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A Darker Shade of Sweden
A Darker Shade of Sweden
by John-Henri Holmberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
62 used & new from $5.42

5.0 out of 5 stars excellent crime short stories from Sweden with a superb introduction, August 14, 2014
This book of short stories is an excellent sampler of Swedish crime writers, but the most interesting and valuable bit is the 21-page introduction by Swedish author, editor and reviewer John-Henri Holmberg, who writes about crime fiction in general, and then Swedish crime fiction in particular. This is a superb overview of the genre and this market.

The 17 stories are, as one would expect, a mixed bag. I rated each and gave: 1 @ 4/10, 2 @ 6/10, 6 @ 8/10, 3 @ 9/10, and 5 @ 10/10. That's pretty good. I enjoyed stories by authors I was familiar with (Stiegg Larsson, Asa Larsson, Henning Mankell, Hakan Nesser, Johan Theorin, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo) but more importantly found a number of authors I hadn't heard of before. Each story has an opening and closing paragraph with information about the author(s) and story.

This is an excellent book of short stories if you're interested in this genre. I would LOVE to see similar volumes for Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Finland.

Holmes Cool Mist Humidifier HM1300BF-UM
Holmes Cool Mist Humidifier HM1300BF-UM
Price: $27.72
11 used & new from $17.12

4.0 out of 5 stars a decent humidifier suitable for small rooms or a bedside table, August 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a good humidifier. The tank holds about 1 gallon of water which, accordion to the manual, lasts around 16 hours. There are two speed settings, which generate a "white noise" type sound. This is not very loud, but if you're a light sleeper it could be a problem on the High setting at night.

I have a humidity meter that I used to test this device. At 9:30 am I tested a small room. The humidity was 40%. I filled the humidifier and ran it on high with the windows closed and fan off. After two hours only a fraction of the water was gone and the humidity read 60%. After another 5 hours the water seems to be about half gone and the humidity is still 60%.

Jo Nesbo's Headhunters Blu-ray
Jo Nesbo's Headhunters Blu-ray
DVD ~ Morten Tyldum
7 used & new from $9.01

5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended comedy thriller, a great adaptation, August 13, 2014
Based on Jo Nesbo's book of the same name, this 2012 Norwegian film captures the essence of the book including many details. It does depart from the book in a couple of places but for good reason, and nothing that should detract from the enjoyment. One of the great things about the book is the narrative tone, and they get that as much as a movie is able.

Roger Brown is a corporate recruiter who supplements his income with the occasional art theft. That's already a good plot, but that's just the first few minutes, and the pace is non-stop. The villain is played by Nikolaj Coster-Wagner, Jamie Lanister from Game of Thrones. I thought he was a little disappointing, but believable, and everyone else is terrific too. It's also nice to see a bit of the beautiful Norwegian countryside and forest.

If you read Scandinavian thrillers, get the book too, which is wonderful. If you've already read it, fear not -- this is a terrific adaptation.

Headhunters (Movie Tie-In Edition) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Headhunters (Movie Tie-In Edition) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
by Jo Nesbř
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.94
71 used & new from $1.47

5.0 out of 5 stars I am a very lucky person ..., August 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
... But sometimes I am incredibly stupid. I have loved Nesbo's Harry Hole series for years, anxiously waiting new entries to be translated. So why did it take me all this time to read Headhunters, Nesbo's first novel, a standalone about Roger Brown -- a self-consciously shorter-than-average suit with a beautiful wife, a beautiful head of hair, and a bad habit as an art thief?

Anyone who is interested in Nordic thrillers should read this book. Anyone who enjoys mysteries, capers, Norway, psychology, the Coen Brothers, twists or fine writing. READ THIS NOW! I can't believe not everyone gave it five stars. I am a pretty jaded reviewer .. well, no, not really. I still get giddy over mysteries, science fiction, the odd literary novel, children's books, movies, recipes, etc. I feel like a lucky person to be around for all the great arts there are available at the click of a button. And if I had to rank my favorite authors across all genres, Jo Nesbo would be in my top five.

This is a thrilling story written in a distinctive and intriguing narrative voice, with great dialogue, complex characters, incredible situations and superb plotting. There is even wit and a little wisdom thrown in. This is like three novels, actually. We start with the story of Roger Brown, corporate headhunter who's also an art thief; later he becomes Roger Brown, hunted man; and finally we get Roger Brown, avenging cipher.

This is a great book. (And BTW, the movie is also very good and captures the book very well.) Nesbo is a magnificent writer and strategist. If you like the Harry Hole books, you will like this too.

Highest recommendation.

The Dinosaur Feather
The Dinosaur Feather
by Sissel-Jo Gazan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.27
84 used & new from $4.49

3.0 out of 5 stars clunky prose and unlikable characters, August 2, 2014
This review is from: The Dinosaur Feather (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book has potential, but is ultimately too long, too confusing, and not mysterious enough. There are three characters who get the most attention: Anna, an unlikable graduate student two weeks away from defending her dissertation; Soren, the brilliant. ut tormented police detective; and Clive, a married father and academic who is attracted to a young boy. Soren is the most interesting of this trio, and the only o e who hasa. hance of being likable, but even he often acts irrationally.

When Anna's mentor is murdered (?) she worries she won't be able to complete her defense. Her anger and frustration are understandable, but that doesn't make her any more palatible -- a shrill, tetchy walking argument who constantly yells at her colleagues, her parents and her young daughter. I had realtrouble caring at all about her.

There are lengrhy discussions about fossils and scientific history and philosophy. I like those subjects, but I was still bored!

Still, I liked the detective character and was prepared ro give the book four stars, until the last 30 pr sppages. Suddenly we are treated to testimony from two characters who just do an info dump all ober the place, and the. the story is over. One lasts 8 pages, then.a few pages later there's another one-- just one character monologuing monotonically -- for 16 pages. Ridiculous.

Clunky writing and no character worth caring about took away another star. Chances are I won't read another book. y this author.

Rachael Ray 2-Piece Cucina Stoneware Cruet Set, Red/Brown
Rachael Ray 2-Piece Cucina Stoneware Cruet Set, Red/Brown
Price: $24.99
5 used & new from $24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars after years of searching -- a very nice cruet set, July 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These cruets have good points and bad points. They're not perfect, but when I think of all the cruets I've tried, these compare quite favorably.

Pros: These are quite comfortable to hold and pour, in many ways of holding. So far I've had trouble with the little spout flap working properly. Good size that holds a fair bit of whatever you're holding.

Cons: The colors are pretty unattractive I think. The picture is a good approximation of the actual colors. You can't see how full the cruet is.

Annoying: nowhere in the attached booklet does it mention the dishwasher. I assumed you can't wash these in the dishwasher, but then saw on the box that you can, so that's good.

Philips SHP2600/27 Over-Ear Headphones, Black
Philips SHP2600/27 Over-Ear Headphones, Black
Price: $29.99
2 used & new from $29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars good noise reduction, sound quality and comfort, July 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Well designed headphones, these are comfortable and have good sound quality and noise reduction. The overhead strap is comfortable and has numbers on the sides that click into place, which is not a feature I would have requested, but I like it. The noise reduction is effective, primarily eliminating high pitched tones; you can still hear people in the room talking, but it is muffled and less distracting. Most importantly, the sound quality is very good.

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent: A Maggie Hope Mystery
The Prime Minister's Secret Agent: A Maggie Hope Mystery
by Susan Elia MacNeal
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.05
63 used & new from $7.10

4.0 out of 5 stars 4th in an entertaining series, July 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the fourth book in the Maggie Hope series, about a young American in England during WW2. I've enjoyed this series very much, though I thought this was the weakest of the four, with the plot revolving around Maggie coping with all the betrayals and reversals of the first three books. She is in Scotland as an instructor as the Allies get some information of vital importance to the Americans.

I thought this entry in the series was a little more contrived in plot and a little less interesting for the main character in general. It's not much fun reading about someone moping and becoming bitter. A side plot, that of Maggie's imprisoned Nazi mother, is interesting but far fetched too.

One should read the books in order, since Miss Hope's personal story is an integral part of the goings on. They are: Mr. Churchill's Secretary, Princess Elizabeth's Spy, His Majesty's Hope, and The Prime Minister's Secret Agent.

Very entertaining dries, particularly for those interested in WW2.

Don't Talk to Strangers: A Novel
Don't Talk to Strangers: A Novel
by Amanda Kyle Williams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
65 used & new from $11.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars third in a very entertaining series, set in Georgia, July 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I hadn't read the first two books in this series about Atlanta private investigator Keye Street, but I ordered them before I had finished the book. The author does a good job of keeping new readers up to speed, so I undrestand that Street is a disgraced ex-FBI agent, an alcoholic who still feels the pull of a tall vodka on ice but contents herself with ginger ale and lemon. In this book she's away from the home office when she travels to rural Georgia to help local police solve the murder of two young teens.

There were many things I liked about this book. The characters, major and supporting, were interesting, complex and entertaining. The dialogue was realistic and particularly the first person narration was a delight. Like the best noir, Street's musings are intelligent and colorful, filled with sharp analysis and catchy metaphors and analogies. The villains are very creepy, and the resolution was fair and plausible. I liked that the protagonist is an Asian female -- that is an unusual and interesting choice, which makes for a new perspective in the genre. Williams writes quite well, running the gamut from truly horrific insight into the criminal mind to snarky humor and sexual temsion.

However, I agree with some reviewers' criticism that the plot is unoriginal. There is an outsider coming in who is shunned by the local police. There is a killer who operates brazenly and seems to catch every break. The outsider fights her attraction to the hunky local sheriff because she has a boyfriend back home. I'm a longtime reader of detective fiction, and I've seen these tropes a thousand times. BUT by the middle of the book I really cared about Keye Street, and enjoyed the story she was telling, which means a lot.

I'm looking forward to reading the first two books in the series, The Stranger You Seek and Stranger in the Room, and because investigator Street's evolving personal story is a major part of the series, would suggest readers approach them in order, though I certainly found this one quite compelling even out of order.

Keye Street is a great new detective on the block.

One Kick: A Novel (A Kick Lannigan Novel)
One Kick: A Novel (A Kick Lannigan Novel)
by Chelsea Cain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.43
59 used & new from $8.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars new series debut for Chelsea Cain, July 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've enjoyed the entire Archie/Gretchen series, and think Cain is a terrific writer of thrillers. This, the first book in a new series, was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand it was quite compelling and the characters were interesting; on the other, I thought there were definite flaws with the novel, and the subject matter is pretty grim.

Kick is a young woman who was kidnapped as a young child and held by a child pornographer for five years. Now she's trained herself in several areas of self defense so she can not be hurt again. The first chapter was terrific, and sets up an exciting story. The pacing of the story was good, the dialogue well written and the villains truly hateful. But the book isn't flawless. Through sometimes tedious detail we're told that Kick is well trained and capable, but that never seems true. There are quite a few instances where she makes tactical errors, and several times she is overpowered by adversaries. Some secondary characters were intriguing, but we didn't see much of them. And most surprisingly, I had trouble caring about Kick or her mysterious partner, Bishop.

Despite the problems I'm giving One Kick four stars because I still couldn't put it down. The author did a great job of broaching this very disturbing material without going into detail. I will probably get the next book in the series.

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