3.5/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Non-Fiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady

Martha Washington: An American Life
by Patricia Brady

Copyright: 2005

Pages:236

Read: Nov. 2 – 13, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Abebooks.com


BlurbMartha Dandridge Custis was a wealthy, good-looking widow and the mother of two young children when, in 1759, she started a new life as Martha Washington. Thus began an ardent love affair and one of our country’s most influential partnerships. George Washington’s career might have been very different without his marriage to his “dearest Patsy.” Her fortune ensured the success of his Mount Vernon, but much more important was the emotional support she brought to their marriage. Under his glacial exterior, George Washington was often insecure, indecisive, and prone to fits of temper. His wife was the person who truly knew and loved the complex man behind the noble mask. 

Martha Washington’s name is one of the most recognizable in American history and yet Martha herself is the invisible woman in American history. She burned her private correspondence after George’s death, but with painstaking research, Patricia Brady has finally recovered the real person. Never the kindly frump of popular mythology, she was an able landowner, an indomitable patriot, and her husband’s confidante in military, political, and personal matters for four decades. 

Martha’s world extended from the Virginia plantation aristocracy into which she was born to the rugged battlefields of the Revolution. For eight long years, her husband stayed in the field – the only way he could hold is army together, though he was homesick and desperately worried about Mount Vernon. And every year, she joined him at Valley Forge and other winter camps, providing the loving comfort that allowed him to keep going. In the new capitals of New York and Philadelphia, she used her charm and humor shrewdly to help George negotiate the churning political waters of the new country. She was at his side and on his side as political enemies like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison unleashed vicious tabloid newspaper attacks against Washington. 

This superb work vividly portrays her remarkable life, her unusual achievements, and her great contribution to America. Because she was the first, Martha Washington had no role model, no precedent, and she set a standard for every presidential couple for the next two and half centuries. 


Review: So as part of my personal Presidential Reading Challenge, I have decided that I would also try and read a single work on each First Lady as well. Having read six books on George Washington (I skipped the Ron Chernow book… I just couldn’t face another 900 pages of Mr. Washington at this time – however I am keeping it on my shelf for future reading), I was ready to move on to his First Lady. To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Martha Washington, so I was eager to learn a little bit more about her. 

Overall, I found this book to be quite readable. The only struggle I had was the sheer number of people mentioned. Children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, in-laws, random friends .. near the end it was quite difficult to keep them all straight when they all seemed to share the same name. 

Martha Washington is somewhat of an enigma in our nation’s history. She destroyed most of her and her husband’s intimate correspondence after his death and so a lot of her has been lost to the ages. That’s really a shame for historians and history buffs alike. However I can respect and understand the want and need for that privacy after so much of their life was lived in public life. I feel like Ms. Brady did a remarkable job in piecing together Martha Washington, even without the help of the marital correspondence that would have made things infinitely more useful. 

While we all know what George Washington did for our country, we never really think much about the sacrifices that Martha Washington made as well. She basically gave up her private life with her husband so he could fulfill his sense of duty. He did quite a few things without her true blessing, but she was still very supportive and followed him nearly everywhere she could.

I was really intrigued by the descriptions of Martha Washington as a pretty independent woman who got what she wanted. She basically confronted her future father-in-law and demanded him bless the marriage of her and his son, her first husband. After the death of her first husband, instead of immediately bowing down to another man, she took matters in her own hands and took care of all her affairs until she decided on another husband. As a very wealthy widow, she had the cream of the crop coming to her for courtship, and yet she chose George Washington. I have to believe that she knew what (and who) she wanted and was determined to get it and not settle for less. That sort of independence goes against everything I “know” about women in her time period – I just loved that about her! 

I’m glad that I have decided to also learn more about the First Ladies during this journey. It will be interesting going forward to see how the subsequent First Ladies compare to Martha Washington. Being the first First Lady she had no idea what precedent she was setting for the “job.” I personally think she did a wonderful job and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about her. 

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3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: The Judas Goat by Robert B. Parker

The Judas Goat
by Robert B. Parker

The Judas Goat

 

Copyright: 1978

Pages: 203

Read: Oct. 28-30, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Spenser has gone to London — and not to see the Queen. He’s gone to track down a bunch of bombers who’ve blown away his client’s wife and kids. His job is to catch them. Or kill them. His client isn’t choosy.

But there are nine killers to one Spenser — long odds. Hawk helps balance the equation. The rest depends on a wild plan. Spenser will get one of the terrorists to play Judas Goat — to lead him to others. Trouble is, he hasn’t counted on her being very blond, very beautiful and very dangerous.


Review: This is the 5th book in the Spenser series. This was a quick and fun read. It was a little violent (nothing over the top), but more than I remember in previous installments. You can also tell that it’s a little dated … based on the clothing descriptions 😀 However the actual storyline itself was not dated at all, it was quite enjoyable.

I like Spenser’s character … he’s a hard-hitting dude with some heart to him. I also like the addition of Hawk’s character, I think he adds a really great dimension to the book and I hope he continues to make appearances in subsequent installments.

Overall I enjoyed this one. It was a good and solid installment and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan

I Know You Know coverAbout I Know You Know

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 18, 2018)

From New York Times bestselling author Gilly Macmillan comes this original, chilling and twisty mystery about two shocking murder cases twenty years apart, and the threads that bind them.

Twenty years ago, eleven-year-olds Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby were murdered in the city of Bristol, their bodies dumped near a dog racing track. A man was convicted of the brutal crime, but decades later, questions still linger.

For his whole life, filmmaker Cody Swift has been haunted by the deaths of his childhood best friends. The loose ends of the police investigation consume him so much that he decides to return to Bristol in search of answers. Hoping to uncover new evidence, and to encourage those who may be keeping long-buried secrets to speak up, Cody starts a podcast to record his findings. But there are many people who don’t want the case—along with old wounds—reopened so many years after the tragedy, especially Charlie’s mother, Jess, who decides to take matters into her own hands.

When a long-dead body is found in the same location the boys were left decades before, the disturbing discovery launches another murder investigation. Now Detective John Fletcher, the investigator on the original case, must reopen his dusty files and decide if the two murders are linked. With his career at risk, the clock is ticking and lives are in jeopardy…


Review:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

So I immediately snatched up this opportunity when it was pitched to me! I had read and really enjoyed one of Ms. Macmillan’s previous novels, The Perfect Girl last year and so I was eager to read more of her work!

I was immediately pulled into this story. I really enjoyed the podcast part of this story, it was like little breadcrumbs here and there. As I was reading I wasn’t really sure where the storylines were going to intersect, but Ms. Macmillan managed to weave them together nearly seamlessly.

My one criticism is that I felt like the ending could have been a little stronger in its execution. It wasn’t a bad ending, but I did feel slightly let down that there wasn’t just a little bit more oomph to it.

Overall though a really great book that I definitely recommend!!


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Gilly Macmillan APAbout Gilly Macmillan

Gilly Macmillan is the Edgar Nominated and New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew. She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she’s worked as a part-time lecturer in photography, and now writes full-time. She resides in Bristol, England.

Find out more about Gilly at her website, and connect with her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Nonfiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: George Washington and the New Nation (1783-1793) by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington and the New Nation (1783-1793)
by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington and the New Nation

 

Copyright: 1969, 1970

Pages: 425

Read: July 13 – September 11, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Powells.com

 

 

Blurb: George Washington and the New Nation begins with Washington’s return to Mount Vernon, a victorious, but exhausted soldier eagerly seeking the pleasures of a quiet country life. Free of heavy responsibilities, his character expands in genial, often unexpected ways. All too soon, however, the idyll is broken. Washington is called to lead the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Popular confidence in him secures the ratification of the new government by the states. He is unanimously chosen our first President.

In the face of growing faction and division, Washington helps mold our major governmental institutions and gives durable shape to the Presidency. He is accused of many failings. He is guilty of some. His personal life is strained by countless pressures. But at the end of four years, Washington has seemingly proved the viability of the republican form of government to a watching world of kings.

Even as Washington dreams of final retirement, however, the storm raised by the French Revolution threatens to overwhelm the United States. Now Jefferson and Hamilton – the two men who have, throughout our history, epitomized the polarities of American political thought – join in begging Washington to stay on. They warn that, if Washington relinquishes the Presidency, the country may well pull apart.


Review: This is the 3rd book in Mr. Flexner’s 4-book series on George Washington. Having enjoyed the first book and feeling somewhat lukewarm about the second book, I was looking forward to getting to this one. I was excited to learn more about how the country’s government was shaped and Mr. Washington’s first term as President. It also made me realize (AGAIN!) that my memory of the history of our country’s early years is really severely lacking. I keep reading and realizing that there’s so many other things that I need to brush up on … more reading I suppose 🙂

This particular book was again extremely well researched and it read quite easily. Even though these books were written in the 1960s and 1970s, they read as easily as any contemporary biography would. That definitely makes things a lot easier for me. My one and only complaint on this book was how the feud between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton basically took over the last 100 or so pages. I had to remind myself that yes, I was reading a biography on Washington … not Jefferson and/or Hamilton.

Overall, a really good book that I enjoyed. I’m definitely looking forward to the fourth and final book in this series. The final book covers Washington’s second term up to his death. It’s a chunkster for sure … but I’m eager to learn even more about Washington!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, L, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: A Vision of Murder by Victoria Laurie

A Vision of Murder
by Victoria Laurie

A Vision of Murder

 

Copyright: 2005

Pages: 296

Read: July 8 – 12, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: When Abby gets roped into investing in a fixer-upper, she has no idea she’ll go from real estate mogul to real-life ghostbuster. After the deal is closed, phantom inhabitants of the house replay a violent night from long ago that ended in the murder of a beautiful blonde. The only way to evict the house’s spectral tenants – and save Abby’s handyman from flying drills – is to uncover the dead woman’s identity and solve her murder.

Aided by her boyfriend, sexy FBI agent Dutch Rivers, Abby discovers the key to the puzzle is a hidden treasure lost since World War II. Unfortunately, Abby’s not the only one intent on finding it. As she gets closer to the truth, a madman shadows her every move. Now a race is on to find the treasure and solve the mystery – and only the winner will survive…


Review: This is the 3rd book in the Abby Cooper Psychic Eye series. I had read and enjoyed the first two so much that I immediately ordered the next three from Paperbackswap … but then I let them just sit. So I was glad when this one came up for a call-out on a Goodreads challenge! I was ready to get back in with Abby and see what kind of trouble she found herself in this time.

Overall I’m a little conflicted on this one. I enjoyed it for the most part, but I didn’t really care for the overall storyline – with the World War II hidden treasure and ghosts. That just didn’t work for me, but paranormal can be very hit or miss with me. So it’s not surprising that the storyline wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea.

I also noticed how angry Abby seemed to be in this one. At times I felt like she was purposefully ticking off Dutch, her boyfriend. It just got to be repetitive and annoying. I can understand that things didn’t go as planned with their planned vacation and then there was a lot of togetherness. But if they intend to have a future together, they’re going to have to figure out how to live with each other a little bit better.

So while this one wasn’t necessarily my favorite so far, I’m still looking forward to getting to the 4th book in the future!

3.5/5, Alexander Hawke, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: Assassin by Ted Bell

Assassin
by Ted Bell

Assassin

 

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 590

Read: June 14-20, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Bookmooch

 

Blurb: Alexander Hawke, a direct descendant of the legendary pirate Blackhawke, is an expert on espionage and terror. A shadowy terrorist kingpin has orchestrated the systematic slayings of American diplomats, and as the death toll mounts, Hawke is called upon to avert a cataclysmic attack – while avenging a senseless crime that has left him devastated.

 


Review: This is the second book in the Alexander Hawke series. I had read the first book, Hawke, way back in 2013, so my memory of that was not very good. Luckily it didn’t really matter because there was enough background included for me to be able to follow along easily.

At 590 pages this book is way longer than what I normally read. The beginning was a little slower than I would have liked. But once the book picked up it was quite enjoyable to read and the 590 pages didn’t feel too terribly long.

Overall a good book that I enjoyed. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what adventures lay ahead for Alex Hawke!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, K, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: A Risk Worth Taking by Brynn Kelly

A Risk Worth Taking
by Brynn Kelly

A Risk Worth Taking

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 400

Read: May 22-28, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: TLC Book Tours

 

 

BlurbHe can’t outrun himself…

Legionnaire Jamie Armstrong lives in the shadows. A medic haunted by his mistakes, he knows better than to hope for redemption. But his latest mission brings a threat he doesn’t see coming—an attraction as irresistible as it is dangerous. Hacker Samira Desta is a woman he swore to forget, but as a key witness to a deadly conspiracy, Samira is his to protect.

But the woman he rescues might be the one who saves him

After a year in hiding, Samira’s worst fears come true when her cover is blown and the unlikeliest of allies comes to her aid—the secretive Scot with whom she shared one unforgettable night. Hunted by lethal forces and losing the battle against their desire, Jamie and Samira make a desperate play to take the fight to their enemy—but those at greatest risk of ruin may be themselves…


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

When I first accepted this book I knew it was part of a series, but was assured that it read well as a standalone. I’m not sure I can entirely agree with that. For a good chunk of the early part of the book I had trouble understanding what was going on. Why was Samira is hiding? What was she hiding from? Who was coming after her? There were a lot of references to something that had previously happened that I had no idea about. A little more background would have been helpful in my opinion.

I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense. So I was pleasantly surprised that there was a little more suspense than romance. I found it to be a really good balance for my personal tastes. But I fear that people who prefer more romance in their romantic suspense will not be as pleased.

Overall the book was an exciting and thrilling ride! The pacing was really good, it kept my attention throughout. My one and only complaint is that I felt I needed a little more background at the beginning of the book. It did finally come together, but a little more info would have been better. This was a good book and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Kelly’s books in the future!

Recommended.


 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

Connect with Brynn

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Kinsey Millhone, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

F is for Fugitive
by Sue Grafton

F is for Fugitive

Copyright: 1989

Pages: 307

Read: April 9-15, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: When Kinsey Millhone first arrives in Floral Beach, California, it’s hard for her to picture the idyllic coastal town as the setting of a brutal murder. Seventeen years ago, the body of Jean Timberlake – a troubled teen who had a reputation with the boys – was found on the beach. Her boyfriend, Bailey Fowler, was convicted of her murder and imprisoned, but he escaped.

After all this time, Bailey’s finally been captured. Believing in his son’s innocence, Bailey’s father wants Kinsey to find Jean’s real killer. But most of the residents in this tight-knit community are convinced Bailey strangled Jean. So why are they so reluctant to answer Kinsey’s questions? If there’s one thing Kinsey’s got plenty of it’s persistence. And that’s exactly what it’s going to take to crack the lid on this case.

As Kinsey gets closer to solving Jean’s murder, the more dirty little secrets she uncovers in a town where everyone has something to hide – and a killer will kill again to keep the past buried…


Review: It’s been forever since I visited with Kinsey Millhone and so I was glad when this book popped up on my April call-out on a Goodreads challenge.

I had a lot of fun working the case with Kinsey. It definitely ended up going in a direction that I never saw coming, although there was a couple small instances that should have clued me in had I been paying more attention.

Jumping back in with Kinsey definitely made me want to read more of her and soon! I don’t remember her being so badass, but I definitely enjoyed it! She’s smart and strong, a good (and sometimes rare) combination in female protagonists. I definitely appreciate that aspect of her character.

I did jot down this quote from the very end that resonated with me:

If love is what injures us, how can we heal?

I’m seriously bummed that Ms. Grafton passed away a little while ago. I’m disappointed that the alphabet now ends with Y … but I am satisfied with the decision to not use a ghost writer to finish the series out (I hate, hate, HATE when that occurs.) I’m looking forward to getting around to G sooner rather than later!!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, TLC Book Tours, U-V-W

Review: The Longest Silence by Debra Webb

 

About The Longest Silence

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: MIRA (March 6, 2018)
“The twists and turns in this dark, taut drama make it both creepy and compelling.” —New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry
A killer stole her voice. Now she’s ready to take it back. Don’t miss the chilling Shades of Death series from USA TODAY bestselling author Debra Webb.

Joanna Guthrie was free. She had been for eighteen years–or so she needed everyone to believe. What really happened during the longest fourteen days of her life, when she and two other women were held captive by the worst kind of serial killer, wasn’t something she could talk about. Not after what they had to do to survive.
But when more women go missing in an eerily similar manner, Jo knows her prolonged silence will only seal their fates. She’s finally ready to talk; she just needs someone to listen. FBI special agent Tony LeDoux can’t deny he finds Jo compelling–he’s just not sure he believes her story. But with the clock ticking, Jo will do anything to convince him, even if it means unearthing long-buried secrets that will land them squarely in the crosshairs of the killer…
“This psychological thriller is rife with tension that begins on page one and doesn’t let up. It’s a race against the clock that had me whispering to the pair of flawed, desperate protagonists, ‘Hurry,hurry.’ A gripping read.”  New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown

Review:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

When I was pitched this book I was excited. That blurb just totally sucked me in and it sounded really great! This book is actually the fourth in a series, but don’t be afraid – it read perfectly well as a standalone. I’m still stunned that I had never heard of Debra Webb before this, I’m not sure how I’ve missed her!

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. My chief “complaint” was that the formatting of the e-book on my phone was kind of wonky, so I sometimes had some trouble keeping track of who was talking. But that likely had nothing to do with the book and was due to me trying to use an iPhone instead of my Kindle.

I enjoyed the characters in this one. Knowing now that this is the fourth in the series, I’m curious to know more about Tony in the previous books. In the beginning of this one it’s painfully obvious that he’s hit rock bottom. As strange as it sounds, I would like to know how he got to that point. Enough was included so that I had a basic understanding of the situation, but there’s still something about taking that trip with the characters. I never fully trusted Jo’s character. There was no secret that she wasn’t telling the entire story, and honestly when the truth was finally revealed I was kind of surprised that she hadn’t just told Tony from the get-go. It wasn’t that terrible considering her situation … and to be honest, it wasn’t all that surprising either.

The plot itself was interesting and relevant. It didn’t feel like something I had read a million times over. That was refreshing. And it was interesting to follow the case with Jo and Tony until the ending. I did have some trouble keeping some of the bad guys straight, but in the end it all came together and made sense.

Overall I’m glad that I got the chance to read this book and find a new author. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more from Ms. Webb! Definitely recommended!


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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Debra Webb

DEBRA WEBB is the award winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama.

Connect with Debra

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E, Nonfiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis

His Excellency: George Washington
by Joseph J. Ellis

His Excellency

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 275

Read: Jan. 24-30, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Paperbackswap

Blurb: To this landmark biography of our first president, Joseph J. Ellis brings the exacting scholarship, shrewd analysis, and lyric rose that have made him one of the premier historians of the Revolutionary era. Training his lens on a figure who sometimes seems as remote as his effigy on Mount Rushmore, Ellis assesses George Washington as a military and political leader and a man whose “statue-like solidity” concealed volcanic energies and emotions.

Here is the impetuous young officer whose miraculous survival in combat half-convinced him that he could not be killed. Here is the free-spending landowner whose debts to English merchants instilled him with a prickly resentment of imperial power. And here is the general who lost more battles than he won, and the reluctant president to tried to float above the partisan feuding to an understanding not only of its subject but also of the nation he brought into being.


Review: With this book I embark on my presidential reading challenge!

I chose this book to start with because it appeared to be a short, all-encompassing biography. I figured it would give me a good decent background before I really got started into the meat of George Washington’s life. And for the most part, this book definitely fulfilled that. But it definitely left me wanting more. There were a lot of places that I really wanted more information on, but I realize that it’s not feasible to put every single thing about his entire life into one small volume such as this.

The writing itself in this book was extremely good. There were some dry parts, but those usually occurred when there was discussion of battle details and strategy – those topics just don’t interest me all that much. Overall I found this one easy to read and it kept my interest throughout.

The overall picture that Mr. Ellis paints of George Washington is interesting to me. What I personally came away from it was that he seemed to be a man who wanted everything he did. He claimed to not want to do this or that, namely the presidency, yet he kept coming back. He could have stepped away had he truly wanted to. Yet he was needed. And I think it was that need that kept driving him. His earlier years, he came across as extremely arrogant and not very likable to be honest. But it was his later years that you could definitely see him mature and realize that what he was living was something a lot bigger than anyone at the time could even imagine. His eye never seemed to be on the present, it always seemed to be on the future – I suppose that’s why he edited a lot of his earlier writings…. he wasn’t really writing for his immediate audience; he was writing for future audiences.

Overall, I’m very pleased that this is where I started my presidential reading challenge at. I found it to be a wonderful overview of Washington. It is an easy read, one that will most certainly appeal to casual readers. It also made me realize that my knowledge of the history of the American Revolution is severely lacking (!).

I do believe that going forward from here, when I begin a new president, I will start with something similar to this – a brief, all-encompassing volume that will give me a good starting place. This will be especially helpful with those presidents that I am truly unfamiliar with.