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 »

Red Riding Hood

by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

Can I tell you how much I hated this book? Yes, I suppose I can. This book was so beyond awful that I don’t know where to start. Read More »

So Brave, Young, and Handsome

by Leif Enger

So Brave Young & Handsome by Leif Enger

Growing up, my siblings and I rode in the car with our parents for hours—one of the joys of growing up in the middle of nowhere. We only agreed upon three CDs (or rather, tapes in those days): ABBA’s Greatest Hits, Neil Diamond (anything), and Marty Robbin’s Gunfighter Ballads. Yes, we all love the gunfighter ballads. Read More »

The Search For WondLa

by Tony DiTerlizzi

The Search for Wondla by Tony Diterlizzi

Against my better judgment I picked up this book. I’ve promised myself that I wouldn’t start a new series that wasn’t already complete. I get tired of waiting for new books to come out and then re-reading to remember what happened… hence one of the reason I have sworn off the Wheel of Time Series until it is finished.  Alas, I am pleased that I rarely listen to my better judgment. The Search for WondLa was what I have been searching for in a middle grade novel. Read More »

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

by Barbara Robinson

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

I remember the first time I ever encountered this book. I was in second grade and Mrs. Jordan (who wasn’t a very engaging out loud reader) read this book to the class. At the time, I did feel that this was a great book, and upon re reading… I think I liked it even more. Read More »

Exploration Fawcett: Journey to the Lost City of Z

by Col. Percy Fawcett

Exploration Fawcett: Journey to the Lost City of Z by Col. Percy Fawcett

In 1925 Col. Fawcett disappeared in the jungles of Brazil. He was looking for a legend called the Lost City of Z. In the 1950s his youngest son Brian Fawcett published his father’s manuscript that had been intended for publication after the expedition for the City of Z. Finally, finally, finally, a biography worth reading about someone who actually DID something. Read More »

The Professor of Secrets: Mystery, Medicine, and Alchemy In Renaissance Italy

by Willaim Eamon

I know very little about modern medicine, much less ancient medicine. I go to the doctor only when necessary and am not ashamed to say, that I still don’t trust them. That being said, of course I thought my neurosis would be placated by reading a book about alchemy back in the day, and by back in the day I mean the 1570s and doctor Leonardo Fioravanti. Read More »

Dracula in Love

by Karen Essex

Ugh. This ‘novel’ was beyond awful. It would be too generous to call this an attempt at glorified fan fiction. I am often leery of books that tell a well-known story from the perspective of another character. This has always seemed to be more of a creative writing class assignment than anything that should sell as a novel. Read More »

Dark Places

by Gillian Flynn

I really wish I would have read Flynn’s Dagger Award-winning novel Sharp Objects before reading this novel, because after reading Dark Places, I am not going to be reading anything else written by Flynn unless it is a gift and I have no other reading materials on hand. Read More »

The Angel’s Game

by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

I don’t know what it is about the Spaniards but they have a way of weaving the mystical with modern to create a macabre sense of possibility. Zafron again makes use of some well beloved characters in his first novel, The Shadow of the Wind. Read More »

Hunting Eichman: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi

by Neal Bascomb

A well researched, carefully crafted account of a series of events leading to the multiple escapes and captures of Adolf Eichmann, Nazi war criminal. The prologue begins with the tension of Mossad agents waiting for Eichmann to arrive in order to kidnap him and transport him to Israel, the only nation willing to prosecute him for his crimes. Though the tension is evident from the first page, the novel takes you back to Eichmann’s past as an SS officer in charge of implementing the ‘Final Solution’. Read More »

Peace Like a River

by Leif Enger

Peace Like a River is the kind of book I have been looking for. Enger creates the fascinating character Jeremiah Land, a father, and modern worker of miracles. We begin the story by remembering the story of Reuben Land’s miraculous birth. Read More »

The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale

by Joseph Conrad

It is no secret that I have a difficult time caring about the book when I can’t relate in any way to the characters. Mr. Verloc is lazy, loathsome, and self centered. Conrad paints a picture of a cumbersome man who sweats a lot as he rambles around alternately toad eating and bullying his own family passive aggressively. Read More »

Postcards from a Dead Girl

by Kirk Farber

I’ve read a few books in my time that leave me confused, not knowing whether I liked the book or didn’t like it. This is one of those books. Read More »

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag

by Alan Bradley

Another Flavia de Luce mystery that leaves one feeling warm and fuzzy and wishing for more. This book begins with an innocent puppet show coming to town. Flavia soon becomes entangled with the puppet master and his assistant. Rounding out the old faithful characters, are some new and interesting townspeople. Read More »

Chick Lit?

The other evening while entertaining the man who lived with my husband before I did, I was asked what I’d been reading lately and if I could suggest a good book. I lead the inquirer to the bookshelf which holds my To Be Reviewed stack. After noting various titles and genres Jared (the former roommate in question) commented that I don’t read many books by women. Read More »

Thunderstruck

by Erik Larson

Erik Larson has done it again. Larson has a way to bring history to life. He spins a tale of murder and a tale of progress showing that man can evolve in evil and in technology at the same time. Read More »

Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade

by Patrick Dennis

This is one of the few novels that I read after seeing the movie. A roommate persuaded me to see the old movie full of technicolor hijinks but I didn’t seem to remember much of the novel when I read the book. Auntie Mame was written by Edward Everett Tanner III under the pseudonym Patrick Dennis.  Read More »

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is a modern day Miss Marple. Sure, she isn’t set in modern times but she is a likable detective heroine that is sure to keep people reading this new mystery series. And she’s only eleven! Read More »

I Was Told There’d Be Cake

by Sloane Crosley

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… if you write memoirs, or essays about your own life, or an autobiography, you should definitely have done something in your life worth writing about. Sloan Crosley has done nothing worth writing about. Read More »

A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924

by Orlando Figes

Perhaps it is the Political Scientist in me… but I REALLY enjoyed this book. Orlando Figes is not only an expert in Russian history he is THE expert and his novel could be used both as a textbook in a Russian history or Political Science class or works equally well when just read by someone with an interest in Russia, or the history of communism in Russia. What sets this book apart is that Figes uses the words of the people themselves to describe conditions and explain complex situations instead of relying on overused and sometimes unsubstantiated political theory. Read More »

The Swan Thieves

by Elizabeth Kostova

I enjoy Elizabeth Kostova. I thought The Historian was a great read, but I worried that Ms. Kostova might not be able to pull it off again. Happily, I was wrong. Ms. Kostova talent lies in being able to weave different time periods and different stories together into a larger mystery. Read More »