Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

4 star review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I tend to find epistolary stories either boring or confusing, particularly when there are multiple people writing to each other, but the underlying story totally overcame those problems. Perhaps it was the different ‘voices’. During World War II, Guernsey, one of the islands in the English channel, was occupied by the Germans and the citizens underwent enormous hardships. This takes place soon after. As the citizens tell their stories to writer Juliet Ashton, we come to know a few. When she travels to the island, we learn more about them as well as her. In the end, it’s a charming love story.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

5 Minute Vacations by Cindy Tomamichel
4-star review of Five-minute Vacations by Cindy Tomamichel

This series of contemplations that take about five minutes to read can be a balm for us in times of stress. All presented in second person but as suggestions not as commands. The imagery appealing to all of the senses is lovely. Relaxing, evocative, it can be read in bits and pieces or all in one sitting.

Highly recommended in these times of uncertainties.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

I've been away the last two Tuesdays, but in the meantime I've read a few books. Here are my reviews of three of them.


4-star review of Sanditon by Jane Austen

This unfinished novel stops abruptly just when it was becoming most interesting. I read it because I’m enjoying the dramatization and expansion of the story on PBS Masterpiece, although I doubted Miss Austen would be that racy. The interesting characters Charlotte meets when she agrees to spend an undisclosed amount of time with Tom and Mary Parker at their home in Sanditon paint the usual story of the rich, those who want to be rich, and those who don’t care. Charlotte has her eyes opened even in this short section. She’s astute enough to wonder at Tom’s insistence that Sanditon will become a high-end seaside resort, complete with therapeutic bathing, and to see the relationships among Tom and his brothers and sisters, three of whom are hypochondriacs. I expect Jane Austen would have continued the story very differently from the TV version. The version I read is accompanied by several sets of questions to use in readers groups, not just for this novel, but for any.

The Basle Express

4-star review of The Basle Express by Manning Coles

Reading this old-style spy/thriller novel reminded me why I used to read these. Tommy Hambledon, of British Intelligence is headed to Switzerland for a vacation, but when the man sharing his sleeper on the train is killed and Tommy is left with his book, an assortment of men are after him. They think he has papers the dead man stole and had planned to hand over. Tommy’s joined by an Austrian and together they find the papers and catch the bad guys. A quick read.

The Names of the Dead by [Wignall, Kevin]

5 star review for The Names of the Dead by Kevin Wignall

This was one I couldn’t stop reading from the moment I started. Great characters were consistent in their behavior throughout. Driven by a need to find the son he didn’t know about until his ex-wife was killed in a suicide bombing in Spain, James ‘Wes’ Wesley travels from a French prison with Mia, a high-functioning autistic woman, throughout Europe. Wes’s back story and why he was serving a prison sentence are integral to the plot. In the end, Wes shows how decent he is by making a self-sacrificing decision.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

The Coin

Four star review of The Coin by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra

This romantic thriller about an American woman Gabriella (originally from Cuba), who lives near Grasse and found a coin while hiking. The coin has markings added after it was minted, and they indicate that it’s part of some international scheme to create dissent among people. Gabriella, married with two children, is guarded by a reluctant American operative who happened to be nearby on vacation. The intriguing plot of the novel moved quickly with lots of tension that was sometimes interrupted by head-hopping, the growing attraction between the operative and the woman despite her marital status, and the obvious identity of the antagonist.

Siege and Sacrifice (Numina #3)

Five-star review of Siege and Sacrifice by Charlie Holmberg

The third novel in this trilogy follows through on what was promised by the first two and gives the reader even more. Kolosus has been inflicted on the world and Sandis, the other vessels, and the clerics must work together to fight him. This time the story also takes us to the ethereal plane where the numen reside, many more numen than we’ve seen before. Their origin is revealed – another excellent piece of world building from one of my favorite fantasy writers. The ending to Sandis and Rone’s story was perfect. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

Dark Waters by Chris Goff

Five star review of Dark Waters by Chris Goff

Raisa Jordan arrives in Israel to take over for another diplomatic security agent and immediately becomes involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict when her predecessor is shot along with a Palestinian. Witnessing the event are an American federal judge Ben Taylor and his Lucy, who’s in Israel for non-traditional treatment. There are also an Israeli sniper Ganani, another Palestinian Haddid, and assorted member of the police and diplomatic corp. The action is fast-moving, but allows the growth of the characters. The author said at the conference where I bought this book that her daughter convinced her to travel to Israel and her trip inspired the book.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

I'm back with a couple of reviews for you all

Children Of The Future

3-star review of Children of the Future by Jane Suen

Great premise, but the writing is stilted. When Telly arrives with his schoolbus to pick up the kids they're all gone except for Billy, who's hiding. Most of the book is devoted to the search for the kids, so there's a feeling that this might be a crime or an alien abduction, but when they're found, Telly's the only one who continues to question who took them and why. Written at a fourth or fifth grade level, this might be suitable for kids although they might not understand the ending.

Top Marks for Murder (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #8)

5-star review of Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens

One of the best of a great series. Hazel and Daisy are at Deepdean School for Girls, finishing their fourth year and preparing for the anniversary festivities. Their dormmate Beanie sees a woman being strangled in the woods, setting the Detective Society off to find bodies and clues and get into all sorts of mischief. Hazel, as vice-president and secretary, relates their adventures as they eliminate suspects in the murder that occurs during the gala dinner. As always, the girls triumph, but the fun is in how they get there, one step ahead of the Inspector as usual.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews

The Churn: An Expanse Novella (The Expanse)

5-star review of The Churn by James S. A. Corey

This novella tells the back story of one of my favorite Expanse characters, Amos Burton. His life as a young adult in the mean streets of Baltimore, during a time when Earth, Mars and the Belt haven’t yet become embroiled in war, explains a lot about his abilities, his sometimes ruthless, sometimes tender behavior. It’s as well written as the novels in the series so you can experience what life was like for him. We even learn how he got his name. The Churn occurs due to a crackdown on crime and mobsters, and seals Amos’ fate.

The Loot (Charlie McCabe Thriller Book 1)

4-star review of The Loot by Craig Schaefer

Schaefer’s first crime thriller and the first in a new series follows Charlie McCabe, just back from her military tour, where she was a bomb defusing expert. That skill comes in handy in this fast-paced story. Charlie must come up with money to pay her father’s bookie. The job she gets with an agency that provides protection for wealthy people won’t pay nearly enough to provide the amount she needs. There are several great characters in this story that behave consistently, including Charlie. I enjoyed this enough that I’ll look for the next in the series.

Dying to be Fathers: A Dai and Julia Mystery

5-star review of Dying to be Fathers by E. M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago

A great addition to Swift-Hook and Jago’s stories about Dai and Julia in a Britain where the Romans were never defeated. This time Dai, his brother-in-law and nephew are kidnapped and Julia is about to give birth but is asked to temporarily take charge. So many of the usual characters are involved in the efforts to find the three and learn why they were taken. This has to be my favorite alternate history series.