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The Backroad
reviewed on + 2168 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2


One of the most confusing, terribly written books I've read or tried to read

Someone else described this like reading a Jane and Dick book, See Jane See Jane Run, Dick can run too and on and on like that, very stiff and stilted

The main plot of the story gets lost within all the side stories about each and every character introduced and believe me it's a lot of people to keep track of, for me it just didn't flow along at all but was choppy and just boring, so much descriptions of everything and I mean everything and that is a peeve of mine, I hate unnecessary descriptions and this one is full of them, if you cut them out this book would be about 100 less

I like to try new authors but this one isn't for me, just too boring and not good writing


Papa Spy: Love, Faith, and Betrayal in Wartime Spain
reviewed on + 969 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


An interesting personal story of life in war time Spain, and the British, and latter American, attempts to keep that fascist country neutral during WW II. The story centers around the author's father who was the press secretary for the British embassy and was heavily engaged in helping keep Spain neutral.

Two bits of WW II trivia I found interesting were: 1) Rick's Bar in the movie "Casablanca" was based on a real bar, Charlie's Bar, in Tangier; 2) the supposed death by drowning of a British Marine major carrying secret plans the Germans were suppose to see, and which was the basis for the movie "The Man Who Never Was," was actually questioned by a young Spanish doctor who did the post-mortem and kept the information that the man didn't die by drowning until after the war, as the doctor hated the Nazis.

However, while the book is not really all that interesting as it is basically a biography of the author's father, it did lead me to order another book on how the British and Americans kept Spain neutral, with more details than offered in this book.


The Widow of the South
reviewed on + 1088 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


This book had its basis in a true story but never managed to engage me. The writing was haphazard, often unclear. Carrie seemed more than a little unhinged, and given her circumstances, perhaps she truly was. But Hicks' telling of her tale pushed it closer to a dark, almost-romance than to history. Perhaps I'd have better luck with an historical narrative about her; this fictional rendering didn't work for me.


Manitou Canyon (Cork O'Connor)
reviewed on + 1088 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


I always enjoy reading about these characters, and like Kruger's warm, nicely crafted prose. In this book, however, although there are plenty of good character moments, the main story involving Cork failed to interest me. Not only were all the activists' pseudonyms too cute and too confusing--Mr. Gray, Mr. Indigo, Mr. Fox--the narrative pushed too hard on its environmental agenda and wasn't really plausible. Events took too long to develop, went on too long, and provided little reward. I'll still pick up this series from time to time, but probably won't read every one.


The False Inspector Dew
reviewed on + 969 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


This is the first book I've read by this author and I was intrigued by the plot description. But why did I wait so long to pick it up off my large stack or TBR? The plot swings are amazing. The clues are strewn everywhere. Red herrings abound. But I had each turn in the story figured out before the author revealed his surprise. So I really wasn't too surprised at the end. Or what I thought was the end. That's when the author laid a big surprise on me.

It's easy to understand why he won so many awards. The book was well written, and the plots and subplots were realistic. I just requested six more of his novels here.


One Perfect Lie
reviewed on + 511 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


One Perfect Lie is the newest book by Lisa Scottoline. Chris Brennan has applied to teach AP Government at Central Valley High School. He has also requested to be the assistant varsity baseball coach. Chris has excellent resume and is quickly hired. What no one knows is that his resume and name are untruths. Why did Chris position himself at Central Valley High School? Raz Sematov, Jordan Larkin, and Evan Kostis are three of Chris' students and they are also on the varsity baseball team. Raz is going through a rough patch. His father, Mike passed away a few months ago and Raz is acting out. Raz has a temper (as well as a hyper personality) and he has yet to learn how to control it. Evan Kostis is the popular rich kid with a doctor for a father and a mother who copes by drinking. Jordan Larkin is a quiet boy with a single mother. Jordan's mother, Heather works as a waitress at Central Valley Country Club. Chris quickly gains the boys trust, but he has an ulterior motive. There is something going on in Central Valley and Chris (or whoever he is) is aware of it. Is he behind it?

One Perfect Lie captured my interest in the beginning. It is clear that Chris is lying (to the reader), but we do not know why. Soon, though, the truth is revealed and the novel is less captivating. I figured out the plot, the twists and the characters involved long before they are revealed. I was hoping for a novel with more suspense, mystery and surprises. I give One Perfect Lie 3 out of 5 stars. I felt that the book was too long and it had a slow pace. The pace slows down considerably in the second half of the book. I just wanted more, and I expected more from this writer. I was disappointed with the romance in the book. It was unnecessary and did not need to be included. I felt that too much of the story (especially in the second half) was devoted to possible relationship between Chris and Heather Larkin (especially the end). There are many characters in this book and the readers get background details on each one of them (I only listed a few of the characters). I did not like the scenes between Chris and his compatriots. I finished the book (finally) and was left with unanswered questions.


Doc: Platoon Medic
reviewed on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


Some of the best books about the Vietnam experience are "The Grunts" by Charles Anderson, "Chickenhawk" by Robert Mason, "Once a Warrior King" by David Donovan and "Everything They Had" by Al Santoli.. This book is right up there with the best first person account of the war. The author runs the gamut of emotional. professional and personal feelings during his tour. As a combat medic he feels the need to be with a combat platoon and not sitting back "in the rear with the gear" His description of his professional growth from a newbie with no combat experience to a hardened combat medic earns him the highest honor a combat platoon can bestow upon a medic. He becomes their "Doc". The author pulls no punches with his description of the daily ups and downs during a combat tour in 'Nam.


Rose Madder
Rose Madder
Author: Stephen King
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
reviewed on + 50 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


Stephen King's "Rose Madder" is a beautiful, if not a horrible side of reality that not only straddles the line of fiction but crosses it. And that's what he does in this novel of domestic abuse. It's hard to know where the two separate. Such reality weaves itself into this story with a violence that is all too common not to be recognized. However, things change, and for 'Rosie' it's a single drop of blood on her pillow. After fourteen-years of abuse that single drop of blood triggers a spontaneous will to take it no longer. A spur of the moment decision to once for all say,enough is enough and she walks out the door, leaving her past and her husband, Norman behind. But Norman is a 'cop', he knows how to find people. That's what he's good at and she knows it. For Rosie it's a brief escape where she finds support and the beginning of a new life. But Norman is always a look over her shoulder. Then she finds a painting that captures her interest. The mythic painting is encouragement where she can see hope in its strength and maybe even for herself. Yet, the fear of Norman looms in the haze of her past, he knows how to find people...


My Sunshine Away
My Sunshine Away
Author: M.O. Walsh
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Hardcover
reviewed on + 1088 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


My opinion of this book changed so frequently as I read it that I honestly am at a loss about how to review it. It's the type of book I generally don't care for, a literary-ish, non-genre thing that wanted to seem more profound and interesting than it really was. The writing often lost its focus, wandering off into the bayous, as it were, providing too much detail, too much reflection. What was the author thinking, for example, when he detailed the differences between New Orleans and Baton Rouge in an ineffective and pages-long effort to explain how two characters were different? It didn't help that the subject matter was rather depressing, and that what I thought would be the story line--the investigation of the crime--almost never surfaced.

But perversely it's also a book with tremendous heart, and there are sections of excellent prose, finely tuned language that turned reading into a private conversation, just me and the protagonist, as he unfolded his deepest secrets. There may not be much other character development, but the narrator is very competently done. And despite the lack of a strong plot throughout, I liked the warmly satisfying ending.

Ultimately, I gave this a middling rating, but if Walsh, in subsequent novels, can pare down his prose and focus on what he does best, he will be a writer worth watching.


Macaroni and Freeze (Comfort Food, Bk 4)
reviewed on + 90 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


Don't get me wrong, I looked forward to everyone of the books in this series at first. I was excited as anyone at the idea of this new Comfort Food series by C. Wenger, and couldn't wait to get my hands on no. 1 as well as the rest. It interested me because- Number one, it's setting location is in my backyard. My hometown is depicted in the books numerous times, and I have a clear visual of what she is describing. Number two, I love the diner / foodie theme.

BUT-this book dragged worse than a dog with three legs across a desert. I wanted to love it, and have read the first three in the series. It just fell short, and became so difficult to finish that I forced myself to breeze through the last quarter of the book, as I was so sick of seeing it on my side table.

My main issues - (of course, you may have this problem). How many times can a girl admire a guy and repeat how his butt in his tight jeans looks 'soo good', but add "not that I'm looking". This becomes so very redundant in this series, that its MORE than predictable. It's downright stupid. Take it to the next level, for crying out loud. Have Ty kiss Trixie!! Go on a date! Do SOMETHING!! The other issue I have is characters in general are just too boringly complex. Unnatural. For instance- The best buddy that wears outrageous outfits could be likeable, but she is not. Just the name alone- Antoinette Chloe Brown (ACB) became so grating on my nerves, I detested her.

On the positive side, the mystery is ok, although it's that issue again, some cozy's have -of the main character being a know-it-all, and in obvious danger that the foolishness of it drags on for anyone with a thinking brain. Yeah, Trixie has that.

But the environmental snow storm and weather descriptions are cool, and very accurate for this neck of the woods. As is the diner scenes with food descriptions. I don't know if I can undergo another installment of Comfort Food, unless it's changed up quite a bit, moves along faster, and maybe knocks off ABC, no it's ACB- and that's regretful as I know the place well.


The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister
reviewed on + 148 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


I was glad to read a survivor story from the point of view of a wealthy Russian family caught up in not just the Communist Revolution, worldwide depression and WWII, but the eventual transport of 2 members of the family to labor camps in Germany.
Although a story that needs to be told by a survivor of circumstances different from most WWII or Holocaust survivor memoirs, the disorganization of the writing is shameful. The two American editors of the childhood pages translated from several languages by the author before her death after over 50 years of marriage to an American did the family no favors in sharing the story the way they did.
In many places one telling of an incident is immediately succeeded on the next page by the same story. It leaves one wondering whether the editing was just that poor or if they meant to publish it that way.
Many helpful resources were added at the back of the book including a family tree, glossary of terms and names, and a chronological timeline. Throughout the book, endnotes are added to clarify discrepancies that seem to appear in the diary translations as well as some historic facts that add to a child's telling of a situation. But none of these save the book's shortcomings. The lack of clarity and out of order telling of some family memories just diminishes the power of Nonna's story.


Lily and the Octopus
reviewed on + 57 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


I pity the person that hasn't has that "one" pet, the special one, that came a the perfect time, was your soul mate, understood you better than any human ever could, your best friend. I also hurt deeply for that person when, as all pets do, move "over the rain bow bridge", or as mine do, "go to college" because that just makes me an empty nester, not a grieving pet parent. This book captures every nuance if these special relationships. Who of us hasn't spoken to our fur family? I know I hear them answer back, with their eyes, a tail wag or a hiss. I for one have whole conversations with mine. This book touched on every emotion, excitement of meeting our new family member, gowning pains, joy of life, all the steps of grief when we hear the news, denial, bartering, acceptance and the others, the bottom of your soul wrenching pain when we have to make that final decision for our beloved. You must read this book, even if you are not a dog person, or a cat person, or a snake person, if you are human, this book will make you feel all the feelings.


An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray, Bk 1)
reviewed on + 969 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


At first, I thought this wasn't one of P.D. James' best. There seemed to be something lacking in the plot. But then the last chapter wrapped it all up quite well, and I was satisfied. EXCEPT....

Once the case was wrapped up, with evil exposed and all the loose ends tied, there was still ANOTHER whole chapter. And it was this chapter which made the book another shining example of P.D. James' marvelous talent as a mystery writer.


Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945
reviewed on + 969 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


An excellent overview of the air war, specifically against the Japanese homeland. It covers many aspects unmentioned in other books, including the efforts made from China and the Aleutians.

All the major players, Americans and others, are discussed and the authors notes their strengths and weaknesses.


Murder at the Brown Palace: A True Story of Seduction & Betrayal
reviewed on + 197 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


If you enjoy historical true crime without a lot of gory details, you would enjoy this book. It's a fascinating look into a sensationalized murder and resulting trial in the beginning of the 20th century. For those who think political intrigue, celebrity worship and police corruption are recent phenomena, you only have to read this book to find that they are not.


The Dry (Aaron Falk, Bk 1)
reviewed on + 587 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


Wow! This is a fantastic read if you are a mystery lover (though tragic and heart wrenching, too). If real life and a need for sleep had not interfered, I would have just read this straight through. I did not want to put it down and could not wait to pick it up again. There are two mysteries (and other secrets) playing out in this sad, desperate little town-one in the present and one 20 years in the past. No, you won't figure it all out. I love a book that surprises me and a mystery that lives up to being a mystery. I will be looking for the next book I can read by this author as fast as I can!


A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel
reviewed on + 1088 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


At last, a literary novel that lives up to the name, with excellent writing, an engaging narrative, wonderful characters, and almost no trace of self-importance. I just loved this book. I loved the easy sophistication, the dry humor, and the glimpses of Russian history and literature, from the czars to Khrushchev, from Chekhov to Tolstoy. Most of all I loved the characters, a cast of complex, meticulously crafted, interesting people, with Rostov, the gentleman of the title, at the heart of the story.

I'd be the first to admit that the novel isn't perfect, and that it won't be for everyone. This is an idealized, cosmopolitan setting, not the gritty stuff of real Russian history. There is no grand sweep of plot, little action or adventure. This is essentially a diary, concerned with the inconsequential goings-on of a daily existence that's circumscribed by the Metropol Hotel. Events are often too scripted, coincidental, or implausible.

But the tale never strays far from decent people, broader, deeper meanings, and simple truths. As I read the last page, I was thinking about reading the book again. That very rarely happens. For me, it was that kind of book.


16th Seduction (Women's Murder Club)
reviewed on + 2168 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


How very very sad to give a one star rating to Patterson (if he actually wrote it and I don't think he did)

First let me say this is about terrorism and I get very very tired of everyone writing about the same ole crap, It didn't take long to get very bored with this very uninteresting plot and how long everything was just drug out and repeated over and over.

I don't want to give up on Patterson but now I'm down to just reading the Cross series and the WMC series but if they end up like this one then I'll probably quit them.

Like I said -- so sad


Circling the Sun: A Novel
Helpful Score: 1


I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It had been sitting on my 'to be read' shelf for a while. What a beautifully written historical novel. It not only made me 'feel' right there and in the period it was portrayed in, but as a woman it was wonderfully insightful into how a woman of the period would feel. Just really a very nice read. I did find myself wondering if men would find it such a great book as a female reader would. The characters were all wonderful and bold and believable.


Trailers
Trailers
Author: David Rigsbee
Genres: Arts & Photography, Travel, Nonfiction
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 626 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


The text is a personal essay written to accompany the photos, the latter being the reason the book was published. All photos (often of people in place, inside their trailer home) are from Montgomery County, Virginia, 1983-1990. This is a literary book, a sociological book, not a book about the technology, the development of trailers from the 1930s into the mobile homes of the early sixties and beyond, etc. I read a third of it on the bus and was going to read more, but find little value for me in it. The book is thin and light, but I am not sure I will bother carrying it out to the old soldiers' home; we have few readers anyway, although the literary items I bring in do find a reader sometimes (last month the complete poems of Emily Dickinson disappeared after a week). There are many readers that check the offerings in the lobby of the VA Hospital, so I may take it directly there, rather than keep it eight weeks on the shelf at the nursing home.
Dad was recalled to serve as a navigator in the Korean War and we sold our house in Portland and rented briefly in Houston and San Antonio, buying a used 35 foot Travelite that was much more cozy than the available rentals in San Antonio. We took it to Tucson, and to Hawthorne, Nevada, when he returned home, working there for a the best part of the year to improve our finances and where we paid off the trailer. Departing for Las Vegas, we stayed there a month while he looked for work, but Mom did not want him connected with the mob-controlled casino business. We went to San Bernardino for less then a month, and sold the trailer there for the wherewithal to establish ourselves in Los Angeles. Dad was a good saleman, appreciated trailers/mobile homes, and provided well for his family.
Unlike our story, that could be fleshed out considerably, Mr. Rigsbee's text is suitable for English majors. Opening the book a random, a sample paragraph follows:
"The fact of the matter is that the need arises constantly. It has arisen many times over, and it stands to rise again. More precisely, this need, like the concept to which it refers (the fantasy of flight),stays aloft within the conciousness the way dust raised behind a truck maintains its virtual levitation long after the truck has driven away. One wonders what prevents the dust from following, except that it is part earth, part air, part light, and darkness, nothing of its own. Always borrowing, expanding, depending, devoid of anhy essence, it constitutes a perfect dreaming range, not the property of anyone in particular, so the air can nver be said to be really clear of it. In the dust, in which we recognize the shape and dream of our need, we also recognize the image of ourselves. As the Bible asserts, without audible objection, we are dust. So are our creations, including structures both 'mobile' and earth-bound, for indeed, since we make them from our own inadequacies, why should they fare better than we? (44)"
No index.


Magpie Murders
reviewed on + 1433 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


Magpie Murders is a puzzle lover's dream. It contains a mystery within a mystery, and for the most part, I enjoyed every bit of it. The opening scene has Susan Ryeland settling in to read the manuscript of Conway's latest mystery. When she reaches the end, she finds that it's missing the final chapter where all is revealed. But she can't just call Conway and ask for those missing pages-- he's had a bad fall and is dead. Cloverleaf Books' future (and Susan's) depends on the sales of this book, and it is imperative that Ryeland finds that missing chapter.

Now Ryeland is a sleuth, looking for and examining clues. What happened to the last chapter of the manuscript? Was the author's death suicide or murder? The first half of Magpie Murders is Conway's manuscript. The thing is chockful of Christie references-- even someone like me who doesn't particularly care for Christie could find several of them unaided. Names, towns, buildings, anagrams... you name it, and it's probably there for you to cogitate upon. The second half is Ryeland's investigation, and I have to admit that I was more successful in deducing what had happened to Alan Conway than I was in figuring out what happened to the characters in his manuscript.

Yes, I did enjoy this book a great deal, but I didn't love it, and my reason may not make much sense to you. One of the reasons why I don't care for Agatha Christie is because, whenever I've read one of her books, I am overcome by a feeling of the author's smugness at being able to concoct such a perfect puzzle. I felt this same smugness from Anthony Horowitz... but not to the same degree, probably because the character of Susan Ryeland was the book's saving grace.

If you love Agatha Christie, puzzles, and enough details and red herrings to sink the world's largest fishing trawler, Magpie Murders is going to be your perfect cup of tea. Enjoy!


The Green Mile
The Green Mile
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 1088 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


Stephen King has been a reliable author for me, one I come back to periodically for the quality of his prose and the consistency and sheer variety and inventiveness of his storytelling. But with this one, The Green Mile, he utterly blindsided me with his talent.

Of the (not so many) King books I've read to date, this one is hands down my favorite. It's a remarkable bit of writing, a deceptively understated tale that blends horror, fantasy, and reality into a seamless whole. Setting, plot, and most especially the incredibly well-drawn characters made this a story I couldn't easily set aside. It's one of the very few times I've finished a book, resolved to read it again, and resolved to look for the movie version. It's probably not typical King--if there is such a thing--but I think it's one of his very best.


The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel
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Helpful Score: 1


This book centered around a neat little twist of an idea, and an interesting way of executing it, that in the hands of a more skilled author might have become memorable. Hogan, however, merely turned out a tired, supernatural-tinged romance, related in mediocre and often confusing prose. Of course the characters included the struggling heroine, studly gardener, perky friend, sleazy ex, and understanding pets. None of them were entirely without interest, but the repetitiveness and predictability of their too-contrived goings-on soon became tiresome. I finished Keeper, but with a good deal of skimming. Despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews, it isn't a book I would recommend.


reviewed on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


Joe Peacocks stories are a light and funny read. I loved all the stories because they almost all take place in the 1990s. I enjoyed hearing funny stories that involves some things from my child hood like Super Mario World and Super Nintendo and some things I didn't know about like the phone line that you call to order music off of. I never thought is was possible for someone to have that many bad birthdays. It was scary to read about the weapons in a couple of stories. If you love reading the stories magazines print from the mail they get, you'll love this book.


The Strings of Murder
reviewed on + 587 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


This was a really good read! I love the interaction of the 2 inspectors. They are such fun characters! The mystery kept me guessing to the end and I was still wrong. There are some gruesome elements, but not too bad or too often. I sincerely hope to see more of Frey and McGray in future books!


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