The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans

by Mark Jacobson

The Lampshade by Mark Jacobson

You know I am a sucker for a real life detective story… and a real life detective story with Nazis… sign me up. There were so many things I enjoyed about this book, but a fair amount that I didn’t enjoy. Read More »

Who Do You Think You Are?: A Memoir

by Alyse Myers

Who do you think you are: a memoir by Alyse Myers

Every now and again I like to read a biography about someone I have never heard of. In this case it was an auto-biography, or memoir if you want to get fancy about it, written by Alyse Myers. I knew nothing about who she was, or why her life was important, but discount books are my weakness. Read More »

Catching Fire

by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I was pleasantly survived with The Hunger Games and eagerly read the second installment. This might have tainted my opinion of the book. If I review several books in a series, I try to review right after I read them, or not read them one after another. I find it hard to look at each novel as its own separate entity without comparing it to the others. Catching Fire, just might be a casualty of how much I enjoyed the first book. Read More »

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

by Erik Larson

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

When I got this book, I was so excited. I love Erik Larsen’s books. I enjoy how he blends history and murder. I think his style is easy to get lost in. That is why In the Garden of Beasts was a huge disappointment to me. Read More »

Why Shoot a Butler

by Georgette Heyer

Why Shoot a Butler by Georgette Heyer

I’ve made no secret that I generally dislike Heyer mysteries. This book is the rare exception. Why Shoot a Butler is another mystery set in a country weekend estate type setting with a lot of wealthy people hanging around each other seemingly shocked about a murder that has happened. I would hazard a guess that all Heyer’s mysteries have this similar setting, and sometimes it works. Read More »

The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Perilous Journey

by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart

When I think of the Mysterious Benedict Society books the words that come to mind are charming and whimsical. The second installment only increased my enjoyment in the series. This novel begins where the last adventure ended. Read More »

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I resisted The Hunger Games for a long time. Why, you ask? Well, it seemed like it was the Twilight crowd that was jumping on the band wagon and saying how great the books were. No offense against that crowd, but Twilight isn’t exactly my thing. Read More »

The Rasputin File

by Edvard Radzinsky

The Rasputin File by Edward Radzinsky

Rasputin is one of the great characters in history. He features in countless novels, non fiction books, plays, and even cartoons. Often Rasputin is portrayed as a seducing villain who caused the downfall of the Romanov empire.  Radzinsky sets out to present a real Rasputin, one who propagandists failed to present. Read More »

The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800

by Jay Wink

The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World by Jay Winik

The wonderfully researched history follows the fledgling United States, France, and Russia as they navigate into the modern world. For non history buffs, the period of 1788-1800 includes all sorts of rebellion within the United States (Shay’s Rebellion, Whiskey Rebellion, etc), the French Revolution and murder of the French Monarchy, as well as the twilight of Catherine the Great and Russia as a world power. Read More »

Stalin’s Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival

by Owen Matthews

Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival by Owen Matthews

Stalin’s Children met my criteria for a good biography. Most likely because I found myself crying throughout the first third of the book. Read More »

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 »

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 »

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 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

I don’t like Sense and Sensibility. Let me make that clear. I always felt that Maryanne was off her rocker, that Edward Ferrars was a weak sort of individual, and that Colonel Brandon needed to stop trying to rob the cradle. That being said, Austin and Winters have done it. They have written a book that makes me not utterly despise the Dashwoods. Read More »

Brothers in Battle: Best of Friends

by William “Wild Bill Guarnere and Edward “Babe” Heffron with Robyn Post

I’d already read Band of Brothers, by the time I picked this book up, so I was fairly familiar with the history and the stories that were retold. Two of the most engaging ‘characters’ of Ambrose’s tale were indeed Wild Bill and Babe so it was interesting to see the past through their perspective. Read More »

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

by Jeanne Birdsall

This is nearly a perfect book for kids. There is a bit of action, drama, and romance, couple this with an engaging family pet, and you have the recipe for good old fashioned fun. This reminds me of what kids books were before Harry Potter, those highly politicized memoirs of slave children or Native Americans, gossipy girls, and vampires. Birdsall has written a book that recalls to mind the joy of youth, and the innocence of a summer vacation with new friendships. There is nothing sinister, nothing lurking, no misplaced moral compasses. Read More »