|BOOKWOMAN_CAT's Book Lists|
|Kristi's 2013 Book List in memory of Maggie, the cat (157 titles)
Happy to say my new reading companion is Abby the tabby, the funniest cat who has ever owned me.
|Kristi & Maggie the cat read together in 2012 (145 titles)
eclectic - modern literature, mystery, non-fiction...
|kristi & Maggie's Literature Wish List (778 titles)
modern fiction - women's literature - historical fiction....
|kristi & Maggie's Non-fiction Wish List (277 titles)
history, biography, autobiography, religion, psychology, medicine
|Kristi and Maggie the cat - 2011 list (125 titles)
mystery, modern literature, history, biography
|The sound of broken glass |
by Crombie, Deborah.
**** stars. This is the 15th book in the Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid British police procedural series. Ms. Crombie creates extremely enjoyable characters in additional to excellent mysteries. Half the enjoyment of her series is to find out the latest developments in the lives of Gemma and Duncan. The fact that she also writes intriguing and complex mysteries is the frosting on the cake. We begin in the past, on a hot August afternoon in Crystal Palace, London, once home to the tragically destroyed Great Exhibition. An isolated thirteen-year-old boy meets his next door neighbor, a recently widowed young teacher hoping to make a new start in the tight-knit South London community. Drawn together by their lonliness, the unlikely pair form a deep connection that ends in a shattering act of betrayal. We move to the present and find that Detective Inspector Gemma James is back on the job now that her husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, is at home to care for their emotionally fragile three-year-old foster daughter. She has been assigned to lead a Murder Investigation Team in South London,and is assisted by her colleague, newly promoted Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot. Their first case involves a crime scene at a seedy hotel in Crystal Palace. The victim, a well-respected barrister, is found naked, trussed, and apparently strangled. Is it an unsavory accident or murder? In either case, he was not alone, and Gemma's team must find his companion. When another man turns up dead in the same manner, they realize they are facing a serial killer. As the bodies accumulate they find that the trails all lead to the former lonely boy who is now a successful guitarist. Is he the murderer or the victim of very old hatred. I always look forward to the next edition in this excellent series. Again, if you are not familiar with this author, I always recommend starting from the beginning to enjoy the ongoing story of Gemma and Duncan. The first book in the series is "A Share in Death" published in 1993. Highly recommend. posted Oct 24, 2013 at 9:28PM
|Light of the world [sound recording] |
by Burke, James Lee, 1936-
**** stars. I have been reading and enjoying Dave Robicheaux mysteries for 27 years. I love him, his daughter, Alafair, and best friend Clete Purcel. I wait each year for their newest adventure. Louisiana Sheriff’s Detective Dave Robicheaux and his longtime friend and partner Clete Purcel are vacationing in Montana’s spectacular Big Sky country when a series of suspicious events leads them to believe their lives, and the lives of their families, are in danger.First, Alafair is nearly killed by an arrow while hiking alone on a trail. Then Clete’s daughter, Gretchen Horowitz, has a run-in with a local cop. Next, Alafair thinks she sees a familiar face following her around town—but how could convicted sadist and serial killer Asa Surrette be loose on the streets of Montana? Surrette committed a string of vicious murders while capital punishment was outlawed in his home state of Kansas. Years later, Alafair, a lawyer and novelist, interviewed Surrette in prison, aiming to prove him guilty of other crimes and eligible for the death penalty. Recently, a prison transport van carrying Surrette crashed and he is believed dead, but Alafair isn’t so sure. Wyatt Dixon, a former rodeo champion and convicted felon who first appeared in Burke’s 2001 novel “Bitterroot”, is another potential suspect. The search for Surrette, which stands at the novel’s center, widens to encompass a related series of abductions and murders that involves both Surrette and the family of a wealthy oil baron, one of the corporate profiteers who have helped lay waste to a formerly pristine environment. An alcoholic in recovery, Dave Robicheaux is visited by ghosts of the past, and his musings have deep roots in mythology and mysticism. He is a complex, thoughtful, damaged and violent man, unlike any protagonist in modern mystery fiction. The nature of evil is a theme also familiar to Mr. Burke's readers. Mr. Burke's books are always complex page-turners, he has been called “America’s best novelist” (The Denver Post) and “the reigning champ of nostalgia noir” (The New York Times Book Review). If you have not met this great writer and his characters, start with "The Neon Rain" published in 1987 and hold on to your hat for quite a ride!! Highly recommend! posted Oct 24, 2013 at 9:05PM
|Unknown means |
by Becka, Elizabeth, 1963-
*** stars. New mystery author for me. Evelyn James is a forensic specialist in the Cleveland Medical Examiner's office who's juggling a demanding workload. Somehow she always happens to be involved in some of the twistiest, most challenging crime scenes imaginable. This time around she's called in to investigate what appears to be a locked-room mystery: A wealthy woman is murdered in the penthouse suite of a luxurious, high-security building. The building's intricate surveillance system didn't pick up anything, the entrance wasn't forced, and the victim's husband has an airtight alibi. Things look even trickier when another victim turns up in another penthouse suite. Then Evelyn's best friend is attacked. And when a third person is found dead, Evelyn realizes that the killer's choice of victim is anything but random. But what is the connection? Pretty good mystery with likeable characters - recommend. posted Oct 24, 2013 at 8:38PM
|Benediction [sound recording] |
by Haruf, Kent.
* stars When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife must work together, along with their daughter, to make his final days as comfortable as possible, despite the absence of their estranged son. Next door, a young girl moves in with her grandmother and contends with the memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death. A newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and son, and soon faces the disdain of his congregation. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do all they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors. I really liked Haruf's book Plainsong, so was looking forward to this book. Benediction is so depressing!!! I think we are supposed to empathize with "Dad" because he is estranged from his son, yet the reason for the separation is because Dad rejected his son because he is gay. Dad has had faithful employees helping him manage his store for years, but asks his daughter to give up her own life to come home and take over the store. The people who have worked for him for years no longer matter. Dad fired an employee for stealing from his store and then helped to support the man's family after he commits suicide. This does not make him a good man, it makes him a judgmental man who assuages his conscience by doing "the right thing" when it is too late. When his wife, Mary, briefly hospitalized for stress over the burden of caring for him, checks out AMA and walks home all the way across town, he tells her: “If you keep this up, I’m going to die right now and not put it off any longer, just to keep you from doing this again.” Good empathy there, Dad. Benediction means blessing - there is no blessing in this book except when Dad finally passes away and puts everyone, especially the reader out of our misery. I don't understand the author's purpose in writing this book. There is no redemption, no insight, no healing. I simply found the book profoundly depressing. Cannot recommend. posted Oct 9, 2013 at 3:50PM
|The white garden : a novel of Virginia Woolf |
by Barron, Stephanie.
*** 1/2 stars. In March 1941, Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in England’s River Ouse. Her body was found three weeks later. Six decades after her death, landscape designer Jo Bellamy travels to Sissinghurst Castle for two reasons: to study the celebrated White Garden created by Woolf’s lover Vita Sackville - West and to recover from the terrible wound of her grandfather’s unexplained suicide. Jo makes a shocking find: Woolf’s last diary, its first entry dated the day after she allegedly killed herself. Is the diary and content about Jo's grandfather real? Does it explain Jock's suicide when Jo told him she was going to England? Interesting premise. Nice read. Recommend If authenticated, Jo’s discovery could shatter everything historians believe about Woolf’s final hours. But when the Woolf diary is suddenly stolen, Jo’s quest to uncover the truth will lead her on a perilous journey into the tumultuous inner life of a literary icon whose connection to the White Garden ultimately proved devastating. posted Oct 9, 2013 at 3:19PM
|Starvation Lake : a mystery |
by Gruley, Bryan.
*** stars In the dead of a Michigan winter, pieces of a snowmobile wash up near the crumbling, small town of Starvation Lake. It is the former hockey coach's snowmobile that went through the ice on a different lake years earlier, accidentally killing him. The evidence from the snowmobile says one thing, however. Coach Blackburn was murdered. Gus Carpenter, editor of the local newspaper, has recently returned to Starvation after a failed attempt to make it big at the Detroit Times. In his youth, Gus was the goalie who let a state hockey championship get away, crushing Coach's dreams and earning the town's enmity. Now he's investigating the murder of his former coach. Even more unsettling to Gus are the holes in the town's history that he finds and the growing suspicion that those gaps may conceal some dark and disturbing secrets that some of the people closest to him may have killed to keep. Good page turner. First in a series. Recommend. posted Oct 4, 2013 at 11:09PM
|Sun and shadow : an Erik Winter novel |
by Edwardson, Ake, 1953-
** 1/2 STARS This is book number 1 in the Erik Winter series. For more than a week a newspaper boy has watched his deliveries piling up behind a front door. When Chief Inspector Erik Winter and his team enter they find a murdered couple arranged in a disturbing tableau, death metal music playing, and a message written on the wall. The case eventually leads to a possible sexual "couple swapping" scenario. Chief Inspector Erik Winter has other concerns on his mind: the murder has taken place very close to home and his pregnant girlfriend is nervous because of mysterious silent phone calls. When the investigation unearths a possible link between the murders and the police force, even friendly faces are not to be trusted. When the killer strikes again, Winter is in a race against time to protect both the city and his family. I had hoped that reading the first book in the series would help me like the books more. I do enjoy Mr. Edwardson's character development, but have mixed feelings about the mysteries. Mild recommendation posted Oct 4, 2013 at 10:56PM
|Double take [compact disc] |
by Coulter, Catherine
*** STARS Six months after the death of her husband, renowned psychic August Ransom, Julia is just beginning to recover. The media frenzy that followed his murder left her exhausted. Strolling along San Francisco's Pier 39, she realizes she is starting to feel happy again until an assailant attacks her. Special Agent Cheney Stone, out to stretch his legs, interrupts the man, who then throws Julia into the bay. Not only does FBI agent Stone save her, but he comes to believe there is a a connection between her assault and her husband's death. Meanwhile, in Virginia, Sheriff Dixon Noble (another recurring Coulter protagonist )still mourns his wife, Christie, who vanished three years earlier. His life, too, is just getting back to normal when he learns of a San Francisco woman named Charlotte Pallack, whose shocking resemblance to Christie leads him to go there. Though he knows in his heart that she can't possibly be his wife, Dix is compelled to see her with his own eyes. Inevitably the two cases interact. Agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock, from San Francisco connections prove essential in unlocking the mystery behind Charlotte Pallack's identity as well as the forces behind Julia Ransom's attempted murder. Ms Coulter always writes a good page-turner. Recommend if you like the genre. posted Oct 4, 2013 at 10:11PM
|Daddy love [sound recording] : a novel |
by Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938-
I HATED THIS BOOK. I did not realize when I started listening to this book that it is all about a little boy who is stolen by a pedophile, sexually abused, and tortured. The man has a history of taking small boys and then killing them when they get too old for his taste. I kept reading in hopes of a happy ending, but there is none. Ms. Oates is an excellent writer, but far too often her subjects are very dark. This was way to painful for me. I don't know what the author accomplished by writing this book except to perhaps examine the psychology of a kidnapped child. Personally, if I wanted to experience this much pain I would simply go have an appendage amputated without annesthetic. MY OPINION: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. posted Oct 4, 2013 at 9:55PM
|The final solution : a story of detection |
by Chabon, Michael.
*** stars This novel is a detective story that in many ways pays homage to the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The story, set in 1944, revolves around an unnamed 89-year-old long-retired detective (who may or may not be Sherlock Holmes but is always called just "the old man"), now interested mostly in beekeeping, and his quest to find a missing parrot, the only friend of a mute Jewish boy. The title of the novella references Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "The Final Problem," in which Holmes confronts his greatest enemy, Professor Moriarty, at Reichenbach Falls, and the Final Solution, the Nazis' plan for the genocide of the Jewish people. The story opens with the chance encounter between the old man and a mute young boy, Linus Steinman, who is a German-Jewish refugee staying with a local Anglican priest and his family. The boy's constant companion, a parrot, is in the habit of rattling off German numbers in no obvious order. After we are introduced to the priest, his wife, son and two lodgers, we find out that the numbers may have some significance. One lodger speculates that the numbers are a military code of some kind and seeks to crack it. The other lodger, a Mr. Shane, from the British foreign office, pretends at dinner not to even notice the bird. After Mr. Shane is found murdered the next morning and the parrot Bruno has gone missing, the local inspector, Michael Bellows, recruits the old man to help solve the mystery. Mr. Chabon always has a unique voice - loved his " The Yiddish Policeman's Union "!! Recommend posted Oct 1, 2013 at 1:55PM
|Tapestry of fortunes [sound recording] : a novel |
by Berg, Elizabeth.
*** stars. This is a lovely novel about four women who take a trip into their past, to find again the people they miss, and to reconnect with their fortunes. Cecilia Ross is looking for a change. She has recently experienced the death of a close friend and decides to take time off from her job as a successful motivational speaker. She moves in to a beautiful old house in St. Paul, Minnesota, complete with a big front porch, a wild garden, and three roommates. The four women are different ages, but all are feeling restless, and want to take a trip to find again the people and things they miss. One woman wants to connect with a daughter she gave away at birth; another wants to visit her long-absent ex-husband; a third woman, a professional chef, is seeking new inspiration from the restaurants along the way. Cecilia is looking for the man she never forgot, who recently sent her a postcard out of the blue. This novel is a portrait of how women grow through the relationships and a testament to the power of female friendship. A pleasant, joyful read. Recommend posted Oct 1, 2013 at 12:42AM
|Shadow tag |
by Erdrich, Louise.
**** 1/2 stars. Ms. Erdrich writes beautifully even when pain and its infliction is the primary theme of her book, or perhaps because pain is the "other" character in her novel. When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diary, hidden where Gil will find it, into a manipulative farce. Irene is resuming work on her doctoral thesis. Gil, her husband, has gained notoriety as an artist through his emotionally revealing portraits of his wife. His work is conflicted: adoring and sensual, but also humiliating and shocking. This mirrors his efforts to love her and destroy her. Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children: fourteen-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unraveling with joints and a stolen wine; Riel, their only daughter, an eleven-year-old desperately planning to preserve her family; and sweet five-year-old Stoney. As her home increasingly becomes a place of violence and secrets, and she drifts into alcoholism, Irene moves to end her marriage. Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the boundaries of identity, and one family's struggle for survival. Ms. Erdrich has written one of my all time top 10 favorite books ever!!: " Love Medicine ". She writes about the intricacies of love and pain better than anyone! Highly recommend with the caveat that this is not a "feel good", happy novel. It is hard to read such an honest account a tortured relationship. posted Oct 1, 2013 at 12:31AM
|The vanishing point |
by McDermid, Val.
**** stars. Young Jimmy Higgins is snatched from an airport security checkpoint while his guardian watches helplessly from the glass inspection box. But this is no ordinary abduction, as Jimmy is no ordinary child. His mother was Scarlett, a reality TV star who, dying of cancer and alienated from her unreliable family, entrusted the boy to the person she believed best able to give him a happy, stable life: her ghost writer, Stephanie Harker. Assisting the FBI in their attempt to recover the missing boy, Stephanie reaches into the past to uncover the motive for the abduction. Has Jimmy been taken by his own relatives? Is Stephanie’s obsessive ex-lover trying to teach her a lesson? Has one of Scarlett’s stalkers come back to haunt them all? I have always enjoyed Ms. McDermid!! She keeps you guessing until the very end. Recommend. posted Oct 1, 2013 at 12:08AM
|The teahouse fire [compact disc] |
by Avery, Ellis.
*** stars This is the story of two women whose lives intersect in late-nineteenth-century Japan. It also a portrait of Japan as it opens its doors to the West. It was a period when wearing a different color kimono could make a political statement, when women stopped blackening their teeth to profess an allegiance to Western ideas, and when Japan’s most mysterious rite—the tea ceremony became not just a sacramental meal, but a ritual battlefield. The narrator, Aurelia, an American orphan adopted by the Shin family, proprietors of a tea ceremony school, after their daughter, Yukako, finds her hiding on their grounds. Aurelia becomes Yukako’s closest companion, and they, the Shin family, and all of Japan face a time of great challenges and uncertainty. Like a tea ceremony, this novel moves with delicacy and slow pace. If you find Japanese history and tradition interesting, I would recommend the book. posted Oct 1, 2013 at 12:04AM
|Against the wall : Helsinki homicide |
by Sipila, Jarkko
** stars. This Finnish police procedural gives equal time to the crooks and the cops and more time to plot than to character development. There is an ensemble cast of police, with an undercover officer who plays both sides of the law taking a lead role, and criminals ranging from a low-level junkie who runs errands and tries unsuccessfully to avoid getting in over his head, to a businessman who lives in expensive luxury paid for by arranging deals with Russian partners to fudge shipping manifests. The story begins with a man being lured to an isolated garage where he is executed in cold blood; a second man is similarly lured to the site, where he is told to dispose of both the weapon and the body. He doesn’t have the stomach for this kind of violence, panics, tries to get out of trouble by tipping off the undercover cop, but instead becomes their prime suspect. The first sentence explains why I cannot recommend this book. One of the reasons that I love Scandinavian mystery writers like Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson is their strong psychological analyses of characters. I would rather understand the fears and motives of the people than read about crime after crime. In this book, most of the characters are so minimally drawn that I lost track of who was who until I actually did not care. New author for me - afraid I will not meet him again. posted Sep 4, 2013 at 3:13AM
|On beauty |
by Smith, Zadie.
** stars I really wanted to like this book because I had heard such praise for Ms. Smith. She is an excellent writer, but this book failed me because I did not care about or else actively despised the main characters. Howard Belsey is an Englishman teaching in Wellington, a college town in New England. After 30 years of marriage he is struggling to revive his love for his African American wife Kiki ( my favorite character, but she appears far too infrequently and definitely should kick his ass to the side ) ( the book does have one of the finest descriptions of mature sex that I have ever read) . Meanwhile, his three teenage children Jerome, Zora and Levi are struggling with their own lives. After Howard has a disastrous affair with a colleague, his sensitive older son, Jerome, escapes to England for the holidays. In London he defies everything the Belseys represent when he goes to work for Trinidadian right-wing academic, Monty Kipps. Taken in by the Kipps family for the summer, Jerome falls for Monty's beautiful daughter, Victoria. But this short-lived romance has long-lasting consequences, drawing these very different families into each other's lives. As Kiki develops a friendship with Mrs. Kipps, and Howard and Monty do battle on different sides of the culture war, hot-headed Zora brings a handsome young man from the Boston streets into their midst whom she is determined to draw into the fold of the black middle class. Part of my problem with the book is that I have lost all patience with men and women who allow lust and selfishness to be justifications for despicable behavior - in one case the sexual abuse of a young student by a professor. I disliked both the adult and the child-woman, but this sexual scene seemed unnecessary for the story line and led me to wonder about the author's inclusion of it, especially because his behavior had no consequences for the professor. Does this young woman author find such an encounter titillating or despicable? I could not identify with the teenagers. I did empathize with the street kid who had talent, but was used by Zora and ended up a child at the candy store window. The two professors are egomaniacs who allow themselves to cause harm with impunity. Kiki stands out in the chaos around her with great integrity, but she is not enough to allow me to like the book. Sorry to say, I cannot recommend. posted Sep 4, 2013 at 2:46AM
|Broken : a novel |
by Slaughter, Karin, 1971-
*** stars. Ms. Slaughter combines two of her series in this mystery - it is number 4 in the Will Trent series and number 7 in the Grant county. When the body of a young woman is discovered beneath the icy waters of Lake Grant, a note left under a rock by the shore points to suicide. But within minutes, it becomes clear that this is murder, not suicide. Former Grant County medical examiner Sara Linton - home for Thanksgiving after a long absence - finds herself unwittingly drawn into the case. The chief suspect is desperate to see her but when she arrives at the local police station she is met with a horrifying sight - he lies dead in his cell, the words 'Not me' scrawled across the walls. Yet he has signed a confession. Deeply suspicious of Lena Adams, the detective in charge, Sara immediately calls in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Shortly afterwards, Special Agent Will Trent is brought in to investigate. But he is immediately confronted with a wall of silence on the part of the police department. Grant County is a close-knit community with loyalties and ties that run deep. The only person who can tell the truth about what really happened is dead. Then murder strikes again. What can two young college sweethearts have been involved in that resulted in their deaths? Recommend posted Sep 3, 2013 at 11:14PM
|Restless in the grave |
by Stabenow, Dana
*** stars. This is the 19th book in the Kate Sugak series. This is the first pairing of Stabenow's two most popular characters: Aleut private investigator Kate Shugak and Alaska state trooper Liam Campbell. Alaska aviation entrepreneur Finn Grant died in the fiery crash of his private plane. Someone sabotaged his engine, and virtually everyone in southwestern Alaska has a motive, including his betrayed wife, his bullied children, and Liam’s wife. With few places to turn, Liam asks his former mentor for help, and he quickly brings Kate onto the case. Working undercover as a waitress at a bar, Kate learns that Grant’s business had expanded significantly over the last two years. After buying the closed Air Force base south of town from the federal government, he spent his time running his fishing, hunting, and flight-seeing business, servicing planes flying through the area, and most interestingly and lucratively, getting into the air freight business. But what kind of freight was he moving, and where? Recommend, but not my favorite in the series. posted Sep 3, 2013 at 11:03PM
|City of dragons [sound recording] |
by Stanley, Kelli
*** stars It's Chinese New Year in 1940 San Francisco, and Chinatown is full of celebrants - including Miranda Corbie, a 33-year-old private eye with a colorful past and a hard-boiled point of view. A Japanese male teenager, beaten and shot, dies at her feet. The Chamber of Commerce wants the murder covered up, and the police are happy to forget it, but Miranda wants justice. Her quest takes her through Chinatown’s tenements and herb shops to a tailor in Little Osaka and a high-class bordello. Chain-smoking Chesterfields all the while, Kellie tries to get information from both hoods and cops. Stanley has vividly re-created the atmosphere of the era, using authentic San Francisco landmarks and the Golden Gate International Exposition as background. Her hard-boiled, strong female sleuth stalks Hammett’s San Francisco and does the job with all the panache of Sam Spade. Fun read! Recommend posted Sep 3, 2013 at 10:54PM
|Shattered genius : the decline and fall of the German general staff in World War|
by Stone, David
***** stars. Many of us accepted with equanimity the recent books and films about the plot to kill Hitler led by the German war hero Claus Von Stauffenberg and other men of high position in the military staff. Of course, we reflected, it was reasonable for the military to try to kill Hitler and take over the government; he was a madman who was leading his country to destruction. To appreciate the boldness of their plot, imagine the attempted assassination as taking place in the United States. The equivalent would have found the Joint Chiefs of Staff murdering Franklin Delano Roosevelt and setting up a military government because they believed the best strategy after Pearl Harbor was to attack Japan, not Germany. Unimaginable!!! Yet this was the ultimate act that some members of the German General Staff were willing to attempt in order to negotiate for peace and try to save their country..... This book looks at the demise of one of the most historically admired and elevated classes in Germany, that of the traditional military elite. The German general staff controlled all aspects of army operations, the movement, quartering, engagement and mobilizing of troops, and thus the conduct of war. With its roots in the Prussian army, it was manned by Germany's best and brightest officers. Few could ascend to its ranks. Of the 400 or so officers annually admitted to the war college for general staff training, only the top 10 or 12 were selected for promotion. What the general staff failed to adequately prepare for and prevent was being shunted aside in favor of Heinrich Himmler, the SS, the Gestapo and ultimately Hitler himself. The German general staff knew that fighting a two front war was nearly impossible to win and that Germany was not prepared to invade Russia when it did. Given the fact of Operation Barbarossa, if the General staff had been in charge, the soldiers would have been supplied with winter gear, the invasion would not have outrun its supply lines, strategic retreats may have led to victories, and the 6th army at Stalingrad would have broken free instead of fighting until their numbers were so depleted that surrender was the only recourse. It is disconcerting to find oneself wishing that Hitler had left the strategy to his General Staff as this would have prolonged the war, caused more allied casualties, and provided more time for the holocaust. Of course, you don't really want this, but seeing the increasingly egomaniacal, insane Hitler sacrifice his military for the goals of ethnic cleansing and the rule of the SS and SA is painful. This is not to say that the German General Staff were all noble & anti-nazi, but many were simply attempting to make the best military decisions for their country. One might admire Patton and Guderian for their military skills and still hate everything that a German Nazi believed. This book is a terrific analysis of the death of the General Staff at the hands of the Nazi powerful. Highly recommend to lovers of WWII history. posted Sep 3, 2013 at 2:20AM
|Mrs. Robinson's disgrace [sound recording] : the private diary of a Victorian la|
by Summerscale, Kate, 1965-
** 1/2 stars. Headstrong, high-spirited, and already widowed, Isabella Walker became Mrs. Henry Robinson at age 31 in 1844. Her first husband had died suddenly, leaving his estate to a son from a previous marriage, so she inherited nothing. A successful civil engineer, Henry moved his wife and their 2 sons to Edinburgh's elegant society in 1850. Henry is frequently away from home and remote when present. Isabella is left alone with a very active imagination. No doubt thousands of Victorian women faced the same circumstances, but Isabella chose to record her innermost thoughts - and especially her infatuation with a married Dr. Edward Lane - in her diary. Over five years the entries became more and more passionate, sensual, and suggestive. One fateful day in 1858 Henry chanced on the diary and read it. Aghast at his wife's perceived infidelity, Henry petitioned for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Until that year, divorce had been illegal in England. Their trial would threaten the foundations of Victorian society. Her diary, read in court, was as explosive as Flaubert's Madame Bovary, just published in France but considered too scandalous to be translated into English until the 1880s. Kate Summerscale recreates the Victorian world and writes in compelling detail of the life of Isabella Robinson. In this book the longings of a frustrated wife collide with a society clinging to rigid ideas about sanity, the boundaries of privacy, the institution of marriage, and female sexuality. Mild recommendation posted Sep 3, 2013 at 2:01AM
|A mad desire to dance : a novel |
by Wiesel, Elie, 1928-
*** stars. No one has ever written about the Holocaust as well as Elie Wiesel. In this novel Doriel, a European expatriate living in New York, suffers from a profound sense of desperation and loss. His mother, a member of the Resistance, survived World War II only to die in an accident, together with his father, soon after. Doriel was a child during the war, and his knowledge of the Holocaust is largely limited to what he finds in movies and books. Doriel’s parents and their secrets haunt him, leaving him filled with longing but unable to experience the most basic joys in life. He plunges into an intense study of Judaism, but instead of finding solace, he comes to believe that he is possessed. He finally turns to Dr. Thérèse Goldschmidt to cure him of his "madness". The psychoanalyst finds herself particularly intrigued by her patient. The two enter into an uneasy relationship based on exchanges of dreams, histories, and secrets. Despite Doriel’s initial resistance, she helps to bring him to an amazing choice. Recommend posted Sep 3, 2013 at 1:45AM
|A treacherous paradise [sound recording] |
by Mankell, Henning, 1948-
*** 1/2 stars. I love Mankell's Wallander series, so at first I was disappointed to discover that this book is a departure from his Swedish detective series. This stand alone novel is largely set in Mozambique during the early years of the 20th century. Cold and poverty define Hanna Renström’s childhood in remote northern Sweden. In 1904, at nineteen, she boards a ship for Australia in hope of a better life. Nothing prepares her for the life she will lead. After a brief marriage to a sailor, she becomes a widow. On impulse she leaves the ship and she checks in to a hotel, only to discover that it’s Lourenço Marques’s most prestigious brothel. After just a few weeks the brothel keeper, a man called Vaz, asks her to marry him, which she does. Then he also dies, and Hanna finds herself running the business in his place — with considerable aplomb and success. White colonists rule, and Hanna is expected to adopt their racism. She is isolated within white society by her profession and her gender, and, among the bordello’s black prostitutes, by her color. As Hanna’s story unfolds over the next several years in this “treacherous paradise,” she wrestles with a devastating loneliness. As her life becomes increasingly intertwined with the prostitutes’, she moves toward the moment when she will make a decision that defies all expectations. Mankell is an excellent writer who breaks from expectations with this book much as Hanna does. Recommend posted Sep 3, 2013 at 1:35AM
|I am forbidden [sound recording] : a novel |
by Markovits, Anouk
*** 1/2 stars. Moving from the Central European countryside just before World War II to Paris to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn, "I Am Forbidden" brings to life four generations of one Satmar ( an Hasidic movement of primarily Romanian and Hungarian Jews ) family. The book begins in 1939 Transylvania when five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running toward the Rebbe they hoped would save them as he is deported in a box car. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris and eventually to the United States. When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. When Mila and her husband are childless after 10 years, it is custom for the husband to divorce the wife as he must become "fruitful". What are they to do? The different choices the two sisters make force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they have ever known. Great book! Highly recommend posted Aug 17, 2013 at 1:21AM
|Missing Mark [sound recording] |
by Kramer, Julie.
*** stars. TV reporter Riley Spartz works for very thinly veiled WCCO. This is a new author for me and I picked it up because of the Minnesota connection. When Riley sees a want ad reading “Wedding Dress for Sale: Never Worn,” her news instincts tell her that the story might make an intriguing television piece. The groom, Mark, last seen at the rehearsal dinner, never showed up for the wedding, humiliating his bride, Madeline—and her high-strung, high-society mother—in front of 300 guests. His own mother, eager to spare him further embarrassment, waited weeks before filing a missing-person report and then learned how difficult it is to get police, or the media, interested in missing men. The story turns into a murder investigation. Interesting premise behind the murder. Enjoyed the book. Recommend posted Aug 17, 2013 at 1:03AM
|The Obituary Writer (Audiobook on CD) |
by Hood, Ann, 1956-
*** 1/2 stars. On the day John F. Kennedy is inaugurated, Claire, a young wife and mother obsessed with the glamour of Jackie, struggles over the decision of whether to stay in a loveless but secure marriage or to follow the man she loves and whose baby she may be carrying. Decades earlier, in 1919, Vivien Lowe, an obituary writer, is searching for her lover who disappeared in the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. By telling the stories of the dead, Vivien not only helps others cope with their grief but also begins to understand the devastation of her own terrible loss. The surprising connection between these two women will change Claire s life in unexpected and extraordinary ways. I enjoy the interweaving of stories that appear unconnected. Ms. Hood creates real characters that you care about and personal stories that make you want to know their resolution. I thought it was particularly poignant to have one protagonist so involved with the idea of hope, Jackie, and the Kennedy inauguration. We all know how that hope was dashed and we are still writing obituaries for that family and what might have been. Highly recommend. posted Aug 17, 2013 at 12:55AM
|The red house [sound recording] |
by Haddon, Mark, 1962-
* 1/2 stars. I had high hopes for this novel, as I find "dysfunctional family dynamics" story lines interesting. Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister Angela and her family to join his for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside. Richard has just re-married and inherited a willful stepdaughter in the process; Angela has a feckless husband and three children who sometimes seem alien to her. The stage is set for seven days of resentment and guilt, a staple of family gatherings the world over. Unfortunately the "confrontations" largely fell flat. I did not bond with any of the characters except perhaps for the sister's children who are attempting to survive amid the narcissistic teenager and the "adults" - and I use the term here very loosely. Sorry, cannot recommend posted Aug 15, 2013 at 6:20PM
|The burying place [sound recording] |
by Freeman, Brian, 1963-
*** stars. Brian Freeman is a new author for me. The story line involves two mysteries. In the quiet town of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, a baby vanishes from her bedroom in an opulent lakeside home. Was she abducted - or does her father have a terrible secret to hide? That same night, a young policewoman gets lost in the fog and stumbles into the middle of an horrific crime. I picked the book because of the Minnesota connection. Complex and intriguing story - good character development. recommend posted Aug 15, 2013 at 6:15PM
|Back of beyond [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Box, C. J.
*** stars. C. J. Box can always be counted upon for a good read. It's not great literature, but this Edgar award winning author crafts characters that you care about and stories that keep your attention. This is what all authors strive for, and many fail to accomplish. Cody Hoyt, while a brilliant cop, is an alcoholic struggling with two months of sobriety when his mentor and AA sponsor Hank Winters is found burned to death in a remote mountain cabin. At first it looks like the suicide of a man who's fallen off the wagon. Hank had 14 years of sobriety and Cody does not believe the man had started drinking again. When he takes a closer look at the scene of his friend's death, it becomes apparent that Hank was murdered. After years of bad behavior with his department, he's in no position to be investigating a homicide. Unfortunately, clues found at the scene link the murderer to an outfitter leading tourists on a wilderness horseback trip into the remote corners of Yellowstone National Park and Cody's son is part of the group. Recommend posted Aug 10, 2013 at 7:37PM
|The drowning house : a novel |
by Black, Elizabeth, 1950-
* 1/2 stars. Photographer Clare Porterfield's once-happy marriage is coming apart, unraveling under the strain of a family tragedy. When she receives an invitation to direct an exhibition in her hometown of Galveston, Texas, she jumps at the chance to escape her grief and reconnect with the island she hasn't seen for ten years. There Clare will have the time and space to search for answers about her troubled past and her family's complicated relationship with the wealthy and influential Carraday family. Soon she finds herself drawn into a century-old mystery involving Stella Carraday. Local legend has it that Stella drowned in her family's house during the Great Hurricane of 1900, but did she? I recently visited Galveston for the first time and fell in love with the city and its history. I thought this book sounded intriguing. This is the author's first book and you can tell. She tries to do too much and throws too many secrets and story lines into the melee. We have Clare's loss and unresolved marriage. We have a past relationship with a boy and a secret tragedy they caused. Add in the 1900 story line, incest, financial crimes, a dying island resident, an off-islander who wants a relationship with Clare, undiscovered love affairs..... and much more. Clare is at the same time astute enough to discover secrets via old photos and too stupid to look in her family's garage apartment for the old flame she searches for in vain for 90% of the book. Sorry, cannot recommend. If you find the Galveston hurricane history intriguing, read: "Isaac's Storm - A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History" by Erik Larson!!!!!! Non-fiction, published in 1999. posted Aug 10, 2013 at 7:17PM
|Toby's room : a novel |
by Barker, Pat, 1943-
*** 1/2 stars. “Toby’s Room” is a sequel to "Life Class" and continues the story of 3 students of the Slade School of Fine Art in London. When the war begins, both Paul Tarrant and Kit Neville serve as volunteers with the Belgian Red Cross. Their friend Elinor Brooke, however, chooses to disregard it. Like Virginia Woolf (who makes a cameo appearance), Elinor thinks that since women are outside the political process the war doesn’t concern her, and she imposes a taboo on herself: the war is not to be acknowledged, in either her art or her life. But her brother, Toby, a doctor, becomes a medical officer at the front and WWI is no longer outside Elinor's life. As stated in the previous review, Ms. Barker has a style that makes you believe she is a contemporary of her characters. Recommend. posted Aug 10, 2013 at 7:01PM
|Life class |
by Barker, Pat, 1943-
*** 1/2 stars. In this novel, Pat Barker returns to her most renowned subject: the devastation and psychic damage wrought by WWI on all levels of British society. In the spring of 1914, a group of young students gather in an art studio for a life-drawing class. A group of students at the Slade School of Art have gathered for a life-drawing class. Paul Tarrant is easily distracted by an intriguing fellow student, Elinor Brooke, but Kit Neville - himself not long out of the Slade but already a well-known painter - makes it clear that he, too, is attracted to Elinor. Paul's new life as a volunteer for the Belgian Red Cross is a world away from his days at the Slade. He must confront the fact that life, and love, will never be the same again. Ms. Barker has the marvelous ability to recreate the style of the great British authors of the early 20th century. If you did not know that the book is a work of new fiction, you would swear the author endured the pain of WWI herself. Recommend posted Aug 10, 2013 at 6:49PM
|The stranger [sound recording] |
by Lackberg, Camilla, 1974-
**** stars This is the fourth of Lackberg's series set in the rural Swedish region of Tanum, featuring police investigator Patrik Hedstrom and his team. A fatal traffic accident is initially put down to alcohol as the cause, but is puzzling when it is discovered the the woman victim never drank. Marit lived an entirely blameless life with her lover Kerstin and daughter Sofie, and her only enemy seems to have been her embittered ex-husband Ola. Patrik suspects foul play and begins to investigate. Meanwhile, a new reality show "Sodding Tanum" descends on the town in a media circus. The show takes survivors of other reality series and films them pursuing 'ordinary' lives in a small town. The cast is, not surprisingly, narcissistic and confrontational. Regular sessions with psychologist Lars, husband of new police team member Hanna, do little to control them, especially in the face of a production crew determined to keep tensions high. Soon bickering leads to drunken brawling at a party. The cosmetically enhanced "Barbie" of the cast is found dead. Media interest in the reality-show murder means that Patrik and his team neglect Marit in favor of investigating Barbie's death. However, neither case moves anywhere fast until Patrik half-remembers something he heard at a police training day several years earlier. Even then, the resolution proves to be more complex, and more disturbing, than he imagined. I am a fan of the Scandinavian mystery writers and enjoy following the story line of Patrik, his family, and his fellow police officers. Highly recommend. posted Jul 7, 2013 at 8:03PM
|Guilt [sound recording] |
by Kellerman, Jonathan
*** 1/2 stars. I have been reading Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware mysteries for 28 years. By this time Alex, and his curmudgeonly police partner Milo Sturgis, are old friends. A young couple purchase their dream home in a wealthy LA suburb. The last thing they expect to find has they renovate the grounds is the long dead body of in infant in a blue box The most likely culprit is a mysterious woman, employed as a private nurse to wealthy L.A. families during the Second World War. Before Alex can properly get to work on the case,however, a young woman is found in a park near the home. She has been shot in the head at close range in an execution-style killing, but even more chilling is the discovery in the same park of another baby’s skeleton... and this one died more recently, its bones scrubbed clean and polished. As Milo and Alex delve into the past, they stir up tales of a beautiful nurse with a mystery lover, a handsome, wealthy doctor who seems too good to be true, and a hospital with a notorious reputation. The problem is that all of them are long gone, along with any records. The investigation of the more recent deaths leads in the direction of the highest echelons of celebrity privilege. Milo and Alex are shaken by the depravity they find beneath the gloss of wealth and fame. Mr. Kellerman never disappoints. Recommend! posted Jul 7, 2013 at 7:39PM
|Burn [sound recording] |
by Barr, Nevada.
* 1/2 stars. I have been reading Nevada Barr's mystery novels involving Anna Pigeon, a national park ranger, since 1993. It has been fun to follow the events in the protagonist's life and the mysteries are credible and well-written. This book, however, is my least favorite for two reasons. The first is that the subject matter concerns the theft of children for use in a brothel and the second is that Anna is almost a secondary character to a mother who is searching for her lost girls. Anna is staying with a friend in New Orleans while recuperating from recent traumas. She encounters Jordan, a hostile young man living in the same building. Of course, since we are in the Big Easy, there has to be an element of voodoo when Anna finds Jordan placing a sacrificed pigeon in the trash. But nothing about Jordan is what it seems. Highly recommend the series, but not this particular book posted Jul 7, 2013 at 7:21PM
|Trust your eyes |
by Barclay, Linwood
*** 1/2 stars. By chance this year I have read three books by this author, who is new to me. This one is by far the best of the three. Thomas Kilbride is a map-obsessed schizophrenic so affected that he rarely leaves the safety of his bedroom. With a computer program called Whirl360.com, however, he travels the world via cameras that film every street and building of cities. Thomas can tell you every business and home on a street corner in Amsterdam. When their father, who had lived with and cared for Thomas, dies, his brother Ray returns home intending to sell the house and place Thomas in a group home. One day Thomas detects an image in a window...an image that looks like a woman being murdered. Day by day Ray learns the extent of Thomas's disability as he takes care of him, cooking for him, dealing with the outside world on his behalf, and listening to his intricate and increasingly paranoid theories. Ray also begins to wonder if something happened to Thomas when he was 13 as he observes his behaviors, fears, and stories of a troubled relationship with their father. When Thomas tells Ray that he has seen a murder, he humors him with a half-hearted investigation. But Ray soon realizes he and his brother have stumbled onto a deadly conspiracy. I was skeptical when I started the book because I had not particularly enjoyed the previous books, but Mr. Linwood won me over with a carefully laid out plot that keeps you guessing until the very end with one final shocker just when you thought the roller-coaster ride was over. posted Jul 7, 2013 at 7:03PM
|A week in winter [sound recording] |
by Binchy, Maeve.
**** stars. I have loved and read Maeve Binchy for 30 years. Sadly this is her last book, as she passed away last year. She was an Irish story-teller of the highest caliber who had a amazing ability to create vivid, wonderful characters who drew you into their lives. She had ample opportunity to do this in this book as the story involves the hosts at a hotel which has just opened and the guests who travel to western Ireland for a week in winter. . When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone in the small town of Stoneybridge thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Chicky is finally ready to welcome the first guests to Stone House’s big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. John, the American movie star, thinks he has arrived incognito; Winnie and Lillian are forced into taking a holiday together; Nicola and Henry, husband and wife, have been shaken by seeing too much death practicing medicine; Anders hates his father’s business, but has a real talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired schoolteacher, criticizes everything; the Walls are disappointed to have won this second-prize holiday in a contest where first prize was Paris; and Freda, the librarian, is afraid of her own psychic visions. Ms. Binchy interweaves all these stories. Chicky and Stone House offer warmth and the possibility of healing. But do she and the beautiful setting have enough magic to improve the lives of all involved? I will miss Ms. Binchy and her wonderful books. Highly recommend! posted Jul 7, 2013 at 6:35PM
|In the kitchen |
by Ali, Monica, 1967-
*** stars. Gabriel Lightfoot is an man from a northern England mill town, who has climbed to the position of executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial Hotel. Much of the beginning of the book involves the efforts of Gabe to run a successful kitchen. But his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is under constant challenge from the competing demands of a multinational staff, frustrating hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning a move to a restaurant of his own. Despite the pressures, all his hard work looks set to pay off until a worker is found dead in the kitchen's basement. It is a seemingly "insignificant" death of a foreign worker - but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe's life. Outside of work, Gabriel faces other complications. His father is dying of cancer, his girlfriend wants more from their relationship, and there appears to an illegal business taking place in the hotel. Enter Lena, an attractive young emigrant woman with mysterious ties to the dead man and an horrendous history. Under her spell, Gabe makes a decision, the consequences of which change the course of the life he knows - and the future he thought he wanted. Throughout the book I kept wanting to interrupt Gabe and tell him to think about what he was doing. He makes so many poor choices and manages his priorities so badly, you want to wring his neck. Perhaps, however, this is precisely the goal of the author - to engage the reader to this degree of involvement in the progression of Gabe's life. To have you wonder, will he ever act wisely and find what is truly important for his life? recommend. posted Jul 7, 2013 at 6:09PM
by Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn, 1810-1865
***** stars. I loved the PBS Masterpiece Theatre presentation of this novel and could not imagine that a book could capture the wonderful observations and interactions of Judi Dench and her fellow actors. I had never read an book by Ms. Gaskell, and felt I should give one a try. What a delight!! Much as I loved the production, it is almost never possible for a film to capture all the internal machinations of the minds of the characters. The thoughts and interactions of Miss Mary Smith and her two friends in a world largely without men, where said creatures are viewed perhaps at best as minor impediments to an orderly, reasonable life, are wonderful. I listened to this book on CD. This heightened the enjoyment of the terrific prose. Dame Judi did a great job, but Ms. Gaskell goes her one better. The book may be over 150 years old, but I would recommend it to everyone. Hurrah!! posted Jun 27, 2013 at 10:37PM
|Sail of stone |
by Edwardson, Ake, 1953-
* star. I am such a fan of several of the Scandinavian mystery authors that I hate to admit that I found this book to be very disappointing. I still enjoyed the main characters, Erik Winter and his family and fellow officers. A brother and sister believe that their father has gone missing. They think he may have traveled to Scotland in search of his father, who was presumed lost at sea decades ago in World War II. Meanwhile, there are reports that a woman is being abused, but she can’t be found and her family won’t help the police. I was very intrigued by both story lines and read avidly for the explanations. The end was so confusing and disappointing that I was angry that I had cared so much about solving the mysteries. How can you manage to reach the end of a 300 page book, have a 4 page denouement and not even be certain who was or was not still alive? For those characters who I knew were dead, I had no idea or only flawed vague ones of why they died. This is a good book in search of a satisfactory ending. I still like the author, but cannot recommend this book. posted Jun 27, 2013 at 10:19PM
|The dressmaker [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Alcott, Kate
*** STARS The storyline follows 4 survivors of the sinking of the Titanic. Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess meets two men, one an uneducated but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. On the 4th night the Titanic sinks. The sailor witnesses Lord and Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later the official U. S. hearings on the Titanic and the behavior of passengers and crew. Instead of focusing on the disaster itself, most of this novel takes place after the sinking and looks at the hearings and the impact of the disaster on the lives of the surviving passengers, especially on their ethical / unethical behaviors in order to save themselves and others. Much is based on real events. I liked this point of view and the ultimate choices made by Tess. Recommend posted Jun 27, 2013 at 9:51PM
|Death comes to Pemberley [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by James, P. D.
*** stars P. D. James continues the story Jane Austen’s novel "Pride and Prejudice" by turning it into a tale of murder. It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems stable. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball. Then, on the eve of the ball, a coach arrives carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who largely because of her devious husband Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. The Darcys' lives now involve a mystery. I have loved P. D. James mysteries since 1962. I could not wait for the new Adam Dalgliesh to be printed. I enjoyed this novel, and Ms. James is a superb writer, something that cannot be said about far too many novelists whose books bring out the urge to edit as you read. I recommend the book, but I think I was simply disappointed that this was not a Dalgliesh and that I may never encounter him again as Ms. James is now 93. If you have never read an Adam Dalgliesh, start with "Cover Her Face" or try "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman" with Cordelia Gray and be prepared to revel in one of the greatest mystery writers of the 20th century. posted Jun 19, 2013 at 1:33AM
|The dinner [sound recording] : a novel |
by Koch, Herman, 1953-
***** STARS "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." thus begins Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina". So begins Mr. Koch who then sets out to prove that the self-described happy family of the protagonist is very different from other happy families. Two brothers and their wives go out to dinner. I was prepared for a literate book of table talk - Wow was this narrative a surprise. I highly recommend this book + I also highly recommend that you begin the book with as little knowledge of the plot as possible. Just let a superb author lead you down an amazing garden path!!!!! posted Jun 19, 2013 at 1:11AM
|The long fall [sound recording] |
by Mosley, Walter
*** 1/2 stars. I have enjoyed Mr. Mosley's well-spoken, intelligent African American protagonists for more than 20 years. My favorite, of course, is Easy Rawlins, but this book introduces a new character, Leonid McGill, PI. Mr. McGill is attempting to turn over a new leaf and give up his willingness to participate in shady deals to earn a buck - changing from crooked to perhaps slightly bent. Mosley's noir style has moved to contemporary New York. Leonid has been hired to track down four men, knowing only the street names they used as teenagers. His client won't say why he wants to find these men, but what does McGill care? It's a job. He delivers their current whereabouts. When all of them end up dead, he realizes that he may know too much and be the next victim on the list. Meanwhile he is struggling with a loveless marriage and a teenage son headed for trouble. Mr. Mosley is a great writer of characters and mysteries. He has created a complicated and intriguing new "hero". Recommend posted Jun 11, 2013 at 3:40PM
|The fifth witness [sound recording] |
by Connelly, Michael, 1956-
*** stars. You can always count on Michael Connelly for a good read! My favorite of his protagonists is Harry Bosch, but I am falling for Mickey Haller, the "Lincoln Lawyer" who operates out of his car. When times are tough, Mickey turns to a lucrative and abundant source of cases: foreclosure. He acquires a client named Lisa Trammel who is a "poster child" for the homeowner fighting big banks. When she is accused of murdering one of the "bankers" involved in her case, everything becomes much more complicated than it seemed. Recommend. posted Jun 11, 2013 at 3:22PM
|I am half-sick of shadows [sound recording] |
by Bradley, C. Alan, 1938-
*** 1/2 stars. First of all, I am in love with precocious 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, the heroine of this mystery series. She has her own chemistry lab and is far too smart for her own good. It’s Christmastime, and Flavia is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. She must know "scientifically", once and for all, if he really exists. This may sound like at best an amusing subplot, but Bradley incorporates Flavia’s trap into the main mystery. "I am half-sick of shadows" is a quote from Tennyson's "The Lady of Shallot" who is tired of living a shadow life and wants to engage the real world. Due to financial problems, Flavia’s father rents the family estate Buckshaw to a film company over the holidays. The title most aptly applies to the lead actress in the movie production. One of the actors is murdered on a night when practically the entire village is stranded at Buckshaw during a snowstorm. Shadows is the most Agatha Christie-like of Bradley’s mysteries, featuring a classic country house whodunnit. The mystery itself is an intellectual puzzle, with wonderfully placed clues and red herrings. This is book 4 in the series. I recommend the books and especially love to listen to these mysteries and Flavia's unique voice. posted Jun 11, 2013 at 3:09PM
|Fair stood the wind for France [sound recording] |
by Bates, H. E. 1905-1974.
*** stars. This World War II novel was written in 1944. The story concerns John Franklin, the British pilot of a Wellington Bomber who badly injures his arm when he brings his plane down in Occupied France. He and his crew make their way to an isolated farmhouse and are taken in by the family of a French farmer. Plans are made to smuggle the them back to Britain via Vichy controlled Marseilles but Franklin's condition worsens and he remains at the farm and falls in love with the farmer's daughter Françoise. This book reads much like the story lines of movies of the 1940's. I bonded with the characters and hoped for the safe escape of Franklin. An enjoyable war time love story. I especially liked the softer 70-year-old style of writing and characterization. (Hard to describe.) A man who has lived through the Blitz has a different perspective from a modern author. Time to get out an old WWII classic. Recommend. posted Jun 11, 2013 at 2:42PM
|Never look away [sound recording] : a thriller |
by Barclay, Linwood
** 1/2 stars. David Harwood has the "perfect" life. He is a newspaper reported with a wife and son he adores. His wife disappears suddenly and it gradually looks like David is skillfully being framed for murdering her. Why does he find her birth certificate hidden in an envelope with a key? Has anything about his idyllic family ever been true? I liked this book better than "The Accident". There are several plot twists, but not so many that they are not plausible. Mr. Barclay seems to have a theme of "nothing is what it seems" in his books. Mild recommendation for this one, I definitely wanted to know how everything resolved and explained the disappearance. posted Jun 11, 2013 at 2:29PM
|A prisoner of birth [sound recording] |
by Archer, Jeffrey, 1940-
*** 1/2 stars This mystery is a contemporary retelling of Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo. After proposing to his childhood sweetheart Beth Wilson, Danny Cartwright takes her brother Bernie and her to celebrate at a nearby pub. In the pub, they are accosted by four people. Danny, Beth and Bernie attempt to leave the pub without getting involved in a fracas, but Spencer Craig, one of the four that confronted them, follows them out of the pub along with his friends. A fight breaks out; Bernie is stabbed and dies. Danny is blamed for his murder in a well-orchestrated plot by Spencer and his friends. Danny is arrested and convicted. Sentenced to 22 years in Belmarsh prison. His cell mates are Albert Crann, known as "Big Al," and Sir Nicholas Moncrieff. Meanwhile, outside the prison, Beth is pregnant with Danny's daughter. Sir Nicholas slowly teaches Danny to read and to write. Their friendship grows closer, and Danny decides to dress like his friend in the hope that it will help his upcoming appeal. Danny begins to gather evidence for his appeal with the help of a young lawyer, Alex Redmayne, but unable to present the new evidence, Danny's appeal is denied, and he must serve his complete sentence in Belmarsh prison. Danny resigns himself to his sentence and cuts off contact with Beth, hoping she will find a new life without him. Then a series of events finds Danny outside the prison walls and plotting his revenge on the men who participated in the murder of his friend and framed him. How does Danny escape from the prison? Does he find justice? The reader must at times accept the plot twists without analyzing their plausibility too closely, but the characters are well drawn and the book is definitely a page-turner. Recommend. posted Jun 11, 2013 at 2:15PM
|Articles of war [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Arvin, Nick.
*** stars. This book has some of the feel of " The Red Badge of Courage" set in World War II France shortly after the Normandy invasion. An 18-year-old Iowa boy is called Heck by his comrades because he refuses to swear. He meets a young French girl, but is so young and inexperienced that he does not know if what he feels for her is love or not. He is overwhelmed by the horrors of battle, feels he is a coward, and ultimately commits an outright act of cowardice. The pivotal event of the novel concerns Heck's confrontation of the consequences for a soldier who has deserted. No one would call this boy a brave soldier, but it is difficult to judge Heck who never even saw an ocean before he was shipped off to Omaha beach. How can one cast stones when you have no idea how you would react if thrown into hell at 18. Arvin does a good job of capturing the confusion, terror and randomness of war. Recommend. posted May 18, 2013 at 6:47PM
|The wonder spot [sound recording] |
by Bank, Melissa.
1/2 * stars. I guess at 65 I am too old to appreciate the wanderings of a 30 year old woman from man to man and job to job. The men disappeared from chapter to chapter often without explanation of why Sophie was attracted to them or why they are no longer in her life. She hates her jobs, but moves on only with the assistance of friends. I kept waiting for the stories of self-indulgent inertia to lead to some progress or insights in Sophie's life. My hope was never fulfilled. I found her life boring to the very end. Cannot recommend posted May 18, 2013 at 6:18PM
|The confidant |
by Gremillon, Helene
*** stars This story is set in 1975 France. A young book editor starts receiving letters shortly after the death of her mother. They slowly tell the story of events just before and during World War II. At first she believes the letters are from an author who wants to get his book read and has used them as a strategy to bring his work to her attention. Gradually she begins to wonder if the stories relate to her own life. The author keeps you reading to find out what happens. recommend. posted May 13, 2013 at 4:04PM
|The violets of March / : a novel|
by Jio, Sarah
*** stars A young woman whose husband has left her for another woman returns to Bainbridge Island, Washington to the home of her great aunt to heal. She finds a ? dairy / ? novel about events in the World War II era. Gradually she begins to wonder if the story relates to her own life and long kept family secrets. Ms. Jio keeps you reading to find out what happens and has a talent for interweaving the past and the present. recommend. posted May 13, 2013 at 4:00PM
|Salvage the bones : a novel |
by Ward, Jesmyn.
*** stars This is an amazing story of an African American family over 12 days of the approach, duration, and aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The teenage daughter is pregnant who finds her heroines in mythology. One brother has a fighting pit bull. Ms. Ward does not pull any punches in describing the brutality of the life of this poor family. It took me a while to engage with the book, but was soon invested in the survival of the family. recommend posted May 13, 2013 at 3:43PM
|Going clear [sound recording] : [Scientology, Hollywood, and the prison of belie|
by Wright, Lawrence, 1947-
*** 1/2 stars I grew up in rural Iowa. In the 1960's a family from the community "disappeared" into Scientology in California. From that day forward I have had a fear of and curiosity about the "church". Mr. Wright has done thorough research and written a very readable account of the history of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. Recommend posted May 13, 2013 at 3:33PM
|Say you're sorry |
by Robotham, Michael, 1960-
*** 1/2 stars. Michael Robotham writes a page turner!! The story alternates narration between Piper, one of two teen-age girls kidnapped and held hostage for more than 3 years, and Joseph O'Loughlin, a clinical psychologist who struggles with Parkinson's disease and the fact that his own daughter was also kidnapped in the past. He is called in as a consultant when two people are murdered in the former home of one of the girls. The main suspect is a psychologically wounded young man who hears voices and says he saw a young girl fleeing through a snowstorm being chased by a snowman. One of O'Loughlan's first tasks is to convince the local police to re-open the case of the missing girls and that there might still be someone to save. At times the book is difficult because the girls are subjected to sexual violence, but with that warning, I have to recommend the book highly. By the last 50 pages you are frantic to know who the real kidnapper is and whether Piper will survive. This is the 5th book in this British series. I have read them all plus a couple of stand - alone novels. As always I suggest starting with the first book in the series, "The Suspect" as Robotham's characters are complex and develop from book to book. posted May 8, 2013 at 1:54AM
|Dune Road [sound recording] : a novel |
by Green, Jane, 1968-
** stars. The Dune Road of the title is the site of the home of a reclusive writer. The story revolves around a newly divorced woman and single mother who becomes the assistant to the author. There are a lot of people with hidden agendas. I found some of the story lines very predictable. A little too much of a soap opera for me. Can't recommend posted May 8, 2013 at 1:30AM
|Telegraph Avenue [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Chabon, Michael.
*** stars. Michael Chabon always speaks with a unique voice and creates believable, complex characters. Telegraph Avenue is a real place where Oakland, an historically African American city and Berkeley meet. The male protagonist is Archy Stallings, who is African-American and Oakland-raised. With his white best friend, Nat Jaffe, Archy owns a store called Brokeland Records, and sells used vinyl. At first I was a little confused about the setting, which is modern day, largely because of the nostalgia that characterizes Archy's yearnings for everything from Blaxploitation films to the Black Panthers to the music his records bring back. It is the story of a man who fears fatherhood as a man raised without a father who has a pregnant wife and a newly discovered illegitimate son. I bonded most strongly with Gwen, Archy's wife who is a midwife who struggles to establish the validity of her profession among racist physicians. She is amazing in her strength and her ability to love Archy. My favorite of Chabon's books is still " The Yiddish Policeman's Union " but I have never been disappointed by his books. Recommend. posted May 8, 2013 at 1:14AM
|The American heiress [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Goodwin, Daisy.
*** stars. Cora Cash ( yes, Cash) the wealthiest heiress in America goes to England to buy herself a title. She leaves behind a young man who lacks the courage to marry her and takes with her a mother, who is far from endearing. She "stumbles" upon a Duke with a mother to more than match her own. Think "Downton Abbey". The Duke, who was the second son, inherited the title only when his beloved brother died. Add to this an imagined or real mistress to the Duke, the Prince of Wales, and the downstairs staff and you have a great collection of characters and egos. Perhaps the most sympathetic person is Cora's black maid who tries to find an honorable means of weaving her way through the intrigue. I enjoyed the book. I believe the author would like to be Edith Wharton, but no one is, so the book cannot be held to such a standard. You are left guessing until the very end whether the Duke is a cad or man in love with his wife. A very nice read. Recommend. posted Apr 29, 2013 at 7:35PM
|With every letter [sound recording] : a novel |
by Sundin, Sarah
I STOPPED READING THIS BOOK. The story was ostensibly about the training of nurses for the WWII program of air evacuation of the wounded. I seek out books set in the WWII era. I had no idea that it is a CHRISTIAN ROMANCE. The "Lord had a purpose" in having the protagonists fall in love. I strongly object to this simplistic view of a deity. Perhaps he if were spending less time being a matchmaker, he could have been more active in preventing the Holocaust. I almost never stop reading a book, but this is the exception. I HATED THIS BOOK and put myself out of my misery. I will now climb off my soapbox.... posted Apr 23, 2013 at 11:24PM
|Never end : an Erik Winter novel |
by Edwardson, Ake, 1953-
*** stars I enjoy this Swedish mystery / police procedural series ( Not as much as I love Wallander and Erlunder, but I am still getting to know Winter). This is the second book in the series. Young women are being murdered and / or raped in a park in Gothenburg. One such incident is separated from the others by several years. Is it the same perpetrator? A copycat? What do the young women have in common that marks them as victims. A mystery right until the end. Recommend. Now, however, I need to follow my own advise to others and go back to read the first book in the series: Sun and Shadow. posted Apr 20, 2013 at 5:13PM
|A place in the country |
by Adler, Elizabeth
* 1/2 stars. A divorced young mother of a teenage daughter buys a barn near Oxford, England intending to open her own restaurant. Her ex-husband dies of a gun-shot wound in Singapore, their former home. Was it murder or suicide? An unknown daughter of said former husband arrives on the scene. Sounds like an intriguing scenario, but for me the book fell flat and was far too predictable in far too many ways. Cannot recommend. posted Apr 20, 2013 at 5:02PM
|Say her name [sound recording] |
by Goldman, Francisco.
** stars I became very confused while listening to this book. I thought I was reading a novel until I found out the author's young wife Aura did actually die in an accident. The book is the story of their relationship, a paean to her virtues, and a processing of grief. So I was reading a memoir?? I thought "I know who will have the answer to this dilemma - the critic for the New York Times." Wrong again sports fans. To quote Robin Romm: "A few times, the book bucks its already messy categorization as nonfiction novel or fictionalized memoir, grief book or love story, and becomes a distilled wail." Now that we have cleared that up..... This is a man who truly loved his wife. The narrative jumps back and forth to different times in their marriage and to the author's attempts to start life again after her death. It is a tragedy that she died so young, but I got to a point where I not only did not want to "say her name" but I did not want to hear it said 100 times on yet another disc. This is a eulogy that needed an editor. I lost my empathy with the poor man. It is not a bad book, but it certainly is a depressing one. I cannot recommend. posted Apr 17, 2013 at 2:57AM
|Smash cut [sound recording] |
by Brown, Sandra, 1948-
*1/2 stars. This is not a "who done it". You know who the psychopathic murderers are from the very beginning. The question is whether they will get away with their crimes and successfully frame the female protagonist. Ms. Brown certainly writes a page turner, but for my taste there is too much graphic violence and a bit too much bodice ripping. I also have a hard time with violence when the victims are not adult humans. I have read a couple of Ms. Brown's other novels and have liked them better, but this one was my least favorite. cannot recommend. posted Apr 17, 2013 at 2:16AM
by Arnaldur Indriðason, 1961-
*** 1/2 stars. I always enjoy the Erlendur mystery / police procedural series set in Iceland. In this book a handyman man who lives in the basement of a hotel a is found stabbed to death in his Santa suit just before his appearance for the children. He was once a famous choir boy with a beautiful voice. How has he fallen so low? Why does he have a poster of Shirley Temple as the Little Princess on his wall? As usual I had not figured out the murderer and motive until the very end. I like the complexity of the mysteries, but what I love best about this series is the great character development. Erlunder may be terrific at ferreting out the secrets of others, but has a difficult time understanding his drug addicted daughter and his own profound survivor's guilt. Be sure to start with book 1: Jar City and book 2: Silence of the Grave. This is book 3 Indridason is a great pleasure!! Highly recommend the series. posted Apr 17, 2013 at 1:41AM
|The orchard |
by Stepakoff, Jeffrey
* star. I should just remember that I do not like "romance" novels where you know from page 1 that the boy and the girl will get together. I read this author's book "Fireworks over Toccoa" and liked even though it too was a romance, but had a lot more to it than just how long it takes for boy to finally get together with girl. So... I tried again.... Bored to tears except for a little of the information about creating flavors. My favorite character was the protagonist's daughter. I don't mind a good love story as long as it is about 10% romance and 90% strong story line and character development. Why didn't Abby the tabby tell me, "don't read this book, mom." Sorry can't recommend this to anyone but hardcore romance lovers. posted Apr 13, 2013 at 2:26AM
|Crossing on the Paris |
by Gynther, Dana
*** stars. Marvelous premise - three women travel in 1921 on the maiden voyage of the ocean liner "Paris" from Le Havre to New York. The youngest is a French girl who has lost her 4 older brothers to WWI. She dreams of adventure and signs on to work in steerage in the great ship. The second is an American mother and wife who has unsuccessfully tried to get her younger sister to return to Massachusetts from Paris to help care for their mentally ill mother. ( That's a no-brainer for me....) After seeing her sister's carefree life, she begins to wonder about her own safe choices of husband and dutiful daughter and mother. The third is an elderly American woman who is dying. She has lived in Paris for decades, but for some reason decides to return to New York for her final days. Great characters. It is hard for me to explain exactly why I was disappointed. There are definitely some terrific scenes in the book, but two story lines were very predictable for me... If you like the premise, try this book, you may like it more than I. mildly recommend posted Apr 8, 2013 at 2:08AM
|The accident [sound recording] : a novel |
by Barclay, Linwood
** stars. The accident refers to the puzzling death of the protagonist's wife when she was supposedly driving while intoxicated. To this is added the selling of fake purses, prescriptions drugs, construction supplies and more. It ends up with too many people killing too many other people for too many reasons for me. I admit the end was a surprise, but the middle was way to busy for my preference... new author for me - can't recommend. posted Apr 8, 2013 at 1:54AM
|22 Britannia Road [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Hodgkinson, Amanda
**** 1/2 stars. Marvelous! A Polish family desperately tries to put itself back together after WWII. Silvana and their infant son, Aurek, leave Poland and disappear into the forests of Eastern Europe, where they bear witness to German atrocities. Meanwhile Janusz, the sole survivor of his slaughtered military unit, flees to France. He eventually ends up in England where after the war he begins searching for a family that may not even be alive. They are found and Janusz brings his wife and the child to Ipswich, to the small house and garden that give the novel its title. Having been separated for more than 5 years of war, each has secrets and lies. Is there hope for 3 people who need each other desperately? Great first novel!! Highly recommend!! posted Mar 30, 2013 at 7:06PM
|The ice princess [sound recording] |
by Lackberg, Camilla, 1974-
**** stars. This is the 1st book in the Swedish Patrik Hedstrom series. A young woman is found frozen in her bathtub with her wrists cut - a murder made to look like a suicide. You meet the main continuing characters which is always a huge plus when the mystery is intriguing and the people are well developed. If you are looking for the first book in any author's series I love Fantistic Fiction a British website. Recommend the book and author. posted Mar 30, 2013 at 4:49PM
|The stonecutter [sound recording] : a novel |
by Lackberg, Camilla, 1974-
**** stars. This is the 3rd book in the Swedish Patrik Hedstrom series. I find the stories well written - great character development - intriguing mysteries. This particular book involves the murder of a child and abuse of children + a series of murders stretching back to the 1920's. I highly recommend the book and the series with the caveat about child murder. As always I advise starting with the first book in the set, as the characters and relationships develop over time. A good source to find the first in almost any author's series is " Fantastic Fiction" a GREAT website!!!! posted Mar 21, 2013 at 6:32PM
|Signs of life = Lebenszeichen : the correspondence of German POWs at Camp Algona
*** 1/2 stars I grew up on a farm near Algona and remember going to there one Christmas to see the almost life-size creche made by German POW's during their incarceration. I stumbled across this title while looking for something else and thought this was a point of view of WWII that I had never explored. The book provides information about camps scattered throughout Iowa and Minnesota. There are many B&W photos of the men in the camp, working for local farmers, and at home in Germany. The letters in the book are called " lebenzeichen " or signs of life, as often they were the first proof provided to families in Germany that their sons / brothers / husbands were indeed alive and well. There are a couple of letters included from commanding officers to families stating that a soldier had been taken prisoner, but in the confusion of battle and its aftermath, the true status of the man was often unknown. The out-going letters are a little boring, largely because they had to pass thru censors in the U.S. and possibly also in Germany. The second part of the book provides letters involving the same POW's which were written after the war. They are much more revealing about the devastation and hardship in Germany, feelings about their good treatment in the camps and their opinions about the Nazis. One POW was about to be murdered in the camp by Nazi hard-liners, but escaped. Needless to say, the Nazi party members who still believed in a triumphant Hitler, did not participate in the book, with one or two exceptions. A unique perspective for those of us who are WWII "nuts". posted Mar 20, 2013 at 5:14AM
*** stars. This is a review of "In the Hands of my Enemy; A Woman's Personal Story of World War II" by Sigrid Heidi. Early in 1943, Heide, in her mid-30s, was arrested in Oslo by the Gestapo for resistance activities. She remained incarcerated for much of the war, first in Norway, in a prisoner's camp and Gestapo prison, then in Germany and Austria, in concentration camps. The author tells of her questioning and months of isolation. Her personal faith helped her not only endure torture, but find a way to not hate her captors. She was able to find moments of joy through such simple things as a spider weaving its web, a tiny taste of butter, or a small flower. A unique view of WWII. Hennepin County does not carry the book, but it is available through interlibrary loan. posted Mar 20, 2013 at 5:00AM
|Breaking silence [sound recording] |
by Castillo, Linda.
*** stars. This is the third in the Kate Burkholder series set in Amish country in Ohio. Kate, the police chief, was raised in the faith, but was excommunicated. She still has conflicts about her loyalty to the Amish community versus the "English" as they call the outsiders. The mysteries usually involve the Amish people as victims and / or perpetrators of crimes. The books are nice, solid mystery / police procedural reads. As with all series I always recommend starting with the first in the set, as the history of the main character explains her subsequent behaviors / conflicts. If you are wondering.... a good source to find the first in almost any author's series is " Fantastic Fiction" a GREAT website!!!! posted Mar 20, 2013 at 4:45AM
|Wolf Hall [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Mantel, Hilary, 1952-
**** stars. Wow! This is an amazing retelling of the saga of Henry VIII and his efforts to marry Anne Boleyn. Told from the point of view of Oliver Cromwell who becomes the second most powerful man in England because he has the ear of the king and enables his marriage. In his fight against Henry and the heretics of the new Protestant faiths, Thomas More does not come off a quite the hero that he has been portrayed in previous depictions. The dialogue and descriptions of the period are so adept, that you sometimes wonder if Ms. Mantel is the reincarnation of a person who was actually a "fly on the wall" during all the conversations. Highly recommend posted Mar 11, 2013 at 7:32PM
|The sense of an ending [sound recording] |
by Barnes, Julian.
** stars. A philosophical analysis of suicide, the ablility of people to gain insight, and the effects of thoughtless anger. A bit too much navel gazing, but the end redeems the book and really leaves you thinking. posted Mar 11, 2013 at 7:20PM
|The Provence cure for the brokenhearted [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Asher, Bridget.
*** 1/2 stars. Still mourning the loss of her husband, a young woman travels with her obsessive-compulsive seven-year-old son, and a jaded sixteen-year-old niece, to a small village in the south of France, where a crumbling stone house may be responsible for mending hearts since before World War II. This is a charming book about grief, loneliness, and the risks of opening one's heart. Three generations of characters are well defined and engaging. Recommend. posted Mar 9, 2013 at 8:51PM
**** stars. This is actually a review of the book: *** BERLIN POPLARS by Anne Ragde ***. The setting is modern day Trondheim, Norway. An 80-year-old woman suffers a stroke and sets in play an amazing interaction among her 3 alienated sons and a couple of surprise additions to the family. Tor tends the family farm and dotes on his mother and his pigs; Margido is a devout Christian funeral director; Erland is homosexual and lives in Copenhagen with his partner. The three have not been in the same room together for many years. To this group we add a distant and compliant husband, a granddaughter who has never met her father, and Erland's partner. Having grown up on a farm with parents of Norwegian heritage, I found this book to be a poignant and funny reminder of what that meant concerning meals, farm chores, long-standing family quarrels and especially the "ease" with which older traditional Norwegian men express profound emotions. Why is a book set in Norway titled "Berlin Poplars"? Can there be any reconciliation? If you anticipate the ending you are a smarter cookie than I. Highly recommend this book, especially to those of us who are older Norskies. The book is not carried by the Hennepin County system, but is available through interlibrary loan and of course on line and in book stores. posted Mar 9, 2013 at 8:21PM
|The land of mango sunsets [sound recording] |
by Frank, Dorothea Benton
*** stars Nice story - engaging characters. I always enjoy Ms. Frank for a pleasant read. posted Mar 8, 2013 at 5:47PM
|Too much happiness : stories |
by Munro, Alice, 1931-
** stars. Again I am not a fan of unrelated short story collections. Often a better title for this book might be Too Much Despair. posted Mar 3, 2013 at 4:01PM
|A possible life : a novel in five parts |
by Faulks, Sebastian.
1/2 * half a star - This Title is misleading - this is a book of unconnected stories and in no way a novel. It was probably called a "novel" by the publisher for more sales, as short story collections often do not sell as well. The first is about a British man and the horrors of the holocaust - it is the best of the 5 stories, but seems to end without insight and with a whimper. The second (set around 1859) is about a boy placed in the work house in England so that his family will not starve. It reads like the outline for a possibly good novel unrealized. The third, set in 2029 Italy, seems to be about proving the neurological basis of "human self awareness" and therefore the impossibility off existence after death. ???? I have not finished the book yet, but feel angry and tricked into reading this book. I liked "Birdsong" and "Charlotte Gray" so was excited to see a new title by Faulks. I am not finished yet, but my advise so far: DO NOT BOTHER TO READ THIS BOOK. posted Feb 27, 2013 at 1:56AM
|Vulture peak |
by Burdett, John.
** Stars. I have enjoyed this series for years because the protagonist is a Bangkok policeman and I lived and studied in Thailand. Yes, I was a farang. It's fun to understand the "inside" humor. This particular edition was my least favorite of the series. It deals with an international human organ selling conspiracy. Still enjoy the main characters and recommend the series, if not this particular book. Again if you are interested in the adventures of Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep start with "Bangkok 8". posted Feb 24, 2013 at 7:26PM
|Off the grid [sound recording] |
by Tracy, P. J.
*** This is the 6th in the Monkeewrench series based in Minneapolis and written by a mother-daughter team. I always enjoy the characters in these books, especially the humorous interactions. Ostensibly a game software company, the odd group becomes involved in crimes and works with the police. This episode has everything from Somali sex trade dealers who kidnap Native American girls to terrorists planning an attack on the U.S. This was my least favorite of the series - I am not a fan of books about terrorism. I recommend the series completely, however, more due to the wonderful characters than this story. Earlier plots were more engaging for me. If you are a newcomer to the series, I strongly suggest beginning with book 1. If you are wondering.... a good source to find the first in almost any author's series is " Fantastic Fiction" a GREAT website!!!! posted Feb 24, 2013 at 4:21PM
|The widow of the south [compact disc] |
by Hicks, Robert, 1951-
*** 1/2 stars. This novel is based on true events surrounding the Civil War Battle of Franklin, Tennessee in 1864. Colonel John and Carrie McGavock's plantation home, Carnton, was opened as a field hospital. Later when the hastily buried local Confederate graves deteriorated the McGavocks donated land and had 1,500 soldiers dug up and reburied. The story is told from multiple perspectives, but it is largely the story of Carrie and her efforts to honor the dead and deal with her own personal loss. Recommend, especially if you enjoy novels set during the American Civil War. posted Feb 24, 2013 at 4:05PM
|Outrage : an Inspector Erlendur novel |
by Arnaldur Indriðason, 1961-
**** stars Actually Erlendur is MIA in this book from the series, but it was nice to get to know Elinborg better. A young man is found murdered. One of the few clues is a scarf that emits a very distinct odor. Ms. Elinborg, who doubles as police detective and writer of cookbooks, is probably the only person on the force who can identify the scent and use it to solve the murder. I always enjoy this Icelandic author - good mysteries without lots of graphic violence. Highly recommend, but I suggest that a new reader start from the beginning of the series. posted Feb 24, 2013 at 2:19AM
|Still missing [sound recording] : a novel |
by Stevens, Chevy
* 1/2 stars. Through sessions with her therapist a young woman reveals her ordeal when she was kidnapped, held captive, raped and tortured by a man she meets as a real estate agent showing a house. Painful to read, but I had to find out how she survived and if she was able to restore some quality to her life. ...or was she still missing? cannot recommend because it is so hard to read about her experiences, not because it is a poorly written book. posted Feb 17, 2013 at 11:21PM
|The almost moon [sound recording] : a novel |
by Sebold, Alice.
** stars This amazing book begins with a woman murdering her aged mother who suffers from advanced dementia. Over the next 24 hours, Helen confronts her life and relationships. What a premise! I had to find out how the story ended. It has some macabre humor. I cannot really recommend the book, but if you are fascinated with the vagaries of the mother - daughter dance, you may really like this book. posted Feb 17, 2013 at 11:09PM
|The book of lost fragrances |
by Rose, M. J., 1953-
*** stars. Intrigue involving a secret perfume dating from Cleopatra's Egypt which enables people who smell it to remember past lives and to recognize a true love. Centers on modern day Paris siblings whose family has been creating perfumes for hundred of years and who may have the secret formula. Of course evil people are trying to steal the secret... Even involves the Dalai Lama. A bit too far fetched for me, yet it held my interest. medium recommendation. posted Feb 17, 2013 at 10:59PM
|Flash and bones [sound recording] |
by Reichs, Kathy.
** stars. A Temperance Brennan, forensic medical examiner mystery involving race cars and hate groups. Readable, but did not stand out in any way. posted Feb 17, 2013 at 10:52PM
|The monster of Florence [sound recording] : a true story |
by Preston, Douglas J.
* 1/2 stars A true crime book by American writer Douglas Preston and Italian journalist Mario Spezi who investigate a series of murders that occurred between 1968 and 1985 and involved couples who were killed in the Italian province of Tuscany. Sounded intriguing, but often the story was more about the authors than the serial killer. Cannot recommend. posted Feb 17, 2013 at 10:46PM
|Tigers in red weather [sound recording] : a novel |
by Klaussmann, Liza
*** stars This novel concerns the lives and families of two female cousins who spend summers at Tiger House on Martha's Vineyard. The story begins just after WWII and is told from the perspective of 5 family members. The facade of normality is broken by a murder. The cover suggests a light story, but the interactions and secrets of the families are much darker. recommend. posted Feb 17, 2013 at 10:39PM
|The life of objects |
by Moore, Susanna.
**** In 1938, Beatrice, a young Irish lace-maker finds herself transported into the world of a family of wealthy Berlin art collectors. She is caught in the middle of World War II with the horrors of deportations, Nazi persecution, refugees and the Red army. Highly recommend, especially if you are are as interested in the WWII era as I am. posted Feb 17, 2013 at 10:32PM
|White truffles in winter [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Kelby, N. M.
** 1/2 stars This book creates the world of the remarkable French chef Auguste Escoffier. Interweaves his long term affair with Sarah Bernhardt and his wife and family. I did not bond with the character as I would have wished. Enjoyed the stories and gourmet creations. If you enjoy the idea of the culinary history of the Ritz and Savoy via this famous chef, i think you will like the book. posted Feb 17, 2013 at 10:23PM
|Blackberry winter |
by Jio, Sarah
*** 1/2 stars heartwarming / heartbreaking story that alternates between 1933 and the present - two women each lose a child 70 years apart in time - a blackberry winter in Seattle leads the modern day newspaper writer to research a similar storm in 1933 - amazingly the women are connected, but how?? very readable!! posted Feb 17, 2013 at 10:17PM
|Red mist [sound recording] |
by Cornwell, Patricia Daniels.
*** Cornwell is dependable for a good read. I enjoyed her earlier books more when there was less political / CIA intrigue and more good old fashioned murders to be solved. posted Feb 17, 2013 at 8:48PM
|Midnight in Peking : how the murder of a young Englishwoman haunted the last day|
by French, Paul, 1966-
*** 1/2 Examines the murder of a young woman in 1937. Interesting period of time - British colonialism - Chinese revolution - Japanese invasion. British and Chinese police detectives attempt to solve the murder amid growing chaos. I enjoyed the history as much as the investigation posted Feb 17, 2013 at 8:44PM
|Alice I have been [sound recording] : a novel |
by Benjamin, Melanie
*** 1/2 stars - the evolution of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll told from the point of view of Alice Liddell, perhaps the Alice of the books. Speculates about Dodgdon's relationships with and photography of children. Recommend! posted Feb 17, 2013 at 8:35PM
|The plum tree |
by Wiseman, Ellen Marie
**** World War II / Holocaust novel told from the point of view of a German family / town. Interesting perspective. I did not find it as well written as "Sarah's Key". This story, however, does not break your heart as Tatiana De Rosnay's book did. That fact could be a plus or a minus depending on your preference. This is engrossing and well told. See what you think of the ending. Highly recommend. posted Feb 13, 2013 at 10:39PM
|Laura Lamont's life in pictures |
by Straub, Emma
** 1/2 Nice novel. I did not bond well with Laura. A young girl from Wisconsin finds fame in Hollywood. Not unhappy that I read it, but she often seemed to be waiting for her life to happen instead of being present in the lives of her friends and family. recommendation is neutral posted Feb 13, 2013 at 10:27PM
|Garment of shadows : a novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Hol|
by King, Laurie R.
*** I enjoy Laurie King's series with Mary Russell, but wish she would set the series in Britain more often. This one takes place in Morocco and involves political intrigue that does not particularly appeal to me. Recommend if you like the characters regardless of setting. posted Feb 13, 2013 at 10:24PM
|Heartsick [compact disc] |
by Cain, Chelsea.
*** Story holds your attention, you want the police detective to catch the serial killer - I just wish Ms. Cain were not quite so creative and graphic in her ideas of torture. Recommend with caveat concerning violence. posted Feb 13, 2013 at 10:21PM
|Where the god of love hangs out [sound recording] |
by Bloom, Amy, 1953-
*** I enjoyed the book, but I am not a huge fan of short story collections - I become invested in the characters and then they are gone. I enjoyed these stories, however, and recommend the book posted Feb 10, 2013 at 1:31PM
|The art of fielding [sound recording] : [a novel] |
by Harbach, Chad
**** stars "If it seems a stretch for a baseball novel to hold truth and beauty and the entire human condition in its mitt, well, “The Art of Fielding” isn’t really a baseball novel at all, or not only. It’s also a campus novel and a bromance (and for that matter a full-fledged gay romance), a comedy of manners and a tragicomedy of errors — the baseball kind as well as the other kind, which as Alexander Pope pointed out also has something to do with the human condition." Gregory Cowles, New York Times book review. Almost did not read this book because of the baseball theme - So glad I read it - Great character development - Very nice interweaving of individual stories - highly recommend posted Feb 10, 2013 at 1:27PM
|The winner stands alone [sound recording] |
by Coelho, Paulo
* Vehicle for Coelho's diatribe about the sources of power and superficiality in modern world - serial killer - hated ending posted Feb 10, 2013 at 1:25PM
|Dream when you're feeling blue [compact disc] |
by Berg, Elizabeth.
**** Stars Very nice World War II era novel - Berg is always excellent at character development - deals with the loves and losses of 3 Irish sisters in Chicago - recommend posted Feb 10, 2013 at 1:22PM
|The last nude [sound recording] |
by Avery, Ellis.
*** 3 stars - took a little while to engage - liked it by the end - involves a female artist and model who become romantically involved - or do they? does everyone have their secret agenda? who is using whom. loved the setting of Paris between the wars. mild recommendation posted Feb 10, 2013 at 1:20PM
|Gourmet rhapsody [sound recording] |
by Barbery, Muriel, 1969-
* One Star - Pierre Athens, the greatest food critic in the world, is dying. He has been judging world’s greatest chefs for years, deciding their fates with a stroke of his pen, destroying and building reputations on a whim. During his final hours he is searching for the forgotten source of the best food he ever tasted. This self-absorbed man desires only one thing before he dies: one last taste. I thought, France and food, what would there be not to enjoy. I could not bond with character nor empathize with his search. Cannot recommend. posted Feb 10, 2013 at 1:17PM