Archive for January, 2016

These Few Precious Days by Christopher Andersen.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books (August 6, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1476732329




“The days dwindle down, to a precious few . . .” —from “September Song,” JFK’s favorite
They were the original power couple— outlandishly rich, impossibly attractive, and endlessly fascinating. Now, in this rare, behind-the-scenes portrait of the Kenne­dys in their final year together, #1 New York Times bestselling biographer Christopher Andersen shows us a side of JFK and Jackie we’ve never seen before. Tender, intimate, complex, and, at times, explosive, theirs is a love story unlike any other—filled with secrets, scandals, and bomb­shells that could never be fully revealed . . . until now. Including:
· Stunning new details about the Kennedys’ rumored affairs—hers as well as his—and how they ultimately overcame all odds to save their marriage
· The president’s many premonitions of his own death, and how he repeatedly tried to pull out of his last fateful trip to Dallas
· Shocking revelations about how the couple, unaware of the dangers, became dependent on amphetamine injections, the real reason— according to his longtime personal physician— for JFK’s notorious libido, and how the White House hid his many serious medical problems from the public
· How the tragic death of their infant son Patrick led to an emotional outpouring from the president that surprised even their closest friends—and brought JFK and Jackie closer than they had ever been
· Touching firsthand accounts of the family’s most private moments, before and after the assassination
Drawing on hundreds of interviews conducted with the Kennedys’ inner circle—from family members and lifelong friends to key advisors and political confidantes—Andersen takes us deeper inside the world of the president and his first lady than ever before. Unsparing yet sympathetic, bigger than life but all too real, These Few Precious Days captures the ups and downs of a marriage, a man, and a woman, the memories of which will continue to fascinate and inspire for generations to come.

This book was a very personal view of JFK and Jackie during the final year of Jack Kennedy’s life.  The title alone made me know it would not be a "happy" book to read, yet in many ways… it was.

Nothing is left untouched in the book and yet nothing that is said changes my mind that JFK and Jackie were the very last in the White House that I found I looked up to and and glad I was old enough to remember them.

The book doesn’t let you forget that JFK was a womanizer but because Jackie knew and never gave up on him I always found that I forgave him too.. It just did not effect what he did as President.  I admire how he continued to work thru pain that was crippling but felt sorry that the only way he could go on was because of "Dr Feelgood".. who shot him up with pain killers.  My true feeling is that he wouldn’t have lived long enough for a second term had he not been assassinated.

Of course the happiest for the two of them was cut short by his murder.  So the book had sad and happy times, most would say: like everyone else, but truly it wasn’t like everyone else.

I have always said that whenever I read a book about Kennedy I learn at least one thing I didn’t know.. this time among my enlightenments is this: "Much to the amusement of those who knew him, the President groused constantly about money..even though he had such little need for his $100,000. Presidential salary that he donated the entire amount to charity."

Somehow I don’t think any of those hoping to become President would do the same.

Although through the years "rumors" told a lot of the Kennedy’s private life this book seems to confirm or deny most of them. 

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Jack Kennedy Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews.

Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster;(November 6, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1451635095



What was he like?”
Jack Kennedy said the reason people read biography is to answer that basic question. What was he like, this man whose own wife called him “that elusive, unforgettable man?” In this New York Times bestselling biography, Chris Matthews answers that question with the verve of a novelist. We see this most beloved president in the company of friends. We see and feel him close-up, having fun and giving off that restlessness of his. We watch him navigate his life from privileged, rebellious youth to gutsy American president. We witness his bravery in war and selfless rescue of his PT boat crew. We watch JFK as a young politician learning to play hardball and watch him grow into the leader who averts a nuclear war. Matthews’s extraordinary biography is based on personal interviews with those closest to JFK, oral histories by top political aide Kenneth O’Donnell and others, documents from his years as a student at Choate, and notes from Jacqueline Kennedy’s first interview after Dallas. As Matthews writes: “I found a fighting prince never free of pain, never far from trouble, never accepting the world he found, never wanting to be his father’s son. He was a far greater hero than he ever wished us to know.”


I finally found this book at Friends of the Library for $1.oo!    So I had to get it!

JFK always interests me.  I loved that he got us in Space and he will always be a “hero” to me because when my brother was in the Air Force JFK was President, and my mother and I, fearfully, lived thru the Cuban Missile Crisis.  So now and then a get a book about JFK to read, sadly most cover his death rather then his life.

This one is about a very young Jack who felt unloved by his parents and admired his older brother who was killed in the war.  It talks of his slow introduction into politics and his climb to the Presidency.  It’s filled with quotes from JFK which makes you feel more like you know the man rather then the President. His having to cope with Addison’s Disease and his painful back and hiding it from the public is really quite dramatic.

I found out in this book that one of his hero’s was Winston Churchill, and it showed in his inaugural speech…


“Kennedy and Ted Sorensen had been devoting a good deal of that Palm Beach time writing Jack’s inaugural address

Given the ongoing challenge of the U.S.– USSR relationship and its immense significance in the election, that theme would command the heart of the speech. Its focus was on strength- not as a prelude to war, but as an instrument for peace? “Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.”

The Churchillian notion of peace through strength had echoed throughout Jack’s adult life. “ We dare not tempt them with weakness.  For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed” America would arm not to fight, but to parlay its power into protection. “Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversaries, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest fort peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.”

Those decisive phrases have not lost their resonance. “Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms- and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.  Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors.  Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the oceans depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.”

The one domestic policy reference would be Kennedy’s commitment to “human rights” at home as well as abroad.  At the end came the words that passed into the world’s consciousness: “ And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.”

Most of us remember the last sentence but not much else.

Many also thought our “race for space” was nothing more then “beating the Russians”.. but it was a lot more in America’s power struggle then “just” a race for space.

I enjoyed this book.  As always I learn one or two more things about Kennedy with each book, although this one wasn’t just about his death… and for that I was glad.

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The Vanishing

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Hachette Books (January 21, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1401341942


(Book 4 of 2016)

From Booklist

Webb follows The Fate of Mercy Alban (2013) with another spooky supernatural tale. Julia Bishop is at her wit’s end after the fraudulent business dealings and subsequent suicide of her husband, Jeremy, leave her penniless and reviled by their former friends. When Adrian Sinclair shows up on her doorstep and offers her a job as a caretaker for his elderly mother, horror novelist Amaris, the opportunity for escape from her life is just too good to pass up. Julia journeys to Havenwood, the Sinclairs’ Minnesota estate, with high hopes for a fresh start, but she soon finds life at Havenwood unsettling and at times downright frightening. The airy mansion appears to be haunted by sinister spirits, and a menacing intruder begins spying through the windows. And Julia is deeply unsettled by her own resemblance to pictures of a beautiful medium who visited Havenwood over a century ago. A late-in-the-game revelation feels somewhat improbable, but Webb expertly builds suspense and offers a thought-provoking tease in the final pages. –Kristine Huntley

And so… this is the third book by Wendy Webb that I have read… and all of them have been good!

The Fate of Mercy Alban, The Tale of Halcyon Crane and now The Vanishing.  It also makes this 2 books in a row that deals with “ghosts”.. hmmm not sure how that happened!  But, still this is a good read.  You find yourself trying to figure out just what the heck is going on, only to find that you hadn’t really figured it out until you were supposed to! 

Any and all of these books makes for enjoyable reading.   Wendy Webb might be someone who’s books you may want to try!

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The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James.

Paperback: 329 pages
Publisher: NAL;(March 6, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0451235681



Sarah Piper’s lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis-rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts- has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah’s task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a deperate struggle. For Maddy’s ghost is real, she’s angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair’s assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, whereshe came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?

I am not usually a person for ghost stories but happened by this book.. wow.  much more then I expected.  I’ve read a few ghost books over the years but none were like this one.    This would be an excellent book to consider reading around Halloween!!

It’s a book that’s hard to stay away from once you get into it.  Of course there is a back ground love story with it. 

There are a few mentions of things more “up to date” than I am used to, since it seems most of my reading is back in the 1800’s. But over all I was surprised that I enjoyed the book as much as I did.. I think if you like a ghost story you will like this book.

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Strings of Murder

Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel.  Book 2 of 2016.

Paperback: 406 pages
Publisher: Michael Joseph (March 31, 2015)
ISBN-10: 071817982X

A spellbinding concoction of crime, history and horror – perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes and Jonathan Creek. The First Case for Frey & McGray. Edinburgh, 1888. A violinist is murdered in his home. The dead virtuoso’s maid swears she heard three musicians playing in the night. But with only one body in the locked practice room – and no way in or out – the case makes no sense. Fearing a national panic over another Ripper, Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult. However, Frey’s new boss, Detective ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray, actually believes in such supernatural nonsense. McGray’s tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond reason. And once someone loses all reason, who knows what they will lose next… * * * ‘This is wonderful. A brilliant, moving, clever, lyrical book – I loved it. Oscar de Muriel is going to be a name to watch.’ Manda Scott ‘A great cop double-act … It’s the pairing of the upright Frey and the unorthodox McGray that notches up the stars for this book. Like de Muriel, they’re going places.’ Sunday Sport ‘One of the best debuts so far this year – a brilliant mix of horror, history, and humour. Genuinely riveting … with plenty of twists, this will keep you turning the pages. It’s clever, occasionally frightening and superbly written – The Strings Of Murder is everything you need in a mystery thriller.’ Crime Review

Once again I find myself across the pond, as I do more often then not.  This time the story takes place in Scotland.  The book is filled with murders but also has a light side to it with bits of sarcastic humor.

The pairing of a most UNlikely pair of detectives.. one from London and one from Scotland, each thinking the other “inferior” for being English or Scotch rather then because of how well they do their jobs.

The bickering is humorous but not to the degree of thinking it’s to funny for the topic of murder.

I enjoyed Strings of Murder , but a bit disappointed that a sequel is out but not in “book form”

I am finding quite a few very enjoyable books.  Mainly because they are making their characters interesting.  Some have medical issues, some marriage issues, some mental issues… but no matter what the character is like, they seem to make me want to know them more and read more mysteries involving them.

A good start to the new year…

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The Murder Man

The Murder Man by Tony Parsons.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (October 7, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1250052327

Book 1 for 2016……….


Meet London police detective Max Wolfe. Insomniac. Dog lover. Coffee addict. Boxer. Single parent. And every murderer’s worst nightmare.

Someone has been violently killing members of London society. The killer is strong enough and smart enough to kill with a single knife stroke, and bold enough to kill in public. The victims span all levels of London society, and appear to have absolutely nothing in common. As Max begins following the killer’s bloody trail, it takes him from the bright lights and backstreets of London all the way to the corner offices in the corridors of power. But when Max realizes that the victims may have all crossed paths decades ago at their exclusive private school, the case changes. Suddenly, the murders look less random and more personal, and Max finds the killer’s reach getting closer to everything―and everyone―he loves.

Award-winning journalist and international bestselling author Tony Parsons brings his talent for rich characterization and propulsive storytelling to The Murder Man, his stunning crime fiction debut.

And so…. another series begins, lol.

As a debut book I think, if you read it to the end you will say it was a good read.  Good characters being built. Easily, you may want to read more from this author.   Since I am character oriented, I learn toward, “do I like the characters? are they interesting? do I want to know more about them?”… fill that criteria and most likely I will read more books by the same author…

This book began slow for me.. but then, I have to say I just finished a book that was a “keeper”.  It is always hard on the next book to measure up, and hard for me to toss aside the last great book and see if this one is great also.

I do think I will read more by Tony Parsons. 

This was a very good first of a series.  Setting up and getting to know the main characters that will go book to book.  When you can feel you know them… or want to know them.. then it’s safe to say it was a good book.

This one was good.

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