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 »

The Monster of Florence: A True Story

by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

Confession, I enjoy true crime. I do. I once went to a writing seminar when they spoke of the appeal of escapist literature. A study had been done which said that people tend to read what they are missing in their lives. Teenagers read fantasy, house wives read “Twilight”, etc etc etc. If this theory holds true, I enjoy true crime because there is not enough crime in my life. Read More »

Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR’s Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors

by James D. Hornfischer

One: unnecessarily long title. Two: seriously, after writing that title I am exhausted. That being said, this book is well worth reading. I have only a passing interest in WWII history (gasp) as I feel I’ve read it, heard it, seen it all a hundred times over. What I enjoyed about this book was that the author tried to keep the focus narrow in an arena that hasn’t received much media attention. Read More »

My Lobotomy

by Howard Dully and Charles Fleming

As I began reading Dully’s account of his youth and the lobotomy given at the age of eleven, I found myself disliking the author intensely. Granted, he has had a lobotomy so his memory was affected, but he strikes me as the textbook bratty kid with a bad attitude. Read More »

Who Killed Iago: A Book of Fiendishly Challenging Literary Quizzes

by James Walton

Yes, I did read this book. What can I say? I really love bargains at the bookstore and I really like books. I can think of, perhaps, four of my friends who would actually be willing to do these quizzes, but it was  a fun read none the less. The premise of the book is great. Read More »

Write It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford

by Thomas M. DeFrank

I have never been a big fan of Gerald Ford. It is the Star Wars/Star Trek thing. I like Reagan, and I agree with Nancy when she called him “the unelected President”. Apparently, that incensed President Ford, as comes out in the book. Despite an almost non interest in President Ford as an entity, I am a sucker for history and politics. Read More »

The Undercover Economist

by Tim Harford

I like a good book about economics.  I particularly like Harford’s style of sneaking the economics in there and not bogging the text down with a bunch of technical economics terms. He gives the reader just enough to be able to converse with some authority afterward, but not enough to start pitching his own economic theories. Read More »

In Patagonia

by Bruce Chatwin

A little back ground is in order. I am actually half Chilean, and have spent a little time there over the years. I also lived for a while in Brazil. This helped me in my pursuit of a second major field of study at university. Yes, one major was not enough. I double majored in Political Science and Latin American Studies. As a result I feel fairly confident in my knowledge of Latin American history, culture, politics and religion. So when my uncle (also an avid reader of anything he can get his hands on) lent me his battered copy of In Patagonia, I was excited to see what Mr. Chatwin would have in store. Read More »

Betsy and the Great World And Betsy’s Wedding

by Maud Hart Lovelace

Yes, it is a two for one special. And I am torn… technically this was one physical book with two books inside. Does that mean they get one grade or separate grades? So many options, and so little time.

The Betsy Tacy books as they are lovingly called by the legions of fans I never heard of before purchasing this book because it was a) on sale, and b) had a flashy illustration making good use of a scarf on the cover, are semi autobiographical. Read More »