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Bad Wolf: A Novel (Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver Von Bodenstein)
Bad Wolf: A Novel (Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver Von Bodenstein)
by Nele Neuhaus
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.70
82 used & new from $8.17

3.0 out of 5 stars annoying police thriller set in Germany, April 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Set in Frankfurt, Germany, the story begins when a teenage girl's body is found floating in the river Main; an autopsy shows she has been imprisoned and undergone many kinds of systematic abuse. Detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are assigned to the case. This is the second book in the series, but the first I've read, and I won't be reading any more. While the choppy prose may be a result of the translation, the same can't be said of the plot. There are WAY too many coincidences and too many people who know each other that are involved in the case, which involves a repulsive child pornography ring and the horrific torture of women. Pia makes many insubordinate and silly decisions, and the plot repeatedly relies on parents who totally ignore any sign of abuse in their children. Most characters are two-dimensional; Pia is two and a half. So no one was very interesting, even the main characters. The narrative jumps between a wide variety of characters, including the bad guys, but several times the rapid jumps to unidentified characters meant it took a while to figure out who was "speaking" and then you'd have to go back and re-read.

Not very enjoyable. I'm going back to Scandinavian thrillers!


A Desirable Residence: A Novel of Love and Real Estate
A Desirable Residence: A Novel of Love and Real Estate
by Sophie Kinsella
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.00
44 used & new from $0.75

3.0 out of 5 stars least favorite by this author, April 15, 2014
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Liz and Jonathan have uprooted their family and left their beloved home to pursue a dream -- running a tutorial college. Their children are unhappy, and the parents aren't far behind. Unable to sell their house, they now have two mortgages and are in trouble with the bank. This gets them involved with Marcus, an estate agent of low moral character. Cue shenanigans.

Normally I'm a huge Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham fan, but this book, originally published in 1996 (her second book), just goes to show that she got better over the years. Of all the books I've read by her, this was my least favorite. Usually I get so caught up in the antics of Wickham's delightful, quirky characters that I read it all in a rush, but this time I found myself struggling to get through it, telling myself just to finish so I could read something else. I think the main problem was that none of the characters, with one exception, was likable at all. More recent novels by this author feature characters who are definitely flawed but still fetching, whereas these characters were either shallow or nasty or both. And the ending was rather abrupt and hurried.

Not recommended unless you're determined to read everything by this talented author.


The Rumford Gardener Tuff-Guard Expanding Hose, 50-Feet
The Rumford Gardener Tuff-Guard Expanding Hose, 50-Feet
Price: $43.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great hose, April 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have been using this hose for about a week with no problems. It arrives quite compacted and expands once it's connected and filled with water. The fittings are brass and the outer sleeve protects the hose itself. So far I like it a lot.

Other reviewers seem to have issues with the hose rupturing, and there are several rules for use, like not running hot water through it or not using a high pressure nozzle, but so far it's been great and I'll update this review if I have any problems.


The Book of You: A Novel
The Book of You: A Novel
by Claire Kendal
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.43

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a woman's thriller .. for men too, April 11, 2014
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This is the story of Clarissa, a woman who's being stalked by a real creep. The author captures the unrelenting dread, the isolation and the cold clenching fear that comes with having a manipulative monster obsessed with you. Every movement has to be considered, every decision reviewed. Clarissa is intelligent and thoughtful, keeping a journal of the monster's movements so she can present a mountain of evidence to the police. At the same time she reads advisory leaflets about stalkers and abductions and deaths, and is acting as a juror in the case of a brutal sexual assault. As you can imagine, the book is multilayered, nuanced and packed with observations about being a woman in the 21st century. The shifts between Clarissa's journal and the third person narrative are used effectively.

In tone this reminds me of the film The Collector, where even a woman who seems to do all the "right" things can still become a victim, and that lessons of politeness as well as officials' tendency to blame the victim make her question not only her past actions, but what she does to protect herself, and how even relaxing for a moment, to try to recapture her joy at walking in the park, for instance, can lead to horrifying consequences.

This is chilling and disturbing, all too realistic and unfortunately plausible, and might also be a good read for men -- to see how tormented women can feel under this kind of long-term assault, and how the system often works to women's detriment. Clarissa doesn't want to worry her parents so she doesn't tell them what's happening, and she stops seeing friends because she's afraid he'll go after them too. So many times when I was reading I was wishing for her to go to the authorities, but when she finally does, will it help her?

This is very well written and quite disturbing, very creepy and rather disheartening in its way.


Hunted (The Profiler)
Hunted (The Profiler)
by Elizabeth Heiter
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.18
47 used & new from $4.41

5.0 out of 5 stars 4-1/2 stars for this series debut, April 9, 2014
This review is from: Hunted (The Profiler) (Paperback)
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Evelyn had an unhappy childhood with an alcoholic mother until her grandparents took her in and she met her best friend. When she was twelve her friend was abducted and never found, inspiring Evelyn to become an FBI profiler. When the story opens, Evelyn has been on the job for a year, a gifted profiler who isn't always very confident, and who seems either to inspire loyalty from her fellow agents, or contempt. This is the first book in The Profiler series, and Evelyn is an interesting protagonist with a compelling backstory -- and lots of it.

In this novel Evelyn is looking for a serial killer who is very intelligent and has an odd MO, leaving his victims partially buried. Evelyn develops a profile but the police in the small town where the killer is hunting seem hostile to her ideas. Is it because she represents the FBI, or because she's a diminutive woman, or because the killer is an officer?

The mystery is a good one and the killer is interesting. The book isn't flawless. The ending goes on too long and the behavior of some of Evelyn's colleagues is so irrational as to be implausible. Some threads are left dangling and sometimes the writing is clunky. But ultimately I enjoyed the story and found myself carrying the book from room to room so I could keep reading. It's not the best thriller ever written, but the character is compelling and the book held my interest and didn't make me scream Foul! when it ended. I'll undoubtedly read the next in the series, but I probably won't buy it new or in hardcover.


The Disappeared: A Novel
The Disappeared: A Novel
by Kristina Ohlsson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.08
57 used & new from $6.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars weakest of the series so far, April 6, 2014
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This is the third book in the Fredrika Bergman series and, contrary to other reviewers, I consider it the weakest so far. Bergman is a civilian member of a special police task force in Stockholm. This is a strong series, and this volume shows that the team is working well together, but individual members are falling apart.

When a woman's body is discovered, it turns out to be a young woman who disappeared several years ago, and as the detectives follow multiple leads, the case just seems to get more confusing. Ohlsson writes very well and the characters are quite interesting. The premise is intriguing too, and interspersed among the chapters are internal interviews with the team members, which builds tension because they imply that something went horribly wrong with the investigation.

So what's wrong with the book? First off, there are not one but two outrageous coincidences between the case and the detectives, which truly strain the reader's sensibilities. Secondly, more than one of the detectives acts in a totally unprofessional manner, including hiding clues that point to someone they know, and no one pays a price for it. Finally, SPOILER ALERT: the killer turns out to be someone we never meet.

I will probably read the next in the series because the first two were so good, but this one, while starting out great, was very disappointing.


Invisible Ellen
Invisible Ellen
by Shari Shattuck
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Rear Window meets Desperately Seeking Susan, April 4, 2014
This review is from: Invisible Ellen (Hardcover)
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Ellen Homes leads an unfortunate life. Abandoned as a young girl by her abusive, drug-addicted mother, she was raised in substandard foster homes and now lives in a studio apartment in a bad neighborhood, physically and mentally scarred, filling notebooks with observations about neighbors she's loathe to interact with and cultivating a talent for being invisible, noticed (and therefore bothered) by no one. This is the bleak beginning of the story, and sometimes the author treads a little heavily getting the point across, but things pick up quickly when Ellen meets a funny, totally-opposite-of-self-pitying blind girl who breaks through Ellen's defenses. Over the course of the week or so covered in the novel, Ellen finds herself beginning a friendship and doing many things she'd never considered.

Things all wrap up a little too neatly, the prose can be quite clunky and the metaphors strained past all utility, but the book is cheerful and charming, with a simple but true lesson about becoming a part of the world you live in.


Designing Interiors
Designing Interiors
by Rosemary Kilmer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $86.00
36 used & new from $77.57

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive introduction to interior design, beautifully illustrated, April 3, 2014
This review is from: Designing Interiors (Paperback)
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This large, heavy book gives a complete introduction to the field of interior design. This is the second edition of a highly regarded text first published in 1992, so there is a lot of updated material. The book features many line drawings and color photographs, and a clean font. Six main subjects contain 19 chapters, which are further broken down into 89 topics. The chapters cover: the origins, evolution and processes of the field; basic theories including color and light; programming; space planning of residential and commercial interiors; environmental issues; lighting; materials (including sustainability); architectural systems (shell, floor, wall and ceiling); interior components (stairs, doors, windows, cabinetry and fireplaces, and even plants); furniture, furnishings and equipment; communication; and practicing the profession. Each section is one to four pages long and filled with illustrative drawings and photos. Each chapter concludes with a short bibliography, and the book wraps up with a very good glossary and index.

Primarily intended for the student, this is nevertheless an excellent resource for amateurs interested in the subject or as a reference for professionals.


The Son: A novel
The Son: A novel
by Jo Nesbř
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.23

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant standalone from the creator of the harry hole series, set in norway, April 1, 2014
This review is from: The Son: A novel (Hardcover)
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With the completion (?) of the 10-book Harry Hole series, author Jo Nesbo moves to a standalone tale of corruption, revenge and redemption within Oslo's police department -- and it is wonderful. If you're a Nesbo fan, RUN, do not walk, to get this terrific book.

Years ago, three friends entered the police academy: Pontius becomes police commissioner, Simon battles his personal demons and ends up kind of a loser in Homicide, and Ab, apparently a mole, commits suicide. Ab's son Sonny, now an orphan, becomes a heroin addict, content to be a professional scapegoat for a (very sinister) crime kingpin, but when an inmate reveals that he knows the truth about Ab's death, Sonny undergoes a remarkable transformation and embarks on a riveting mission of revenge. And Simon, his father's old friend, is assigned to catch him.

Like many readers I became enchanted with Scandinavian thrillers after reading the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and now I've read novels by dozens of talented authors, but Jo Nesbo is my very favorite. The Harry Hole series is amazing, with thrilling plots and a magnificent (if flawed) detective, so I was quite curious to see how a non-Hole Nesbo novel would read, and it knocked my socks off. The story is immediately compelling and the characters are sublime. There are at least 30 of them, but the author manages to keep each one memorable and distinct, and to humanize each of them, establishing empathy even when the character is not sympathetic. The story moves primarily, but not exclusively, between Simon the detective and Sonny the oddly gentle killer. At the same time, Simon is mentoring a new homicide detective, and this gives Nesbo the chance to show off Simon's talent. I love these glimpses of the processes of a true detective, someone who's observant and makes brilliant inferences without being arrogant. The reader really comes to admire Simon, and at the same time feel great sympathy for Sonny. Both characters are intelligent and quite fascinating, and since this is a standalone, the author doesn't need to keep anyone alive, so the stakes are high and the uncertainty is intense.

If the book itself gets an "A", the last 50 pages "go to 11" as astonishing revelations and multiple twists prove what a talented writer and strategist Nesbo is. As soon as I finished this terrific thriller I wanted to go back and read it again. (But after staying up late to finish -- how could I get any sleep before I knew who the mole was? -- I need just a little rest first.)

Highest recommendation.
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The Purity of Vengeance: A Department Q Novel
The Purity of Vengeance: A Department Q Novel
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.21
73 used & new from $10.78

5.0 out of 5 stars 4th in a terrific series set in Denmark, March 30, 2014
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This is one of my favorite Scandinavian series. Jussi Adler-Olsen writes beautifully, with fascinating and complex characters, interesting crimes and enough humor to offset the violence. Much of the humor comes from Carl Morck's snarky crankiness and the quirks of his assistants, Assad and Rose. These are great characters, and as the series progresses we (very) slowly get some of their backstory. (I assume the author has a long term plan, but it's four books in, and I would surely love to know more about Assad's history.) Also, over the course of the four books, we learn a tiny bit more about what happened when Morck and his two partners were ambushed, leaving one dead, one paralyzed, and one filled with guilt, and again, I'm anxious to have this history addressed. We get some movement on the case, but not much. With additional time spent on Carl's fading marriage and his new girlfriend, Adler-Olsen is juggling many threads here, but not making much progress on any of them. That said, I loved the book and didn't begrudge any of the 500 pages. I wish it would go on and on.

Curt Wad is a fascist physician shepherding his beloved Purity Party into a position of influence in the Danish government. When he is seen by Nete Harmansen, the first victim of his program of enforced abortions and sterilization against minorities and others he doesn't think should be reproducing, she embarks on a program of her own, to get revenge against him and others who ruined her life in every way imaginable.

The story moves between the present, in which Department Q tries to solve a series of disappearances, and the past, in which we find out how Nete was hurt by each of her intended victims, and how she dealt with each of them in turn. While the novel deals with the heartbreaking and disturbing history of Denmark's Sprogo Island, I loved the book, and consider it a great addition to one of the best Scandinavian thriller series out there.

This is the fourth book in the series (which has been published under multiple titles, so beware!) They are: The Keeper of Lost Causes (aka Mercy), The Absent One (Disgrace), Conspiracy of Faith (Redemption) and The Purity of Vengeance.


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