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: Indridason, Arnaldur
Title: OutrageReykjavik # 7
Genre: Police Procedural Mystery
Rating: 4
Erlundur is on vacation when a young man is found murdered, so Elinborg investigates what may have been revenge for a Rohypnol rape.

Once again, too much personal life intrudes into police work. Elinborg's problems with her kids simply don't add anything to the story (and I wanted to smack her oldest boy). The occasional allusion to a missing Erlendur sounds like a setup for the next book but again added nothing to this one. Even with the flaws, Indridason kept me reading a complicated plot with a little too much reliance on coincidence.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/03/2015


 
Author: Wilson, Janice Meredith as Karon, Jan
Title: Out to CanaanMitford # 4
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 3
Events in Mitford include a well-funded challenger for the mayor's office and the shock of Father Tim's planned retirement.

This is the first Mitford book I've been able to put down. The people are as real as ever, but Karon left huge gaps in the stories that overstrained my credulity. Father Tim shouldn't have had to worry about revealing a secret regarding Mayor Esther's challenger, when the whole town saw a not-rich candidate spending buckets of money on his campaign, even a country journalist could have asked where the money was coming from. Letting a 14-year-old unlicensed boy drive his car was both unbelievable and stupid. Ending a chapter with a coin flip WITHOUT REVEALING THE RESULT showed inexcusable contempt for the reader. The title was sort of appropriate in a strained way.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/02/2015


 
Author: McSparren, Carolyn
Title: One Hoof In The GraveMerry Abbot # 2
Genre: Cozy Murder Mystery
Rating: 4
Merry once again lands in the role of prime suspect when she finds the body of a much-disliked man at a horse event. Fortunately Geoff volunteers to help the local sheriff investigate, mostly to keep Merry from getting herself killed.

I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. There were some good lines, as when Geoff insists to the local sheriff that Merry would only kill someone who harmed horses and then asks in a panic whether the victim had hurt his horses. I like that the police in this series are reasonable people - the county sheriff admits he is stumped and welcomes Geoff's help. It kept me reading to the end. Spelling, grammar, and Kindle formatting are all fine - the only error I noted was referring to a "breach" birth. Once again, the title was clever but not particularly relevant to the storyline.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/01/2015


 
Author: Paterson, Jill
Title: Once Upon a LieFitzjohn # 3
Genre: Police Procedural Mystery
Rating: 4
Fitzjohn is seconded to a different district to investigate the suspicious death of the owner of a yacht repair business.

While nearly all the free Kindle books I've picked up are worth exactly what I paid for them (and in some cases, nothing was still more than they were worth), the occasional glorious exception is what keeps me trying new authors. I would not have found Jill Paterson's wonderful Fitzjohn series if she hadn't given away the first couple books in the series, and it has been a delightful experience. (This one, I bought.) I don't generally like police procedurals, but I probably would if more of them were as clear and logical as this one. Fitzjohn and his sergeant Betts go about their work methodically and gradually collect the pieces to put together. The characters feel real and it isn't obvious who the killer will turn out to be. The Australian setting is a bonus to this U.S. reader. There are two problems with the book. One is that Paterson has succumbed to the current trend of incorporating large chunks of the detective's private life into the story. This is distracting and not particularly interesting. The second problem is that Paterson really needs a good editor and/or proofreader. Commas are scattered throughout the text like seasoned salt on a salad, with a complete disregard for where they land. Her word use is generally accurate but occasionally she drops in a goof like "two white whicker armchairs" or "they're content is disturbing" or "Do I denote amusement in your face?" The title is intriguing but doesn't have much to do with the storylines. But the worst part is that now I have to wait to see if there will be more books in this series.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 12/31/2014


 
Author: Gordon-Smith, Dolores
Title: Off the RecordJack Haldean # 5
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 4
Jack is called in when a murder follows a series of apparent suicides surrounding a new type of sound recording device.

Decent mystery and kept me reading. Although whodunit was fairly obvious, how and why had me stumped. There were some extremely subtle clues, but I'm not sure that the reader was given all the information to figure it out. That doesn't bother me when the stories are involving, and Gordon-Smith's complicated but follow-able stories always drag me in. The title was quite clever. Spelling, grammar, and Kindle formatting were fine.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 12/23/2014


 
Author: Lackey, Mercedes & Dixon, Larry
Title: OwlknightDarian's Tale # 3
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4
A Herald-Mage is sent to Errol's Grove, with Shandi as his assistant. Newly-knighted Darian uses his newly-won Master powers to search for his parents, who disappeared years earlier. He and several of his friends set out on a quest into unknown lands and strange dangers.

The title of this book is certainly relevant to the story! Solid storytelling as usual, but with one surprising, major loose end left at the end of the book. Lackey isn't usually that sloppy, unless she is planning a fourth book in the series. Shandi and Karles do not come up to the measure of previous Herald/Companion pairs, but the rest of the characters are both believable and likable.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 07/13/2012


 
Author: Lackey, Mercedes & Dixon, Larry
Title: OwlsightDarian's Tale # 2
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4
Keisha has a strong Healing Gift but does not want to go to the Healer's Collegium to be trained, preferring to remain in Errol's Grove and tend to the ill and injured. The Hawkbrothers hastily occupy Darian's new Vale near Errol's Grove when they learn a large barbarian group is heading that way. But the barbarians have a secret that puts all Valdemar in danger.

Although I'm not a fan of alternating-viewpoint stories, Lackey spends enough time with each character that the switches aren't too jarring. The story itself engrossed me, as Lackey usually manages to unless she gets distracted by preaching. Keisha and Darian are both likable if not entirely believable, and several characters from Lackey's other Valdemar books reappear here. While the series titles are clever, they bear only minimal relation to the story.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 07/10/2012


 
Author: Inclan, Jessica Barksdale
Title: One Small Thing
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Avery's planned perfect life started unravelling when she was unable to conceive on schedule. But the discovery that her husband Dan has a 10-year-old son he never knew about, Daniel, and that the boy's mother Randi died and he has no other family, tears her apart. Then Randi's long-lost abusive father turns up and Avery desperately tries to protect Daniel.

Avery is an understandable if not always likable character, as is Dan. The rest of the characters are not as well-defined and do not feel real. The plot kept me reading right up to the terribly disappointing non-ending, leaving a major storyline hanging.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 07/05/2012


 
Author: Bagworth, James
Title: Out of the Limelight
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: NR
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Two Victorian comedians are in the wrong place at the wrong time and find themselves accused of the murder of a flower girl by a vengeful police sergeant.

Okay stylistically, but with too much grisly detail for my taste.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 07/04/2012


 
Author: Stewart, Fran
Title: Orange as MarmaladeBiscuit McKee # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: NR
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Biscuit McKee and the library cat recollect last year's murder in the library, during which she met her soon-to-be husband Bob.

There were so many elements I dislike that I barely made it a few pages in. I detest cutesy "narrations" by animals, and the opening of this book is from the POV of the library cat. I despise flashback stories, and human narrator Biscuit wanders back and forth between the murder last year and getting ready for her wedding in the "present." The whole idea of a policeman recognizing his limitations but being urged into investigating a murder himself struck me as not only ludicrous but unhealthy. I'm sure glad I didn't spend money on this.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 07/02/2012


 
Author: McClendon, Lise
Title: One O'Clock JumpDorie Lennox # 1
Genre: Historical Mystery - U.S.
Rating: NR
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Dorie Lennox works as a PI with her mentor Amos, but is haunted by a past that unexpectedly revives when an attorney working with her client turns out to be a man from her hometown.

Everything I don't like about hard-boiled PI stories: unpleasant people, the PI getting repeatedly beaten up, etc. I gave up pretty quickly.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 07/01/2012


 
Author: Johnson, Myra
Title: One Imperfect Christmas
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: NR
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. A woman is shattered by guilt over her mother's stroke, and her inability to move on costs her her marriage and daughter.

Too much pain for me. Even knowing there was probably a happy ending coming, I don't enjoy seeing people wallow in pain. Nor did I agree with the representation of Christians - the Bible is pretty clear that kicking your wife out of the house is NOT what Jesus would do.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/30/2012


 
Author: Pargeter, Edith as Peters, Ellis
Title: One Corpse Too ManyBrother Cadfael # 2
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 4
Stephen's army captures Shrewsbury and hangs the whole garrison that supported Maud. Among the dead, Cadfael finds an extra body who was garrotted rather than hung. He also is assigned a new apprentice with a secret, while two of Stephen's captains are interested in a lovely young heiress.

Slow-paced but with enough happening to keep me interested, and Hugh Beringar is a wonderful character - complex and layered, not completely consistent but very likable. It was pretty obvious who the bad guy would be, but the twisty side plots kept me guessing. If I could award partial stars, this one would get a 4.5.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/29/2012


 
Author: Tucker, Phil
Title: One by One
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. A man panics when his semi-senile mother disappears, and is not consoled when he learns millions of other people have disappeared as well.

Decent character study, but I don't especially enjoy character studies unless they include a strong, enjoyable storyline, and this painfully slow-moving excuse for a plot never seemed to get anywhere. His overbearing aunt irritated me tremendously. I forced myself to read the first quarter of the book before quitting, but it was difficult.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/28/2012


 
Author: Milne, A.A.
Title: Once A Week
Genre: Short Stories
Rating: 2
eBook downloaded free from www.Gutenberg.org Collection of short stories featuring mostly family events.

While some of the stories had mildly amusing endings, none were particularly interesting. I got halfway through, thinking there would surely be a gripping storyline in here somewhere. There wasn't, and I quit. The title had NO connection to anything in the book. There were some minor spelling/grammar errors but nothing major.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/28/2012


 
Author: Fenn, George Manville
Title: Off to the Wilds
Genre: Historical Fiction - Africa
Rating: NR
ebook downloaded free from www.Gutenberg.org Painfully dated tale of two English boys in colonial South Africa and their native servants.

Every sentence was permeated with the traditional "superior whites" attitude, and I couldn't stand it. Yes, it accurately represents the viewpoint of the time, but that didn't make it readable.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/27/2012


 
Author: Weber, David
Title: Oath of SwordsOath of Swords # 1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: NR
I picked up this book from Baen's Free Library. After royal hostage Bahzell interrupts the prince raping a palace servant and leaves him for dead, Bahzell and his local friend Blandark wander off to look for work as caravan guards.

Not my thing, although it seemed well-enough written.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/26/2012


 
Author: Strand, Joyce
Title: On Message
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 2
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Ethical (?) PR flak Jillian Hillcrest finds herself knowing too much about hidden problems in the clinical trials for a new drug her company desperately needs.

If there was a storyline here, I missed it, between flashbacks and bits of information that might have been storylines eventually and overexplanation of irrelevant bits of Jillian's history and even sports references. It didn't help that an ethical PR person overstrained my willingness to suspend disbelief. Strand really needs to learn to apply the "is this necessary to develop the plot?" rule and ruthlessly toss out everything else, rather than falling in love with her writing and boring the reader. I got about a quarter of the way through and then couldn't stand it any more. Spelling, grammar, and formatting were okay, and the title was somewhat related to the events in the book.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/25/2012


 
Author: Hamley, Dennis
Title: Of Dooms and DeathJoslin de Lay # 1
Genre: Historical Mystery - England
Rating: 2
I borrowed this book from another Kindler through the Lendle.me website. After his father's murder, young minstrel Joslin heads for Wales to find his mother and learn about his heritage. But he winds up suspected of the murder of two servants of cruel Sir Roger de Noville, and determined to prove his innocence by finding the real killer.

The story felt formulaic and never caught my interest. Nor did the characters seem believable. Spelling and grammar were okay, but there was some wonky formatting that changed font size between paragraphs.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/23/2012


 
Author: Weber, David
Title: On Basilisk StationHonor Harrington # 1
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5
Honor and her new command, the Fearless, are banished to Basilisk to guard an important but undervalued wormhole nexus. But by doing an impossible job, Honor instills pride in her crew and picks up a valuable ally in Dame Estelle, Manticore's local Queen's representative, and together they uncover a plot to take over the nexus from Manticore.

Even if the book hadn't been dedicated to C.S. Forester, the shades of Horatio Hornblower are pretty obvious, but that's not a bad thing. I'm not techie enough to evaluate the viability of the science behind the various ship's abilities, but nothing struck me as blatantly wrong. The characters were solid and mostly likable, the villains were definitely not likable but believable, and the story gripped me almost from the beginning. I can't wait to read the next in the series.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/20/2012


 
Author: Lowd, Mary
Title: Otters In Space: The Search for Cat Havana
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3
I picked this up free during a Smashwords promotion. In a future where man and otters have both left Earth to go into space, dogs run things and cats are an oppressed minority. Petra is campaigning for elected office, while Kipper stumbles across a possible clue to a cat haven. When Petra disappears, Kipper thinks she is hunting for the haven "Havana" and goes after her.

This sounded like a very clever idea, and it could have been fun, but it wasn't. Lowd does an excellent job capturing the constant fear and desperate hope of the oppressed group, but the story did not hold my attention. I got about a quarter of the way through and quit. Spelling and grammar and formatting were acceptable, and I give Lowd credit for an inventive premise and effective mood presentation.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/17/2012


 
Author: Alcott, Louisa May
Title: On Picket Duty
Genre: Historical Fiction - U.S.
Rating: 4
eBook downloaded free from www.Gutenberg.org Short collection of short pieces, set during the Civil War. Besides the title piece, The King of Clubs and the Queen of Hearts, The Cross On the Old Church Tower, and The Death of John (labelled a true story) are included.

Although quite dated, this collection will remind the reader of Alcott's skill at tearjerkers. The Death of John seems to be an expanded version of a story included in Hospital Sketches. Keep a box of kleenex handy when reading this! Spelling and grammar were acceptable, formatting was occasionally a little wonky but not to the point that it distracted me from the story.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/16/2012


 
Author: Indridason, Arnaldur
Title: Operation Napoleon
Genre: Thriller
Rating: NR
A plane that disappeared during WWII shows up in a satellite photo, and a U.S. search team is dispatched to Iceland to recover something.

Although I like Indridason's Reykjavik mysteries very much, this was a brutal spy thriller and I gave up very quickly - it didn't have any of the features I enjoy in the mysteries.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/07/2012


 
Author: Coyle, Cleo
Title: On What GroundsClaire Cosi # 1
Genre: Cozy Murder Mystery
Rating: 3
Empty-nester Claire Cosi comes back to Manhattan to manage her former mother-in-law's coffee shop. But when her assistant manager Annabelle suffers a terrible fall and the police rule it an accident, Claire's gut feeling that this was an attack sets her and ex-husband Matt investigating Annabelle's background.

While the story is well-enough written, something about it failed to engage me. Maybe it was the long flashback to Claire's work life and motherhood. Maybe it was the frequent instances of Claire or Matt discovering something and not sharing it with the reader. Maybe it was the overused can't-keep-away-from-ex-husband aspect. Maybe it was that the cutesy title did not reflect any essential element in the story. Or maybe it was the frequent digressions into coffee-lore lecturing - I don't like coffee at all and the distinction between espesso and brewed coffee does not interest me in the least. For whatever reason, the characters never felt real and although I finished the book, it didn't leave me wanting to reach for the next in the series.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/06/2012


 
Author: Simmons, Wm Mark
Title: One Foot in the GraveChris Csejthe # 1
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: NR
Christopher Csejthe finds his heart has grown cold after burying his wife and daughter. But he still has trouble believing the doctor who rescues him from attack by a mysterious being when she explains he is turning into a vampire and takes him to the vampire domain of Seattle for protection and research.

I dislike nearly all "paranormal" stories, and only started this book because the series description sounded amusing. However, the book is definitely NOT funny, and Simmons spends way too much story time on the background of vampire culture.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/02/2012


 
Author: Hammond, Donald
Title: Olde Tyme Salad Recipes
Genre: Cookbook
Rating: 3
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Collection of old time recipes for salads and salad dressings, arranged alphabetically.

Hammond starts his introduction: "I found these recipes hidden away in collections held by women from before computers and PDAs etc." While some of the recipes sound delicious and/or interesting (apples and bananas in grape juice, Bird's Nest Salad), I have to wonder if some of these recipes were kept to threaten family members with. Vinegar and mustard on chopped apples? Sweetbreads and truffles with mayo on lettuce? Some of the advice is simply a hoot, such as lemon juice and vinegar being incompatible with cream (but not specially treated milk, according to the author of a 1918 cookbook). Hammond warns the reader that he has not modernized the instructions, which seriously interferes with the book's usefulness. What is "plain dressing?" Modern cooks want an ingredient list followed by directions, which Hammond does not supply. Many recipes refer to other recipes, such as "Lemon Dressing" or "Basic Salad Dressing," which are not linked but which I eventually found in a separate salad dressings section. We wouldn't even recognize what they called French dressing or Hollandaise sauce. The book opens to a nice active Table of Contents, but it doesn't interface with the Kindle navigation menu so be sure to bookmark it. This is interesting as history but would be difficult to use as a cookbook.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 05/31/2012


 
Author: Wise Sloth, The
Title: Occupy LOL Street: The LOL Cats Save Christmas
Genre: Graphic novel
Rating: 1
I picked up this "book" free during an Amazon giveaway. Three cute cats get involved with a man in a Santa suit and take over a television station.

Complete gibberish in a very short (20 locations) piece, trying to incorporate politics and economics into a cartoon format. No wonder the author chose to remain anonymous - he didn't even give us different pictures of the cats!
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/22/2012


 
Author: Lackey, Mercedes
Title: OathbloodVows and Honor # 3
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5
Collection of Tarma & Kethry stories, some of which I'd already read in other Valdemar books.

There was quite a bit of humor in these stories, although it was sometimes heavy-handed - it's very difficult to wind up a humorous story without sounding trite, and Lackey's endings aren't typically the best parts of her work. The title novella was particularly enjoyable, a look at their lives after starting their school. If that is the kind of mother and grandmother Lackey is, her kids and grandkids must really love her!
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/11/2011


 
Author: Wishart, David
Title: OvidMarcus Corvinus # 1
Genre: Historical Mystery - Rome
Rating: NR
Ovid's beautiful stepdaughter asks Marcus Corvinus' help in bringing the late poet's body back to Rome. But the imperial bureaucracy forbids the re-burial and keeps Marcus from reaching the Emperor to appeal personally, and Marcus wants to know why.

Just another PI story, which I generally don't like and didn't finish.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 08/23/2010


 
Author: Tourney, Leonard
Title: Old Saxon BloodMatthew & Joan Stock # 5
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: NR
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/13/2010


 
Author: Lackey, Mercedes & Dixon, Larry
Title: OwlflightDarian's Tale # 1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/11/2010


 
Author: McCullough, Colleen
Title: On, OffCarmine Delmonico # 1
Genre:
Rating:
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/08/2010


 
Author: Reed, Mary & Mayer, Eric
Title: One For SorrowJohn the Eunuch # 1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Rating: 4
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/07/2010


 
Author: Lackey, Mercedes
Title: OathbreakersVows and Honor # 2
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5
Tarma and Kethry investigate when the captain of their mercenary troop fails to return from a trip to Rethwellan and end up organizing a coup.

More of a traditional novel than most of her Tarma & Kethry series, but still a good strong story, introducing a love interest for Kethry.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/05/2010


 
Author: Lackey, Mercedes
Title: One Good KnightFive Hundred Kingdoms # 2
Genre: Fairy Tale
Rating: 5
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/26/2010


 
Author: Maron, Margaret
Title: One Coffee WithSigrid Harald # 1
Genre:
Rating:
reviewed by: Sylvia on 11/16/2009


 
Author: Brown, Rita Mae
Title: OutfoxedJane Arnold # 1
Genre:
Rating:
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/03/2009


 
Author: Rennert, Maggie
Title: Operation AlcestisGuy Silvestri # 1
Genre:
Rating:
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/01/2009


 
Author: McInerny, Ralph M
Title: On This RockneNotre Dame # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery - P.I.
Rating: 4
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/27/2009


 
Author: Munro, Alice
Title: Open secrets
Genre:
Rating:
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/15/2009


 
Author: White, Kate
Title: Over her dead bodyBailey Weggins # 4
Genre:
Rating:
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/07/2009


 
Author: Peterson, Andrew
Title: On the edge of the Dark Sea of DarknessWingfeather Saga #1
Genre:
Rating:
Janner and his siblings Tink and crippled Leeli are going to be sent via Black Carriage to Gnag the Nameless.

This story was an odd combination of funny names and scary things happening to children, which I simply cannot tolerate. (Blame my mothering genes.) It was interesting enough up to the point that I quit because the children were in danger, but the discord bothered me anyway.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 03/03/2009


 
Author: Lewis, J. Patrick
Title: Once upon a Tomb
Genre: Children's Book
Rating: 3
reviewed by: Sylvia on 02/25/2009


 
Author: Westlake, Donald E as Sam Holt
Title: One of Us Is WrongSam Holt # 1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 4
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/08/2008


 
Author: Evanovich, Janet
Title: One for the moneyStephanie Plum #1
Genre:
Rating:
reviewed by: Sylvia on 08/22/2008


 
Author: Box, C.J.
Title: Open SeasonJoe Pickett # 1
Genre:
Rating:
No more of this series for me. Even though it's set in my beloved Wyoming, it's more of a political thriller than a murder mystery, and when children are put in danger, it stops being enjoyable. From what I can tell, the author did a good job combining the thriller and mystery lines, but it was just too scary for me.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/09/2008


 
Author: Berenson, Laurien
Title: Once bittenMelanie Travis # 8
Genre:
Rating:
Sam has gone off to find himself and Melanie's ex-husband Bob reappears in this story, but the main question is whether Sara Bentley is a murderess or a victim. I was three-quarters of the way through the book before I figured out whodunit, and I was wrong (although I was right about the why). No relying on the dogs NOT doing something in this story, Berenson is back playing fair with the reader.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 05/16/2008


 
Author: McNamara, Mary
Title: Oscar Season
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 5
Written from the viewpoint of a hotel P.R. director, it weaves the story of famous people living famous lives in between occasional deaths that may or may not be murder.

Talk about your guilty pleasures. This book should come with suggested penances. McNamara, an L.A. Times reporter, shows she really knows the L.A. routine. I couldn't put it down, and it's long time since I've said that.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 05/11/2008


 
Author: Hospital, Janette Turner
Title: Orpheus lost
Genre:
Rating:
Very strange and not very interesting story of two children from dysfunctional families whose lives intersect as adults when one is living with a gifted musician who is also a suspected terrorist. No likeable characters and a rather disjointed plot. I struggled to get halfway through and then skipped to the last 30 pages, so I guess I was interested enough to find out what happened, but not interested enough to keep slogging through.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 05/08/2008


 
Author: Brandreth, Gyles Daubeney
Title: Oscar Wilde and a death of no importance
Genre:
Rating:
I wasn't impressed with the idea of this book. It presents Oscar Wilde out-Holmesing Sherlock or his author, Arthur Conan Doyle, on the trail of the killer of a young male prostitute. Tying such an alleged ability onto a real person seems disrespectful and belittling to his very real abilities and problems. And the story isn't involving enough to make up for the way-out fictionalizing of Wilde. I made it halfway through before I gave up, as the story clearly wasn't improving.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 05/07/2008


 
Author: Fielding, Helen
Title: Olivia Joules and the overactive imagination
Genre:
Rating:
I've never made a secret of the fact that I need some likeable characters in order to enjoy a book (or movie). This book failed that test. Olivia grated on me like fingernails on a chalkboard. When her "overactive imagination" suspects that a dark-skinned man is a terrorist and she winds up needing the CIA's help -- I just couldn't care. Of course I didn't finish the book.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 05/04/2008


 
Author: Maffini, Mary Jane
Title: Organize Your CorpsesCharlotte Adams #1
Genre: Murder Mystery
Rating: 3
A compulsive organizer winds up as the chief suspect in a murder which a former rival is investigating.

I have to admit I did not see the ending coming, and I'm not sure all the information to figure it out was given to the reader. But there were two major problems. First, Charlotte's mental illness doesn't make her very interesting as a heroine, and the constant references to her compulsive behavior became more and more irritating. Second, a major plot point is that the police detective investigating the murder, Pepper, is an ex-friend of Charlotte's, with a personal grudge as motive to convict Charlotte of the murder. All it would take would be one phone call to the police chief and ex-friend would be totally off the case and lucky to escape a reprimand. Even if Charlotte didn't know that, her lawyer would. So every twist that depended on Pepper's determination to prove Charlotte guilty became totally unbelievable. I don't know if I'll bother with anything else by this author.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 05/01/2008


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