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Historical Fiction Review – The Alice Network

February 25th, 2020

The Alice Network

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

A friend recently recommended The Alice Network and I am so glad I followed her advice and picked up this book!

The Alice Network takes place in two different times, during World War I and just after World War II.  Charlie is searching for her cousin Rose, who disappeared during WWII.  There hasn’t been word from Rose and her family believes her to be dead, but Charlie is hoping against hope that Rose is still alive.  In her search for Rose, Charlie meets Eve and Finn, Eve’s driver and handyman.  Eve was a part of the Alice Network, a British female spy network, during World War I.  In the years since the war she was become bitter and isolated, drinking her way through most days.  What Charlie doesn’t realize is that her search for Rose will overlap Eve’s search for redemption and revenge for her experiences during the war.

I was immediately drawn into Quinn’s novel. Organized into four parts, each chapter alternates between Charlie’s quest in 1947 and Eve’s life in 1915.  Quinn so easily gives all of the characters their own voices that the alternating stories and chapters are not confusing or convoluted.   I did find Eve’s story to be more engrossing than Charlie’s and I was always eager for the Eve chapters to see how her story developed; however, the chapters focusing on Charlie still impacted Eve’s ability to reconnect with people and made her background all the more interesting.  I was emotionally moved by the novel and found the convergence of both stories to be seamless.

As with most historical novels, there were liberties taken by the author in the execution of the story she created. I enjoyed reading the Author’s Note regarding her research and how actual events and people were depicted in the book.

If you are a fan of strong female characters and historical fiction, I highly recommend The Alice Network, which was both a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. For readability and interest, the interweaving of different character storylines, and delivery of the plot, I give The Alice Network 5 stars.  If you have read The Alice Network, please add your thoughts in the comments, I would love to know what you thought of the book, too!

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – Appleby and Honeybath

February 24th, 2020

Appleby and Honeybath by Michael Innes

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

This 1983 mystery features Michael Innes’ series heroes in the same novel. The setting is a country house with weekend guests. The squire is a ruffian who hates his well-stocked library. He amazed and appalled that buzzing around with requests are literature scholars, art historians and auctioneers that want to explore its treasures to extend knowledge, build reputations, and stuff their wallets. This gives Innes a chance to tweak the landed gentry for their philistinism, scholars for their pride, and hustlers for their greed. All in hilarious ink-horn terms like “inchoate,” “’velleities,” and “pernoctate.” An Oxford literature don remarks, ”An unresolved fatality is an unsatisfactory thing to leave behind one after a quiet weekend in the country.” Indubitably. This is a light mystery to read between more serious works or more grisly tales of murder.

 

 

 

Book Winner!

February 21st, 2020

The Winner of the brand-new copy of
Cabin 1 (Steele Shadows Security)
by Amanda McKinney is:

Norma L.

 

Congratulations, Norma! Your book will be on the way to you soon.
We hope you enjoy it!

Thank you to everyone who entered!

 

 

 

Horror Book Review of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel

February 18th, 2020

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel
by Grady Hendrix

Review by Cyn F. (Cyn-Sama)

 

I think the southern Gothic setting just works for a story about vampires. The lush, dense heat of a summer night, and something rotten seeping into a otherwise perfect town. Maybe it has something to do with my first introductions to literary vampires was Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice, and Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite. Of course, those books showed vampires in a sympathetic light. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires takes the concept of vampires, and brings them back to their horrific roots.

Patricia Campbell’s life is a small, quiet one. Her husband is distracted with his work, her children are becoming more and more distant. Her monthly book club is supposed to be a shining moment, a chance to get out of the house. Only problem is, no one wants to read the titles that are assigned.

Some of the disgruntled book club members decide to form their own book club, where they can read what ever they want. Including a boat load of classic true crime masterpieces.

Then, strange things begin to happen.

Patricia looses a large chunk of an ear to a rabid neighbor.

Intriguingly a stranger moves into the neighborhood, and children start to go missing. Is there a connection? Or have they all been reading too many sensational novels?

Being a bigger fan of novels where the vampires are the heroes, I was not sure I was going to like this book. I have to say, that I was a fan.

It was nice to go back to the roots of horror, and read something that creeped me out a bit. Plus, I loved the setting. I like seeing these supposedly perfect families succumb to the rot within. Most of the rot was there before there was a vampire, it just all rose to the surface the more these ladies investigated.

If the rest of Grady Hendrix’s work is of this caliber, I will be seeking out more of his books.

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – The Veiled One

February 17th, 2020

The Veiled One by Ruth Rendell

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

Rather more violent than the usual Reg Wexford outing. A housewife is strangled with a garrot, of all the horrible things. And a car bomb explosion puts our series hero Reg into hospital. His high-strung but likeable partner Mike Burden stands in. He takes aim at a suspect but can’t get him to talk. When Rendell is on a roll, as she is in this 1988 mystery, she is spellbinding.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Bed Head: A Hair-Raising Adventure’ Winner!

February 11th, 2020

Bed Head: A Hair-Raising Adventure

The Winner of the brand-new copy of

 

 Bed Head: A Hair-Raising Adventure 

by Holly Hall Becker is:

 

Dan C.

 

Congratulations, Dan C! Your book will be on the way to you soon. We hope you enjoy it and that it makes a great addition to your town’s library!

 

Thank you to everyone who entered!

 

And, if you would like to purchase a copy of this book, or any of thousands of other titles, you can find great books for great prices in the PBS Market.  Here is the link: PBS Market.

 

Mystery Monday Review – The Arena

February 10th, 2020


The Arena
by William Haggard

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

In this crime and spy novel from 1961, the merchant bank known as Bonavias is declining. However, a upstart competitor approaches them, offering an amount 20% over Bonavias’ market value. Series hero Col. Russell must become interested when he learns that also part of the deal is a research start-up called Radarmic. There is suspicion that an unfriendly power wants access to the radar technology Radarmic is developing. The rep of the unfriendly power would stoop to criminal violent means to take over the bank and the start-up.

Haggard, an Englishman, was an intelligence officer in India during WWII and then worked in Whitehall after the war. So he has the knowledge and experience that we trust in a writer of intelligent crime and espionage stories. Back in the day, Haggard’s novels were not popular in the US, though critics often praised his work as “James Bond for adults.”

Like William F. Buckley’s series hero Blackford Oakes, hero Col. Charles Russell, head of the Security Executive is a “man of the right.” The department minds odd security issues that fall in the grey areas where no clear authority to act exists. Russell is a cheerful conservative who maintains his cool in stressful situations. Russell doesn’t do much except think and talk to people in posh clubs and stuffy offices. He spends much time being perplexed. I don’t know how Haggard makes this fascinating and un-put-downable. But he does.

Haggard’s ability to take the reader into the closed worlds of research, government, criminal syndicates and spy agencies is irresistible. At least to readers who like John le Carré, John Bingham, Emma Lathen, or Alan Furst.