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In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II
reviewed on + 1409 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2


Rhys Bowen has painted a broad canvas, and it's filled with action, suspense, and the period detail and fascinating characters that she's known for. With a length of almost four hundred pages, I am happy to report that I wanted it to go on for at least another hundred. There are many characters in this story, and although I didn't have a speck of trouble keeping them all straight, inevitably one or two whom I was most interested in got (what felt like) short shrift.

Two of the period details that I really appreciated were Bowen's giving readers a feel for living in an English country house during the war, and how there were so many clandestine agencies at work in England-- and they were all trying to keep what they were doing secret from all the other agencies.

Even though there's not really anything trailblazing in In Farleigh Field, it is such a joy to read that it doesn't matter. Danger. Spies. Traitors. Romance. Everything combines for an absorbing read that is finished much too quickly. Readers can pit their skills at playing Catch the Spy and form their own close attachments to one or more of the characters. My favorites? The youngest daughter, Phoebe, and her partner-in-crime Alfie, a young Cockney boy evacuated to Farleigh Place due to the Blitz.

Are there any fellow fans of Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope series reading this? I think you'll love In Farleigh Field (and so will most of the rest of you)!


Behind Her Eyes: A Novel
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Helpful Score: 2


I agree with Barbara completely--this is a boring, dull, stupid book. Take out all the unnecessary descriptions and bad language and condense the book down to just the main storyline you'd have about 150 pages and even that isn't worth the time or money for this disaster.

I looked back at some of hers I've read in the past and you just can't know from one book to the next if it's worth it so get it from the library and it won't cost you a dime, I've disliked so many of her books that I'll probably drop her from 'must read' list.


Clawback (Ali Reynolds , Bk 11)
Clawback (Ali Reynolds , Bk 11)
Author: J. A. Jance
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
reviewed on + 1790 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


Another great story by J. A. Jance. She never disappoints, great fast moving book. Getting to know the main characters more is always fun. Keep'em coming. Worth every moment of time spent reading.


Behind Her Eyes: A Novel
reviewed on + 1071 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


With some difficulty, I made it to about the middle of this book. It was a story plagued by mediocre prose, a coincidence-riddled plot, and whiny and self-indulgent characters, all of which seem to be the unfortunate hallmarks of contemporary fiction. When the author mentioned something that one of the characters encountered in a dream, I realized I knew how it all would end. A quick flip to the back (because plodding through the second half of the book wasn't a pleasant prospect) confirmed that I was mostly right, and a dumber, more implausible cheap trick of a resolution would be hard to imagine. Even read only part way, this was a waste of time.


Epidemic Detectives
Epidemic Detectives
Author: Fred Warshofsky
Genre: Teen & Young Adult
Book Type: Paperback
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Helpful Score: 1


As I used to write and lecture on insects and how the diseases they transmitted affected history, I am also interested in non-insect transmitted diseases.

This book contains several short stories about the actions of medical specialists with the Center for Disease Control, how they were able to identify diseases and how they were transmitted. It is a good introduction for young adults, especially for those interested in a medical career.

For a complete adult-level history of the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service, read "Inside the Outbreaks" by Mark Pendergrast.


Fractured Families (Lottie Albright Series)
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Helpful Score: 1


It's been too long since Charlotte Hinger's last Lottie Albright mystery. She is so adept at combining fascinating Kansas history with her mysteries that I never want to miss reading a single one. Only one thing prevented Fractured Families from being one of my best reads of the year: the killer was so obvious and over-the-top to me. Fortunately, there is much more to the book than whodunit-- and I loved the rest.

Carleton County-- dubbed by one character as "the Bermuda Triangle for crime"-- can be counted as a character in Hinger's books. The weather usually makes its presence felt, this time as a ground blizzard that will have you reaching for extra blankets and thinking about the thermostat as you turn the pages.

Two characters (besides Kansas) were stand-outs for me: Franklin Slocum, the young boy who wrote the commonplace book, and Aunt Dorothy "That's why I'm on the bestseller list" Mercer. The life that Franklin had to endure broke my heart, and Dorothy's skills and personality made me laugh while I admired her.

If you're like me and enjoy crime fiction with a strong dose of history, you simply cannot go wrong with Charlotte Hinger's Lottie Albright mysteries. I hope to be reading them for a good long time.


These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901 Arizona Territories
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Helpful Score: 1


I picked up this book believing it was a real diary. However, while based on a real person, it is mostly fiction, although it incorporates many actual events.

Early in the book there was a rape and I felt this wasn't necessary to the story and almost stopped reading it. But I continued and was hooked.

The author did an excellent job convincing me the people in the story were real.

However, if you would like to read the diary of a real woman who lived in this period in the southwest, then I suggest the most excellent book, "No Life For a Lady" by Agnes Morley Cleaveland.


Behind Closed Doors
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Helpful Score: 1


For something billed as a psychological thriller, this book's language and story were strangely flat and monotonous. The tale droned on and on, bounced from past to present, and was full of over-the-top Stepford wife cliches and horrendously unlikeable characters. It was repellent but not especially scary or believable. I ended up skimming after reading about a third of the way, found no real surprises, and was glad to be done with this one.


The Fireman
The Fireman
Author: Joe Hill
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Book Type: Hardcover
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Helpful Score: 1


This was quite a riveting story and I really enjoyed it. I became a fan of Hill with Heart Shaped Box and that is still a favorite. While I have enjoyed all of his books, it seems to me he resorts to the gimmicks of his dear old Dad (which drive me crazy) more in each book. Despite some eye rolling, over the top parts, it is well done and entertaining. I hope he will write more with his own style and voice in the future.


The Yellow House: A Novel
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Helpful Score: 1


Nice mix of Ireland, romance, Irish traditions, and historical fiction in 'The Yellow House.' Would appeal to anyone with an affinity for Ireland.


What Is Left the Daughter
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Helpful Score: 1


I like historical fiction set in the Word War II era. 'What is Left the Daughter' offers a glimpse of what 1942 life was like for those in eastern Canada living with the threat of German U-boats off the coast. My only reservation about the book is the narrator's involvement in the defining act of violence in the story. It seemed out of character and the narrator never reveals his feelings about his involvement. The rest of the story kind of dragged after that.


Rules of Civility
Rules of Civility
Author: Amor Towles
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
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Helpful Score: 1


I couldn't finish it. It was written in a sort of affected literary style (dashes instead of quotation marks, that sort of thing) which I found really annoying. My impression is that the author wishes to hearken back to the heady days of earlier 20th century fiction, the era of Fitzgerald, Wolfe, et al., I did not feel the life and energy of those two authors in this novel. I have heard his next book, A Gentleman in Moscow, is better. I hope so.


The Light Between Oceans
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Helpful Score: 1


The Light Between Oceans is one of the most beautifully-written and compelling stories I have read in a long time. (Do be advised that the book is much better than the movie, though the movie is not bad.) The outcome was not expected but quite believable.
I give this book 5 stars!


Say Goodbye for Now
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Helpful Score: 1


This author, with this book, has gained the title of my favorite "new to me" author. This is the 2nd book of hers I've read, the other being "Worthy". Both books, but this one especially, just blew me away. Gorgeous, involving writing, wonderful, unique plot lines. Wonderful characterizations. This is one of those books that once I picked it up I absolutely could not put it down until I finally finished, with an enormous sigh of satisfaction. Can not wait to read everything she's written.


Death, Taxes, and Hot-Pink Leg Warmers (Tara Holloway, Bk 5)
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Helpful Score: 1


Fair warning: This book is a lot racier than I am comfortable with. The story is OK, but the strip club setting and the graphic sex scene near the end are beyond my limits. Other than that, this is a funny, well written story.


Tightening the Threads (Mainely Needlepoint Mystery)
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Helpful Score: 1


It's now fall, and Angie Curtis has seen a lot of death in Haven Harbor in the four months she's been in town. As much as I like this series, I think she should take a trip back to Phoenix for a while where a dead body or two won't have as much impact. In Tightening the Threads, Angie comes across a mystery of her own while clearing a huge tree that fell during a storm, but her best friend's dilemma takes priority.

For those of you who, like me, enjoy Lea Wait's ensemble cast in this series, you won't find much of them here, except for Dave whose poison garden comes in handy for answers to some of Angie's questions. The action has Sarah front and center over a long weekend. Although the truth behind her relationship to Ted Lawrence is really interesting, as the family dynamics unfold Ted is seen as a rather despicable man. His children have all gone their separate ways, haven't kept in touch with each other, and don't really seem to care about each other-- which points to something in the solution to the murder that rang false with me, although I can't talk about it without giving things away.

Tightening the Threads isn't the strongest book in this series, but it's still a good read. I love Wait's blend of setting, art, history, and Maine traditions; they all create the perfect backdrop for a cast of characters I've grown to care about a great deal.


The Devil's Feast (A Blake and Avery Novel)
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Helpful Score: 1


In this third Blake and Avery historical mystery, Blake is in a pickle, and this means that young Captain William Avery must be in charge of the investigation at the Reform Club-- something that goes quite against Avery's grain since he is politically conservative. Once again M.J. Carter has created a rich, layered mystery that's even more savory than the dishes that Chef Soyer (an actual person) was known for. The Devil's Feast kept me guessing from first page to last because it takes Avery a very long time to ascertain the true focus of the deaths. Are men being poisoned because of their politics? Is it because of that important dinner? Or does it have something to do with London's first celebrity chef, Alexis Soyer? Avery finds that puzzle very difficult to solve-- especially since he's in danger of being poisoned himself.

And while Avery is trying to solve this mystery, he's trying to help Blake, and he's also being forced to deal with an increasingly difficult wife. Fortunately Avery does have the help of young Matty, the girl readers first met in The Infidel Stain. She not only provides Avery with a great deal of help (risking her own future to do so), she is a mirror in which readers can see the true Victorian London, a city with debtor's prisons and a great divide between the haves and the have-nots. Matty and Blake (who has more of his childhood exposed) are teaching Avery valuable lessons in the true ways of the world.

But The Devil's Feast is no mere fascinating Victorian exposé. Foodies will love the insights into cooking for a prestigious gentlemen's club, and the fast-paced mystery will delight all those who enjoy solving a cracker jack of a puzzle. Carter's Blake and Avery series started out strong and it's getting stronger with each entry. I can't wait to see what's in store next!


Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, Bk 10)
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Helpful Score: 1


This is one of my favorite series of all time, but I did not love this book quite as much as I usually do Briggs' titles because Adam and Mercy were apart for almost the whole novel. It was great to see lots of familiar characters interacting in new places and in new ways, but I prefer a straightforward good guy/bad guy/monster fight to subtle political machinations in my escapist fantasy reading.


Old Maine Woman: Stories from the Coast to the County
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Helpful Score: 1


I'm not sure how I found out about this book, other than I am interested in writing personal essays and life in Maine and am very thankful to the member who offered it. Glenna Johnson Smith's span almost 90 years beginning with memories of her mother's career as the local postmaster and what Glenna did during the day as an only child. From the depression to the Vietnam war, her stories have a way of drawing you into her world and yet a reader will likely identify with similarities in their own lives.

Her humorous essay relaying her anxiety when the telephone man needed to navigate around her clutter of day-to-day interests and getting hurt has to be one that happens to anyone at least once in their life.

Mrs. Smith didn't intend to publish another book of her stories. Lucky for me, there is a sequel Return of the Old Maine Woman that hopefully I will get a chance to read someday.


Arnhem Lift: A German Jew in the Glider Pilot Regiment
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Helpful Score: 1


A very easy and fascinating read about one man's experiences in World War II.

Native German Louis Hagen made one nasty comment too many about the Nazis in his teenage years and ended up in a concentration camp. Fortunately, his father's connections got him out of that, but then he had to flee the country.

Arriving in England as a "displaced alien," he did well until war was declared and found, as an "displaced alien," he couldn't work in "war work." So he basically joined the underground economy. He was finally arrested for not answering his draft notice, which he didn't know about as he had no permanent address.

What happened next was basically one piece of good luck after another, until he found himself in Holland fighting with the British 1st Parachute Division at the disastrous Battle of Arnham, under an assumed, but non-Jewish, name.

If a movie was made about his experience before, during and after the war, most people would believe it was made up by Hollywood screenwriters. But it was all true, including the bit about standing before the King of England, receiving a medal and being asked where he was from. The King was startled when Hagen replied, "Potsdam."


The Garden of Lamentations
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Helpful Score: 1


The long wait for this latest Kincaid-James novel was well worth it. The plot continues a fairly complex arc begun earlier, and does so with the same attention to characters, dialogue, and background that Crombie always handles so adroitly. Again the story weaves together separate threads that somehow complement each another nicely, and although events seem a little rushed and too convenient at the end, the narrative progresses to a satisfying maybe-conclusion. The series shows no signs of weakening yet, and I'm looking forward to the next entry.


The Blue Nowhere
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Helpful Score: 1


Things I liked: tons of twists that you don't see coming; great character development; intriguing story.
Thing I didn't like: way too much geek-speak, so much that it required a glossary at the beginning of the book! I have an extensive computer background, so I understood it all, but someone who is not into computers could get very put-out by the constant 'inside' jargon.


My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir (Audio CD) (Unabridged)
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Helpful Score: 1


In âMy Lucky Life In and Out of Show Businessâ, author Dick Van Dyke manages to avoid the Hollywood âell-allâ kind of book that is all too common on the Entertainment section of your local bookstore or library. Wait, that's not 100% true. Mr. Van Dyke DOES dish a little dirt on one celebrity â himself.

He talks about his marriages â two as of this counting (and at his age, I would doubt a 3rd one is on the way â however, given that he is still active in his 90s, don't count him out!) He talks a lot about his early days, growing up, getting started in show business, and the like. Then comes some successes like the Broadway and movie versions of Bye-Bye Birdie, and a little show created by Carl Reiner that didn't have a name until they settled on âThe Dick Van Dyke Showâ. He talks about his alcoholism and a few other bad choices he made during life, as well. He also talks about his aborted stint on the Carol Burnett Show and reveals why he left mid-season.

I wish he had talked a little more about his time on Diagnosis: Murder, especially working with his son on that project. (He briefly touches on it.) He does mention a few of his show-business friends, but I wish he'd tossed in a few more tales of them â not dirt, but rather more of the funny and/or touching anecdotes that pop up occasionally in this text.

I chose to listen to this book on audio; having the author himself narrate it gave it a special touch.

RATING: 4 1/2 stars, rounding up to 5 stars where 1/2 stars are not permitted.


The Handmaid's Tale
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Helpful Score: 1


There is some very good writing here, which Atwood employs to good effect detailing a grim dystopian world. The reader sees things through the eyes of the protagonist, Offred, a woman whose situation is tragic. She seems to occupy a tenuous place between sanity and madness, losing herself slowly day by day. It's an inventive and chilling story. But the characters are mostly ciphers; only Offred herself has much depth. Even with that, her long and often disjointed mental wanderings and the narrative's glacially slow pacing make the book drag, and the plot loses its edge. The message and its self-conscious social significance are always just below the surface and become too heavy handed. Although I'm glad I read it, I would have preferred a shorter, more tightly constructed tale.


Frontier World of Doc Holliday
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Helpful Score: 1


I have mixed thoughts on this book. I hoped for a historical presentation of John 'Doc' Holliday, but instead got a so-called, funny tongue-in-cheek presentation from an author who considers himself a stand-up comedian. After about 75 pages this got a bit irritating, and there were still over 200 pages to go.

When the author finally gets to the famous gunfight of the "O.K. Corral," he covers it using only newspaper articles of the times and the testimony of the witnesses. Since there were two sides to this fight, with two bitterly opposed, politically motivated factions, the lies abounded, depending on who was testifying. So we learn nothing new here.

For whatever reason, the author then put his humor aside and told the rest of the story as straight history. I find it interesting that Holliday's official obituary was as full of lies as the rest of his life. For example, it had him coming West at the age of eleven, instead of in his early twenties.


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