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: Smith, Haywood
Title: Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 1
A divorced fiftyish woman moves back into her parents' house to rebuild her life, but (with reason) dreads coping with her loony family.

Yet another book featuring characters you would run in the other direction if you met on the street. Why do authors think these people are any more tolerable in a book? I didn't get very far into the book before quitting, the characters were just too awful to take any more. Yes, there are certainly people like this in real life, but I don't enjoy spending time with them and I'm not going to waste my valuable reading time on them.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 09/01/2012

Author: Gooseberry Patch
Title: Quick & Easy Family Dinners Cookbook
Genre: Cookbook
Rating: 2
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Collection of a few homestyle main and side dishes, sent to the publisher by readers of their earlier cookbooks.

There is nothing here especially original, but the recipes rely on ingredients most kids will like: pasta, tomato sauce, ground beef, potatoes. Some of the recipes include ingredients for which I saw no purpose, such as the baking powder in the dry coating for Oven-Fried Chicken. Other recipes don't seem to have been thought through, such as Judy's Pizza Rolls which I would expect to come out too soggy to hold. Nor is there any interest in healthy cooking, as the recipes rely on high-sodium commercial products such as spaghetti sauce and cream of mushroom soup. There is a big chunk of white space between each ingredient in the ingredient list, which is wasteful and somewhat confusing. (The directions section is double-spaced.) There is no table of contents, so you'll need to bookmark the recipes you want to find again. If you get the chance to pick it up free, as I did, it's worth looking through. Otherwise, save your money for better, healthier recipes.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 08/22/2012

Author: Chau, Angie
Title: Quiet As They Come
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 2
A meek Vietnamese immigrant becomes angry when a chauvinist co-worker expresses sexual interest in his 13-year-old daughter.

I quit because I didn't like the way the story was going, but there were other problems as well. It's not clear when the story is set, and it makes a difference; sexual harassment at work has been illegal for years, so if the story was set in an earlier era, Chau should have made that clear. If not, she needed to explain why a federal employee was getting away with such behavior. And hasn't she ever heard of statutory rape? Finally, too much of the story took place in the main character's head and wandering through time, which is possible to make interesting but Chau didn't manage it. All I can say in the story's favor is that the spelling, grammar, and formatting were okay.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 08/20/2012

Author: Douglass, Patty
Title: Quick & Easy Greek Yogurt Recipes
Genre: Cookbook
Rating: 3
I picked up this book free during an Amazon giveaway. Collection of meatless recipes using Greek yogurt as the protein source.

Has an interactive Table of Contents that interfaces with the Kindle navigation menu. I don't see the point in substituting vegetarian "meat" for natural meat, so scones with vegetarian "bacon" and breakfast pitas with vegetarian "sausage" didn't appeal to me at all. Nor do I consider such products "gourmet." I also had trouble when Douglass' anti-meat bias affected her presentation of facts. She complains about "dry and flavorless chicken breast" but when I cook chicken breast, it comes out tender and juicy. She states that using milk in scrambled eggs "separates and leaves a mess floating on top of the eggs." I've only been making scrambled eggs for 50 years, using various milk products, and I don't ever remember that happening. But if you are looking to add more protein to your diet, there are some interesting-looking recipes if you can pick up the book cheaply enough.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 08/10/2012

Author: Garrett, Randall & Lesser, Milton as Chase, Adam
Title: Quest of the Golden Ape
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 2
Author: Garrett, Randall & Lesser, Milton as Chase, Adam

E-novella downloaded free from A being from another planet springs into life on Earth and seeks his destiny, while those who destroyed his nation on his planet worry about someone pursuing revenge.

I could not get into this story at all. I'm not a fan of quests or finding-out-who-you-are stories anyway, and this didn't seem like a particularly good example anyway; the writing and characters all seemed dreadfully self-conscious, and the back-and-forth between Earth and the other planet and characters felt disjointed. Garrett has written some excellent stories; read them and skip this one.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 08/09/2012

Author: Strachey, Giles Lytton
Title: Queen Victoria
Genre: Biography
Rating: 4
eBook downloaded free from Yet another biography, focusing on her political as well as personal activities.

I expected to be bored by this book, as I'm very familiar with the queen's life and unimpressed with what I know of the author. But he held me entranced all the way through, both with information I didn't already have, including quotes from her journals, and cogent analysis of the effect she had on the political activity of the time (and vice versa). The style is more than a bit dated, and he downplays some of the controversial aspects of her life; for example, he portrays her relationship with John Brown as simply that of mistress to devoted servant. But the sheer readability, combined with the perceptive insights into the life of a complicated woman, made this book well worth my time.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 08/08/2012

Author: Benson, E.F.
Title: Queen LuciaMapp and Lucia # 1
Genre: Historical Fiction - England
Rating: 1
eBook downloaded free from Emmeline Lucas aka La Lucia rules the social life of her small English town and exemplifies, in her own mind at least, a cultural ideal.

What a perfectly horrible story. Lucia is self-centered, self-satisfied, and smug to boot. Her husband is content to have their world revolve around her and their joint ideas of culture. The townspeople share their warped tastes. A satire should be amusing; this was just pathetic. I couldn't get far into it before throwing it away in disgust.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 08/07/2012

Author: Anand, Valerie as Fiona Buckley
Title: Queen's RansomUrsula Blanchard # 3
Genre: Historical Thriller
Rating: 2
Ursula travels to France with her former father-in-law, who delays them reaching his young ward and endangers Ursula's secret mission to the French court.

Something about this series had me dreading to read another one, and I think I've figured out what. It is closer to a political thriller, somewhat similar to the Matthew Shardlake books set 50 years earlier, than a traditional murder mystery, and I just don't like thrillers. I also don't like the contrivance necessary to get Ursula's secret husband into each book, and I quit reading this one a quarter of the way through.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 01/22/2011

Author: Binchy, Maeve
Title: Quentins
Supposedly a melange of stories, but 100 pages in it was just a girl having an affair with a married financial whiz and I gave up.

Neither the story nor the characters were interesting enough to keep me reading.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 10/31/2009

Author: O'Brien, Harriet
Title: Queen Emma and the Vikings
reviewed by: Sylvia on 04/15/2009

Author: McKenzie, Nancy
Title: Queen of Camelot
reviewed by: Sylvia on 12/04/2008

Author: Douglas, Scott
Title: Quiet, please
reviewed by: Sylvia on 06/19/2008

Author: Abe, Shana
Title: Queen of dragons
There are generally two classes of fantasy. One kind features normal life and is generally cheerful except for the story conflict; the Dragons of Pern series is a good example. The second is considerably more gloomy, often with complicated story interrelationships and characters who all have their own agenda, and frankly I don't enjoy this type. Queen of dragons is the second type, and apparently the middle of a series to boot. 'Nuff said.
reviewed by: Sylvia on 05/10/2008

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