auntieknickers

Reviews
More
Elegy for Eddie

by

Maisie Dobbs, psychologist turned private detective,returns in this 9th book in the series. While many of the earlier books dealt with the obvious aftereffects of the Great War, Elegy for Eddie finds England preparing -- or not preparing -- for World War II, though most of the country doesn't know it yet. It's 1933, and Adolf Hitler has just come to power in Germany.I was not as impressed with this book as I have been with the past ones. While some reviewers liked the continuing development of Maisie's character, I find myself wishing she'd just get over herself and also stop wondering "What would Maurice do?" at every turn. The plot, particularly the ending, was unsatisfying too. And yet -- I'll read the next book in the series, out soon, and probably as many more as Jacqueline Winspear cares to write. My dissatisfaction with Maisie is also an indication of how real she has become for me. And, of course, Winspear has cleverly set her books in my favorite time period, and it will only get better as England lurches toward her finest hour.
A Mortal Terror

by

Billy Boyle, whom we've met in five earlier tales of World War II, is now in Italy as the Allies move north. What appears to be a serial killer is targeting U.S. officers, moving up the ranks and leaving a playing card on each body. Billy investigates while also worrying about his lover Diana, under cover at the Vatican, and his brother Danny, a college boy now in the Army. These books are so good, you almost don't want the war to end. Recommended.
11/22/63: A Novel

by

I've finally done it -- I've read a Stephen King book all the way through. A time travel story can always draw me in, and this one had the novelty of having the traveler back in time go to a time I lived through. Plus, the story begins in Lisbon Falls, Maine -- a neighboring town I've been visiting and passing through all my life.By now you can probably figure out the basic plot. Jake, a high school English teacher, is shown a time-portal by his dying friend Al and entrusted with a mission to prevent JFK's assassination. The portal always takes him to the same day in 1958; he makes a couple of practice trips, preventing other deaths, before he settles down to the business at hand.Time travel, like other fantasy, must have rules; the rule Jake is told from the outset is that each trip back resets history to the way it was before he meddled.It's difficult to say much more about the plot without spoliers.The book has most of the traits that have kept me from ever finishing one of King's books in the past. It's wordy, padded with brand names, and it's evident that no one bothers to edit of fact check King's books. (One scene that almost had me fling the book across the room: Jake is trying to locate a family in a strange town, but he only knows the last name. He goes to the library, in 1958, and asks to see the 1950 census. The librarian, instead of laughing at him, sends him to the town hall. Given that King was probably writing this book during or shortly after the 2010 census, one would think he would have known that census results are kept under wraps for 72 years.)Still, the book held my interest, although I found the ending disappointing. I enjoyed the time travel and suspense, but even more I liked that I felt King used this book as an exercise in personal time travel. Jake, the protagonist, is a high school English teacher who directs the school plays and lives in a small Maine town. He has ambitions to be a writer. In other words, his life (minus the time travel) could easily have been Stephen King's life if a few things had gone differently. Despite its flaws, this was a hard book to put down, and I'd recommend it especially to people who like time travel stories.
Summer of Love

by

Another of Katie fforde's charming romances. Sian and her young son Rory have moved to a country village, where she hopes to find a better school for Rory and space for her furniture-decorating business. Older neighbor Fiona takes her under her wing and Sian is beginning to settle in when Fiona's world-explorer son arrives and the cozy village life becomes much more exciting. Quite a bit happens on the way to the happy ending. I like fforde's books because the protagonist is always doing interesting things, not just waiting around for Mr. Right. Recommended.
The Sisters Brothers

by

I really wish I had written this review while the book was still fresh in my mind. I actually listened to it on Audible; it was a wonderful experience.I've not read very many of what I'd call "Westerns" but this is one, albeit a very different sort of Western. Set during the California Gold Rush, it is the tale of Charley and Eli Sisters, two brothers who work as hired guns for a Godfather-like character in Oregon City. Sent to California to track down and kill a certain man, they are somewhat caught up in the gold fever themselves. One of the key episodes verges on science fiction; there is also plenty of humor in the book. For much of the story, Charley and Eli engage in almost thoughtless violence, so be forewarned and don't read it if you can't bear that sort of thing. But this was one of the best and most memorable books I read in 2012 and I would recommend it most highly.
A Perfect Proposal: A Novel

by

Sophie is the organized, practical one in her snobbishly academic family, and has spent her life sorting them out with little recompense or respect. She jumps at a chance to leave England for New York and a nanny job -- but when she gets there, the job has disappeared. A chance encounter gets her an invitation to spend Thanksgiving in Connecticut with her wealthy older friend - and a budding relationship with the grandson. The course of true love never runs completely smoothly in fforde's books, so there will be many misunderstandings and adventures along the way. Quite an enjoyable way to spend a few hours -- fforde has a keen eye for human foibles and a talent for creating lovable protagonists. Recommended.
Murder With Peacocks

by

The mystery discussion group I sometimes attend at the library was discussing humorous mysteries, and since I don't care for Janet Evanovich's books, this was the suggested author. I enjoyed this tale of a single woman who comes home to help with an over-the-top wedding, solves a murder, and finds romance. I'll probably read some more of the series now and again.
Watching the Dark: An Inspector Banks Novel

by

I've been told (source uncertain) that there are only two plots: a hero goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town. I don't know about that, but this latest entry in the DCI Banks series fits the first category nicely. Every long-term series, but especially police procedurals, seems to come up with two storylines at some point: a member of the protagonist's family is involved (as in Robinson's last Banks book, Bad Boy) and the protagonist must go far from his own jurisdiction to solve a crime, as in Watching the Dark. Robinson, of course, has handled both these scenarios brilliantly.When an older cop, convalescing at a police infirmary, is shot to death with a crossbow (!!), leaving behind some compromising photos, the investigation takes Banks to Tallinn, Latvia and international people-trafficking criminals. But it also involves Banks in trying to solve a cold case -- the disappearance of a young Englishwoman 6 years earlier in Tallinn, the murder victim's one unsolved case.A new character, Joanna Passero from Professional Standards (what we'd call Internal Affairs, the cops who investigate other cops) is involved much against Banks's will; one wonders if she'll show up in future books.Meanwhile, back in Yorkshire, events continue to transpireand DI Annie Cabbot, finally recovered from injuries suffered in Bad Boy, is happy to be back at work and worried that the Superintendent thinks she may not yet be fit for duty. Ably assisted by DS Winsome Jackman -- I'd love to see Winsome get her own case one of these days -- Annie solves her part of the case too. It's good to have Banks, Cabbot, and Jackman back on the job. Highly recommended.
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

by and

I had meant to read this memoir when it was first published, but somehow never got around to it. I did read Janzen's second volume of memoirs, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?, but it didn't inspire me to rush out looking for Mennonite.... However, the other day there it was at a library book sale, and I am so glad. Not that Janzen doesn't say some very worthwhile serious things in this book, but what I really enjoyed was the humor. I got more good outloud laughs from this book that any since the last Bill Bryson book I read. The nicest thing about Mennonite... is that the humor is not mean-spirited. Janzen clearly loves her parents and the other elderly Mennonites they hang out with. Even as she realizes afresh that she really no longer belongs in their world, she appreciates the good things from her upbringing in the faith. If Rhoda Janzen writes a third volume of memoirs, I'll be sure to read it.
scribd