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Mr. Churchill's Secretary: A Maggie Hope Mystery

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The cover blurb for this book compared it to the Maisie Dobbs series, and that's both a flattering and accurate comparison. The plucky (though I hate the word it works perfectly here) heroine fights the Nazis and the IRA, with the help of her assorted family and friends, to save the day in WWII London. The book does have some nicely suspenseful moments, and a few good twists. It's a quick read, and if you like the historical mystery/thriller genre you'll probably enjoy this as much as I did.
Doc: A Novel

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I grew up watching old westerns with my dad, so all the names in this story were familiar to me going in - Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson - but this story is very different from the others about these men. Mary Doria Russell's historical novels are always excellent, and this is no exception. Engaging characters, a fascinating period of American history, and a good story as well. Highly recommended!
Princess Elizabeth's Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery

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This historical mystery was a good read overall. I liked the characters a lot, though the plot seemed to have a few weak points. I also really liked the look at life in Windsor Castle during the war, and the young woman who would become Queen Elizabeth. I also read the first book featuring these same characters and think it's shaping up to be an interesting series. If you like this genre like I do, then this is a good addition to it.
French Kids Eat Everything ( And Yours Can, Too ): How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banished Snacking and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Healthy, Happy Eaters

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This book is the story of a woman's life, and her relationships with god, her community, her family, and her art. it was a fascinating look at a time and place that I didn't know much about, but beyond that it was just an excellent book. The writing was wonderful, and the characters fascinating. I would have loved to have learned more about any of them. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever struggled with competing obligations to family, faith, and self.
Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo

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This book is lovely. I've never read something that managed to be so absurdly funny (think runaway penguins) and heartbreakingly sad at the same time. I also really liked learning all the Tower history that's sprinkled throughout the book. The characters are all interestingly flawed, in a way that makes them engaging to read about, and makes it easy to care about their fates.
Minding Ben: A Novel

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In general I enjoyed this book. The peek at the West Indian diaspora culture in the early 90's New York was particularly interesting. The plot was fairly predictable, and the immigrant girl rescued by kind white man ending was ridiculous and unrealistic, but the characters were interesting enough to hold my attention. I liked that for the most part no one was cast as an obvious villain, they each got to have at least a moment of more rounded humanity.
Law of Attraction: A Novel

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I have to give Allison Leotta credit, because I did not see the end of this book coming. In general it's a pretty standard mystery/legal thriller, but the plot twist at the end is excellently done.Also, I loved her descriptions of Washington, DC. So many of them were places I visit regularly so it was great to see a novelist acknowledge that there is life in DC beyond the federal government.
Breakdown

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Another excellent addition to the V.I. Warshawski canon. This series started the same year I was born, but it still manages to seem fresh and up to date with each new book, and V.I. is still one of the best fictional detectives out there. In addition to the excellent mystery, full of plot twists and interesting clues, this book also addresses modern social issues around media, mental illness, and politics. If you like a little social commentary with your fiction you'll enjoy this book, if you prefer to keep your fiction in the realm of fantasy then this probably isn't the book for you.
Wicked Autumn: A Max Tudor novel

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This book is both an example of and an homage to the classic British village cozy mystery. All the usual suspects are there - the quirky characters that you'd expect to find in such a fictional village. The detective this time is an ex-MI5 agent turned Episcopal priest. I won't say much about the plot to give away the mystery, but it's a pretty quick read, and you won't necessarily guess the villain. All in all it's a fun read, enjoyable but light, and recommended if you like the genre.
Snakewoman of Little Egypt: A Novel

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I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book, but I enjoyed the ride. It's really the story of two people - Jackson and Sunny - figuring out what they want from life and how best to get it, and their thoughts about scholarship and religion along the way. The characters were well drawn, the plot had enough twists and turns that it wasn't predictable, and the more philosophical musings were interesting but not so overdone that they distracted from the story. It wasn't a gripping read, but it was a solid, well-written book. I'd particularly recommend it to anyone who works in academia, as they'll certainly recognize their colleagues in some of the characters here.
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