Reviews by Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)

Power Reviewer  Power Reviewer

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North of Crazy: A Memoir
by Neltje
Neltje (6/13/2016)
Another poor little rich girl story...A seriously dysfunctional family forces Neltje to claim her own way in the world. Unfortunately, getting to her new life in Wyoming takes up a lot of the story and I found the writing to be uninteresting, "and then, and then"....Once established, her story and writing becomes more passionate and interesting; however I would find it difficult to recommend.
The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins
by Antonia Hodgson
18th Cent London at its finest! (1/5/2016)
A quick, entertaining read for those who enjoy historic fiction laced with true events. Well researched and including the "History Behind" I appreciated the fast paced storytelling and the assortment of characters...gents, criminals AND royals. Based on her descriptions I can see the streets, houses and back alleys of 18th century London. This is a good choice for book clubs looking for different discussion topics.
Hunters in the Dark
by Lawrence Osborne
Too many words... (11/18/2015)
Why say "It was a dark, rainy night" when you can add so many descriptors to change the statement into a literary masterpiece??? This was a very difficult read for me, even though the locale was a big draw. Robert was not a likable character and his "whatever" attitude just grated on me...Davuth, however WAS interesting but was used indifferently. The ending was too neat...full circle, no resolution. Disappointing all around.
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart
WOW. (7/8/2015)
Loved this book. Smart, interesting subject matter, very well written and fun! Seemed like an old fashioned serial in some ways. Constance is a well developed character and I'd like to see what happens next with her and her family. I would recommend this novel for historical fiction lovers, young adults and book clubs....and people from New Jersey!
What Doesn't Kill Her: A Reeve LeClaire Series Novel
by Carla Norton
ZZZZZZZZ (5/11/2015)
To quote author Debra Doyle...... "The Author is Making a Point; things work out the way they do because The Author's Point Requires It." I have become skeptical of all thrillers...why do all the protagonists seem to have almost super human abilities...I would feel so much better if they were called fantasy or sci-fi. Although I did not care for the story, so predictable, the writing itself was well done. It will do well in a Dan Brown, John Grisham loving readership.
Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse
by Stanley Meisler
Outsiders (1/7/2015)
If I could rate 3.5 I would. The amount of information in this book regarding Soutine & the School of Paris is prodigious; however the repetition of documented facts (Modigliani's cafe antics, Soutine's Russian accented French) simply became annoying. The writing style seemed at times to be distracted, adding bits and pieces as if just recalled. However, the look at bohemian life in Montparnasse gave a very good impression of what it was like to be an emigre artist trying to "make it". Perhaps a larger issue for these emigres became the constant fear of the French police and the German Gestapo and how it shaped their lives and ultimately their art. As the "unknown" of the title, Soutine was the epitome of the tortured artist; the one who author Meisler calls one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Shocking Paris is a good start to study the School of Paris.
Vanessa and Her Sister
by Priya Parmar
AMAZING !!! (10/2/2014)
I could not put this book down. Convincingly written as Vanessa Bell (nee Stephen) diary entries, we see the interactions between the siblings and their soon to be infamous group of friends, the Bloomsbury group. As an intro to the early 20th century "leaving" of Victorian England, this story shows how life was changing and becoming more modern. Most importantly though is the relationship between Vanessa and her sister Virginia as they try to find a place in this world of arts & letters without destroying each other in the process. The inclusion of post cards, letters, and train/ship ticket facsimiles lends an air of authenticity to the story. I highly recommend this novel.
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
by Helen Rappaport
Readable Russian history! (5/14/2014)
Comprehensive and well documented, this biography of the last Tsar's four daughters stops just short of their violent deaths as the tide turns in Russia. Half of the book is spent with their mother Alexandra,( her relationship with Queen Victoria) and her ill health, their brother Alexy the Tsaritsa, who suffers from Hemophilia (although a secret from all but the immediate family) and the influence of the "crazed" monk, Rasputin. Granted the title is "sisters" but the story is truly about the Romanov family and how secluded and out of touch they were. Each of the sisters was developing as individuals and Ms. Rappaport treats them individually, noting the lost potential of these lovely "poor little rich girls". I would highly recommend this title.
The Cairo Affair
by Olen Steinhauer
wow. (12/3/2013)
I LOVED this book.I am generally not a spy/thriller reader but this story was so current and gripping. Keeping track of the various characters was simple as the author flowed the story seamlessly. That the "main" character was a woman was a big plus for me. Their secrets, international agendas, moral questions and BIG betrayals. What more could you look for in a thriller? The tying in of the Arab Spring made the story even more immediate. Highly recommended!
To the Moon and Timbuktu: A Trek through the Heart of Africa
by Nina Sovich
NOT a travelogue.... (6/22/2013)
I really enjoyed this memoir...a story of discovery of both self and unknown places. The writing simply flows and carries you along with Nina in the dust and the heat of the western Sahara. Her revelation about the company of women absolutely struck my soul. The need to go to a very foreign place to realize this makes one consider the how disconnected we have all become in the "modern" world. Highly recommended for book clubs, especially those interested in "women's studies".
A Nearly Perfect Copy
by Allison Amend
Not even Nearly Perfect. (3/5/2013)
Art world, cloning, perfect copies....of art works and humans???? I couldn't relate at all to the plot, nor the characters. The writing was less than enticing,"Gabriel had a quick flash of reverie being in Lise's all-white apartment, children hanging off him like rats in some horror movie." "we don't get to decide what children we have or what children get taken from us. I wanted a baby not a science experiment".... Definitely not for me.
Golden Boy
by Abigail Tarttelin
a different perspective (12/27/2012)
This novel was very readable, almost compulsively so.I would call this a coming of self story. I liked the different voices forming the chapters so that each "side" of the story was being examined. What disappointed me was that I could see what was coming ...several of the plot twists were predictable. All in all, however, this was a good first effort. I believe this would be an excellent book club read.
With or Without You: A Memoir
by Domenica Ruta
ANOTHER addiction memoir.... (11/26/2012)
I liked this memoir because of the writing, not the story so I gave it 3 instead of a two. Guess there has been one too many addiction memoirs out there and I don't need to read another one where a gifted kid overcame her surroundings. The writing, however, is clean and precise... sometimes witty and incisive; very readable. I did have an issue with the non-chronological sequences of her story. I will be looking forward to her next effort.
The Devil in Silver: A Novel
by Victor LaValle
less than expectced (8/9/2012)
I wanted to like this book. It is not REALLY a horror story other than the horror of the conditions at the mental hospital and how the patients are treated. The four main characters are well drawn but it took too long to engage me. Simply written with direct comments made to the reader, which I found to be finally annoying, I found this novel to be a story whose idea is much more engaging than the reading experience itself.
The Age of Miracles: A Novel
by Karen Thompson Walker
the miracle is life goes on... (5/13/2012)
The slowing of the earth's rotation does nothing to slow the growing pains of 11 yr old narrator Julia. A coming of age story in an eerily altered world, Age of Miracles is a well written, easily read novel about how life goes on. In spite of the cataclysmic slowing of the earth, Julia worries about getting her first bra, kissing a boy, not fitting in. I would recommend this book to Young adult and up readers. It would be good for book clubs as a starting point for lots of discussions.
The Land of Decoration: A Novel
by Grace McCleen
faith and family (3/13/2012)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A story of unwavering faith and a protective imagination that threatens to upend a father- daughter relationship,McCleen is able, through her crisp writing to let us see how a 10 yr. old understands the world. Judith is a completely believable character, as is her father. The bullying aspects of the story seem all too real as well. I would recommend this book to advanced juvenile, young adult and adult readers and would suggest it as a good title for book clubs.
The Face Thief: A Novel
by Eli Gottlieb
What a disappointment! (12/12/2011)
Comparing this effort to James M. Cain or Ian McEwan, as the cover suggests, is an affront to both authors. This novel is a lingering shadow of what it MIGHT have been. There is an interesting idea here but what suspense there might have been was hampered by the author's lumbering style. It was slow going and the cutting back and forth between the three characters made for a very convoluted rythym. And once "who" dunnit was revealed, the ending was not at all satisfying. It sort of just goes on, I guess. I will not read this author again.
The Borgia Betrayal: A Poisoner Mystery Novel
by Sara Poole
Wonder Woman in Renaissance finery (6/12/2011)
Francesca is supposed to be a young woman of the 15th century but her story reads like 21st century manga...Her portrayal (and it IS written in 1st person) is too modern, too over the top to be believable. As an adventure/romance story it might work but for anyone expecting a serious, historically stimulating novel with the Borgias as main characters, look elsewhere. Perhaps too much was attempted here...history/religion/free thinking/SEX/romance /thriller. Just did not work for me.
The Sweetness of Tears: A Novel
by Nafisa Haji
just misses... (2/27/2011)
I so wanted to love this book. Combining religions , cultural traditions= , family dynamics.. (very extended family) and world events, this novel had the potential to be a timely portrayal of current issues before us today.

What kept this novel from being great for me was the method of telling the stories. I found it very confusing to go back and forth between characters with no time indicators. Having to stop and re-figure, who, and when broke the fluidity of the story for me.
Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal
by Conor Grennan
more info please (11/30/2010)
Another in the line of "self-discovery" storis and commitment to doing what is right no matter the cost.
The story of the 18 orphans and the 7 lost children is the thread that ties adventures together. Although an absorbing journey, I need more background info, i.e. the civil war in Nepal,child trafficking and how the NGN functions within the precarious conditions(governmental /economic) in Nepal.
The writing is very engaging but seems to be more like diary entries with extremely detailed conversations. I wanted to hear, though, backstories on Conor and& Farid.
I liked this book and wanted to give it a higher rating than I will. My main criticism is that I needed more history to ground the amazing work that proves one person CAN make a difference.
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