings, I’d stumbled across a wikipedia article… but after having read the history, I am certain that I’d never known about the group that went to Jerusalem to await the second coming. The book chronicles the life of Anna Spafford who would transform from a poor Norwegian Immigrant to a powerful ‘religious’ leader in Jerusalem. Read More »

The Whiskey Rebels

by David Liss

This book again demonstrates why I dislike historical fiction. Why, oh why, can an author not stay within the scope of one or two events from history as opposed to everything that happened. Read More »