Thursday, June 23, 2016

June

Author: Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Stars: 5
Review by: fran housten

What an enjoyable read!  Dual story line and plot from two different time periods in alternating chapters, very realistic characters, glamour, mystery, romance, suspense in a well written style make this a novel that is hard to put down.  Loved it and will check out more of the author's works.
 

Dishing Up New Jersey

Author: John Holl
Stars: 4
Review by: fran housten


I am vegan so most of the recipes were not useful but the read was a joy - so much fun about NJ; local folks; and trivia.  Stand alone good read even without the recipes!

Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs
Stars: 3
Review by: Tara C.


This was a decently satisfying conclusion to the Miss Peregrine's series. The first book is really strong, the second is a little weaker, and this third and final installment is somewhere in between. The use of actual vintage photographs interspersed throughout the text (bought and collected from various sources such as flea markets) is a new and interesting idea, but sometimes seems to force overly-contrived situations in the plot. If you start the series, it definitely keeps you engaged  and I was content with the ending. The first book is becoming a movie (coming in September 2016).
 

Journey to Munich

Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Stars: 4
Review by: Catdob


Great story, a little long winded.
 

Ripped from the Pages

Author: Kate Carlisle
Stars: 4
Review by: jamBob

I love cozy mysteries....soft and fluffy like cotton candy on a summer day. Many cozies have a theme like wine...coffee, knitting etc... This book followed a bibliophile living near a California winery. What made this cozy stand out from the crowd is that it included a very serious topic. A French village wanted to save its art thereby giving the pieces to fellow Frenchmen evacuating France for the USA, specifically Calif. An interesting premise and the basis for finding a body among the art treasures. Had to give this cozy a 4 for kicking up the intrigue factor!
 

Hot on Her Heels

Author: Susan Mallery
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


One of the best books I ever read.
 
 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Author: Phaedra Patrick
Stars: 5
Review by: Judy


Her first book and it is a wonderful story.
 

What a Plant Knows

Author: Daniel Chamovitz
Stars: 4
Review by: Literary Giant

Really interesting comparison between plants and animals, and how plants use their senses to operate successfully in their environment.  Quick read with just enough science to back up the discussion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Nature of the Beast

Author: Louise Penny
Stars: 3
Review by: Ann Mc

Interesting and very detailed, yet slow moving story about finding the reason for the murder of a 9 year old boy in a small Quebec village.


 

The Notebook

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Stars: 4
Review by: libraryaimee


I had to reread this for my book club.  I remembered the general plot outline and figured I would skim it, but let's be honest:  I read every word and loved it...and cried, AGAIN, at the end!  Apparently I am a sucker for a man who can do home renovations and write love letters!
 

The Things We Keep

Author: Sally Hepworth
Stars: 4
Review by: Just Ada


Really good, but very sad---Alzheimer's at an early age.  Many interesting characters, happy times and sad.
 

The Round House

Author: Louise Erdrich
Stars: 4
Review by: BKF


A 13-year-old boy, living on a reservation in North Dakota, is thrust prematurely into an adult world when his mother is attacked and retreats into herself. Another great book by Louise Erdrich. What I find interesting in her writing is that she uses no quotation marks when a character speaks. Unusual. The book was very good!

Wedding Cake Murder

Author: Joanne Fluke
Stars: 3
Review by: mysterylover


Just when it seemed like the side story is the focus, it isn't.  The author combined the murder with the side story.
 

Tricky Twenty Two

Author: Janet Evanovich
Stars: 2
Review by: Susan F.


I keep reading this series, hoping each new installment will be as funny as they used to be.  It wasn't.  She's phoning it in.
 

Whispers

Author: Dean Koontz
Stars: 3
Review by: Susan F.


One of Dean Koontz's early novels.  More character driven than plot driven.  Still a good read.
 

The Accidental Empress

Author: Allison Pataki
Stars: 1
Review by: Brookhouse


Endless "hysterical fiction". Not much history but a lot of twaddle about her hair and clothing. Young girl marries her Prince Charming, but soon finds out that they are under the very heavy thumb of his mother who is also her aunt and not even allowed to be close to her own children. Unlikable characters. So one-dimensional: he weak, she angry and narcissistic, the mother domineering. Finished it only because it was a bookclub choice. I will not be reading the sequel, SiSi.

The Paris Wife

Author: Paula McLain
Stars: 1
Review by: Pam


I gave this book the good ole college try.  I read up to page 198 and that was difficult to do.  Story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley.  I love Hemingway, but found that the book was more about her and less about him and their relationship.  No action, just everyday life of him writing and her waiting.  Not my cup of tea.
 

The Wave

Author: Morton Rhue
Stars: 2
Review by: Pam


This book is part of my daughter's summer reading assignment. YA fiction written in 1981 so many of the references seem outdated for a current themed book.  Based on a true story, a high school history teacher tries to teach the atrocities of Nazi Germany by creating his own regime called The Wave.
Book was OK, only 138 pages, story seemed to move too rapidly to be realistic.
 

LaRose

Author: Louise Erdrich
Stars: 4
Review by: BKF


While deer hunting, a tragic accident occurs. The hunter kills the 5 year old son of his neighbor. Needing help dealing with the tragedy, the hunter and his wife seek help and guidance from Indian tribe tradition- the sweat lodge. Thus they agree to give their own 5 year old son to the neighboring couple whose son was killed. A fascinating story.

Trickster's Point

Author: William Kent Krueger
Stars: 4
Review by: Brookhouse


This is part of a series of about 10 books featuring the private detective, Cork O'Conner, a retired sheriff of a small town in Northern Minnesota. He is  part American Indian. Good stories always involving his family and various local characters. For those who love continuing protagonists. Well written.
 

 
 

As Close to Us as Breathing

Author: Elizabeth Poliner
Stars: 4
Review by: Brookhouse


A Jewish extended family at a beach cottage on the Connecticut shore which was inherited by three sisters. Ada with her three children, Vive with her beautiful teenage daughter and Bec, unmarried and a talented seamstress. The husbands, owners of a Small Jewish department store come only on weekends for the Friday night ceremonial dinner. During the week the women and children swim and sail and wait for the local ice cream man. When a tragedy strikes them, anger and fissures arise and all of them have their assumptions about religion and relationships challenged.
 

Miller's Valley

Author: Anna Quindlen
Stars: 3+
Review by: Brookhouse


Not one of her best. Story of a family known as the Millers of Millers Valley. The state of Pennsylvania has been over a period of many years gradually flooding the town to create a recreation area. Its impact on the daughter of the family and her neighbor's. Oddly unaffecting.
 

Sweetgirl

Author: Travis Mulhauser
Stars: 4
Review by: Brookhouse

Gritty and raw, but lyrical. Reminiscent of Winters Bone. Young girl saves a neglected baby and herself from a life of violence, alcohol, and meth during a Northern Michigan winter. Well fleshed out characters. Even if the setting plays a part.

Before the Wind

Author: Jim Lynch
Stars: 4
Review by: Brookhouse


Multi-generational family of sailboat builders in Olympia Washington. Good tale about their quirks, victories and failures. For readers who like sailing and family sagas. Well-sketched characters. I loved Josh, the son.
 
 

Ordinary Grace

Author: William Kent Krueger
Stars: 4
Review by: Brookhouse


Nice little book. Set in 1961, small town Northern Minnesota, from the point of view of a 13 year old boy, son of a minister and his musician wife, with a talented older sister and a younger brother. A gentle whodunit--several unexplained deaths and his involvement in their solutions. Good characters.
 

Running on Empty

Author: Peter G Peterson
Stars: 4
Review by: Literary Giant

Explains federal budget deficits, how they got continually worse, how they impact future generations, and actions that can be taken to put the country back on a sustainable path.  Extremely nonpartisan and well written.
 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bookerfly

Eating HEALTHY from Judy

Bookerfly

Gardening - A Summer Exercise from Judy

Saturday, June 18, 2016

What You Left Behind

Author: Samantha Hayes
Stars: 2
Review by: Just Ada


Mystery.  Kind of confusing.

Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O'Clock Lady

Author: Susan Witig Albert
Stars: 4
Review by: MysteryMom


Interesting characters and a feel for small town life in the South.

Bloodfever

Author: Karen Marie Moning
Stars: 5
Review by: Sabrina


Book 2 of the Fever series, Bloodfever continues the story of Mackayla Lane and her fight to avenge her sister's death and protect humans from the deadly Fae. This is a dark urban fantasy with some scenes that could disturb some readers.
 

Darkfever

Author: Karen Marie Moning
Stars: 5
Review by: Sabrina

Classified as a dark urban fantasy, it is the start of a great series I have read several times. Set in Ireland, a battle between humankind and the Fae is developing, and Mackayla Lane discovers she may be one of the only ones who can do anything about it.

Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio
Stars: 3
Review by: DeckReader


Felt a pride for the students who befriended this young fellow classmate.
 

Nemesis

Author: Catherine Coulter
Stars: 5
Review by: Brenda M


This is an FBI thriller featuring Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock.  While Special Agent Lacey Sherlock is dealing with a terrorist bomb attack at JFK Airport and St. Patrick's Cathedral, Savich is pursuing a Dracula/occult like murderer.  The two cases collide resulting in  Sherlock and Savich working to solve both cases together.
 

Strong, Hot Winds

Author: Iris Johansen
Stars: 3
Review by: Brenda M


Easy read mindless romance set in the desert.  Cory Brandel's  affair with  a Sheikh ended.  She did not tell him she was pregnant and gave birth to his son.  The Sheikh kidnaps the boy and takes him kingdom.  Cory has no choice but to accompany the Sheikh to his country in an attempt to stay with then recover her son.

Hide Away

Author: Iris Johansen
Stars: 5
Review by: Brenda M


This is a continuation of the Eve Duncan series.  Eve is protecting a young girl (Cara) who is a pawn in a Mexican cartel power struggle.  Eve ID'ed her older deceased sister (Jenny) in a previous book. Eve flees with Cara to Scotland and joins with her adopted daughter, Jane,  in an expedition to recover a treasure.  While Eve is in Scotland, Joe Quinn is trying to find and eliminate the threat to Eve and Cara stateside.  Joe finally joins Eve in Scotland in order to protect her.  Cara is abducted by her mother (one of the bad guys) at the end of the book.  The one thing that annoyed me is that this is a cliffhanger.  However, I do like how Johansen weaves in things from previous books into the story line to give it a continuity.

The Oxford Martyrs

Author: D M Loades
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Three men are the key focus of this - Nicholas Ridley (ex bishop of London), Hugh Latimer (ex bishop of Worchester), and Thomas Cranmer (Archbishop of Canterbury). The book is concerned with how the trials of these men on heresy charges reflected the religious tension of the time of Mary I, and how their execution helped turn public opinion even more against the queen - especially Cranmer - who faced with his funeral pyre first stuck in the hand that signed his retraction saying it deserved to get burned first.

Steel Drivin' Man

Author: Scott Reynolds Nelson
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Embarking on a journey with his wife's battered car and their labrador Riley, the author delves into who was the origin of the John Henry mythos. Very quickly he discovers that there could very well have been a historical basis to the character, and although just because someone named John William Henry is buried in a white churchyard, was a railroad employee that died in an accident, and a few other things do not exactly guarantee that I am 100% convinced he sure runs with his ideas.

You Want Fries with That?

Author: Prioleau Alexander
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Tired of his numbing job (albeit a well paying one), "Lowe" quits it and decides to embark on a quest - taking on the jobs that on which so much rides, pays little, and is derided much. Pizza delivery boy, scooper at an ice cream parlor plagued by idiotic college girls wanting free samples, construction laborer (God, this one was good as a former inspector of 10 years - he was only in a few days and picked out the bull perfectly), emergency room tech (same), how he kept applying but never heard from Wal Mart or an unnamed lumber big box retailer, fast food, even a cowboy. Immediately he realizes several key things - without the underpaid schlubs like myself working these jobs there would be serious trouble, yet things are so messed up. Paying for uniforms, no protection, little training, etc. is what is expected in many industries. Which was why, faced with mounting bills, he gave up his grand experiment and went back into a "tie job" working marketing.

Prince Harry

Author: Penny Junor
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


This, and Loades' Princes of Wales are a good example of what Prince Charles said many years ago - that he felt that time would vindicate him as an essentially OK, albeit flawed, guy. Done with the direct participation of his son, the latter's personal papers and access to key personnel and others involved, it is a biography of the "spare to the heir" but the sad thing about it is how much time Harry and the others spend in vindicating his father. Yes, Harry is Charles' biological son. The Queen actually authorized DNA tests just to try to shut up conspirators (fat chance). Yes, he and William were the ones who chose to walk behind their mother's coffin. They were not used as bullet shields. No, I do not like it when people make fun of Camilla. No, my parents' divorce was not her fault and it was over before she re-entered things. Yes, I was in Afghanistan and this is what happened. Etc. Sure the guy was a bit dotty as a kid but with the background he had it is a miracle those two turned out the way they did.

Gift from the Sea

Author: Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa


This book was written in 1955 and was Morrow-Lindbergh's biggest success. Now it's 2016 and her words are still relevant. I can identify as I am a middle-aged woman who left a career behind to marry and raise children. Although it's wonderful to stay home and watch my children learn and grow, it is also difficult to come to terms with the realization that the hopes and dreams I had for my future are just that. It's a quick read (121 pages) and well worth it once you have finished The Aviator's Wife.
 

Princes of Wales

Author: David Loades
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

A chronicle of the various (surprise!) Princes of Wales from their inception to today's Charles. Whereas not too many might be familiar with say the Tudor predecessors every person gets their own chapter/ segment and for being not too big of a book it was quite comprehensive and even minded. Didn't distort the history or go off in terms of politics like I think so many books like this do. No spending ages on the abdication of Edward or if Richard really did authorize the death of the "Princes in the Tower," although things such as that are certainly covered each event was given due attention.

How to Read Buildings

Author: Carol Davidson Cragoe
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Nice. Covers a lot of ground, just not in a lot of detail. In a book about the size of 3 potholders you will find various diagrams and plans of all sorts of buildings - sorted by type, style, etc. - and with the major features defined with a short bio in many cases. Ionic / Corinthian columns, different kinds of houses, staircases, roofing materials, lots of things are in here.
 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Congratulations to...

... our Week #3 Prize Winners:
  • Anne
  • katza lover

Progress So Far

Click on image to enlarge.

A Dangerous Place

Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Stars: 4
Review by: Barb


Not my favorite Maisie Dobbs book.
 

The Girls of Mischief Bay

Author: Susan Mallery
Stars: 4
Review by: Patti K


In my never-ending quest to find relaxing summer beach reads, I stumbled upon this one.  Didn't disappoint.
 

The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins
Stars: 4
Review by: BKF


Every morning and evening Rachel is on the train, passing the same suburban homes, seeing a particular couple on their deck. She starts to fantasize about their lives, their perfect relationship. Then one morning she sees something that strikes her as not right. She goes to the police, things get complicated, lives intersect. A real thriller!
 

What Really Happened to the Class of '65?

Author: Michael Medved and David Wallechinsky
Stars: 4
Review by: BKF


Time magazine selected Palisades High School, Los Angeles and their senior class of 1965 as the focus for its cover story on TODAY'S TEENAGERS, published in January 1965. In 1976, the authors' book was published. In it, 30 classmates talk freely about themselves, then and now (1976 now). A fascinating book. Anyone who was in school during that era, I'm sure, can identify with  some of the stories.
 

How to Make Your Money Last

Author: Jane Bryan Quinn
Stars: 3.5
Review by: BNbook


It was easy to understand and had lots of information.

Dying for a Taste

Author: Leslie Karst
Stars: 3
Review by: jamBob


I love reading Cozy mysteries like this one which included recipes. I was attracted to the summary because it was set in an Italian family who owned restaurants and made delicious food. I have been noticing that author opinions have been sneaking in a little more in cozies. In this book there are two in particular; alternate lifestyles and sustainable food sources. I could do without the commentary, but eventually was enlightened regarding the food sources. All in all a decent mystery ...and good recipes....based in sunny Santa Cruz, Calif.
 

Macaroni and Freeze

Author: Christine Wenger
Stars: 3
Review by: LZ99


Have read others in this series, but this one fell flat, somehow.
 

People Who Knew Me

Author: Kim Hooper
Stars: 5
Review by: Just Ada


Really good book with surprises around every corner.  First novel.

Miller's Valley

Author: Anna Quindlen
Stars: 5
Review by: Judy


Anna Quindlen never disappoints...a very good read.

Hypothermia

Author: Arnaldur Indridason
Stars: 4
Review by: BookDancer

This excellent crime novel, #6 in the Inspector Erlender series, is translated from Icelandic and set in Iceland.  It features another brilliant yet angst-ridden Nordic detective who always manages to solve the mystery, but not his own problems.  Fans of Kurt Wallander will enjoy Inspector Erlendar Sveinsson. I'm looking forward to reading more of these.
 

Killer Reunion

Author: G.A. McKevett
Stars: 3
Review by: mysterylover


I enjoyed this book.  It did not use the predictable outline-murder, investigation, encounter, and solution.  If anything the main character started an encounter in a way. Still a cozy mystery.
 

Beach Town

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Stars: 2
Review by: Gloria Aldarondo


This book was a Memorial Day weekend book to read, I based it on the picture of beach chairs and fresh look. The story line was a bit to slow, and mundane. The story line was not as big as I thought it was going to be. Characters didn't grow with me as I read the book. So I took longer to finish the book.
 

Lilac Girls

Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Stars: 5
Review by: Ann Mc


An intense book on the story about 3 women during WWII, two of them at the all women's concentration camp, the senseless operations, and the NY socialite that helps the women.

Abandon

Author: Carla Neggers
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

A great story in an another series.
 

One in a Million: A Lucky Harbor Novel

Author: Jill Shalvis
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


Great summer read as part of a series.
 
 

Cider Brook

Author: Carla Neggers
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


Read this series backwards. Still all good. A great summer series.

My Kind of Wonderful

Author: Jill Shalvis
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


I read this series out of order, but it kept my interest. There are step-brothers & a step-sister reunited by default. Of course it was the Dad's fault and he wants nothing to do with what he has done.  Needless to say he left a ski resort, in ruins, to his kids. They want to prove him wrong. A feel good series.
 

Lord Dashwood Missed Out: Spindle Cove Novella

Author: Tessa Dare
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


Just trying to read through a series. It keeps my attention for a period piece, BUT AGAIN it will not make literary greatness! It is a great summer reading series.
 

Romancing the Duke: Castle Ever After Book 2

Author: Tessa Dare
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


Just trying to read through a series. It keeps my attention for a period piece, BUT it will not make literary greatness! It is a great summer reading series.
 

Belong to Me

Author: Marisa de los Santos
Stars: 4
Review by: Barb


This was a pleasurable book to listen to. A couple different stories going on that come together in the end with all seeming happy. Nothing earth shattering, but a pleasant book.
 

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Author:  Jan Phillipe Sandker
Stars: 5
Review by: a 'Retired Cat' - who likes to read!


I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  We all take our life for granted, but when we lose one of our senses, like seeing, for instance, our others become stronger!  This story would make a good movie!

Bookerfly

Bookerfly visits the Trent House in Trenton from Ann Marie

Bookerfly

Bookerfly visits the Old Barracks (Officers’ House) in Trenton from Ann Marie

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bookerfly

Bark in the Park from Patti K


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cod: a Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

Author: Mark Kurlansky
Stars: 3
Review by: Diana


A quick study of how the history of our world was affected by the cod.
 

Shaker Life, Work, and Art

Author: June Sprigg and David Larkin
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


An examination of the Shaker group - its origins, founders, where they still are today (yes, they do exist), their means of making their livelihood, devotion to their faith, and art techniques. What started off as a small, originally kinda Quaker organization mushroomed to thousands of followers generations ago but time and a key devotion to the faith - chastity - limited the amount of those born and raised into it, eventually reducing the amount of converts as time went on. I did like the founders' quote "there is no dirt in Heaven" not only for itself but as an explanation of what some have termed an extreme devotion to cleanliness in the society.
 

All the Presidents' Gardens

Author: Marta McDowell
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Nice for both historians and gardeners, as well as persons interested in architecture. A history of the White House landscaping and grounds, which really is not nearly as dull as it sounds at first. Beginning with John Adams, several of the Presidents occupying the White House had their own stamp on what should be planted and where - mother's favorite flowers, no - that is a symbol of X during this period, us memorial gardens and tribute centers, the sheep once kept to graze down the front lawn, and the various kitchen gardens (which I found interesting as I had just finished a book by Mrs. Obama on her garden where she repeatedly states it was the first of its kind - um, not even close).
 

The Invisibles

Author: Jesse Holland
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


An alright but not too distinguishing account of the lives of enslaved persons in the White House. Two presidents - John and John Quincy Adams, refused to keep slaves and were often derided for it. Tales of the others and the lives of some of the notables involved after each select presidency is over is what is included, but the book falls into the usual historical trap of saying or doing nothing new and being dull while doing it. Washington being kinda wishy ashy personally on slavery? Check. Jefferson - Lord, what a study in itself there (oddly enough, although he acknowledges the DNA evidence in regards to the latter and Sally Hemmings having children he still refers to it as "alleged"), Jackson, Madison (who doesn't sound like a beauty in this), etc. on up to the Civil War.
 

The Aviator's Wife

Author: Melanie Benjamin
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa


I highly recommend this book. It moved me in so many ways, so much so that I've begun to explore the Lindbergh legacy even more. It's crafted beautifully and I can easily see this as a major motion picture some day. No doubt this book will top the list of my favorite reads by the time the Adult Summer Reading Program ends.
 

The Good Good-bye

Author: Carla Buckley
Stars: 4
Review by: Just Ada


Keeps your attention to the very end.

X

Author: Sue Grafton
Stars: 3.5
Review by: mysterylover

I liked this book.  It was still in the usual format, but a bit different. Could have changed up the usual format way more.
 

The Vintage Caper

Author: Peter Mayle
Stars: 4
Review by: Minnie


If you enjoy wine or France you might enjoy reading this mystery.
 

American Grown

Author: Michelle Obama
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


This was nicely surprising. Written mostly by the first lady in cooperation with associates who have been working with her in the White House kitchen garden and also in then cooking the produce it is an examination of small to large gardens, a history of home gardening, and a few other things in between. Kind of eclectic at times but it works when she gets back to her point and stops chatting about her parents. Plans for the garden in each season (up to time of publication) are given and nice hints and other how tos are also indicated for the plants and products - even bees. (The tip to calm bees with water was learned from improvisation when visiting dignitaries were arriving and the bees were swarming unexpectedly.) It is organized by season and ends with a selection of similarly sorted recipes.

Bringing Home England

Author: Cheryl MacLachlan
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


This might have been better if the photographs were not so dated. They just seem steeped in a textbook on the 80s. But it was concerned on how to get a classically "English" look to one's home in terms of style and design. Color in contrast, rich woods, fabrics (lots of floral prints, open curtains without tiebacks going full to the floor), eclectic collections full on display, and lots of other how tos are covered. Things are organized of sorts by room with a section on gardens as well.

American Farmhouses

Author: Leah Rosch
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


No real organization, but a coffee table sized collection of period farm homes that have been restored (along with select plans, content, techniques, and the like). A bit more technical and much less "oooh, if we put this rock here it will look so pretty!" then the other books I have been running into lately tending to the yuppie decorating vein. This was more of a blend of country style and architecture.

Agatha Christie

Author: Gillian Gill
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Very dry, which is a shame as the author tried awfully hard to make her more interesting and relevant. It was a semi biography and examination of her work in critical context of its time. Was very plodding though and kept harping on a few things, and then once she was married to Max Mallowan the author repeatedly went on and on about how happy the subject became yet the book then zoomed along to an almost abrupt end and barely mentioned (if at all) a lot of her important works of the period. It just made no sense at times and conveniently ignored certain aspects of her life that ran counter to points it was trying to make at the time.
 

Washington's Monument and the Fasciationg History of the Obelisk

Author: John Steele Gordon
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


About 40% of this is on the Washington Monument. Properly it is a history of obelisks as monuments themselves and quite a dull ones at that. The parts on Washington are alright - the inspiration behind the monument, the insane costs behind fixing it (the repairs for the last earthquake alone, sheesh) and of course how it was put there to begin with. Other obelisks include Cleopatra's needle (with parts on how it was installed and passages time and again on her death, just in case you missed it the first time), other Egyptian ones, the obelisk in art and film, etc.
 

Eruption

Author: Steve Olson
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


I realized I was in trouble when the uppermost endorsement was by Simon Winchester. And therein lies the main problem with this. Where the author stays on point he is quite good and manages the convey the human aspect of the situation - the Mount Saint Helens disaster- quite well- but like Winchester spends an inordinate amount of time explaining scientific concepts over and over again without necessarily doing so in a clear manner. I know what a volcano is darn well, as does the average reader of this probably, so there is no need to go into an "untold story" when so many know what you are telling.
 

Leaving Everything Most Loved

Author: Maisie Dobbs
Stars: 5
Review by: Barb


Another good Maisie Dobbs story, recapping what happened in the past as well as an another interesting murder mystery. I'm wondering if this was meant to be the last of the series. It's not. Some interesting wedding and marriage happenings. Good read.
 

The Nightingale

Author: Kristin Hannah
Stars: 5
Review by: Chris L.


Satisfying story of 2 sisters' struggle to survive World War II in France.
 

The Last Holiday Concert

Author: Andrew Clements
Stars: 4
Review by: LZ99


Not an adult book--actually read it aloud to my school-aged children. Touching, thoughtful, plenty of discussion points from this one!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Congratulations to...

... our Week #2 Prize Winners:
  • Shapoppa
  • LG

Progress So Far

Click on image to enlarge.

Flight Patterns

Author: Karen White
Stars: 5+
Review by: a 'Retired Cat' - who likes to read!


I learned quite a bit about tending bees, and, as a 'retired' person, I need to head to Apalachicola, Florida, and taste the Tupelo Honey!  I've read all her other books, including the Tradd Street Series.  All were excellent!



Charm Bracelet

Author: Viola Shipman
Stars: 5
Review by: Keeread

Great, endearing story about families and listening to your heart. Story is told through the charms on the grandmother's bracelet.

The Duke of Wellington, Kidnapped!

Author: Alan Hirsch
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar

Dull and rather obvious in its conclusions. In 1961 Goya's "The Duke of Wellington" (a painting) was stolen from the National Gallery in London without a trace. Nobody knew a thing until the elderly Kempton Bunton came forward four years later with the offer to turn himself in fearing that another was about to. Or so he said. Later acquitted of stealing the painting (but found guilty of taking the frame - I crap you not) Bunton did the inevitable "I was framed" etc. with the also inevitable memoirs later on. But really, he was an ill person and claimed he conducted the heist with a 5 shilling disguise and a getaway car manned by a drunk? That's less probable than the one legged potential jewel robber in To Catch a Thief and inevitably that was how things turned out. The actual thief was Bunton's much younger son John who has basically gotten away scott free. My first problem was that the author tended a bit too much into Ocean's 12 theatrics. We don't really know everything that happened so there is no sense in making things sound more glamorous than they were. Second problem - it really should be painfully obvious that Kempton had nothing to do with the crime based on his physical limitations. He just literally could not do what he said. And third - far too much time was spent psychoanalyzing father and son. We know what they did already. Quit trying to pad the book out.

Sita's Ramayana

Author: Samhite Arni
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar

A graphic novel based off of the epic Ramayana, where the beautiful Sita is kidnapped by a demon and has to defend her honor to her spouse Rama after a series of adventures - later giving birth to his child and essentially proving her honesty years later. The retelling is nice in that it is more so from Sita's point of view but the overall and great problem is that the art is frankly terrible. Done by painter Moyna Chitrakar, the figures are simplistic, lumpy, and bear none of the dignity or grace befitting the piece. The monkey god Hanuman looks more so like a cross between Herman Munster and a constipated dog than a monkey. The art just looks like it was done by a child and it is so poorly executed at times as to be very distracting.

Great Houses & Gardens of New Jersey

Author: Caroline Seebohm
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

An examination of historic homes in the state possessing intricate, or at least somewhat notable, gardens. A good deal are somewhat local (Somerset County) although none are in this immediate area - a few by Princeton, the inevitable Cape May area, the places one would expect elsewise but sadly none here. A history of each building is given along with brief descriptions of the efforts undertaken to keep up the grounds in their current state.

The Disappearing Spoon

Author: Sam Kean
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar

I am not quite sure why I wasn't more fond of this. There were moments when the book was excellent but overall it did not leave a very memorable impression on me. Divided into 5 parts by general subject (overall history and creation of elements, nuclear chemistry, complex chemistry, elements as they relate to human character, and element science today more or less) the organization is done well and I would assume that even if I had no background in the field his explanations of higher concepts would be sufficient enough. The author addresses questions such as: why was Godzilla attacked with Cadmium tipped missiles? Why was a little lithium OK every now and then? And, of course, the titular matter: why should you never use gallium for a spoon? To answer these questions would be cheating of course but still - although he wrote the book with joy and a decent sense of humor about the topic I am unsure as to why I did not like it more. Perhaps because it did not say as much as I had hoped - at about 350 pages with ample photographs and large type one doesn't have that much room for text and actual observations tended to be somewhat brief.

Famous Works of Art and How They Got to be that Way

Author: John B. Nici
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

This book reminded me of something odd - about 5 years ago I had a sibling's ex smash a valuable camera of my mother's after he took some weird photos with it to show how artistic he was. I saw the photos he left and thought "hey...I can improve on his face easy!" and photoshopped his face into about 12 artworks I randomly picked, all of which are in this book. Shows you how iconic some pieces can be and you should've seen my mother's face with my American Gothic spoof of the Green Acres couple and the ex as Alfred the Pig. This was...interesting. First off - you really need a background in the field I think to properly enjoy this. The author frequently makes snitty little asides that to me made perfect sense, but explaining them to my husband for example I got a blank look every time. The tone is fairly scholarly with a wry tone and it is concerned why several pieces - the Sphinx, Tut's tomb, the Parthenon Sculptures, Apollo Belvedere, Nike of Samothrace, Birth of Venus, Mona Lisa, Sistine Madonna, The Burial of Count Orgaz, Aristotle Contemplating a bust of Homer, Washington crossing the Delaware, Luncheon on the Grass, The Thinker, Starry Night, The Scream, American Gothic, Migrant Mother, Guernica, Campbell's Soup, and the Vietnam Memorial - were created and more specifically why they got to be iconic. Although I do object strongly with calling the Memorial "art," although it is in a sense, that seems disrespectful to me, the rest of the book was handled fairly well. Nice summaries on the times the Mona Lisa was stolen, bits on how his widowed sister in law made Van Gogh an international name, controversies over repatriation and suchlike. These pieces are universal in their appeal and theme and the flow from one to another works really well.

The Victorian Garden

Author: Allison Kyle Leopold
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar

An examination of gardening as to how it fit into the Victorian psyche as well as basic land plans, methods and techniques. Would have been a lot better if it was not so drawn out. Similar statements kept being said and the writer was a bit too (no pun intended) flowery at times. More brevity would have been better.

Royal Faberge

Author: Caroline de Guitant
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar

This is more so a modern examination of pieces commissioned by the British royal family. When I saw the book and opened it quick I happened to open it to several imperial Easter eggs, which was what I wanted to read about especially granted the title. Instead I got this, OK but photos of cigarette cases and lumpy looking stone dogs hold very little interest for me. The only Russian Imperial eggs featured were ones that had been bought by the family.

An Amish Garden

Author: Laura Anne Lapp
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

Pleasant. Nothing more. Just a "year in the life" sort of examination of what an Amish family planted and did in their garden. Canning, the eternal radish season, problems with growing certain crops and methods they used to increase taste or yield, things like that. Only thing I thought was odd was that there were photos of what I presume were the family all over the book and having an aunt who was originally Amish I had been taught that they weren't supposed to have their photo taken. But it was a nice, quick examination into traditional methods.

The Lost Book of Moses

Author: Chanan Tigay
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar

There are books that are painful. That leave open, stabbing wounds of dullness. This was one of them. It managed to pass my ultimate "really crappy biography" test of that the central person of interest died. The silly book was so unfocused I didn't even realize it until I saw a date and recalled from prior research the man was dead. But more or less - in 1883 Moses Shapira shows up in London with ancient scrolls he says predate most Biblical material. A then leading expert said Shapira was a fraud and six months later the latter kills himself in disgrace. Point of the book was to illuminate Shapira's legacy and if his scrolls were indeed legitimate or not. But the author seemed a bit too full of himself sometimes - self referential, would go on for pages about side topics, and for those with knowledge of the case he said very little if nothing (at least for me) new.

Beach House Happy

Author: Antonia van der Meer
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar

I like architecture. But this was a bit too much in the vein of uppity yuppies showing off their summer homes. Liked it when it was down to the basics - styles of the homes, how they were built, and so forth. But if a person can afford a huge beach house I really don't give two figs about their problems with their architect. Or how original it is to use items from nature as decoration - statements like that were made quite often and it was starting to come across as the homeowners had the impression that going out and getting dirty was slumming. Oh well. At least I've learned that if I read anything by this author again and she calls the design "quirky" it translates in my own personal taste to "the walls look like a drunken Jackson Pollack attacked them with a chainsaw-style ugly."

A Year with the Queen

Author: Robert Hardman
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

Good, but not as personable as the companion miniseries, "Monarchy: Royal Family at Work" which it is paired to. But it is meant to show what the British royals actually "do" - what their jobs are, duties, efforts in supporting the country, etc. and for a year crews filmed the Queen especially with this in mind. A state visit to then President Bush is covered, various tours and other international affairs, and a bit of what it is like to live in and run the royal residences on a daily basis.

The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher

Author: Donald Bain
Stars: 3
Review by: jamBob

Typical Murder She Wrote story based in Cabot Cove, the world's murder headquarters! A local upstanding citizen is found murdered and bones found in his basement.

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

Author: Stephen Harrigan
Stars: 4
Review by: Just Ada

About Lincoln and the days before he goes to Washington.  Not factual, but it reads like it could be.

Star of Fortune

Author: Nora Roberts
Stars: 5
Review by: Rainbow

I really enjoyed this book and I can't wait till the other 2 books of the Guardian trilogy are available. 

Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures & Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

Author: Holly Madison
Stars: 3
Review by: Shapoppa

It was an interesting read, for sure, but in the end I wondered why, if things were so bad, did she not leave the Playboy mansion sooner? Hugh Hefner was described exactly as I figured he would be, yet, oddly, I felt that Madison wouldn't be where she is today without him, and therefore, that part of the story I found disingenuous. Yet, her personality comes across on the pages and it's hard not to like her.

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology

Author: Leah Remini with Rebecca Paley
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa

This book was eye-opening and insightful about Leah Remini and the "church" of Scientology. I've only watched a handful of episodes of King of Queens, yet the buzz surrounding this book had my interest peaked. It's a worthwhile read, if not as a memoir about the author, but for the inner workings of Scientology as a whole. Remini took a chance in exposing the corruption of this organization and I think she came out a winner.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering & Organizing

Author: Marie Kondo
Stars: 4
Review by: Mitchie L.

This book is a good read for anyone who likes or wants to be organized. Marie Kondo has some different and interesting ideas about organizing, discarding, and why we keep things that we don't use.  Her method may seem extreme and idiosyncratic, but if you keep an open mind, you can glean some good ideas (and have neater drawers).

The Summer's End

Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Stars: 5
Review by: LG

I am reading some of her books. I really like them.

Destiny Unleashed

Author: Sheryl Woods
Stars: 5
Review by: LG

She's one of my favorite authors.

Elegy for Eddie

Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Stars: 5
Review by: Barb

I enjoyed reading this ninth book in the Maisy Dobbs series. It's always good writing and a good story, intrigue, friendship, romance, emotion, and learning about oneself. I was a bit worried about Billy Beale in this story.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Just Jennifer


Don't miss these new books coming in July!
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Journalist Lo Blacklock has been writing for a travel magazine for over ten years without really making any progress.  Now, she is offered the assignment of a lifetime: a maiden voyage on an exclusive, very small, luxury cruise ship, The Aurora.  Lo is thrilled at the opportunity and is enjoying the North Sea scenery, the dinner parties with free flowing alcohol and the interesting guests, even if most of them are journalists.  One night, after drinking quite a bit Lo is certain she hears a body being thrown overboard from the cabin next to her and that there is blood on the divider between the two balconies.  The staff assures Lo she has just had a nightmare and that, in fact, Cabin 10 has been
empty for the entire cruise.  Lo is gobsmacked as she borrowed mascara from the woman in Cabin 10 just as the cruise began a tube of mascara that has now disappeared.  Sure that something is going on though not sure what, Lo begins to ask questions and look around not realizing that someone is watching her and doesn’t want her to learn the truth.  The events that unfold are frightening, if at times unbelievable, and news stories and e-mails at the end of chapters leave the young journalist’s fate in question.  Not as scary and taut as Ware’s debut thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood but nonetheless and interesting twist on Agatha Christie’s locked room mysteries.  

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Sam, his wife cellist Clementine and their daughters Holly and Poppy have been invited to Clementine’s oldest friend’s house for tea.  Erika has in turn, along with Clementine’s family, been invited to her next-door neighbor’s house for a barbecue.  Clementine and Sam agree, but the chain of events that is set off at Vid and Tiffany’s makes Clementine wish she had never gone to the barbecue.  In the two months since the barbecue, it hasn’t stopped raining and tensions that have always been below the surface between Clementine and Erika continue to mount and manifest themselves in most unexpected ways.  As Clementine and Sam and their children, Erika and Oliver, and Vid, Tiffany and their young daughter individually and together, deal with the events of the barbecue, truths about that afternoon and evening emerge, the effects even further reaching then they all originally suspected.  Told in alternating voices of the adults and in alternating times, past and present, not only is what occurred at the barbecue revealed, but so are petty jealousies, long held feelings of guilt and resentment, redefining relationships and changing lives forever.  


All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
One night at a party in a Connecticut suburb, young Jenny Kramer is raped in the woods.  When her parents meet her in the emergency room, they make the decision to have a drug administered to her that will make her mind forget the rape.  As Jenny’s body heals from the injuries she sustained, there is something in her psyche that is just out of her grasp and causing her more trauma than dealing with the emotions of the rape might have done.  As Jenny struggles, her parents try to help her as best as they can, but they are really not equipped for such things: her mother Charlotte pretends it never happened and her father Tom grows increasingly frustrated with the police department’s inability to find the perpetrator and her brother Lucas isn’t sure what to think.  The narrative is told from an unusual point of view which takes some getting used to, but once the narrator’s identity is revealed, it makes sense and adds another level to the story.  Full of twists and turns, along with ethical and medical dilemmas, this psychological thriller picks up speed until the very surprising, very unexpected conclusion.  
Arrowood by Laura McHugh
Arden has returned to her family home on the Mississippi River in Southern Iowa to mourn the loss of her father.  Overcome with memories, Arden relives the summer twenty years ago when her young twin sisters, Violet and Tabitha, were abducted, never to be found.  But the her house and the river hold many secrets and when a true crime writer arrives to tell Arrowood's story, Arden becomes determined to finally learn what happened to her sisters, no matter the cost, though she doesn't realize until it is too late, exactly what that cost will be.  With vivid imagery, the rivers and water playing a large part in the foreshadowing of events and a steamy Gothic atmosphere, Arden's grief is often tangible in this visceral novel.  

Killer Look by Linda Fairstein
NYC ADA and head of the Sex Crimes Unit Alexandra Cooper is staying at her Martha’s Vineyard home fighting to regain a sense of safety and security after being kidnapped and held hostage; with her is her boyfriend Detective Mike Chapman who is trying to be supportive of Alex without letting her wallow in her fear.  Alex is terrified to be alone but perks up a bit when she hears Mike talking about an unidentified woman who was pulled out of the East River.  Deciding to follow Mike back to Manhattan, Alex arrives in the middle of Fashion Week and though she is still on leave from the DA’s office, in the middle of a murder investigation with Mike and his partner Mercer Wallace, feeling a little more life her old self as she navigates the cut-throat world of fashion.  Once her boss, Paul Battaglia gets wind that Alex is back in the city, he attempts to contact her, not about her return to work, but about seemingly to either explain himself, or warn Alex away from what she suspects are some mis-dealings the up-for-reelection DA has had with a prominent minister.  Even on leave, Alex is back in her element investigating a murder with Mike and Mercer, slowly letting life heal herself and return her to her old self until a shocking and unbelievable ending promises to change this for Alex.  Though not one of the best entries, fast-paced investigations, tough, multi-faceted characters and on-going back stories make Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper series one not to be missed.

Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
From an outsider’s point of view, Madeleine Spencer has it all: a successful husband, a gorgeous Chicago condo and all the time in the world to volunteer and be a docent at her favorite art museums.  Five years into her marriage, however, Madeleine is finally willing to admit to herself that she married Philip because of her family’s expectations and that she is very unhappy, feels as if she doesn’t fit into the life she is living and is tired of his controlling ways.  Returning to her home town of Magnolia to visit her widowed mother, Madeleine is met with the surprise that her mother intends to sell the family home; Madeleine admits she was never terribly attached to the house, but feels wistful all the same.  Finding her grandmother’s Margie’s diaries detailing her life just after World War, Madeleine realizes she comes by her feelings of not fitting in but is given hope as Margie takes a trip to Europe as her cousin’s chaperone but ends up staying in Jazz Age Paris against the wishes and protestations of her parents.  As Madeleine rediscovers herself through these diaries and her time in Magnolia, she begins to paint again, a passion long forgotten, and learns more about her family, reconnecting with her mother who she always felt was disapproving and critical.  Madeleine, witty and kind, comes into her own during this time of rediscovery.  She quickly learns that other people aren’t going to change, you have to change and change your expectations and reactions to others and that it is okay not to do what is expected of you and often has the best results. 

Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt
Afton Tangler is once again a single-mother but as family liaison officer with the Minneapolis Police and a supportive sister is able to balance family life, bills and work.  She is called into meet with Susan and Richard Darden after their newborn is abducted from their affluent home, the babysitter hospitalized after the attack.  Afton has never been involved in a case as emotional as this before and as she works closely with Detective Max Montgomery, she begins to see some things that don’t add up and thinks that this kidnapping may not be an isolated case.  Montgomery trusts Afton’s instincts, as does his boss, and they allow her a little more leeway with her involvement.  Afton knows she and Montgomery must look at all the possibilities, but when things aren’t adding up, they know they need to look at the crime in a different light, especially after two more, seemingly unrelated deaths occur, but even though she is not a trained investigator, Afton knows there is no such thing as coincidence and with the tenacity of a dog with a bone continues with her gut instinct until it leads her to the truth, and a situation that puts her, and a newborn baby, in mortal danger.  Schmitt, who writes two longtime cozy series under the name Laura Childs, ratchets up the suspense in this grittier novel without sacrificing any of her trademark strong characterization and twisting turning plots. 

The Light Between Oceans

Author: M.L. Stedman
Stars: 5
Review by: Catdob

This story was so intricately woven with so many layers. The author has you rooting for every character and identifying with each and every one. Beautifully told and very original although it resonates with issues that people struggle with everyday.

The Ones who Matter Most

Author: Rachael Herron
Stars: 2.5
Review by: BNbook

Interesting story line, but way too much cursing.

Darkness

Author: Karen Robards
Stars: 5
Review by: Brenda M

Good thriller.  A few twists & turns to keep up the interest.  While no heavy love/sex, some descriptions are vivid so I do not recommend for younger teens.

The Total Package

Author: Janet Evanovich
Stars: 4
Review by: Brenda M

Easy read, different from her usual Stephanie Plum style of novel.  Basically a light romance around a football theme. No graphic scenes, but sex is included so I would suggest ages 16 + up.

Murder on the Rocks

Author: Karen MacInerney
Stars: 3
Review by: Minnie

Good light reading mystery series.

Summer Rental

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Stars: 3
Review by: Ann Mc

Light, fast paced beach read.

Wilde Lake

Author: Laura Lippman
Stars: 4
Review by: BKF

Family... and all the secrets a family has and withholds, from each other. Luisa Brant, is a smart woman and Howard County's first female state's attorney. As she tries her first case in her new position facts start unfolding that begin changing her perspective of her "entitled" family. Well written, the book held my interest until the last page.

The Light in the Piazza

Author: Elizabeth Spencer
Stars: 4
Review by: jamBob

This is a novella about a mother and daughter visiting Florence in the 1960s. The daughter is 26 with a childlike disposition due to an injury, however she meets and falls in love with a charming Italian man who seems to understand her innocence. The mother is in a quandary, wanting to do the best for her daughter and see her happy or should she tell the Italian family of the injury. I saw the movie starring Olivia De Havilland, Rossano Brazzi, George Hamilton just weeks before I visited Florence over memorial day weekend and read the story while I was there! Actually had dinner in the "Piazza." See the movie first, then read the book, both delightful.....Ciao!~

On the Island

Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Stars: 5
Review by: LG

One of the best books I ever read.

The Apartment

Author: Danielle Steel
Stars: 2
Review by: Pat I love books

The novel follows the lives of four women who share an apartment in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood in New York City. It was a typical Danielle Steel novel, predictable and somewhat unrealistic.

Outside the Lines

Author: Amy Hatvany
Stars: 3
Review by: Pat I love books

This novel explores the relationship between a daughter and her father whom she hasn't seen for over twenty years. Suffering from  a mental disease and alcoholism, the father, an artist, chooses to live on the streets. The daughter tries to find her father and then must come to grips with the reality of his decisions.

The Boys in the Boat

Author: Daniel James Brown
Stars: 5
Review by: Pat I love books

This book narrates the University of Washington eight-man crew team that went on to win the 1936 Olympic gold medal  in Berlin. Although the book discusses all of the crew members, it focuses on Joe Rantz. It's definitely worth reading.

The Widow

Author: Fiona Barton
Stars: 4
Review by:  Chris L.

Page-turner about a kidnapped two year old girl. Enjoyable read.

Two if by Sea

Author: Jacquelyn Mitchard
Stars: 5
Review by: Just Ada

Great story--sad, happy, scary.  Sorry it ended.

Mademoiselle Chanel

Author: C.W. Gortner
Stars: 3
Review by: DeckReader

Talented hard worker, deserved success.

The Short Drop

Author: Matthew Fitzsimmons
Stars: 4
Review by: DeckReader

Kept my interest.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Author: Sarah Vowell
Stars: 4
Review by: libraryaimee

I loved this history book about the Revolutionary War and Frenchman Lafayette's assistance.  I listened to it on audio which was read by the author...She has a bit of a Cindy Brady voice, but I got past it and ended up loving her narration.  She has a very droll wit and her delivery is very dry and funny!   If you are hazy on American History, I highly recommend this as a breezy primer!

The Stranger

Author: Harlan Coben
Stars: 4
Review by: bandit

Classic Harlan Coben!!

If You Only Knew

Author: Kristan Higgins
Stars: 3.5
Review by: bandit

I thought this would be a quick read like her previous books, but actually was a much deeper book which I enjoyed.

The Deadly Mantis

Author: Ian Thorne
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar

There sure were a lot of irradiated critters smashing the world about back in the day. Thanks to my husband's thoughtfulness on our anniversary, Amazon, and the fine folks of the Cleveland Public Library I now have a copy of a book I used to zealously hoard as a kid. And it feels really good. When the titular mantis (who is actually quite adorable) is awoken from the Arctic by pseudo scientific means - hey, it was the 50s, give anyone a lab coat and they're immediately a scientist in these movies - he goes on another equally adorable and predicable rampage through various models. Baltimore, Newark, and other cities lie in ruin! All the while the mantis' tale is being captured by plucky gal photographer Marge Blaine and Lt Col Joe Parkman: irritating everyman and Marge's snap in an instant love interest in the end. The mantis is finally trapped in a New York tunnel and is subjected to a barrage of deadly gas and Matchbox cars. Poor guy finally gives up and poor Marge finds herself in Joe's arms. The end.

Queen Elizabeth II: A Celebration of Her Majesty's Birthday

Author: Tim Ewart
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

This I liked. It was a souvenir sort of book - so there were plenty of photographs and the text was uncomplicated and didn't get political / blame sides, etc. as bios of her ilk can get - but it did mention a few up her downs as well as the ups. Things were more evenly covered and her entire family was given a pretty wide amount of credit for helping her, including Prince Philip, who many whom have lived in the UK (myself included) think deserve a lot more than the "Prince Consort" short shift he often gets, and the recent uptake in duties of her grandchildren Harry and William as well. A nice, fairly even overall compendium. Doesn't get too gritty - but who really publishes stories about labor riots and the like in a book meant to be a little fawning - but still serves as a good starting point.

Long to Reign Over Us

Author: The Royal Collection Trust
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

A compendium of the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II published in light of her becoming Europe's longest reigning monarch. Smallish size, said "souvenir" on the cover which explains a lot - not very much substance, but extremely well put together and presented. A nice general compendium of her reign that avoids all controversy.