Thursday, March 31, 2016

Journey to Munich: A Maisie Dobbs Novel

I love the Maisie Dobbs books. One of the hallmarks with her books is the beautiful way the can put her readers in the exact place and time in which her novels are set.   I could feel the darkness of that time as if it were a malevolent fog settling over Europe.  The author didn't need to go into with all the horrible details.  As on reviewer put it  "You could feel the fear."

I can never say that anyone of Winspeare's book is the best one yet because I always think that about every one of them when I first read it.  But I can say that this one did not disappoint.  Maisie grows with each book both as a person and as also as an investigator. 

Publisher's Summary

Working with the British Secret Service on an undercover mission, Maisie Dobbs is sent to Hitler's Germany in this thrilling tale of danger and intrigue - the 12th novel in Jacqueline Winspear's New York Times best-selling "series that seems to get better with each entry" (The Wall Street Journal).

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

All About Emily

By Connie Willis
Rated 4.5 Stars
Format:  Hard Cover
Genre:  Fantasy

A friend very kindly sent this book to me and I really appreciate it.  As much as I like Connie Willis's books I wouldn't have paid $4.99 for a 96 page Novella let alone $7.19 for a hard cover.

But I really enjoyed this story and the ending left me smiling and just a little puzzled.

Amazon Book Description

Theater legend Claire Havilland fears she might be entering the Sunset Boulevard phase of her career. That is, until her manager arranges a media appearance with her biggest fan--a famous artificial intelligence pioneer's teenage niece. After precocious Emily's backstage visit, Claire decides she's in a different classic film altogether. While unnaturally charming Emily swears she harbors no desire for the spotlight, Claire wonders if she hasn't met her very own Eve Harrington from All About Eve. But the story becomes more complex as dreams of fame give way to concerns about choice, free will, and identity.

With this long, 17,000 word novelette, acclaimed author Connie Willis combines the glamour of old Hollywood and the eternal allure of Broadway to explore the cutting edge robotics of a richly-imagined near future.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Fan Girl

By:  Rainbow Rowell
Rated 4.5 Stars
Genre:  Romance/Coming of Age
Format: Audible

Fangirl is about a young girl venturing into college and leaving the side of her twin for the first time. 

Starting college with out your twin sister whom you have always shared a room with is a big change. Cath, shy, nerdy and socially awkward has always depended on her outgoing sister for her social life and for years she has immersed herself in an on-line community consisting of the fans of a best selling series of books whose main character is Simon Snow. But college is changing everything for Cath. Her sister wants a hard partying college experience and no longer wants to room with her.  Cath has been writing nearly famous fan-fiction based on the Simon Snow characters for years. With her life seemingly falling apart, fan-fiction is her only escape from the torment of her reality.  But as the year progresses, Cath slowly comes to realize that new experiences, although scary at times, can also be rewarding. 

At first the Simon Snow/Twilight similarities bothered me but by the end of the book that element had stopped setting my teeth on edge. The author, quite cleverly I thought, gently introduced Cath's fan faction by working excerpts from "Carry On Simon" into the story. 

Audible Book Description
In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life--and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.
Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a char
ming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Friday, March 25, 2016


By Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Rated 4 Stars
Aubio Format
Genre M/M Romance

M/M books are a genre that is new for me.  I am way to old to spend money so that I can pant over a book that has steamy scenes that I don't get.  But Sarina and Elle write such strong stories peopled with great secondary characters that their books insist that I read them because I can always just skip past the scenes that make me uncomfortable.  I've been doing that to Nora Robert"s books for years. :)

Last year I stumbled across Sarina Bowen's Understatement of the Year and just like that - I'm not afraid of the M/M genre anymore.

Purloined from Amazon's product page:

They don't play for the same team. Or do they?  

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley's biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he'll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions--
can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016


By Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Rated 4 Stars
Kindle Format
Genre M/M Romance

This book is a continuation of their book HIM.  I would have been very disappointed had Sarina and Elle not decided to tell how the story of how Jamie and Wes worked out.

Purloined from Amazon's product page:

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated? 

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice. Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves. Or can they? When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel.
 With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?  Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain

By:  Bill Bryson
Rated 4 Stars
Narrated by:  Nathan Osgood

I love travel books and Bill Bryson is my gold standard.  I buy his books as soon as I'm aware a new one has been released.  For a very long time I have been purchasing them in audio format because listening to Bill Bryson read his book adds an element that professional narrators, no matter how good,  just can't achieve.

For that reason I have only rated this book four stars.  I was very disappointed that the author was not reading this himself.  I should have just purchased this in Kindle format.

But the book itself was, as usual, very good. I really love his use of language and it's is a great sequel to Notes from a Small Island.  I so wish I was still able to travel because he mentions so many places I would love to visit in person.

Publisher's Summary

The hilarious and loving sequel to a hilarious and loving classic of travel writing: Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson's valentine to his adopted country of England. 
In 1995, Bill Bryson got into his car and took a weeks-long farewell motoring trip about England before moving his family back to the United States. The book about that trip, Notes from a Small Island, is uproarious and endlessly endearing, one of the most acute and affectionate portrayals of England in all its glorious eccentricity ever written. Two decades later, he set out again to rediscover that country, and the result is The Road to Little Dribbling. Nothing is funnier than Bill Bryson on the road; prepare for the total joy and multiple episodes of unseemly laughter. 

The Mother Tongue

I have always love Bill Bryson use of language and his sense of humor.  I learn far more listening to his books than I do listening to some of the more academically presented lectures to be found on audible.

Publisher's Description:

With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson - the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent - brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience, and sheer fun of the English language. From the first descent of the larynx into the throat (why you can talk but your dog can't) to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world's largest growth industries.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Rated:  4 

This book kept me listening far into the night. I never did get a feeling for what made this guy tick. I just can't imagine being able to  maintain the kind of facade necessary to pull off a deception on this scale.  What did he think he was doing?  I finally came to the conclusion that he was just hooked on thrill of being able to hoodwink so many people.  He couldn't have given any thought to how many lives he ruined.  I don't think he could have lived with himself if he had.

Publisher's Summary

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre's most ambitious work to date offers a powerful new angle on the 20th century's greatest spy story.
Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain's counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War - while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby's best friend and fellow officer in MI6. The two men had gone to the same schools, belonged to the same exclusive clubs, grown close through the crucible of wartime intelligence work and long nights of drink and revelry. It was madness for one to think the other might be a communist spy, bent on subverting Western values and the power of the free world. 
But Philby was secretly betraying his friend. Every word Elliott breathed to Philby was transmitted back to Moscow - and not just Elliott's words, for in America, Philby had made another powerful friend: James Jesus Angleton, the crafty, paranoid head of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton's and Elliott's unwitting disclosures helped Philby sink almost every important Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years, leading countless operatives to their doom. Even as the web of suspicion closed around him, and Philby was driven to greater lies to protect his cover, his two friends never abandoned him - until it was too late. The stunning truth of his betrayal would have devastating consequences on the two men who thought they knew him best, and on the intelligence services he left crippled in his wake.