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2015 Sky's the Limit Club > Debbie's books of 2015

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message 1: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 1
Book: The Invention of Wings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Date: 10 Jan 2015
Review: Kidd picks a topic that should be interesting, but the actual story falls short of the expectations. The story presents a historical rendering of Sarah and Angelina Grimke, sisters who fought against slavery and marched for woman's suffrage. I felt that the story got lost in the multiple stories and that the characters lacked character. I prodded along with the story with an instant dislike of the sisters. None of the characters earned my admiration. I felt the characters weak even though the sisters fought against slavery while living in the South. Sue Monk Kidd's first novel presented interesting characters, but later novels lack character depth.


message 2: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 2
Book: The Bat
Author: Jo Nesbro
Date: 13 Jan 2015
Review: This is my first introduction to the Harry Hole series, and I am unsure if I will continue reading this series. The story centers on Harry Hole, a Norwegian detective assisting with a case in Australia. The story focuses on many issues in Australia such as the aborigines and the history of Australia; and all this from a Norwegian writer. Harry is an alcoholic and the case sends him into an alcoholic binge. Harry jumps from night clubs, strip joints, a circus, and an aquarium with ease. The story ends with the villain receiving due punishment, but the route is littered with dead blondes and unlikely vermin.


message 3: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 3
Book: Enter Pale Death
Author: Barbara Cleverly
Date: 17 Jan 2015
Review: I have always enjoyed the Joe Sandilands series, but this latest novel misses the point. The book rests its case on too much dialogue that sounds like uneducated dribble. I finished the book with very little sense of the area or the people. The bright star of the novel becomes an insignificant character, the vet Adelaide. Will Joe pursue this highly intelligent and fetching vet and leave Dorcas? Adelaide explains to Joe that he needs to step away from Dorcas and if interested in Dorcas to court her as a new woman and not as the young girl he met so long ago.


message 4: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 4
Book: Paragon Walk
Author: Anne Perry
Date: 22 Jan 2015
Review: I am on a collision course and I cannot stop. I have read all the Monk and Christmas series by Anne Perry, and have started on the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. The Monk series remains my favorite collection. The Pitt series lacks the depth and character of the Monk series, even though both series feature the different classes of people. Perry continues in the Pitt series to show the hate and vengeance of females. Perry elegantly describes the fashion of the upper crust, but emotion hides in this elegance.


message 5: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 5
Book: Bitter River
Author: Julia Keller
Date: 25 Jan 2015
Review: Julia Keller is a new author to me and I thoroughly enjoyed Bitter River. I listened to the book on CD and the reader did an excellent job. Keller's writing reminds me of listening to a lyrical poem, where the reader yo-yos between emotions. I could almost see every character and scene presented in the novel, due to Keller’s superb use of language. Keller depicts the grimy life and conditions of mountainous West Virginia in a manner that allows the people to stand proud. The people of a small town, Acker's Gap, seem to know everyone secrets, but still a few surprises remain as the story unfolds. Keller shows the emotions and hopes of the central character, Bell Elkins, a woman with doubts and uncertainty. After reading this novel, I am anxious to read the first book in the Bell Elkins series.


message 6: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 6
Book: Crazy Love You
Author: Lisa Unger
Date: 28 Jan 2015
Review: Unger presents a well written book about a graphic comic book author who battles with a ghost and his own demons. Priss, Ian's protector, comes to him in the woods behind his home, and later saves him being killed by his deranged mother who kills her infant daughter. As Ian's life progresses, Priss battles all Ian's enemies. The reader feels that Priss is one bad character, even though she is described as a young, thin girl. Fat boy Ian grows into a well-toned and wealthy man as a graphic comic book writer. A lovely woman and want-to-be writer enters Ian's life, and Priss's and Ian's anger escalate. The reader must determine if Ian causes the havoc, but spurred on by this waiflike Priss. At times, I liked the story, and other times, I only wanted to finish the book. Many of the characters seemed weak and non-existent. Unger's portrays the Priss's home in the woods with great detail, but other settings fall flat. No matter what, the book provides animated discussion.


message 7: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 7
Book: Blood Rubies
Author: Jane K Cleland
Date: 30 Jan 2015
Review: The Josie Prescott series revel in small town friendliness and companionship, but each mystery seems to follow the same format. Would you just love a watermelon martini? And isn't Ty the most understanding boyfriend? This installment features a pastry chef that bakes Faberge styled cakes, because her family claims to have an original Faberge egg, those famous and expensive eggs from Russia. Of course, each novel drills the reader on antiques and proving provenance. Cleland paints wonderful pictures of the characters and settings, but does winter exist forever? Blood Rubies falls into a cozy mystery, and that is not a bad category.


message 8: by Debbie (last edited Feb 01, 2015 09:03AM) (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 8
Book: Second Street Station
Author: Lawrence H Levy
Date: 01 Feb 2015
Review: I have never read any books by Lawrence H Levy, but since reading this book, I would be interested in reading more by Levy. I found myself angry at the description of Thomas Edison, and felt the author taking too many liberties, but found his accusations to be correct. The story presents much history with a little story woven into the facts. I liked Mary Handley for her determination and her frustrations. Levy reminds me of Shirley Tallman and her Sarah Woolson series set in San Francisco. Levy needs to develop his characters and setting a little, as I am lax in remembering Mary, except for her piercing blue eyes.


message 9: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 9
Book: Resurrection Row
Author: Anne Perry
Date: 03 Feb 2015
Review: I am on a Ferris wheel that cannot stop, and therefore I have finished number 4 of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series. Charlotte plays a very minor role in this story, but Aunt Vespasia returns. The story centers on corpses tuning up in unlikely place, and one poor corpse must be buried 3 times. Thomas must find the grave robber and the reason for this ghastly deed. Perry evicts talking of fashion in this novel, but spends much time on the plight of the uneducated and poor that frequent the workhouses. When one of the corpses happens to be an artist thought to be visiting Paris, the investigation sizzles. Perry omits much in this novel that sets her apart, such as characterization and setting. The emphasis rests on a few wealthy people attempting to pass legislation to aid the poor citizens of England.


message 10: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 10
Book: The Girls of Atomic City
Author: Anne Perry
Date: 04 Feb 2015
Review: A part of American history that seems incredible in the scope of the accomplishments. The situation unfolds in clouds of secrecy, and the reader wonders how the public remains ignorant of work. Kiernan presents a story that reminds me of Hitler's concentration camps, but with humane treatment of the inhabitants. These men and women came from all over the United States to aid in creating the atomic bomb that would bring WWII to a conclusion. Kiernan skillfully balances the story among the different sectors of the world that worked on this project. The detail became too minute at times, especially the discussion of the chemistry and the construction of the "city" in Tennessee. I enjoyed reading of the various individuals that worked on the project and the effect on their life. The book creates a sense of awe that the government orchestrated this production in such secrecy.


message 11: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 11
Book: Rutland Place
Author: Anne Perry
Date: 05 Feb 2015
Review: Charlotte Pitt is expecting her second child, but that provides no reason to stop her involvement in a crime. Carolina, Charlotte's mother, has lost a locket. The problem rests in the fact that the locket contains a picture of a man that is not her husband. Wonders never cease in thinking a grandmother might still fall in love and act foolishly. The story illustrates the conventions and limitations of English society. Perry does a wonderful job in showing real people with real feelings and human foibles. The men seem to play minor roles in the stories, whereas the women dig into secrets to reveal a decadent society.


message 12: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 12
Book: Bluegate Fields
Author: Anne Perry
Date: 07 Feb 2015
Review: This story involved more detail than the last few books, and moved quickly. A sewer worker finds the naked body of a wealthy youth. Pitt and the police surgeon discover that the boy has been murdered. Pitt begins the journey to uncover the nature of this violent deed. The police arrest Arthur's tutor, Jerome; and the jury convict Jerome of murder. In three weeks, Pitt must find the real killer before Jerome is hanged. Charlotte and Emily approach the grieving family in a quest to find answers. The characters are rich, but Perry hammers home the total degradation found in England for the poor. But that dilemma still remains. Perry’s description of the setting and characters brings all the horrors of life for the poor, and shows the lack of sympathy of the entitled.


message 13: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 13
Book: Natchez Burning
Author: Greg Iles
Date: 16 Feb 2015
Review: Even though I enjoyed the book, the story is too long and too many points remain unresolved. Greg Iles draws the reader into the story, but 36 hours of listening to the audio book turned into 36 hours of torture in Brody Royal's house of horror. The ending illustrates a modern gunfight at OK Corral with a few weary survivors remaining when the smoke clears. Iles masterfully utilizes language and provides vivid characters and settings. Torture and death glimmer in every scene, and love and hope hide in the most obscure scenes. Many scenes with Tom Cage remind me of the movie version of High Noon and also of To Kill a Mockingbird. Tom Cage stands as a gentle hero, but later another side of Tom's personality emerges. Brody Royal’s personality never changes, and Penn Cage mistakenly trusts Brody. The Biblical references, images, and struggles remain constant throughout the story. The play on black as bad and evil, and white as goodness and truth remind me of the movie High Noon filmed in black and white to stress goodness and evil in reverse. Again, the book is too long, and needed to be written as two or three books, instead of one long book.


message 14: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 14
Book: The Last Original Wife
Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
Date: 20 Feb 2015
Review: Just what the doctor ordered for the dreary winter days. I listened to the audio book version, and found the reader, Robin Miles, a little tedious with her Afro-American, Southern accent. Frank illustrates the comical side of a man's mid-life crisis when he must have the Barbie-doll wife, and replace the old, original wife. Leslie and Wesley have been married for decades, but Leslie discovers a bank statement and feels that Wesley has cheated her of a glamorous life of dancing, dining, and traveling. So, Leslie throws in the towel and moves to her brother's house in Charleston, and begins to live. The story remains light-hearted throughout, but serious moments do surface. The vivid description of characters and setting give the reader a glimpse into Southern living with men in seersucker and women residing in spotless homes. Frank’s presentation of the two Barbie wives that cannot even spell correctly is priceless. After listening to Natchez Burning, this book was a laugh.


message 15: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 15
Book: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Date: 22 Feb 2015
Review: I am not enamored by the writing of Chris Bohjalian, and this is my second attempt. This installation is a quasi-science fiction attempt, which leaves me feeling empty. The main characters is not likeable, and thus rests the story. First, I am not a fan of the science fiction genre, and therefore, I started off on the wrong track. The story starts very slowly, and seems to go nowhere.


message 16: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 16
Book: Top Secret Twenty-One
Author: Janet Evanovich
Date: 23 Feb 2015
Review: The story moves quickly, but follows the same pattern as all the other books in the Stephanie Plum series. Why do I continue to read, because my mother buys the books and then gives to me to read? What do I think? Stephanie needs to decide between Joe and Ranger, and if the choice was mine, the winner would be Ranger. Grandma Mazur and Lulu did not play major roles in this story, and the humor went south of New Jersey in this book. If you are looking for a mindless read, this is the book; with sex and violence thrown in for good measure.


message 17: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 17
Book: City of Dragons
Author: Kelli Stanley
Date: 24 Feb 2015
Review: Nothing like a new series to invigorate your reading, and City of Dragons stokes the flames. Kelli Stanley presents an image of San Francisco in 1940, as the threats of Hitler and the Japanese hinder the lingering aura of the Great Depression. Enter Miranda Corbie, a feisty and highly educated private detective. A Japanese youth dies in Miranda's arms and propels Miranda into drugs, sex, smuggling, and a world of unsavory characters. Stanley's language is rich, but Miranda and her love of Chesterfields provides too much smoke. Stanley skillfully omits much of Miranda's history, but provides little quips in passing. The book reminds me of the Shirley Tallman series, but Tallman’s character mingles with the upper crust of the 1890's in San Francisco, fifty years ahead of Miranda. Both Tallman and Stanley lean heavily on the glorious, if not defamatory history of San Francisco, and both create an interesting story.


message 18: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 18
Book: City of Secrets
Author: Kelli Stanley
Date: 26 Feb 2015
Review: Sometimes, I am amazed by what I do not know, and the eugenics in the United States during the 1930's to 1950's has really shocked me. I know about the terrible treatment of the blacks in the South, but this points to the perils of being Jewish in America, while Hitler exterminates European Jews. Miranda has not lost her grit and stamina, but her smoking has diminished, a little. Parts of the story sends chills up my spine, to think of the suffering of the oppressed. Stanley presents a San Francisco rich in history, crime, passion, and beauty. The characters are rich in detail from No-Legs to Duggan to Blind Willie to Ozzie. I enjoy the friendship among Miranda and Bente and Gladys and Allen. Little by little, the reader learns Miranda’s history, but still much needs to be told.


message 19: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 19
Book: City of Ghosts
Author: Kelli Stanley
Date: 28 Feb 2015
Review: The third book in the Miranda Corbie loses a little of the glamour and excitement of the prior two novels. The United States government enlists Miranda in the growing concern over the war in Europe. This story displays many disappointments such as Rick Sanders, Mark Gonzalez, James MacLeod, and Dianne, and this reader will not spoil the story of why so many disappointments. The story begins with Miranda focused on locating her mother in England, but the trip to England does not take place, but the reader receives snippets of information about those early days of Catherine Corbie. Miranda blindly rushes to save the world, and pays dearly for her courage and stubbornness. The language and setting are not as descriptive as in prior novels, and I miss that element. I enjoy the way that Stanley incorporates period music into the story, as well as the words of Shakespeare to introduce a new section.


message 20: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 20
Book: Wicked Autumn
Author: G M Malliet
Date: 03 Mar 2015
Review: Malliet's novel quickly ends with all the problems solved and the local residents returning to customary habits. This novel reminded me of the Grantchester series on PBS, but the time period differs. Nether Monkslip is a bucolic community in England, with a retired MI5 agent tending to the religion of his flock. Amid the joyous celebration for the beginning of autumn, a local woman dies under suspicious circumstances. Max and Detective Chief Inspector Cotton struggle to find the killer before another person dies. The local people are friendly, but guarded, and Max and Cotton misread the clues. Malliet writes a cozy mystery which omits graphic scenes of death. Max presents his reason for the change in profession, and drops a little sermon to the reader.


message 21: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 21
Book: The Empire of Night
Author: Robert Olen Butler
Date: 05 Mar 2015
Review: I am attempting to read all the books my mother gave to me, so this is not a book that I would pick to read. The series is Christopher Marlowe Cobb, an interesting name, but does not live up to the expectations. The premise of a mother and a so working together as spies during WWI might conjure a magical story, unfortunately the relationship skirts decency. Butler does an excellent job with characters and setting, but the story line falls short. The final scenes seem unrealistic. This is not a series that I will continue.


message 22: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 22
Book: The Welsh Girl
Author: Peter Ho Davies
Date: 09 Mar 2015
Review: I seem to have read too many war stories and they meld together. This story was too disconnected with the jumping back and forth of the different story lines, and the ending attempted to bring them all together. The setting provided a wonderful description of Wales and the Welsh people, but the character lacked depth. So many of the story lines had choppy events that transpired with no clear sequence. And of course, the Germans are portrayed as mean, inhumane creatures that batter their own troops. The story needed to be longer to give justice to the three characters, instead of flitting here and there.


message 23: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 23
Book: Guilty Wives
Author: James Patterson
Date: 10 Mar 2015
Review: At first, the characters and setting, led me to believe that this would be like a Harlequin romance, then the mood changed. I like Patterson's mode of writing short chapters, so the reader feels compelled to continue reading. Monte Carlo and France set the stage for a thrilling story about the prison and judicial system of France. Four beautiful and bored housewives go to Monte Carlo for a "girl's weekend", but the stakes run high and dry with the women accused of murder and sentenced to life in prison. The story takes many twists and turns before the ending resolution. Patterson drops hints throughout the story implicating the real murderers, but the adventure is fun. A book better than I expected due to learning about French prisons.


message 24: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 24
Book: A Fatal Winter
Author: G M Malliet
Date: 15 Mar 2015
Review: The story is especially interesting on audiobook, with the delightful narration of Michael Page. The characters bounce from the pages as truly sinister figures, and how to decide which is responsible for the deaths of the patriarch Oscar, Lord Footrustle, and his twin, Lady Baynard. Christmas sings through the chapters or well as the halls of Chedrow Castle, as Max aides Inspector Cotton in finding the killer. Malliet uses many references to The Bible, Shakespeare, and various famous movie lines to unfold the story. A gifted reader could write an excellent paper on all these allusions. In Nether Monkslip, the females plot to catch Max in a matrimonial web, which will be the lucky woman? A most delightful afternoon passed in a wonderful


message 25: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 25
Book: Orphan Train
Author: Christina Baker Kline
Date: 18 Mar 2015
Review: Kline presents an intriguing book about an era in America's plight of orphans. New York agencies corralled the city's orphans and coasted these helpless victims through various rural communities needing children to assist in farming. Kline's book runs a parallel story of an orphan from 1929 and an orphan from 2011, both girls falling into terrible living conditions. The book falls heavily upon the 1929 orphan, and the cadence of the train rising and falling through all the various stops along the way. Vivian and Molly complement one another in the quest for security and love in life, just as happiness seems to be within reach some calamity begins. Kline passes over many of the emotional scenes too quickly, especially the last chapter, with the scene missing feelings and seeming flat.


message 26: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 26
Book: Pagan Spring
Author: G M Malliet
Date: 22 Mar 2015
Review: I am thoroughly enjoying the audiobooks in the Max Tudor series---I do miss the character list at the beginning of each book and the guide to Nether Monkslip. This centers on spring, on rebirth, on love, but also mingles the horror stories of WWII. The characters jump out of the book and enter the reader's world. I adore the descriptions of the various settings and especially the talk of food. The book contains many surprises, which I will not disclose. A horrible, conceited actor dies and Cotton and Max must discover the killer. I must admit that I feared for the demise of Luther, but learned the Luther has returned to his previous home. I would love to find a list of the various characters that is sadly missing from the audiobook. A very pleasant adventure for an afternoon.


message 27: by Debbie (last edited Apr 02, 2015 02:33AM) (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 27
Book: Bertie Plays the Blues
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Date: 29 Mar 2015
Review: 44 Scotland Street characters create many emotions, especially Bertie, who never grows older than 6-years-old. The stories of Matthew and Elspeth and the triplets amuse the reader with the mixing of the identity of the boys and the sleepless nights until Anna, the nanny arrives. And the names for three little boys provides another laugh. Can anyone imagine growing up as Tobermory or Rognvald? Angus and Domenica waver between getting married and deciding where to live, as Pat runs into Bruce, and Big Lou bumps into an old boyfriend. Bertie decides his life is miserable with his tour de force mother, Irene, and plans to be adopted from an ad on eBay. What could be more fun than delightful characters and especially with Robert Ian Mackenzie reading the book? Alexander McCall Smith likes to instill a lesson into each story and this story dwells on love and understanding.


message 28: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 28
Book: The Accidental Empress
Author: Allison Pataki
Date: 01 Apr 2015
Review: The advertisement for the book provided more excitement than the actual book. The book recounts how Elisabeth marries Emperor Franz Joseph instead of her older sister. The story shows Sisi, her nickname, as a spoiled girl intend on getting her way. The story explores her many battles with her aunt, who is also her mother-in-law. Sisi does not want the life of royal brood mare and beautiful wife, and willfully battles her mother-in-law and court etiquette. The story diminishes the many conflicts during the mid-1800 in an effort to present only Sisi. The book is only a fictional account of Sisi, and stops before the suicide-murder incident involving her son, the Crown Prince Rudolph in Mayerling, and the stabbing death of Elisabeth.


message 29: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 29
Book: A Demon Summer
Author: G M Malliet
Date: 03 Apr 2015
Review: As Louise Penny does in The Beautiful Mystery, G M Malliet sets the story in a religious stronghold. Malliet sets her story in a nunnery, while Penny set her story in a monastery. Both stories outline the simple life within the walls, and the difficulties that must be avoided. The livelihood of the group demands loss on individuality. Assigned positions remain for life or when the sister can no longer serve. These women live without telephones and televisions, and maintain periods of utter silence. I must admit that not many women are meant for this life of solitude and fortitude. All work and most provisions are found within the walls of this dormitory. Malliet introduces each chapter with one of the Orders rules. Malliet writes lightly of the trials and tribulations of the order of Saint Lucy, but the reader glimpses the undercurrent of a rigorous life. I missed the people from Nether Monkslip, as this latest Max Tudor book focuses on Monkbury Abbey and the Handmaids of Saint Lucy.


message 30: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 30
Book: The Angel Court Affair
Author: Anne Perry
Date: 08 Apr 2015
Review: Anne Perry presents a book that goes to the heart of religion, and what an individual may believe. The story describes Sofia Delacruz as an ardent religious crusader, who leaves her home in Spain to warn her cousin in England of a hoax that will ruin him. After speaking briefly of her beliefs, men kidnap Sofia and two of her female followers. The story hints at the love between husband and wife, and the many secrets that each person hides. Lady Vespasia has recently married Victor Narraway and the interactions between this older, newly married couple depict the joys, worries, and emotion of love. The union between Sofia and Nazario Delacruz shows the strength of love and devotion. I felt the story compelling, but felt that many threads of the story remained hanging in the breeze.


message 31: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 31
Book: Sunshine on Scotland Street
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Date: 14 Apr 2015
Review: 44 Scotland Street is my favorite Smith series, I especially love Bertie. In this episode, Bertie plans to take care of Cyril while Angus and Domenica go on a honeymoon. Of course, Irene, Bertie's mother, drives Cyril to madness, and Cyril must go to another house. The wedding of Angus and Domenica owes much to the assistance of Matthew. Smith presents heated topics in an elegant narrative. Bertie struggles with his mother's iron control of his every breathing hour, but Stewart seems to be aiding and abetting in his son's small freedoms. Stewart has even thought to have a DNA test on Ulysseus. What boldness! I must admit that the chapters dealing with Bruce provide only resentment and anger, but Smith probably plans this move. I prefer listening to an audiobook due to the excellent reading by Robert Ian MacKenzie.


message 32: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 32
Book: A Dangerous Place
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Date: 16 Apr 2015
Review: I have greatly missed Maisie Dobbs, and this novel skipped a chunk of her life, but then filled in snippets here and there. The story begins tragically for Maisie, and her grief and sorrow follow the whole story. Winspear does an excellent job incorporating the pain and sorrow into the thread of the story. Maisie embarks from India to England, but leaves the ship in Gibraltar for personal reasons only to discover the body of a murdered man. The story follows the raging war with different factions in Spain, and the intrusion of Italy and Germany into the moray. This battle brings back painful memories for Maisie as she must learn to follow the teaching of her mentor, Maurice. Winspear builds elaborate settings, but her characters lack of depth of personality.


message 33: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 33
Book: A Fine Summer's Day
Author: Charles Todd
Date: 20 Apr 2015
Review: When I first started to read this book, I was not in the right frame of mind, so I waited and restarted reading. I really enjoyed learning about Ian Rutledge and her family and co-workers in this looking back book. Ian has probably made the biggest mistake of his life, but the war steps in to dissolve the error. The characters jump off the pages, especially many of the minor characters. Ian rushes between Jean in London and his duties in several surrounding villages due to many suicide or murder investigations. The reader is forewarned of the murderer, but not given the criteria for killing each man. The tension builds in Ian's cases, as well as in Europe with the threat of war. The ending brings resolution and closure, but in an obscure method. I could not stop reading and finished the book, even though I needed to go to bed.


message 34: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 34
Book: The Dream Lover
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Date: 25 Apr 2015
Review: I have read and enjoyed many books by Elizabeth Berg, but this book felt like an albatross hanging around my neck. A fictional account of the life of George Sand, the scandalous writer in the 1830's, screams for romance, rebellion, and courage. Berg's novel lacks emotion and structure. Many writers jump from narrator to narrator, or from early life to later life, but Berg's writing of young Aurore and careless Aurore jerks the reader back and forth without any consistency. The first person narrative in this novel does not work, as Aurore/George seems selfish and demanding, and incapable of love and responsibility. I struggled with the book, and never gained any appreciation for the style or content.


message 35: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 35
Book: Children of the Revolution
Author: Peter Robinson
Date: 28 Apr 2015
Review: I am really enjoying audiobooks, since I can knit as I listen. This story by Peter Robinson brings back memories of the 1970's, of course, I was not a flower child or hippie. Robinson incorporates music into every story and his choices remain eclectic. This story centers on the death of a ravaged and downtrodden professor, and the various people within his circle. Robinson paints a descriptive setting, along with vivid characters. The ending sends a lesson that sometimes the whole truth hurts more than a white lie, and Robinson must decide which route to follow. Many events of the story bring comic relief, as the music reminds the reader of the chorus in a Greek tragedy.


message 36: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 36
Book: Calling Me Home
Author: Julie Kibler
Date: 06 May 2015
Review: Kibler tells a good story, but I felt that this incident could not have happened in Kentucky in the 1940's, and for this forbidden love to have lasted a lifetime is amazing. I liked the two narrators of the story: Dorrie and Isabelle. Each woman presented a life full of hardships and happiness, but many of the relationships did not ring true. The story foreshadows the ending, which seems bittersweet. I enjoy Dorrie's humor and Isabelle's patience, but their relationship seems unreal. Kibler holds the reader's interest by withholding the reason for the trip "up north". The story seems to be like Driving Miss Daisy in many scenes, where people do not understand a young black woman and an old white woman riding together in a car for so many miles.


message 37: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 37
Book: The Valley of Amazement
Author: Amy Tan
Date: 13 May 2015
Review: Tan writes exquisite books about the Chinese life and culture, but this book went into explicit detail and then quickly ended and attempted to tie loose ends, but left many strands floating in the breeze. Tan spends numerous pages on Violet, a sizable time on Lulu, and a fleeting conversation on Flora. I felt stranded in thought about the outcomes of various characters in the story. The hardships constantly plagued Violet, and just when the route seems even, another boulder lands in her path. Lulu and Flora retreat to the background and only reappear towards the end of the saga. Rich language and colorful descriptions enhance the story about the life of a courtesan in China in the 1910's. I enjoyed the book, but found the book contains too little narrative on Lulu and Flora and other minor characters.


message 38: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 38
Book: St John's Folly
Author: Kathryn R Wall
Date: 17 May 2015
Review: Kathryn R Wall, recovering from the recent death of her spouse, explores the tragedy of dementia in this latest Bay Tanner mystery. Bay Tanner has her own unresolved problems, such as the possibility of being a full time mother to her niece and nephew. Unlike Deborah Knott in the Margaret Maron series, Bay is extremely self-centered and does not seem capable of becoming a mother to her husband's child (ren). Old cases haunt Bay, and turn one of the victims into a stalker. I enjoy the familiar style of Wall, and the predictably of Bay and her quirky habits. I feel the relationship between Bay and Red is unstable, and headed for disaster. I can foresee a break with Red, and a return to her home and a renewing friendship with Julie, her half-sister. As usual, Wall presents a story with a little meat thrown into the mesh.


message 39: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 39
Book: 11th Hour
Author: James Patterson
Date: 25 May 2015
Review: I did not find this book as interesting as the other books in the Woman's Murder Club. The story centers on women, and the men seem to be shadowy figures. A very pregnant Lindsay Boxer rushes to find a gruesome killer that beheads the victims, and buries the heads in a movie star's lawn. Plus Lindsay is also searching for a rogue policeman that is handling justice his own way by killing drug lords. Of course, Lindsay in her unbalanced hormonal world, believes her husband is seeing an old flame. Many of the scenes are hilarious, as Patterson utilizes comedy to balance the tragedy of the situation.


message 40: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 40
Book: Plum Island
Author: Nelson DeMille
Date: 30 May 2015
Review: This was not a series that I will enjoy, and this will probably be the only book of the John Corey series that I will read. John Corey, is a self-centered jerk that thinks every woman lusts after him. Right now, he is a policeman that lounges and convalesces in Long Island from a gunshot wound received in the line of duty. The story is told by John, and the reader hears or reads all his terrible habits. While recuperating, John is asked to assist in a double homicide of scientists on a special and restricted island. The story spends numerous pages discussing germs and potential diseases to use as threats to other nations. The last portion of the book is devoted to a hurricane and a mock sea battle in the quest for lost treasure. I was glad for the book to finally end.


message 41: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 41
Book: Hush, Hush
Author: Laura Lippman
Date: 31 May 2015
Review: Laura Lippman has not written a Tess Monaghan book in a while, and I had almost forgotten the various relationships. Ms. Lippman brings into this story a mother hurting or killing her child, and the ramifications of that act on the family. In this book, Tess is now a mother a 3 year old Carla Scout, and still not married to Carla Scout's father, Crow. The story begins with a video session, and in my opinion, sets an offbeat tone for the novel. I felt confused and could not understand the dynamic. The characters have many layers, and personalities change; and the reader lumbers along trying to make sense of the actions. Many of the relationships are forced and sketchy, and senseless text messages instead of a chatty and lengthy letter. Is the written word doomed?


message 42: by Debbie (last edited Jun 09, 2015 02:39PM) (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 42
Book: Dry Bones
Author: Craig Johnson
Date: 05 Jun 2015
Review: The better authors wait longer periods before releasing a new novel. The Walt Longmire series on television will soon return, just as Craig Johnson finishes a new novel. Many of the retainers from the prior novels make cameo appearances. Johnson writes a very short novel this time, as if he does not have the time to invest in a detailed story. Cady and baby Lola return to Wyoming for a visit, only to need to return home quickly. Emotions vanish into the horizon as the story rushes to a conclusion. The mysticism of the prior novels, briefly makes an appearance. After reading the novel, I felt cheated. I felt that many plots careened into the canyon like a train heading for a collision course. Johnson writes beautiful setting and characters, but this novel misses the ride into the sunset.


message 43: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 43
Book: Malevolent Muse-the Life of Alma Mahler
Author: Oliver Hilmes
Date: 03 Jun 2015
Review: I had never heard of Alma Mahler, and found the biography interesting. Hilmes writes objectively about his subject, yet shows the dynamic personality of this resourceful woman. Alma influenced many important men of the 20th century, as a wife, mistress, or friend. Alma's acquaintances read like a chapter in Who's Who. Hilmes skillfully presents the years, the decades, and the various periods with humor and wit, and an understanding of Alma's role in the picture of the time. As usual when presenting a biography, the author shows his own perspective of the events and people, but Hilmes attempts show Alma's flaws and assets. I enjoyed reading this vibrant story.


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Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 44
Book: Last One Home
Author: Debbie Macomber
Date: 08 Jun 2015
Review: Debbie Macomber writes gushy novels in which the characters are usually nice and predictable. The story follows a set pattern for a romance story, but Debbie inserts meaty discussion on Habitat for Humanity and spousal abuse. Three sisters approach maturity at different levels, with the father's favorite daughter running away with a sweet talker and throwing caution to the wind. Now after 14 years, the three sisters will reunite and learn the problems that each sister has encountered. The sisters forgive and forget too easily, and the sense of jealousy does not enter the story. All sisters experience jealousy, so why is this overlooked. I admired Cassie's resistance to jump into a marriage that would end all her financial woes. As always, Debbie Macomber presents a nostalgic word picture, as Norman Rockwell illustrates a picture of the past.


message 45: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 45
Book: Under Magnolia
Author: Frances Mayes
Date: 16 Jun 2015
Review: The audiobook reading was humdrum and uninspiring, even though the subject matter could be interesting. Mayes seems to be wearing rose colored glasses as she breezes through her past. Frances omits much of the information in her quest for depicting truly Southern characters. To listen to Frances, she grew up in an uncaring home with two older parents bored with children and with life so much that booze became the cure-all. Frances seems like the head strong Isabelle McAllister in Calling Me Home, both believe what they do is the Gospel and neither seems to honor their parents. At the ending of this story, my journey into Southern novels needs a rest.


message 46: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 46
Book: Murder on Amsterdam Avenue
Author: Victoria Thompson
Date: 25 Jun 2015
Review: I had forgotten that I enjoy this series that is a gentle mystery that imparts a history of the 1890 New York City. The ending is no surprise, but a pleasant ending to a story. Sarah and Frank rush to find the murderer of the son of a wealthy man, who is a member of the Knickerbocker Club. Ms. Thompson goes into all the restrictions of New York society, and the many prejudices that linger from the Civil War. The lot of the Italians and the Negroes came as a surprise to me. Frank is busy renovating the house so that he and Sarah can be married, and of course, Frank no longer works as a New York detective. Thompson creates many nuances within her story of the distinctions of class.


message 47: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 47
Book: All the Single Ladies
Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
Date: 05 Aug 2015
Review:I adored Frank's novel, The Last Original Wife, but this latest novel dragged. The format of all these slightly older single ladies exploring life could be interesting, but after the many humorous passages in the last novel, I had to force myself to finish the book. None of the characters stand out as remarkable. Maybe, I was not in the right frame of mind for this book. I would glimpse a spark of hope, but the fire quickly died. Every person is allowed a bad day, and this novel appears as one of those days.


message 48: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 48
Book: Silver Linings
Author: Debbie Macomber
Date: 17 Aug 2015
Review: Debbie Macomber presents an interesting novel in Silver Linings. Macomber gives the readers a message or hope and forgiveness, and that with love and understanding, anything is possible. I enjoyed the homecoming motif that contains many levels of returning to the past. The book hinges on that warm and cozy formula with little road blocks scattered at different intervals, but a message of hope prevails. The characters offer little dimension, as the novel is too brief to fully develop personalities. I enjoy the carefree and simple lifestyle prevalent in a Debbie Macomber novel.


message 49: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 49
Book: The Sparrow Sisters
Author: Ellen Herrick
Date: 19 Aug 2015
Review: What a wonderful novel for a few rainy days! Ellen Herrick presents the enchanting Sparrow sisters: Sorrel, Nettie, and Patience; and the mischief begins. Again years with the old doctor, and very few outsiders, a young, new doctor enters town. Henry Carlyle's appearance sets off a disturbing chain of events within the New England town of Granite Point. Herrick conjures a town trying to enter the 21st century, but still based in the 1600's superstitions. Patience reigns as the center of the story, but other characters surround her. Ben, madly in love with Nettie, serves as a Greek chorus whispering the history of the Sparrow sisters and the town of Granite Point. Ellen Herrick presents a bewitching introduction to the story, and ends with a hint of more to come.


message 50: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 371 comments Number: 50
Book: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Date: 22 Aug 2015
Review:I first read Jane Eyre over 50 years ago, and could not believe how much I enjoyed the book. Bronte's descriptive vocabulary made every scene so dimensional. I remember reading some other authors of this period and the story was not related as well. I did not recall the book being so lengthy, but maybe my version was a shortened child's version. I was dismayed that Charlotte used certain words repeatedly, such as ejaculation. Probably the word has a different meaning during this period in England then the present day definition. The characters are human with many foibles, instead of being polished and glamorous figures. A delightful listening.


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