Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires by Sophie Barnes

Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires by Sophie Barnes - 360 pages

Welcome to Thorncliff Manor, where London's elite mix, mingle, and may even find their heart's desire . . .
There are thousands of things Christopher, Viscount Spencer, would rather do than hunt for a bride, especially since experience has taught him that women are not to be trusted. Then he finds the intriguing Lady Sarah scrambling around in Thorncliff's conservatory and he is instantly charmed by her passionate nature. But why is she so intent on avoiding him?
Lady Sarah would make the perfect bride for a peer—if not for a tarnished past that she's hiding from the ton. A stay at Thorncliff Manor was meant to help her plan for her future, not fall in love. Yet Christopher's kisses are irresistible, his gallantry enticing. When her secret stands to be revealed, will the truth ruin their dreams of happiness?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

American Sniper by Chris Kyle

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History
by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, Jim DeFelice -- 448 pages

Well known biography by Chris Kyle, he's not a professional writer, but this is still a good read if you're interested to know his stories. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara-355 pages

I have seen the movie "Gettysburg" several times and have known for a while that this is the novel the movie is based on. I really enjoyed reading the novel and was surprised at how closely the movie followed it, with a few minor exceptions (one being that Chamberlain reports to General Sykes in the book and merely passes by General Hancock, whereas in the movie he reports to Hancock and there is no mention of Sykes). I am somewhat of an expert/student of American history, especially from the Civil War era, so this type of historical fiction really appeals to me. I have read Jeff Shaara's four novels on major Western Theater Civil War battles and want to read "Gods and Generals" and "The Last Full Measure." Also, I intend to read Ralph Peters' Civil War novels. Overall, this is one of (if not the) the best Civil War novels I have read so far.

Lucky Bastard by Joe Buck

Lucky Bastard by Joe Buck
304 pages / 6 hrs, 55 mins

"Sports fans see Joe Buck everywhere: broadcasting one of the biggest games in the NFL every week, calling the World Series every year, announcing the Super Bowl every three years. They know his father, Jack Buck, is a broadcasting legend and that he was beloved in his adopted hometown of St. Louis.

"Yet they have no idea who Joe really is. Or how he got here. They don't know how he almost blew his career. They haven't read his funniest and most embarrassing stories or heard about his interactions with the biggest sports stars of this era.

"They don't know how hard he can laugh at himself - or that he thinks some of his critics have a point. And they don't know what it was really like to grow up in his father's shadow. Joe and Jack were best friends, but it wasn't that simple. Jack, the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals for almost 50 years, helped Joe get his broadcasting start at 18. But Joe had to prove himself, first as a minor league radio announcer, and then on local TV, national TV with ESPN, and then finally on FOX."  --from the publisher

Growing up in the STL area in the 60s and 70s, I remembered and related to many of the stories.  I enjoyed the nostalgia!  Of course there was a lot going on behind the scenes that I knew nothing about, too.  It was definitely worth reading although the book dragged a bit for me near the end.

The Babes in the Wood by Ruth Rendell

The Babes in the Wood by Ruth Rendell
(Chief Inspector Wexford Mystery #19)
325 pages / 12 hrs, 9 mins

"With floods threatening both the town of Kingsmarkham and his own home and no end to the rain in sight, Chief Inspector Wexford already has his hands full when he learns that two local teenagers have gone missing along with their sitter, Joanna Troy. Their hysterical mother is convinced that all three have drowned, and as the hours stretch into days Wexford suspects a case of kidnapping... But when the sitter’s smashed-up car is found at the bottom of a local quarry–occupied by a battered corpse–the investigation takes on a very different hue."--from the publisher

This is the first Rendell book I've read, and I thoroughly enjoyed her writing.  Chief Inspector Wexford has a solid reputation with the police department, but Rendell includes his cynical musings and emotional outbursts to round out his character.  I plan to read another in the series--maybe start at the beginning.

Monday, June 19, 2017

City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker

City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris by Holly Tucker --- 310 pages including a Chronology, Notes, Bibliography and Index.

In 1667, the "Sun King," Louis XIV of France, faced an epidemic of crime in Paris that threatened the stability of his reign. The King decided to create a single law-enforcement officer for all of Paris, replacing the ancient system of 48 commissionaires each responsible for one section of the city. This new officer would be called the Lieutenant General of Police, and would  exercise broad, almost unlimited powers of surveillance and detention. He would answer directly to the King and to his chief ministers, the Marquis de Louvois (Minister for War) and Jean Baptiste Colbert (Minister of Finances).

This is the story of Louis' first Lieutenant General, Nicolas de la Reynie. Reynie began his tenure by (literally) cleaning up the streets of Paris, which were like open sewers. Then he tackled the street crime, especially the criminals who controlled the city during the dark hours. Reynie required every household to maintain lanterns to light the streets at night. He established regular patrols.

Reynie also built a network of informants not just to help catch criminals but to prevent crimes from happening. Through his spies, he discovered far more about the secrets of the Parisian underground than he’d bargained for.  This secret world of thieves and cutthroats also harbored poisoners, witches, abortionists and chiromancers. Even more horrifying was the realization that those who made use of these services were not just the poor, ignorant and superstitious masses, but the wealthy, influential and powerful. The blood trail ran even to the court of Versailles, and the aristocratic women who vied for the King's favor and attention. The last straw was the discovery that several of the King's mistresses, including the infamous Marquise de Montespan, were implicated in the scandal referred to as the "Affair of the Poisons."  

Although The King intervened to insure that the Marquise was never questioned or publicly implicated in the scandal, it was not long before she left court, never to return. Working from de La Reynie’s personal notes and other sources from the period (the King ordered the official reports burned), Tucker reconstructs seventeenth-century Paris, combining meticulous research and masterful storytelling to recreate a period in history that resonates disturbingly with aspects of contemporary experience.

Click HERE to read the review from Publishers Weekly.

Click HERE to read the review from Newsday.

Click HERE  to read the review from the New York Journal of Books.

The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn - 374 pages
A Bridgerton Prequel

Cecilia Harcourt travels to America when she receives notice that her brother has been injured in the fighting.  However, when she arrives she can't find her brother.  Instead she finds his best friend Edward in a coma.  She lies, saying she is his wife, so that she can care for him.  When Edward awakes he has lost three months of memories and while he has no recollection of their marriage he does remember their correspondence.  What will happen when he discovers the truth?

This is the second prequel to the popular Bridgerton series even though this book has no real connection with the Bridgerton family.  Still, I enjoyed the book and finished it in one sitting.