Newest Reviews

Books are reviewed on a 4-Star system

See Drop Down menu for previously reviewed books.

New Books reviewed since last update
Title Author Type Rating Description Date Reviewed
Jerusalem: The Biography Simon Sebag Montefiore Non-Fiction ****+ (Bradley) Jerusalem ranks at the top of my life long reading list. This is a book I will read a second time.  Strongly recommend one reads it electronically with access to internet and good maps.  Simon set out to write an objective history of one of the most controversial cities in the world; where 3 major  religions and 2 ethnic peoples started and clashed.   I think he accomplished his objective, as most who read it will find something to object to in Simons telling of history.  Jerusalem is an intense read, but if you want to understand why peace has not been achievable in the Middle East, you have to understand the history, something our press has done a very poor job exposing.  People have been fighting over Jerusalem long before religion became the cause.  It is amazing to me, anyone is alive to still fight as millions have been died fighting for one cause or another.    2015-11
Father Son & Co: My Life at IBM and Beyond Thomas J. Watson and Peter Petre Non-Fiction **** (Bradley) The fascinating story of the founding, growth and transition of IBM to the worlds most successful company.  Dad founded and ran the company slowly turning over the reins to his son, until just before his passing, he completely stepped down.  The is a very honest story about the inherent conflicts that often exist between Fathers and children as power is handed off in family run companies.  Thomas and Peter also do a great job of exploring both the mistakes and successes of father, son and IBM.  It offers some great insights on how to keep a company relevant and competitive.  Very much a book worth reading. 2015-11
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette Hamptom Sides Non-Fiction **** Incredibly well researched and presented history of a ship that set out for the North Pole in the late 19th Century. Great insights into the science of the times, the logistics of the great explorations, and a tale of advanture, survival, and tragedy. My favorite kind of book – non-fiction that reads like a novel. 2015-10
Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas Matthew Lewis Non-Fiction *** The author, at the time a young marine biologist, gets a job with the Firsheries department as an observer on the South African fishing vessel Sudar Havid bound for the treacherous Southern Ocean. As with many stories of disasters, he highlights a long series of events ranging from poor decision making and leadership, lack of crew training, shortcuts in maintenance, and more, all leading to a disaster which included the loss of one third of the crew but the survival and rescue of the rest. Though the events took place in 1998, the book was just published in 2015 and is perhaps better for that. It seems the author has really reflected on the events and has combined his own memories with input from other crew members. It’s a must read for anyone contemplating off-shore cruising and a fast-paced action tale even for landlubbers! As an added benefit, you will learn all about the Patagonian Toothfish! 2015-11
Pirate Hunters Robert Kurson Non-Fiction *** The divers introduced in Kurson’s last book, Shadow Divers, are off on a new adventure – to locate the Golden Fleece, a fabled pirate ship. The hunt involves many false starts, a race against time, and the ever-present competitors in a quest for the holy grail of salvage divers – a rare pirate ship. Though I found this less engrossing than Kurson’s two previous books, both of which are among my all-time favorites – it is still a very good story and well worth a read. 2015-10
Solomon’s Song Bryce Courtenay Historical Fiction *** This is the third book of a trilogy, that I did not know about until I finished reading it.  Still it was a very interesting read.  I would call his a historical novel about New Zealand and Australia involvement in World War I, responding to mother England call for support.  As a fan of nonfiction and military biographies, Bryce was still able to surprise and overwhelm me with the destruction that occurred in WWI.  “The hardcore realness of this narrative that takes place in World War One is so powerful that this reader felt the force of war; brought to that place by such compelling characters that a human connection was unavoidable. I do not think that I have ever had so much admiration for any such as these: with all their conflicts, strengths, weaknesses, heart, and amazing journeys.Read the trilogy, you will never regret it.”  I plan to read the fist two.  2015-11
The Warriors: Kent Family Chronicles Book 6 John Jakes Historical Fiction *** The Civil War is ending and the country and its occupants must pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. Members of the Kent family engage in various enterprises: publishing in the northeast, building the railroad out west, hunting and trapping, and engaging in the politics of the time. Jakes weaves a good, if not always believable, story around true events, making it great fun to learn the history of our nation. 2015-10
Career of Evil Robert Gailbraith Fiction *** Third in the Cormorant Strike series by Galbraith (aka JK Rowling). The author, whoever he or she is, is a good story teller and this is another enjoyable mystery story. Strike’s assistant, Robin, receives a package containing a body part and this begins the search for a killer – one with a personal tie to one of the main characters. Fast paced, though a bit long, it’s a good page-turner. 2015-11
The Crossing Michael Connelly Fiction *** Connelly again combines his two main characters, Harry Bosch and Lincoln Laywer Mickey Haller, to prove the innocence of Haller’s client. Reluctant to cross over to the “dark side”, Bosch eventually comes to believe in the client’s innocence and sets out to discover the truth. If you like either of these series, you’ll like this book and if you like both, you won’t want to put it down. 2015-11
The Escape David Baldacci Fiction *** Third in the John Puller series, in this book Puller’s brother, in prison for treason, escapes from a maximum security facility. Even Puller is unsure if he is an ally or a threat as the story unfolds. Good guys, bad guys, espionage, and the inevitable race against time to save the world (or at least the US) ensue in a fast paced thriller. Fun read. 2015-11
Yellow Crocus Laila Ibrahim Historical Fiction ** A young slave girl is assigned to act as wet-nurse for the plantation owner’s newborn daughter. This begins a life-long relationship between the two, illustrating the many complicated facets of life and relationships during the times of slavery. A well written story. 2015-11
A Rule Against Murder :ouise Penny Fiction ** Inspector Gamache and his wife book an anniversary trip to a remote Quebec retreat but soon are embroiled in a murder in the midst of a family reunion. Good story and the audio version of the book is quite good – the narrator’s authentic French-Canadian accent really adds to the story. For those who like murder mysteries, this series is a nice alternative to the American versions of the genre. 2015-11
Hand of Evil J. A. Jance Fiction ** Third in the Ali Reynolds series, this book focuses on two unrelated murders, though a witness to one has some subtle ties to the other. Not a bad book – fun, easy read, though can’t justify more than two stars 2015-10
Motive Jonathan Kellerman Fiction ** Book 30 in the Alex Delaware series. While making no progress on a cold case, a new case develops when a recently divorced woman is murdered. Suspects include lawyer and ex-hubby. As the case unfolds, there are also clues to a long ago cold case revealed. Its hard to maintain a series for this long, but I find the characters still entertaining and the stories reasonably satisfying. 2015-11
Still Alice Lisa Genova Fiction ** A psychology professor begins to have trouble remembering things and is diagnosed with early onset Alhzheimers. Told from the professor’s point of view, the book attempts to chronicle the journey, the effects of the disease and its impact on family and friends. 2015-11
The Inner Circle Brad Meltzer Fiction ** The hero, Beecher White, is an Indiana Jones type character – an archivist at the National Archives charged with safeguarding the Nation’s treasured documents. But when he stumbles across a special dictionary, filled with secrets codes, he embarks on an adventure filled with intrique and, of course, murder. First in the “Culper Ring” series, its a fast paced, enjoyable read. 2015-11
The Murderer’s Daughter Jonathan Kellerman Fiction ** I’m a long time fan of Kellerman and his Alex Delaware novels and was glad to see him create a story about a completely new character, psychologist Grace Blades. Following her parents murder-suicide, Blades is placed in foster care, eventually having the good fortune to attract a mentor who changes her life. Many years later, she becomes embroiled in a murder mystery, bringing back many aspects of her past. Enjoyable book for those that like this genre. 2015-10
Previously reviewed books – Recent
Title Type Author Rating Description Date Reviewed
Dead Wake Erik Larson Non-Fiction **** The story of the Lusitania, a British passenger ship on a voyage from NY to London with a number of American passengers on board. It was sunk by a German U-Boat, helping to facilitate the US entry into WWI. The book tells the story from several points of view, including some interesting perspectives from the German U-Boat Captain, some history about the building of the vessel, and some insight into Woodrow Wilson and some of the personal challenges he was facing during a difficult time in his presidency. Quite educational, but with the action and plot of a good thriller! 2015-07
One Summer Bill Bryson Non-Fiction **** This book focuses on the events of the summer of 1927, when there was quite a lot to write about! From Lindbergh’s first transatlantic flight, to infamous murder trials, prohibition and Al Capone, and Babe Ruth’s home run exploits, and much more, there’s a lot to cover and Bryson does it in his typical light-hearted way, making History fun! 2015-07
The Prime Ministers Yehuda Avner Non-Fiction **** (Bradley) For me this was an outstanding book.  It is written by an insider, who worked for each of the Israeli Prime Ministers beginning with David Ben-Gurion  and ending with Menachem Begin.  Yehuda immigrated from the UK to Israeli prior to its statehood does an outstanding job of presenting the challenges Israeli’s faced in her first 50 years.  This was a very personal book for me, as it clearly demonstrates the challenges Israeli faced, continues to face.  It also very effectively demonstrates just biased the majority of the worlds press are as they report on the conflict.

Avner does a great job of opening the closed doors of both the Israeli and the US governments negotiations in the quest for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem.  This is a very challenging read that revels some of the horrors of WWII on a personal level, the duplicity of world leaders, including our own presidents and what it is like to be an Israeli.  Avener also shed light on the challenges Israel continues to face, with over half a billion hostile neighbors sworn to  the destruction of the state of Israel.  This should be required reading for all high school students the world over.  We might eventually reach peace!The amazing story of the girl shot by the Taliban for speaking out for the right of women to be educated. The story includes some excellent background on the Swat Valley in Pakistan where Malala is from and how the Taliban gained a foothold there and what it meant for families that lived there. Malala’s father dreamed of building a school and ultimately succeeded. He also believed strongly in educating girls and it is clear that Malala leared many of her values and skills from her father. Though I was interested in this book, I admit that I was pleasantly suprised by the depth of content and what I learned from it.

2015-07
The Girl You Left Behind Jojo Moyes Historical Fiction **** The focus of the book is on restoration of art taken during wartime. However, rather than focus on the Nazis and WWII, this book is set in France during WWI. A well written fictional account, the book provides some excellent history and really tries to show both sides of the issue and the difficulties involved in determining what is “right” in what can often be ambiguous circumstances. 2015-07
Dead Wrong J. A. Jance Fiction *** One of the Sheriff Joanna Brady series, just an easy fun read. Honestly, I can’t remember much about the story – there are a couple murders which get solved, but it’s fun. 2015-07
The Boston Girl Anita Diamant Fiction *** I have loved Diamant’s previous books, which were heavier on the Historical than the Fiction. This one, while interesting, didn’t provide the same level of satisfaction for me. A Jewish woman is being interviewed by her granddaughter for a school project and the interview covers her life in Boston from the early 1900’s until the 1980’s. There is more emphasis on her family life as a Jewish immigrant than on actual historical events, but it is a quick and easy read – intersting but not great. 2015-07
Agent 6 Tom Rob Smith Fiction ** A Soviet secret police investigator tries to exist while still maintaining a sense of humanity. Personal tragedy leads to a series of events which span the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and other events during the cold war. Not a bad story, but feels a bit dated. 2015-07
The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins Fiction ** If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll probably like this book. For me, it wasn’t bad enough to give up on, but I couldn’t wait to be finished with it. I felt no empathy for any of the sorry cast of characters. The main character, a divorced drunk who was fired from her job but continues to commute to the city every day rather than to tell her friend/roomate constructs a fantasy about a couple she often sees through the window of the train. When the woman goes missing, she becomes involved in the investigation, leading to a long and complicated series of events meant to keep you guessing who did what to whom. 2015-07
The Kitchen House Kathleen Grissom Fiction ** An orphaned Irish girl is consigned to indentured servitude on a Virginia plantation, lives alongside the slaves and works in the Kitchen House. As her circumstances and status change, she tries to maintain these ties to her “family” but with increasing difficulty. The are some real flaws in the story, but it is interesting. Personally I would have preferred that it incorporate a bit more of the politics and events of the time – this was pure fiction with not much history evident, though the author in her notes talks about the extensive reseach she did in order to accurately portray the conditions. 2015-07
  1. #1 by click here on October 17, 2013 - 10:41 pm

    Everyone would benefit from reading this post

    Like

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