MamaSylvia's Reviews


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If you're looking for something to read that will suit your taste, it helps to know what a reviewer looks for when deciding whether your taste is similar. I look for an involving story, likeable characters who feel real, and no "deus ex machina" endings or "with this clue that I'm not going to share with the reader, the hero knew whodunit" - I've been known to throw a book across the room when I run into those. I prefer a cheery feel but a few dark/gloomy series are also on my favorites list, such as Ian Rutledge. If a story doesn't start fairly quickly, or if it doesn't hold my interest, I give up on the book. Each review starts with a brief plot description, ideally without spoilers. The second paragraph is what the reviewer thought of the book and why. 1 star is awful, 5 stars is great, NR means I didn't finish it or rate it, usually because I discovered it was a genre I don't like. Hope you enjoy!

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Author: Ambrose, Elaine
Title: Midlife Cabernet: Life, Love and Laughter After 50
Genre: Humor
Rating: 3
Collection of somewhat-humorous essays on various aspects of aging, including romance and sex, aging parents, adult children, and the joys of grandchildren.

I borrowed this book through Amazon Prime. Not being a wine fancier, all her discussion of fine wines flew right over my head and left me yawning. But even with that limitation, her essays were mildly amusing at best, and often ended with a preachy list of "life lessons" that anyone our age already knows. It felt like she couldn't figure out whether she was wearing her humorist hat or her motivational speaker hat while writing these essays. Not awful, and I finished the book, but not something I'd pick up again or give to a friend. Spelling, grammar, and Kindle formatting were acceptable.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/04/2015


 
Author: Doherty, Paul C. as P.C.
Title: Murder Wears a CowlHugh Corbett # 6
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 4
King Edward sends the newly knighted Hugh to find the killer of London's whores and uncover the secret mission of a French spy.

Although the story itself was adequate, I found Hugh's family details tedious and distracting. The title was very appropriate.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 11/13/2014


 
Author: Challinor, C.S.
Title: Murder in the RawRex Graves # 2
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 4
Rex is summoned to the Caribbean to investigate the disappearance of a lovely young actress from a clothing-optional resort, but one surprise after another culminate in another death.

Decent story, although I've been to St. Maarten so I found myself somewhat distracted by memories. The title reflected the setting but the fact that many people walked around without clothing was totally irrelevant to the mystery.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 11/10/2014


 
Author: Ashley, Mike, ed.
Title: Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives
Genre: Historical Mystery
Rating: 4
Another Mike Ashley-edited collection of short historical mysteries, this one covering prehistory to the 1930s. Includes: Death in the Dawntime, The Judgment of Daniel, Death Wears a Mask, The King of Sacrifices, The Three Travellers, The Case of the Murdered Senator, A Mithraic Mystery, Abbey Sinister, The Two Beggars, The Investigation of Things, The Midwife's Tale, The Duchess and the Doll, Ordeal by Fire, The Chapman and the Tree of Doom, The Murder of Innocence, Cassandra's Castle, Man's Inherited Death, The Curse of the Connecticut Clock, The Scent of Murder, The Inn of the Black Crow, The Spirit of the '76, Deadly Will and Testament, The God of the Hills, The Admiral's Lady, The Eye of Shiva, The Trail of the Bells, Murdering Mr Boodle, The Phantom Pistol, The Adventure of the Frightened Governess.

Decent collection with a LOT of variety, and truly mammoth. Mostly solid stories, although I can't forgive the Sollius the Slave Detective story resolving with a deus ex machina.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 11/07/2014


 
Author: Ashley, Mike, ed.
Title: Mammoth Book of Roaring Twenties Whodunits
Genre: Historical Mystery
Rating: NR
Collection of short mysteries by various authors, set in the U.S. and Europe during the 1920s.

I don't know why it didn't occur to me that most stories set in this period would be PI tales, a genre I generally dislike. The characters were shallow and self-centered, accurate for the period but again something I don't enjoy. I got about a quarter of the way through before giving up.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 11/06/2014


 
Author: Lang, Maureen
Title: My Sister Dilly
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 2
Investment counselor Hannah moves back to her Illinois hometown to help her sister, about to be released from prison after trying to kill her handicapped daughter.

I borrowed this book through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, and I'm really glad I didn't spend money on it. None of the main characters have a clue. Dilly thinks because she has changed while in prison, everyone should be delighted to have her back in her daughter's life - yeah, the one she tried to kill. Hannah thinks she can run Dilly's life better than Dilly can and refuses to see that Dilly doesn't want her to. Lang alternates chapters from Hannah's and Dilly's points of view, which quickly became confusing. I got halfway through and couldn't take any more. The title is appropriate if unimaginative.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 10/07/2014


 
Author: Heyer, Georgette
Title: My Lord John
Genre: Biography
Rating: 1
Supposedly historical account of John, Duke of Bedford during the English York/Lancaster conflict.

I only award 1 star to books that are essentially unreadable, and I never expected to rate a Georgette Heyer story so low. But Heyer absolutely ignored her own expertise at involving the reader in this book, supposedly close to her heart (according to her husband). I read a lot of history and historical fiction, and use of some period terminology can add to the ambience. But Heyer uses so many middle English words as to make the book gibberish to a modern reader. I can't even tell which are legitimate middle English terms and which should be blamed on a poor proofreader. "It was sleeveless to remind Wilkin ..." "He bade the nurses stint their clapping." "Bel sire's Yeoman-at-horse had arrived at the castle, with two fewterers in charge of greyhounds, a ymerer, and several grooms and chacechiens." What is "M. de Guyenne's meiny?" How long ago is "ferne-ago?" What is "smutched" clothing? How does someone look "as sely as saints?" It's not at all uncommon for an author to show off his research by including more detail than the story requires, but I was astonished to see Heyer making such a beginner's mistake. The story itself didn't start well - children's experiences rarely do - but it was the large number of unintelligible words that made me quit before getting 10% through the book.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 10/06/2014


 
Author: Ivie, Judith K
Title: Murder on Old Main StreetKate Lawrence # 2
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 4
Kate and Emma find the body of a much-disliked woman and wind up investigating because the main suspect asks for their help.

I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. I'm enjoying this series even though whodunit was fairly obvious and there are a lot of unlikable characters. I thought it odd that she would accept Emma's help, since her main concern seemed to be shielding someone else. But Ivie kept me reading and wondering what would happen next. As usual, the whole Armando storyline is irrelevant and boring. Spelling and grammar are mostly correct, although someone should have educated the proofreader that the country is Viet Nam, not View Nam. The title is relevant if not especially intriguing.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 10/04/2014


 
Author: George, Anne
Title: Murder on a Bad Hair DaySouthern Sisters # 2
Genre: Cozy Murder Mystery
Rating: 3
When a vicious but talented artist dies during a show at her gallery, Sister and Patricia Anne investigate in between Christmas shopping and decorating.

Nice investigating spoiled by a climax based on stupidity. The whodunit didn't ring true, although I can't explain why without spoilers. Suffice it to say a hoary old chestnut was involved. If the next book doesn't improve, I will probably give up on this series. The title was appropriate.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 10/03/2014


 
Author: O'Marie, Sr. Carol Anne
Title: Murder in Ordinary TimeSr. Mary Helen # 4
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 3
Sr. Mary Helen is being interviewed for the noon local news when the interviewer suddenly dies.

This book has killed my interest in the series. Mary Helen just does too many stupid things and winds up in danger from it. The plot itself held my interest but if I want to focus on people doing stupid things, I can watch a "reality" show. The title relates to the liturgical calendar but has nothing to do with the plot.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 10/02/2014


 
Author: Linscott, Gillian
Title: Murder I Presume
Genre: Historical Fiction - England
Rating: NR
Crippled during an African expedition, a man tries to rebuild his life and help the wives of two bickering archaeologist friends. But when another expedition survivor starts denying abandoning part of the expedition, he is determined to fight back.

No likable characters and the plot seemed to involve who could make everyone believe their story. Not my thing. The title was quite clever.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 10/01/2014


 
Author: Carter, Youngman
Title: Mr. Campion's Farthing
Genre: Thriller
Rating: NR
Continuation of a character begun by Carter's wife. Campion works with his old Security buddies to find a missing Soviet attache.

More of a political thriller than a mystery. I quit halfway through.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/30/2014


 
Author: Pargeter, Edith as Peters, Ellis
Title: Monk's HoodBrother Cadfael # 3
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 4
Cadfael's long-ago fiancee begs his help when her son is accused of his stepfather's murder, but Prior Robert intervenes.

Perceptive use of period details to identify the killer, although a little forewarning to the reader would have been appreciated.. Nice conflict between Cadfael's self-imposed obligation to find out who misused his work and his vow of obedience.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/20/2014


 
Author: Norton, Andre
Title: Merlin's Mirror
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3
Yet another retelling of the Merlin legend.

I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. For some reason, nearly every prolific fiction writer feels compelled to tell their version of the Camelot story. This is Norton's version, with Merlin somehow begotten by the machinery of a vanished civilization that wanted to help mankind. Not awful but not terribly interesting either - I quit about 1/3 of the way through. The title is quite appropriate.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/18/2014


 
Author: Bassett, JoAnn
Title: Maui Widow WaltzIslands of Aloha # 1
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 2
A Hawaiian wedding planner is hired to put on a wedding even though the groom has disappeared and is presumed dead.

I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Page after page of Pali introducing us to her work, her house, her friends, instead of getting us into a story so we would care about the parts of her life. Add a true Bridezilla of a client and I barely lasted 25% of the way through before giving up. Spelling and grammar were mostly okay, but there were some really unusual errors such as eminent instead of imminent. The title was cute but irrelevant to the story.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/16/2014


 
Author: Clemens, Samuel Langhorne as Twain, Mark
Title: Mark Twain's Burlesque Autobiography
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3
Twain claims descent from a noble crew of highwaymen and crooks. Also includes a medieval romance with no ending.

eBook downloaded from www.Gutenberg.org Mildly amusing but not his best, and I was very disappointed in the lack of resolution to the romance.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/14/2014


 
Author: Heller, Keith
Title: Man's Illegal LifeGeorge Man # 1
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 4
A watchman in 17th century London tries to find the killer of an old man.

Solid if slow-moving story and an absolutely incredible recreation of the feel of the seedy side of 1700s London. About the only drawback is Heller's fascination with Man's thoughts, especially as he worries about protecting his area if another round of the plague hits. The only failure was not recognizing that the victim would have died of thirst long before he would have died of hunger. The title was relevant to the story.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/13/2014


 
Author: Ashley, Mike, ed.
Title: Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures
Genre: Mystery Short Stories
Rating: 3
Just what the title says, new Sherlock Holmes stories by different modern authors. Most if not all are based on cases mentioned in the Doyle canon. Contains: The Bothersome Business of the Dutch Nativity, The Affray at the Kildare Street Club, The Case of the Incumbent Invalid, The Adventure of Vittoria the Circus Belle, The Darlington Substitution Scandal, The Adventure of the Suspect Servant, The Adventure of the Amateur Mendicant Society, The Adventure of the Silver Buckle, The Case of the Sporting Squire, The Vanishing of the Atkinsons, The Adventure of the Fallen Star, The Adventure of the Dorset Street Lodger, The Mystery of the Addleton Curse, The Adventure of the Parisian Gentleman, The Adventure of the Inertial Adjustor, The Adventure of the Touch of God, The Adventure of the Persecuted Painter, The Adventure of the Suffering Ruler, The Repulsive Story of the Red Leech, The Adventure of the Grace Chalice, The Adventure of the Faithful Retainer, The Case of the Suicidal Lawyer, The Legacy of Rachel Howells, The Adventure of the Bulgarian Diplomat, The Enigma of the Warwickshire Vortex, The Case of the Last Battle.

There were several problems with this anthology. First, I don't know why authors feel compelled to claim they "found" a Watson manuscript or notes, or they are Holmes scholars. He didn't exist, for Pete's sake! They are writing fiction and these obviously phony claims just make them look like they think the reader is an idiot. As usual, some of them have Holmes performing totally uncharacteristic actions: telling Watson to "come on, play the game" or "I would describe you as my sole friend." Also, whoever proofed it should be fired; there are multiple spelling/grammar/usage errors (countrary, persuing, food venders, "more exercised by their loss," "rarely sees fit to avail me of the incidents," "whom is ten years of age," "has long since being interested," "being less previous to the rays than flesh," several instead of severed, it's instead of its, principal instead of principle, waiting instead of wailing), unusual in an Ashley anthology. The stories themselves are mostly not bad, although the explanation was very easy to guess in most of them, and I didn't like the repeated pulling-in of real people (H.G. Wells, Pierre Curie) to fiction. At least one story (The Legacy of Rachel Howells) offers NO resolution, ending in mid-story. There are many minor but irritating errors, such as Scott misquoted as "Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practise to deceive." There is a working Table of Contents. The title is descriptive if unimaginative.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/12/2014


 
Author: Arbel, Ilil
Title: Madame Koska and the Imperial Brooch
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3
A London dressmaker tries to open a new atelier amid break-ins and assistants with complex pasts.

I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Apparently the main character is from a Trollope novel, which I have not read. On its own, it was somewhat interesting but not compelling, and the reader is not given reasons to suspect what Madame Koska and her friends will discover.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/11/2014


 
Author: Ball, Donna, Ed.
Title: More Sweet Tea
Genre: Southern Fiction
Rating: 3
More short stories with a Southern flavor by various authors.

I borrowed this book from the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Readable, but not as enticing as the original. None of the stories stuck with me.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 07/15/2013


 
Author: Christie, Agatha
Title: Mr. Parker Pyne: Detective aka Parker Pyne InvestiParker Pyne # 1
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4
Mr. Parker Pyne: Detective aka Parker Pyne Investigates

Intriguing short stories featuring a man who advertises for unhappy people and fixes their lives - for a fee. Contains Case of the Middle-Aged Wife, Case of the Discontented Soldier, Case of the Distressed Lady, Case of the Discontented Husband, Case of the City Clerk, Case of the Rich Woman, Have You Got Everything You Want?, Gate of Baghdad, House at Shiraz, Pearl of Price, Death on the Nile, and Oracle at Delphi. Apparently Christie really liked the title "Death on the Nile," as this story is different from the Hercule Poirot book of the same title!

Most of these tales aren't detective stories in the true sense of the word, but they are close enough - almost the other side of the coin - to appeal to people who enjoy detective stories, as Pyne plans to remove his clients' unhappiness almost as a criminal plans a heist. Very clever stories showing a remarkable understanding of human nature.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 07/11/2012


 
Author: Cookman, Lesley
Title: Murder in Steeple MartinLibby Sarjeant # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 2
Former actress/director Libby "Sarjeant with a J" moves to little Steeple Martin and rehearses an amateur group in a play by a local boy. The modern-day play rehearsal alternates with events of 1943, leading up to the murder portrayed in the play.

There wasn't much to like about this book. Libby is a definitely drama queen and none of the other characters are particularly likable either, and there are so many of them I had trouble keeping straight who was related to whom and who did what. As usual with alternating plot lines in different times, they produced a disjointed feeling. I got about a quarter of the way through, realized I couldn't care less about what happened next, and quit. Grammar, spelling, and formatting were acceptable.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/21/2012


 
Author: Cookson, Cassandra
Title: Make Your Own Black Garlic
Genre: Cookbook
Rating: 4
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Very short ebook on making black garlic at home, inexpensively.

I've reviewed another of Cookson's cookbooks (no longer available) and found it was a copy-and-paste job of recipes available on the Internet, and Cookson's original instructions just introduced errors. So I was skeptical about this one. But I am delighted to find I was wrong. As far as I can tell, this information is not available on the Web; it looks like Cookson did her own research, and the directions make sense. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that it is so short - only 159 locations - and three bucks for one technique seems excessive. But I too will be looking for a small crockpot to try the technique.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/13/2012


 
Author: Cookson, Cassandra
Title: Meat Candy: Bacon Brownies
Genre: Cookbook
Rating: 1
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. "Book" contains 10 brownie recipes including bacon and various other flavor elements, such as bourbon, brandied cherries, cayenne pepper, and peanut butter.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Cookson didn't create any of the recipes - she just copied and pasted recipes from the Internet. Cookson's "Creamy Caramel Bacon Brownies" are almost identical to "Caramel Bacon Brownies" at www.stephsbitebybite.com - Cookson rounds the butter used up to a full stick and adds a couple more slices of bacon. Her "Bacon and Guinness Brownies" vary from the "Guinness Bacon Brownies" at aiminglow.com only in substituting 1 cup cocoa powder for the 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder and 3/4 cup cocoa powder. Cookson's "Simple Home Made Bacon Brownies" uses the same ingredients as "Bacon Brownies" on www.examiner.com except for a different measure of bacon. The "Bacon Cheesecake Brownies" on instructables.com are identical to Cookson's except they use half the bacon. Cookson's "Nutty Bourbon Bacon Brownies" started as "Bacon-Bourbon Brownies With Pecans" on foodandwine.com - Cookson just took her own advice and replaced the brownie part of foodandwine's recipe with a brownie mix. (Actually, this one may qualify as a new recipe under the three-changed-ingredients rule, but it's still tacky of Cookson to not credit the originator.) I did not check all the recipes, but since I found these copied recipes fairly easily I doubt she created any of them. The recipes themselves look fairly reasonable (as they should, given the sources) IF you like the combination of salty and sweet tastes. The techniques she describes, such as greasing the pan well to get the cooked brownies out easily and melting butter/chocolate in the microwave, do work. Cookson definitely wrote the directions, but a novice cook may not realize she is kidding with comments like "There will be a test." She introduced errors in her directions. She omits parts of the description, such as never giving an instruction to *cook* the bacon in the Boozy Boxed Bacon Brownies - an experienced cook will realize from the "extra crispy bacon" comment that not only should the bacon be cooked, but it should be cooked crispy, while a novice cook will be baffled. Creamy Caramel Bacon Brownies give very scanty directions for caramelizing butter and sugar - again, an experienced cook will know how to make the caramel, a novice cook is likely to wind up with a burned mess. I'm not real thrilled with her use of sticks of butter as a unit of measure, as my grocery carries both solid pounds of butter and Land o' Lakes' 8-stick-lb packages, and this direction could confuse a novice cook. Why didn't she just use cups or pounds like every other cookbook writer? Some recipes are made from scratch and some use a boxed brownie mix, and Cookson states they can be interchanged but doesn't give specific instructions. Before I realized that the recipes were just copied-and-pasted from the Internet, I was concerned that precooked bacon on top of the brownies would burn during the baking. Unsurprisingly, the original directions specify that the bacon should only be partially cooked, allowing it to reach a crisp state during baking without burning. Spelling, grammar, and formatting are mostly okay, although there were occasional odd capitalizations, misuse of words such as "make due" when she meant "make do" and "your" when she meant "you're," and Cookson's practice of splitting ingredients into different sections confused me. The book opens at an interactive Table of Contents, but it doesn't interface with the Kindle navigation menu so be sure to bookmark it immediately to be able to find it again.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/10/2012


 
Author: Holcomb, Joan
Title: More Than Water
Genre: Cookbook
Rating: 2
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Supposedly, this is a cookbook offering "tasty, low-calorie beverages."

Since I am currently dieting and running into the exact problem that Holcomb describes in her Introduction - plain water is boring - I was excited at this book, envisioning lots of beverage recipes with only a few calories each. But Holcomb's idea of what fits into a diet differs drastically from mine! On a 1000-calorie weight loss diet, it's possible to squeeze in a few 25-calorie drinks, and maybe a 50-calorie treat on a good day, but even a 100-calorie drink kills 10% of your daily allotment in one shot, and nearly all of Holcomb's recipes top the 100-calorie mark! Skim milk and sugar substitute are staples of Holcomb's recipes but often fail to bring the calorie count down to where a dieter can use it as more than an occasional treat: Minty Hot Chocolate has 146 calories, Lite Egg Nog 181 calories, Smoothie with Fruit 115 calories. Lite Milk Shake uses skim milk, fat-free whipped topping, and "fat-free sugar-free pudding mix" which I have never heard of, and STILL comes out to 137 calories per serving. ONE SERVING of the delicious-sounding Tropical Blend Drink would use up more a tenth of your daily calories, and the recipe makes 4 servings. One serving of Spiced Cranberry-Apple Punch (which makes 6 servings) would kill 15% of your daily calorie allotment. The one serving made from the Thick Chocolate Almost-Malt recipe comes in at a whopping 222 calories, and the Lite Margarita without tequila is still 231 calories! Pineapple-Vanilla Smoothie totals 245 calories per serving, or Autumn Smoothie (which sounds quite tasty and it well should) for 271 calories. Maybe Holcomb can lose weight with this kind of drink, but I sure can't. Those who are counting carbs won't do any better with this book: the Lite Margarita has 59 g carbs, Lite Egg Nog is 28 g, Minty Hot Chocolate is 24 g, Smoothie with Fruit is 23 g, Autumn Smoothie is 59 g.

There are a few genuinely low-calorie recipes. Cold Strawberry Refresher uses diet ginger ale but at least manages to total a mere 24 calories per serving- unfortunately it won't help me because most diet sodas are sweetened with aspartame, which gives me headaches. . The famous Lite Imitation Cappuccino only adds 12 calories (or 2 g carb) to your daily total. The only recipe I may actually try is the Lite Orange Shake; even though it uses a sugar-free gelatin mix; at 38 calories it's something I could actually fit into my daily calorie intake.

Some people might claim that these qualify as "diet" recipes because they are lower-calorie than the traditional recipes. That only works if your body uses calories in proportion to what would be in the normal recipe. Mine, and everyone's that I know, uses the 200+ calories in a so-called diet recipe just like it uses 200+ calories in a normal recipe. And on my food record, I don't get to ignore 200+ calories because it was made according to a "diet" recipe.

What's sad is that a lot of these recipes do look pretty good. If she had simply marketed the book as tasty drinks, she would have succeeded. But labelling drinks with a calorie count of over 100 calories per serving as "diet" is simply absurd and does not help those of us who are looking for something besides water to drink.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 05/14/2012


 
Author: Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan
Title: Mysteries and Adventures
Genre: Mystery Short Stories
Rating: 2
Collection of mystery short stories set in England, Scotland, and Australia.

Overall, the stories just weren't very interesting. Many are gloomy, some feel just as misogynistic as Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, and they definitely reflect a time when kidnapping a woman to keep her from marrying the man of her choice was considered love rather than abuse. When I got halfway through and hadn't encountered a single gripping storyline, I gave up.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/28/2012


 
Author: Wodehouse, P. G.
Title: My Man JeevesJeeves and Wooster # 1
Genre: Historical Fiction - England
Rating: 2
The first three of these eight stories feature Bertie Wooster and his perfect gentleman's gentleman, Jeeves: Leave It to Jeeves, Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest, Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg. The next four are narrated by Reggie Pepper and neither Jeeves nor Bertie appear: Absent Treatment, Helping Freddie, Rallying Round Old George, and Doing Clarence a Bit of Good. The final story, The Aunt and the Sluggard, returns once again to Bertie's narration and Jeeves' genius.

The stories ranged from mildly amusing to just plain silly. The male characters were not over-bright except for the servants, who were wily geniuses. The women characters were not only brainless but inconsistent; I particularly disliked the resolution of Absent Treatment. Unless you know you like this type of story passing for humor, skip it.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/27/2012


 
Author: Cook, Claire
Title: Must Love Dogs
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 2
Sarah's tentative first stab at dating after her divorce shatters when the charming-sounding man who placed the personal turns out to be her father. Her well-meaning but overbearing sister places a personal ad for her.

I tried the first quarter of the book and it never grabbed my attention; the narrator wanders through her preschool teaching and family events apparently without purpose and certainly without anything interesting happening. If there was an actual story here, I never found it.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/20/2012


 
Author: Goldenbaum, Sally
Title: Murders on Elderberry RoadQueen Bees # 1
Genre: Cozy Murder Mystery
Rating: 2
Widowed quilter Po, Kate, veterinarian Maggie, and Leah make up the Queen Bees quilting group. When a murder interrupts their usual Saturday quilting time, and fear takes over the friendly neighborhood, the women feel they have to find the killer.

Typically slow start as Goldenbaum introduced the characters by following them through their Saturday morning. Whodunit was pretty obvious. And neither the characters nor the meandering storyline ever grabbed me; I got halfway through and skipped to the end.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/18/2012


 
Author: Lang, Maureen
Title: My Sister Dilly
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2
Investment counselor Hannah moves back to her small Illinois hometown to care for her sister Dilly, who is about to be released from prison. But Dilly has a new faith in Jesus and doesn't want Hannah to protect her.

I did not get far into this book before quitting; the characters are all carrying too much pain, and I don't enjoy wallowing in misery even if the ending is going to turn it all to joy.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/15/2012


 
Author: Baker, Deb
Title: Murder Passes the BuckYooper # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 2
Elderly widow Gertie Johnson decides the shooting of a local man was murder and determines to find the killer. Meanwhile, her son Blaze, the county sheriff, files suit to become her guardian and her best friend's hairdressing attempt leaves her with orange hair.

I can't complain about the slow start, as the first sentence is about the murder. But then Baker detours into a long presentation of her family and neighbors - and there isn't a likable character in the bunch. Gertie's involvement in the death has no real reason except orneriness, a pet peeve of mine. I got through the first quarter of the book, and I will admit I giggled when the fifth person asked about her newly-orange hair, but nothing else held my attention and I quit.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/14/2012


 
Author: Holt, Hazel
Title: My Dear Charlotte
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 2
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. A much-disliked woman dies unexpectedly and her physician brother suspects foul play.

Set in the Regency England of Jane Austen, the story is told completely in letters from a young woman living in Lyme to her sister Charlotte, who is visiting Bath. Unfortunately, Holt simply does not share Austen's genius at making the minutiae of the sisters' lives not only intriguing but relevant to the story. The first quarter of the book is tedious lead-in and it didn't become any more interesting after the woman's death. I quit a third of the way through the book. Kindle formatting was fine and there were minimal spelling/grammar errors.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/13/2012


 
Author: Farnol, Jeffery
Title: My Lady Caprice
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 3
eBook downloaded from www.Gutenberg.org Old-fashioned romance as a young man pursues his lady fair by befriending her wild nephew, since her aunt wants her to marry a rich nobleman.

Okay but never caught my interest, consisting mostly of Imp's antics. I got halfway through and skipped to the end.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/11/2012


 
Author: Goldberg, Lee
Title: My Gun Has BulletsCharlie Willis # 1
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 2
I borrowed this book from another Kindler through the Lendle.me website. When a vicious TV star shoots policeman Charlie Willis for making her late to a big sale, to avoid having her arrested the production company bribes him to star in his own series, and he takes it. But then he sees a beautiful young woman in danger from the same TV star and tries to protect her.

Although the writing was technically adequate, the characters were so unlikable as well as unbelievable I gave up 15% of the way through the book. Yes, life is strange in Los Angeles, but not *this* strange. The disjointed beginning didn't help.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/10/2012


 
Author: Weber, David
Title: Mutineer's MoonDahak # 1
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: NR
A Terran spaceship pilot is captured by a 50,000-year-old sentient spacecraft that has replaced Earth's Moon in order to destroy the mutineers hiding in cold sleep under Antarctica. But the spacecraft also warns that a race of alien destroyers who has periodically wiped out developing life is headed towards Earth - again.

I rarely like threatened-end-of-life-as-we-know-it scenarios, and there was nothing in the first 15% of this book to catch my interest so I quit.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/09/2012


 
Author: Bartlett, Lorraine as L.L.
Title: Murder On the MindJeff Resnick # 1
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2
A man is severely mugged and has odd dreams and goes to live with his rich brother.

I read the first 10% and then quit, as nothing happened to grab my attention or even tell me what type of story was coming, and none of the characters were likable enough to make me want to read more.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/08/2012


 
Author: Piper, H. Beam
Title: Murder in the Gunroom
Genre: Murder Mystery, P.I.
Rating: 4
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. P.I. Jeff Rand accepts a job cataloguing and selling a gun collection when he realizes the collector's widow agreed to his exorbitant charge because she thinks the death wasn't accidental. He realizes the most valuable pieces have been quietly stolen and reveals the thief, while setting a trap for the killer that may cost him his life.

Unusual P.I. story in that Rand isn't constantly getting beat up. The plot moved right along. The only major flaw was that Piper his some of Rand's findings from the reader, and they would have affected the reader's expectations - I don't mind a writer fooling me but I demand that he play fair by revealing whatever the investigator learns. It had the feel of a series book, but if Piper wrote any more Jeff Rand mysteries, I haven't been able to find them.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/07/2012


 
Author: Thames, Nancy Jill
Title: Murder in Half Moon BayJillian Bradley # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 2
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Newspaper columnist Jillian and her plant-raising cronies are set to enjoy a gardening convention when the organizer's assistant turns up dead. Police chief Frank Viscuglia works with Jillian and company to find the killer.

Involving storyline but could have used proofreading as well as a dose of reality. The major flaw, that smacked me in the face on nearly every page once the murder had occurred, was the police chief's eager cooperation with Jillian in finding the killer. Not only do the professionals not welcome amateur involvement in crime-solving, in most jurisdictions they are not allowed to release details of the investigation to the public. And Jillian was logically one of the suspects! But this character practically acts as Jillian's assistant in the investigation, allowing her to rummage through the victim's belongings, calling her "partner," and even asking her to be present while he questions the other characters. The story itself was pretty interesting, but this was so blatantly unbelievable that I only got about halfway through before I couldn't take any more. The dialogue was awkward. There were lots of little flaws, such as a 2am murder being reported in the morning paper a few hours later - not enough time for a paper to be published unless they did a rare "special edition." Spelling/grammar/formatting were fairly decent, except for Thames' belief that to make a word or name plural, you add an apostrophe. For example, at one point, the chief exclaims "Rat's!" and at another, Jillian has "an appointment with the Westover's."
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/06/2012


 
Author: Rapp, Diane
Title: Murder Caribbean-StyleHigh Seas # 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: NR
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Kayla left the cruise ship Aurora to escape a failed romance. Six years later, she is invited back as the author of a cruise ship travel guide, and meets both her scuzzy ex-boyfriend and a sexy magician. But when the ex-boyfriend turns up dead, Kayla and her friends are anxious to find the killer before any of them are arrested.

I started this book because it was labelled a murder mystery. It isn't; far more attention is paid to Kayla's love life and the various men in it than anything mystery-related. I got a quarter of the way through the romantic drivel and quit.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/05/2012


 
Author: Forster-Walmsley, J.K.
Title: Mrs Ghopal & Madam Zharinsky
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. In India, Polly Ghopal goes along as chaperone to her beloved grandson Yash when he is awarded a role in a Bollywood film. English fortuneteller Madam Zharinsky (actual name: Rose Catterat) attends a Bollywood film festival and meets famous Bollywood actor Dharma Trishna, who brings her to his Indian movie set. When the two women meet, Rose's resemblance to Polly's late daughter starts them investigating long-ignored family ties.

This book held my attention and I'm not sure why. I can only classify it as literary fiction, a genre that usually leaves me yawning with boredom. Forster-Walmsley writes from multiple points of view, a technique I usually dislike as distracting, but I had no trouble following this storyline. A long recitation of Mrs. Ghopal's family history got the book off to a tediously slow start, and then the first switch to Rose's POV interrupted the story again for a long recitation of her family history. Although there is no credit to a translator, there are odd misuses of words one would expect from someone who had not learned English as a first language, such as "seemed please to see her" or the phrase "the die was cast" mis-written as "the dye was cast." There are also a number of instances in which a common phrase is expanded to near-illegibility, such as "beginning to feel ice in his own lower extremities" instead of "cold feet." Every page features several awkward and convoluted sentences. Punctuation is erratic, including the missing period after Mrs in the title. Commas are scattered apparently at random; "the babbling of the, admittedly, spartan fountain" or "You pompous arrogant, old, prig!" But even though I found these flaws annoying, the characters and plot kept me involved right to the end. Kindle formatting was generally unexceptionable on my KK, except that the overused dashes appear as empty squares, but on K4PC there were odd type size changes and unindented new paragraphs.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/04/2012


 
Author: Tyler, Eleanor
Title: Murder at Whitegates Manor
Genre: Regency Romance
Rating: NR
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Catherine Morton enjoys her life as a well-to-do spinster in Regency England. But when she accepts an invitation to visit family friends, she finds not only a man to whom she is strongly attracted, but also a murder to investigate.

Although it has some elements of a murder mystery, this is mostly a Regency romance, and I despise romances.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/03/2012


 
Author: Paterson, Jill
Title: Murder At The RocksFitzjohn # 2
Genre: Police Procedural Mystery
Rating: 4
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Nicholas Harford returns from a long research trip to find his father dead and his uncle Laurence threatening to contest the will leaving everything to Nicholas. But when Laurence is murdered, Inspector Fitzjohn has plenty of suspects besides Nicholas, who continues to search for information on his mother's death 30 years earlier.

Plot/Storyline:
Surprisingly good plot, although there are some minor inconsistencies, such as characters' ages not meshing with the elapsed time. There is also a feeling that Paterson hasn't decided whether she is writing a police procedural or a cozy, and I sensed occasionally that some scenes were put in because "I should show Fitzjohn's personal side here" rather than because it advanced the plot. The romance seemed contrived and was not very believable. What the Big Secret will be is pretty obvious. But Paterson managed several different storylines nicely and kept me reading from the solid fast start all the way to the end, without the all-too-common initial who-did-what explanations and plot-dragging in the middle of the book. Two major problems bothered me. When Nicholas gets the letter that Explains Everything, Paterson does not reveal the contents to the reader. I hate that and often quit a book at that point because the author has stopped playing fair with the reader. The ending left me confused. I didn't feel that I understood "why" so "who" wasn't quite believable.

Characters:
The characters felt real and Paterson avoided the tedious long background that too many writers indulge in, bringing the storyline to a screeching halt. We could have used a little more character explanation: Why was Lawrence so obnoxious? Why on earth did Julia ever marry him? But Paterson does a nice job showing us the relationship between a somewhat-dictatorial father and a cherished but independent son.

Writing style:
Dialogue was a little stilted but generally believable, sometimes even achieving distinct voices. Descriptions were usually adequate since I don't know the Sydney neighborhoods at all, so if it was important to know it takes a certain length of time to get from one to another, I missed it.

Editing:
Pretty good, with occasional word misuse such as "grizzly" when she meant "grisly" (describing a murdered body, not one mauled by a bear).
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/02/2012


 
Author: Miller, Jim
Title: Mined Your Own BusinessRabbi Hawkins # 1
Genre: Historical Fiction - Canada
Rating: 3
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. "Rabbi" Hawkins chose the army as an alternative to jail and his goal was to do as little as possible. He gets involved in a treasure hunt involving a couple of dead men.

The writing is generally adequate, although there were some spelling oddities such as capitalizing "platoon." There are no formatting or grammar horrors. It helps to be somewhat familiar with army training to understand what is going on. But Rabbi is not a likable character and his focus is on finding the treasure - the accumulating dead bodies are simply an annoyance to him. Nor does Miller stay focused on the plot. I got halfway through and realized during a long battle exercise scene (not relevant to the storyline) that I didn't care what came next. This seems to be another example of the "clever title, uninteresting story" rule.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/01/2012


 
Author: Haggard, Henry Rider
Title: Mr. Meeson's Will
Genre: Historical Fiction - England
Rating: 3
eBook downloaded free from www.Gutenberg.org Beautiful authoress Augusta Smithers flees to New Zealand, and her fellow traveller is the selfish publisher Meeson whose refusal to pay her a fair price for her best-seller she blames for her invalid sister's death. But when they are shipwrecked and the dying Meeson wants to leave his fortune to Eustace, the nephew he disinherited for her sake, Augusta bears having it tattooed onto her skin and after being rescued, she returns to England so Eustace can claim his inheritance.

Although I can't point to any particular flaws, I never got involved in the story. The characters are fairly one-note but not obnoxiously so, and the story moved along as well as anything written around 1888. But it never held my interest; I got halfway through and then skipped to the end.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/31/2012


 
Author: Rees, Melissa
Title: Miss Pettybone's First CaseMiss Pettybone # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 2
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. A postal employee/Miss Marple wannabe decides to investigate when a new resident is found murdered.

There are so many flaws I don't know where to begin. Rees gets off to a fast start but then loses focus. Why does Rees initially drown the reader with Miss Pettybone's morning routine, especially the details of her shower? When is the book supposed to be set? At one point, she establishes that Miss Pettybone has been working for the Post Office in the small town of Beatty, Mississippi, for 17 years, starting in 1975, which would make it 1992. But Miss Pettybone carries a cell phone, and in 1992 cell phones were extremely expensive, humongous devices requiring a battery the size of an attache case, and coverage was only available in large cities. Miss Pettybone has a boring job and a boring life, so that qualifies her to investigate a murder? She was neither likable nor believable. The spelling, grammar, and formatting are mostly acceptable (which is why it didn't get a 1-star rating), but the story weaknesses bothered me so much I quit 13% of the way through.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/26/2012


 
Author: Henry, Sue
Title: Murder on the Iditarod TrailJessie Arnold # 1
Genre: Police Procedural Mystery
Rating: 4
Mushers running the famous Iditarod race are dying of unnatural causes. Investigator Trooper Jensen asks musher Jessie's help in understanding the race and the racers, in order to find the killer.

Straightforward police procedural but in a challenging setting that held my interest, although the storyline jumped around at times and the sheer number of characters left me occasionally confused. The backstory on mushing the trail was fascinating and never allowed to overpower the plot, and the ending satisfied.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/20/2012


 
Author: George, Anne
Title: Murder On a Girls' Night OutSouthern Sisters # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 2
Patricia Ann and Mary Alice are sisters and complete opposites. But when the man who sold Mary Alice a C&W bar is killed there the next night, the sisters find themselves trying to prove the murderer is not one of Patricia Ann's former students.

Surprisingly interesting, since Mary Alice is an overbearing know-it-all and Patricia Ann lets her dictate large chunks of her life. But it kept me reading up to the awful deus-ex-machina ending and explanation that mostly relied on information that had NOT been given to the reader, which bitterly disappointed me and is the reason for the low rating.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/19/2012


 
Author: Pulver, Mary Monica
Title: Murder at the War aka Knight FallPeter Brichter # 2
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 3
Peter and Kori Brichter travel to Pennsylvania to participate in an SCA "war." But Kori finds a genuinely dead body, which abruptly ends the fun and Peter must prove to the closed-minded investigator that she is not the killer.

Pulver nails the exciting/bizarre atmosphere of SCA activities, but didn't need to spend the first 40% of the book on it. And there were so many characters that I only managed to keep a few straight - I don't count it against a story if I don't figure out the killer, and I expect red herrings as well as legitimate clues, but the sheer quantity of people made it not even fun to try to figure out who was where when. The story kept me reading but the ending did not satisfy me.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/19/2012


 
Author: McCormick, John
Title: Murder in Cheyenne
Genre: Historical Mystery - U.S.
Rating: 1
A Pinkerton's man and his assistant head for 1870's Cheyenne to solve a murder.

This story badly needs proofreading (at a minimum) and editing sure wouldn't hurt - sentences with too many verbs and confusing/repetitive descriptors sometimes made it a challenge to figure out what McCormick was trying to say. Looking at a map would have been a good idea, too - the story opens as Gideon and Killian travel across the plains of the new state of Nebraska - TOWARDS Omaha. But Omaha is right at the eastern edge of the state, which would make them travelling east rather than west, towards Cheyenne. In addition to all this, McCormick was more interested in philosophizing than telling a story. I gave up about 10% through because practically all that had happened was talking heads.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/18/2012


 
Author: Collins, Kate
Title: Mum's the WordFlower Shop # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 1
Law school dropout Abby owns a struggling flower shop, but when a fleeing man (who may have just committed a murder) smashes into her beloved Corvette and runs off, she is determined to ignore the "leave it to the police" attitude of the arrogant bar owner next door and track him down.

This is just the type of attempted-cutesy tale I despise. Abby has no spine and turns to goo whenever patronizing Marco stares at her or touches her. Collins wanders back and forth between the current story and meditations on Abby's ambitious mother and perfect brothers. Then there was the whole mysterious "them" out to get Abby. I got a quarter of the way through and gave up - there simply wasn't anything to like.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/17/2012


 
Author: Swanson, Denise
Title: Murder of a Small-Town HoneyScumble River # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 4
School psychologist Skye Denison reluctantly moves back home after losing her job and her fiance. But the hometown folks haven't forgiven her for telling them off 12 years earlier, and the police chief is determined to prove her brother Vince murdered a vicious former resident.

Mostly believable characters make a pleasant change in this fast read. Skye isn't a wuss, she just gets out-maneuvered. The obligatory romance did not ring true, and the stereotypical religious-type character was unbelievable as well as annoying. And I'm not sure the evidence was there to figure out whodunit. But the story kept me reading and I found the ending believable. And the title was very appropriate.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/07/2012


 
Author: Beaufort, Simon (Cruwys, Elizabeth & Riffenburgh, Beau)
Title: Murder In the Holy CitySir Geoffrey Mappestone # 1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Rating: 2
Sir Geoffrey is assigned to investigate a series of murders, first by his lord Tancred; then by the Advocate, secular head of Jerusalem; and finally by the Patriarch, head of the Church in Jerusalem. As he investigates with the help of his fellow-knights Hugh and Roger, he also has to dance around the complicated political allegiances and the possibility that one of the men he reports to may not want the truth revealed.

Geoffrey is a likeable if not-completely-true-to-his-period hero. Part of the difference is explained by his interest in learning, but he still didn't feel right. I would have forgiven this if the story had held my interest, but it dragged by the time I was halfway through, and I finally skipped to the end.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/06/2012


 
Author: Dunn, Carola
Title: Mistletoe and MurderDaisy Dalrymple # 11
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 4
In this 11th entry in Dunn's cozy historical mystery series, Daisy's working trip to ancient Brockdene is co-opted by her mother for a family Christmas with an earl. But a murder pulls Alec back into working mode, with enthusiastic help from Daisy, Belinda, and Derek.

Engaging and mostly solid story with some weak elements. See my more detailed review at http://redadeptreviews.com/
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/06/2012


 
Author: Eichler, Selma
Title: Murder Can Kill Your Social LifeDesiree Shapiro # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 1
An oversized female Manhattan PI investigates the murder of a reclusive old lady.

Typical smart-mouth PI-type narrating a boring story in what she thinks is a cute way. Another piece of evidence for my theory that a clever title means the author has used up her quota and the story itself will lack any interest.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/05/2012


 
Author: Stenstreem, Ruth as Babson, Marian
Title: Murder, Murder, Little Star
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4
New empty-nester Frances is surprised to be hired as chaperone to an obnoxious child star. But her sympathies swing to little Twinkle, and when a death occurs, Frances doesn't know whether Twinkle is responsible - or the intended victim.

Stenstreem specializes in unlikable characters, which means I give up on most of her books fairly quickly. But she occasionally produces a story that holds my attention in spite of the awful characters - and this one kept me reading right up to the end.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/05/2012


 
Author: Stevenson, D.E.
Title: Mrs. Tim of the RegimentMrs. Tim # 1
Genre: Historical Fiction - England
Rating: 2
An officer's wife in 1930's England writes in her diary about the people and activities in her life.

Mostly unlikable people doing boring things. Husband Tim is a self-centered twerp, and Mrs. Tim seems to spend most of her time gossiping. I couldn't get into it at all, and the lack of a storyline didn't help.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/04/2012


 
Author: Aitken, Rosemary as Rowe, Rosemary
Title: Murder In the ForumLibertus # 3
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 4
Marcus drafts Libertus to investigate the death of an arrogant visitor with Imperial ties. But Libertus' suspicion of the Imperial warrant may end in his own death.

Involving story, as Libertus tries to solve the mystery without getting himself or his patron in trouble with the Emperor, and a satisfactory ending. There was a lot of explaining at the end, and talking heads always drag a bit.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/03/2012


 
Author: Tayler, Randy
Title: Mugging Leprechauns is Totally Legal
Genre: Humor
Rating: 3
Very short (285 locations) ebook of moderately funny one-liners.

Not great, and certainly not worth paying for, but most of them made me smile even if nothing was so irresistibly funny I laughed out loud. Tayler's obsession with baldness might be more amusing to someone fighting that problem than it was to me, but there was a good comment that bionics should be cheap by now and another about the lack of email in Star Wars.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/28/2012


 
Author: Alleyn, Susanne
Title: Masquerade
Genre: Fantasy Short Stories
Rating: 3
Eleyna has hidden her mother's gorgeous court gown for years, to keep her stepmother from selling it. But when the duke finally gives a ball, Eleyna is determined to attend wearing the gown and dazzle everyone.

A bit slow-paced but the ending caught me completely by surprise. More of a concern is that none of the main characters were particularly likable.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/27/2012


 
Author: Gilman, Dorothy
Title: Mrs. Pollifax PursuedMrs. Pollifax # 11
Genre: Spy Thriller
Rating: 2
Mrs. Pollifax helps a frightened girl she finds hiding in her house escape from the thugs pursuing her, and winds up preventing the murder of an African king.

I have finally tired of this series. While the characters remain likable, the convoluted and coincidental plot (entirely typical of the series) simply irritated me. I got halfway through and quit.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/26/2012


 
Author: Howard, Catherine Ryan
Title: Mousetrapped and Backpacked Too
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 2
An Irish woman narrates her experience of coming to the U.S. to work at the Magic Kingdom.

Might be moderately interesting to someone contemplating following in her footsteps, but since I've been to Disney numerous times, had friends who worked there, and never intend to work there myself, I was completely bored and gave up before she actually started work.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/25/2012


 
Author: Tarkington, Booth
Title: Monsieur Beaucaire
Genre: Historical Fiction - England
Rating: 3
ebook short story downloaded free from www.Gutenberg.org

A Frenchman blackmails an English duke to introduce him into society to pursue an English beauty.

Predictable storyline but interesting portrayals of both individuals and Regency English society mores.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/25/2012


 
Author: Fenn, George Manville
Title: Mad
Genre: Historical Fiction - England
Rating: 1
ebook downloaded free from www.Gutenberg.org

A poor printer and his family try to survive in London.

If there was a story here, I never found it, only tedious descriptions of his neighborhood, his unproductive business, and a brutal criminal neighbor. The endless descriptions rivaled Dickens in quantity but not in quality. I dragged myself through as much as I could but didn't manage to get through the first quarter of the book.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/24/2012


 
Author: Flint, Eric
Title: Mother of Demons
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 2
Science Fiction ebook downloaded free from www.webscription.net

Humans land on a planet populated by sentient clam-analogues, and their only food source is clam regurgitations.

This story was stronger when it focused on the sentient clams than the humans that landed on their world. The human part of the story dragged so much that I gave up about halfway through the book; it wasn't interesting enough to keep me reading.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/24/2012


 
Author: Fenn, George Manville
Title: Mother Carey's Chicken
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 3
ebook downloaded free from www.Gutenberg.org

A young man is shipwrecked aboard his father's East Indiaman sailing to the Orient.

Okay Robinson Crusoe-type South Pacific adventure, probably aimed at boys, featuring native attacks, finding food, and young Mark at the center of every event. But it's a slow read and I skimmed through the second half.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/23/2012


 
Author: George, Kate
Title: Moonlighting In VermontBree MacGowan # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 4
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/22/2012


 
Author: Stevenson, D.E.
Title: Miss Buncle's BookMiss Buncle # 1
Genre: Historical Fiction - England
Rating: 2
A small-town Englishwoman writes a book portraying her neighbors - who don't appreciate it.

Realistic enough characters, but not necessarily likable, and the disorganized storyline was about as exciting as watching grass grow as it bounced between characters. I got about a quarter of the way through before giving up.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/22/2012


 
Author: Smith, Deborah et al
Title: Mossy Creek
Genre: Southern Fiction
Rating: 1
A Southern matriarch/mayor feuds with her governor nephew.

Another story that lost me at the beginning. The mayor is sentenced by an obviously prejudiced judge but doesn't appeal it. I can suspend some disbelief but this was so blatant I couldn't ignore it. Also, I have suffered enough injustice from the courts in real life that I don't enjoy reading about it in fiction.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/21/2012


 
Author: Geer, Thelma
Title: Mormonism Mama And Me
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 2
Grandmother recollects growing up in the Mormon church.

I could not get into this at all. Geer started with an extended description of being grateful she was born a white Mormon and then went into how our God "grew up" under a different God that did not interest or appeal to me at all. I gave up quickly.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/20/2012


 
Author: de Balzac, Honore
Title: Madame Firmiani
Genre: Historical Fiction - France
Rating: 3
eBook downloaded from www.Gutenberg.org

Short story about an old Frenchman who comes to Paris to see why his nephew and heir is suddenly penniless

Moderately interesting but shallow characters
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/19/2012


 
Author: Alcott, Louisa May
Title: Moods
Genre: Historical Fiction - U.S.
Rating: 1
eBook downloaded from www.Gutenberg.org

Adam gives deceitful Ottila one year to become the woman she pretended to be or he will end their engagement. Meanwhile, spending time with another friend, he falls in love with generous and virtuous Sylvia.

Alcott's saccharine praise of "modest womanhood" gets old, and both Adam and Sylvia are one-note characters that did not hold my interest. I only lasted about a third of the way through this very preachy tale.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/18/2012


 
Author: Mackle, Marisa
Title: Mr. Right For the Night
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 1
A woman who just turned 30 searches for a Mr. Right to escort her to a party hosted by a highschool tormentor.

Yet another chick lit tale featuring underemployed, unlikable women desperate for men and bouncing from one bed to another. I finished the sample and had no interest in reading the rest of the book.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/17/2012


 
Author: Charles, Janet Skeslien
Title: Moonlight in Odessa
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3
Self-character-study of a Ukrainian woman trapped in her crime-ridden town without decent men or a future.

Thoroughly depressing but quite possibly accurate depiction of post-Soviet Russia, but without a real storyline. I quit about a quarter of the way through.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/16/2012


 
Author: Jackson, Melanie
Title: Moving ViolationChloe Boston # 1
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 1
A meter maid who wants to be a detective bores the reader with endless backstory on her life.

So my description doesn't sound like a story? There WAS no story! Even for a self-pub, this was a mind-boggling collection of drivel. I gave up when I got 11% through and THERE WAS STILL NO SIGN OF A STORY!
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/12/2012


 
Author: Unsworth, Barry
Title: Morality Play
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 2
A runaway priest is shanghaied into a troupe of players that presents a play based on a local murder.

I give up on this author, he hasn't written ANYTHING that held my attention. In this case, the narrating priest is more focused on "if I had only known" breastbeating than telling a coherent story. The characters were moderately interesting but they didn't DO anything.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/11/2012


 
Author: Adams, Laura D.
Title: Money Girl's Smart Moves to Deal with Your Debt
Genre: Finance
Rating: 3
How to get out from under massive debt.

This is yet another short basic finance book, with the same good advice as found in most of them: get an accurate picture of your financial status, pay off the most dangerous debts first, negotiate with creditors, reduce your expenses. Although Adams replaces the usual word "budget" with what she considers a more friendly term, "spending strategy," the advice still boils down to self-control and assumes the debtor has income, savings, and expensive possessions whose value can be tapped to reduce debt. No better and no worse than any other get-out-of-debt book.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/09/2012


 
Author: Kuhn, Jens
Title: Miss Anna's FrigateAnna # 2
Genre: Historical fiction/erotica
Rating: 3
In Europe torn apart by Napoleonic war, a beautiful and sexy Swedish spy wants to use a British frigate to rescue the king of Sweden.

Rather bizarre Horatio Hornblower meets Xaviera Hollander combination, with an okay storyline. Also, this is apparently a sequel to Gunboat Number 14, which I did not realize before reading it - I much prefer to read books in series order. However, as I am not a fan of erotica, I won't bother with the other book.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/08/2012


 
Author: Hall, Linda
Title: Margaret's PeaceCoast of Maine # 1
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4
Escaping to her childhood home, Margaret finds that her sister's death 25 years earlier was not as cut-and-dried as she thought.

Involving story with solid characters. See my more detailed review at http://redadeptreviews.com/margarets-peace-by-linda-hall/
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/07/2012


 
Author: Knippling, DeAnna
Title: Miracle, Texas
Genre: Western
Rating: 1
After a posse raids the hideout of a band of outlaw women, the lone survivor goes after the sheriff who betrayed them.

Short story with unlikable characters and a confusing excuse for a plot.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/06/2012


 
Author: Mansell, Jill
Title: Millie's Fling
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 1
The life of a single Cornish twenty-something.

Nothing about this book caught my interest. Millie and her roommate Hester are both man-obsessed, with heads as empty as their wallets. Millie's friendship with the writer had potential but the writer turned out to be as ditzy as anyone else. The men in the story weren't worth pursuing. I forced myself to read the first quarter of the book, hoping something interesting would come up, but it didn't.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/04/2012


 
Author: Barnes, Victor M.
Title: Meet the Microorganisms -The Organic Compost Guide
Genre: Gardening
Rating: 3
Basic information on the advantages of composting and how to set up and run a compost pile.

This is a decent composting primer, but very much misnamed. Only the first part briefly discusses the three types of microorganisms found in a compost pile. The information is accurate but disorganized. Worth picking up free, but there are better choices to spend money on.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/27/2012


 
Author: Buckley, Julia
Title: Madeline MannMadeline Mann #1
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 2
Reporter from dysfunctional family hunts for missing sleazeball while her wannabe fiance tags along.

Although the "story of me" start wasn't as bad as usual, the unlikeable characters and sex breaks pretty quickly overcame the interest Buckley generated in the actual storyline.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/26/2012


 
Author: Wodehouse, P. G.
Title: Mike and Psmith aka Enter PsmithPsmith # 2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3
eBook downloaded from www.Gutenberg.org

Mike's poor scholastic performance leads his father to transfer him to Sedleigh, where he is befriended by the outrageous Psmith and the two boys get into various adventures.

Mildly interesting but their obsession with power games and getting the better of the teachers made them rather unsympathetic.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/25/2012


 
Author: Wodehouse, P. G.
Title: MikePsmith # 1
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3
eBook downloaded from www.Gutenberg.org

Sent off to public school, young cricket player Mike is torn between family loyalty, school honor, and his desperate desire to make the first eleven.

Portrait of a simpler time that kept me reading, although I mostly skimmed through the detailed descriptions of cricket games which would probably have meant more if I knew more about cricket. The boys are all shown through an idealized stiff-upper-lip rose-colored glass, but the slight storyline still kept me reading. For some reason, the Gutenberg file of this book includes the sequel, Mike and Psmith.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/24/2012


 
Author: Dereske, Jo
Title: Miss Zukas and the Library MurdersMiss Zukas # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 2
Prim and proper librarian's orderly life is disturbed by the murder of a transient in the library.

One of the least likable or interesting characters I've ever tried to read about, an absolutely stereotypical librarian who has to have everything in its place and relates better to books than people. Dereske does a great job of characterizing Helma Zukas to the reader, but she is so impossible to like that who cares? I got a quarter of the way through and essentially nothing other than the murder had happened, so I quit.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/21/2012


 
Author: Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan
Title: Micah Clarke
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 1
eBook downloaded from www.Gutenberg.org

An old man writes of his adventures during the era of James II.

Any story that starts with the narrator being born is almost certainly going to lose me for lack of a storyline, and this one went back even further, to the narrator's father's service in Cromwell's army and marriage to his mother. I tried to get through the introduction but gave up when the narrator was expelled from a boarding school.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/17/2012


 
Author: Gordon-Smith, Dolores
Title: Mad About the Boy?Jack Haldean # 2
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 4
When one of Jack's friends is found shot during a visit to Hesperus, everyone assumes it was suicide. But Jack suspects murder, and recruits his cousin Isabelle and her new fiance Malcolm as well as his shellshocked friend Arthur to help investigate. Complicating the plot are a second murder, some mysterious Russians, and Isabelle's romantic vacillations.

Good story with some weak elements. See my more detailed review at http://redadeptreviews.com/
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/16/2012


 
Author: Segrave, Elizabeth
Title: Memoria
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2
An art history student pursues the whereabouts of a beautiful Carnivale mask in Venice while wondering about a mysterious fellow student.

Well-drawn characters, but strange but without any perceptible storyline to keep me reading. I quit a quarter of the way through.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/15/2012


 
Author: Weber, David & Ringo, John
Title: March to the SeaPrince Roger # 2
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 2
Roger and his remaining bodyguard continue their trek to the spaceport, solving problems and acquiring new allies along the way.

More of the same, so much so that it didn't hold my interest and I skipped chunks of the book before completely giving up. This would have been a great single book, but there just wasn't enough story to stretch out into a Lord-of-the-Rings-style series.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/14/2012


 
Author: Ashley, Mike, ed.
Title: Mammoth Book of Perfect Crimes and Impossible Myst
Genre: Mystery Short Stories
Rating: 5
Super collection of 30 impossible mystery short stories by various authors.

Really excellent, only one bad one in the bunch. See my more detailed review at
http://redadeptreviews.com/mammoth-book-of-perfect-crimes-and-impossible-mysteries-edited-by-ashley-mike/
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/10/2012


 
Author: Harris, Elizabeth as Clare, Alys
Title: Mist Over the WaterAelf Fen # 2
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Rating: NR
An apprentice healer spends more time on magical rituals than herbs.

I skipped the first book in this series because I don't like phony supernatural tales. Unfortunately, this one wasn't any better - it is NOT a historical mystery, it's woo-woo gibberish. I quit very quickly.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/08/2012


 
Author: Hibbert, Eleanor as Carr, Philippa
Title: Miracle at St. Brunos
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3
A girl grows up in Henry VIII's England with her beautiful, temperamental cousin.

Pretty good job of evoking the feel of living during religious conflict, less so at producing an interesting story. The narrator is a wimp and cousin Kate is a selfish terror who has to dominate every situation. I gave up about a quarter of the way through.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/07/2012


 
Author: Rush, Chris
Title: Milking the Rhino: Dangerously Funny Lists
Genre: Humor
Rating: 1
Supposedly a collection of lists of funny things.

Simply awful, mostly relying on sniggering at body functions and not in the least amusing. I picked it up free and it was still overpriced.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/06/2012


 
Author: Ross, Ann B.
Title: Miss Julia Speaks Her MindMiss Julia # 1
Genre: Southern Fiction
Rating: 1
A recent widow discovers her late husband had an illegitimate son.

I've tried to read this before, with no more success than now. When the characters in a character-based book are one-dimensional and unlikable, there just isn't anything to keep me reading.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/05/2012


 
Author: Hibbert, Eleanor as Holt, Victoria
Title: Mistress of Mellyn
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4
Impoverished gentlewoman Martha Leigh takes a governess position at imposing Mount Mellyn in Cornwall. As she tries to win over her young charge with riding lessons, she finds herself falling in love with the widowed master of the house. But first Martha must find the truth of happened to the late Mistress of Mellyn.

All too predictable, unsurprising since this is one of Holt's early works. But the characterization is still good and the plot rolls right along.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/03/2012


 
Author: Jenkins, William F. as Leinster, Murray
Title: Med ShipMed Ship
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4
Collection of stories featuring the adventures of Calhoun, an interstellar physician. Contains Med Ship Man, Plague on Kryder II, The Mutant Weapon, Ribbon In the Sky, Tallien Three, Quarantine World, The Grandfathers' War, and Pariah Planet (also released as This World Is Taboo). The Grandfathers' War, Med Ship Man, and Tallien Three were also released in Doctor to the Stars. Plague on Kryder II, Ribbon in the Sky, and Quarantine World were also released as SOS from Three Worlds. However, this collection from Baen Books is the only one I am aware of that includes all eight published Med Ship stories.

Intriguing premise and the stories were really SF mysteries. Started well, but some of the stories involved solutions that relied on coincidence, such as a sick Calhoun just happening to land on the one planet whose air could counteract his illness. Also, it was pretty obvious that the stories had appeared in magazines at different times, as each included what Med Service did and the purpose of Calhoun's accompanying tormal, which a sharp editor would have cut.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/02/2012


 
Author: Mackle, Marisa
Title: Man Hunt
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 2
A successful female exec sets her goal being engaged by the end of the year.

Absolutely awful. There is nothing to like about the narrator and no detectible storyline in between the wandering narration. I forced myself through the first chapter hoping it would improve. It didn't.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/01/2012


 
Author: Trent, Gayle
Title: Murder Takes The CakeDaphne Reynolds # 1
Genre: Cozy Murder Mystery
Rating: 4
Newly back in her Virginia hometown after a divorce, Daphne's attempts to start a cake business are stymied by gossip after she finds a customer murdered. She stumbles across a shocking piece of news about her mother that she is obsessed by investigating, but a killer may not want her to find the truth.

Solid mystery with mostly likable characters. See my more detailed review at redadeptreviews.com/murder-takes-the-cake-by-gayle-trent/
reviewed by: Sylvia on 12/29/2011


 
Author: Hibbert, Eleanor as Holt, Victoria
Title: Menfreya in the Morning
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
Rating: 5
The dramatic Menfreys always fascinated Harriet nearly as much as their lovely ancestral home Menfreya did. So marrying the handsome son of the house, Bevil, was a dream come true, until it turned into the terror of thinking the legend of the clock tower was foretelling her death.

Engrossing story full of lively characters and a surprise resolution. Leaves most historical romance writers in the dust.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 12/28/2011


 
Author: Tran, Vinh Q.
Title: Market Upside Down
Genre: Financial Advice
Rating: 2
Supposedly a way to profit from declining stock markets, but all I got through was a history of the declines of the Japanese and U.S. stock markets.

Simply never caught my interest and I quit about 10% of the way through.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 12/27/2011


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