Marlene’s November Book Reviews

Hello all, this is a bit thin this month as I was busy enjoying Spain and Oslo, Norway.  At least I did get in quiet a few movies on the long distance travel!


Final Demand by Deborah Moggach.  Moggach knows her characters well, lets you into their minds and keeps you glued to the outcome to this psychological novel.  Natalie, the protagonist, commits a crime that “will harm no one” but it does have tragic consequences that will make your heart ache.  Very well done character development has you glued to the pages for the outcome. Fast-paced and well written by the author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. 4.0


The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. This is a Sherlock Holmes story narrated as Dr. Watson tells the story. I was at first surprised this author could just cop another’s characters but have since learned that the Conan Doyle’s estate granted permission. It follows Doyle’s work pretty closely except that Dr. Watson had become more of a person with introspection and included many more opinions that he did previously but that is accounted for by the timing of the tale. There are a few issues that are unbelievable but are small in comparison to the unfolding of the mystery. For Sherlock fans, you won‘t be disappointed! 4.0

Saints for all Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan. An intense story of family and love with an array of interesting characters. We visit the problems of Irish, immigrants and generational gaps plus the toll of kept secrets.  Underneath it all is a very sad story about another one of our “lost souls” that can’t seem to find his way in the world.  Would knowing his parentage have hanged his personality?  Sullivan tells the story through different time periods and different narrators, all woven together into a well written novel. 4.5

La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith.  This is a departure from his Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency and feels to me like just a recess. There isn’t the warm fuzzy feelings that our Botswana ladies invoke or the feeling that people make differences in others’ lives. It tries with this orchestra business but just doesn’t ring true for me. I haven’t lived in a war-torn era and don’t have a musical bone in my body so maybe I am short-changing the impact that La’s Orchestra has on her community. I was expecting resistance activity or at least aid to fleeing victims of oppression. This left me feeling disappointed as I have loved all his other books.  2.5


Pasta Punctures & Perseverance!: Diaries  of Cycling Adventures by Howard Ashton.  We met Howard through way back in 2000 at his home in Glasgow, Scotland. We have kept in contact and I am delighted that he published some of his cycling adventures as he has a beautiful way with words and you will love to travel along with him….certainly enjoying the scenery but you won’t have to exercise the physical stamina as he has done on these many trips.  It doesn’t read like a novel, so it is best to read in bites,  a trip at time, for instance.  It was great fun to read some of these trips where I had traveled the same route but with easier transport.  All in all, there is variety, humor and wonderful descriptions.    The book is only available through Kindle: and the proceeds from sale are donated to SCOPE, the UK charity supporting those affected by cerebral palsy and their families. 4.0

Films:  (transatlantic flights!)

From my travel journal: We watch two good ones: “Arrival”,   an interesting sci-fi one and “Runaway Jury”, a John Grisham novel with a good twist.  Howard enjoyed “Girl on a Train” which I gave up early on.  He also liked the Howard Hughes one which I skipped as it said it was a comedy.

“Trouble with the Curve”  Clint Eastwood plays Gus as a baseball scout whose eyesight is failing him  He has one last job and his daughter is asked by Gus’s best friend to go along to make sure he is okay.  It gets very predictable and a happy ending for all who come to new realizations about jobs and family.

“Everything, Everything” A teenage girl (Amanda Stenberg) is unable to leave her home because she has an immunodeficiency that makes her allergic to almost everything. However, her life turns for the better when she begins to communicate with the boy next door (Nick Robinson).  You may think it’s predictable but it’s not.  Wonderful young actors.

“My Cousin Rachel” A young Englishman plots revenge against his late cousin’s mysterious, beautiful wife, believing her responsible for his death. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms. Excellent drama and interpretation of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel.

“Wonder Woman” An Amazon princess (Gal Adopt) finds her idyllic life on an island occupied only by female warriors interrupted when a pilot (Chris Pine) crash-lands nearby. After rescuing him, she learns that World War I is engulfing the planet, and vows to use her superpowers to restore peace.  Earnest and thrilling but no super hero can stop the craziness of humans.


Happy reading, listening and viewing.


Ratings: 1-5,

5 = must read

4= good read worth your time,  but not a blockbuster

3=it’s not great, but it’s not bad, cautious recommend

2= some merit but only if you have nothing else to read

1=don’t bother