south-plainfield

Beth's Book Review

May 19, 2022

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases  by Paul Holes with Robin Gaby Fisher. (Celadon, 2022)   Let’s start with this fact. I didn’t sleep for two nights while reading Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by retired detective Paul Holes and Robin Gaby Fisher. Although the ...

Read more »

Funny Girl  Now playing at the August Wilson Theater, West 52nd Street, NY, NY   Stepping into the character shoes of the legendary comedian, Fanny Brice, a role created by Barbra Streisand in 1964, is no easy feat, but Beanie Feldstein sparkles onstage at the August Wilson Theater in the new ...

Read more »

Longbourne by Jo Baker. (Vintage, 2013)   Fancy that. Longbourne’s publishing date is exactly 200 years after that of its “predecessor,” Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen, author of six novels including Pride and Prejudice, was born in Hampshire, England in 1775; yet the themes and characters ...

Read more »

Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals by Laurie Zaleski.  St. Martin’s Press, 2021.   Pandemic. Russia invades the Ukraine. Gas going up to $6.00 a gallon. Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with bad news. However, if you are seeking a little recreational reading to ...

Read more »

Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, A Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice.  Ellen McGarrahan. Random House, 2021.   “The electric chair faced the witnesses, and as we watched Jesse, Jesse was watching us. Beneath his shaved scalp his dark eyes burned. He was starting to look at the ...

Read more »

Children of Nazis byTania Crasnianski (translated by Molly Grogan) Arcade, 20016.   On a trip to eight of the concentration camps in Europe, sponsored by the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust, the young man who served as our group’s docent was German. While exploring the house on Wannsee ...

Read more »

The Demarcation Line by Fernande Wagman. (Xlibris Corporation, 2004)   12 million civilians died during the Holocaust. Six million were Jewish; the other six million victims were gypsies, homosexuals, political dissidents, Catholics, and the mentally and physically feeble. For each of these ...

Read more »

The Demarcation Line by Fernande Wagman. (Xlibris Corporation, 2004)   12 million civilians died during the Holocaust. Six million were Jewish; the other six million victims were gypsies, homosexuals, political dissidents, Catholics, and the mentally and physically feeble. For each of these ...

Read more »

The Sailor’s Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea by Admiral James Stavridis, USN (RET.) (Naval Institute Press, 2021).   The first review that I published with the tapinto franchise was entitled 50 Books That Went to War. That volume recounted the books that were popular with the men and ...

Read more »

Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell. (William Morrow, 2021)   Harry Bosch. Tempe Brennan. Peter Decker. Lincoln Rhyme. Alex Cross. These are the fictional crime fighters that have captured my imagination for decades. Without a doubt, however, my favorite character in hard core detective literature ...

Read more »

Retro Review 1984 by George Orwell. (1949, Harcourt). I’m not a fan of dystopian fiction because stories that predict a darker world than the one we live in now are frightening beyond my imagination. In high school we read the triumvirate of dystopian novels t (then known as “anti-utopian'') ...

Read more »

The Judge’s List by John Grisham (Doubleday, 2021) In the Author’s Note of John Grisham’s latest thriller, The Judge’s List, Grisham states, “When last seen in The Whistler, Lacy Stoltz was recovering from injuries and struggling with her future. I’ve thought a lot about her since then and ...

Read more »

The Nazi Titanic: The Incredible Untold Story of a Doomed Ship in World War II by  Robert P. Watson. (De Capo Press, 2016).   The sinking of the famous British luxury ship, Titanic, is etched indelibly in our imaginations, even today, over 100 years after she succumbed to an iceberg in the ...

Read more »

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (St. Martin’s Press, 2022).   We have all met them; the golden couple, who toss their heads back together, lost in the joy of their mutual adoration. They appear at gala events, hand in hand, and meet at the soccer games of their ...

Read more »

How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith (Thorndike Press, 2020)   Alexander McCall Smith has always written about Botswana with the greatest love and respect. The descriptions of the country, with its bush, and small villages, its simple and loving people, have enticed the reader ...

Read more »

Billy Summers by Stephen King. (Scribner, 2021)   Remember Dexter? He was the self-appointed Angel of Death, whose father recognized Dexter’s innate compulsion to kill and trained his bizarre boy to murder only people who deserved to die. Stephen King’s latest hero, Billy Summers bears some ...

Read more »

Sooley by John Grisham (Doubleday, 2021)   Sooley, John Grisham’s latest novel, will haunt the reader long after the last page is closed. The main character, a seventeen year old boy from South Sudan, a  young country in Africa, is as charismatic and unforgettable as they come. Although the ...

Read more »

Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir (Ballantine, 2016) Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir (Ballantine, 2017) Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir (Ballantine, 2018) Anne of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait by Alison Weir (Ballantine, ...

Read more »

Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague by Maggie O’Farrell (Vintage Books, 2020) In a style reminiscent of the great American naturalist, Gene Stratton Porter, one of the most popular authors of the early 20th century, Maggie O’Farrell’s  expressions of the world around us are more like poetry rather ...

Read more »

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth (St. Martin’s Press, 2020)   The title of Sally Hepworth’s seventh novel, The Good Sister, is intriguing. How does one define a “good sister?” Is she one who is loyal, caring, and empathetic? Does she look after the welfare of her siblings, no matter what the ...

Read more »

George by Alex Gino (Scholastic, 2015) Rick by Alex Gino (Scholastic, 2020)   Issues of gender identity have been prominent in the news recently. New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate, Jack Ciattarelli, revealed to a group of parents that if elected, his administration would not ...

Read more »

With so much emphasis being placed on STEM today, Language Arts (formerly known as English) has become less significant in the school curriculum. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and vocabulary are touched on, but not emphasized as they used to be. Even cursive writing has been dropped from many ...

Read more »

Retro Review Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe When does a civilization begin to rot from its core?  What are the key issues that cause that civilization to die? These are the overarching questions that “the Father of African Literature,” Chinua Achebe, explores in his 1959 classic, Things ...

Read more »

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker. Harper Perennial,  2013.   I first learned about this “unsolved American mystery,” when 48 Hours did a comprehensive show on the horrific discovery of four bodies wrapped in burlap sacks in 2010. The deceased were discovered on ...

Read more »

Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power by Neal Gabler. (Yale  Univ. Press, 2016). Stephen Spielberg: A Life in Films by Molly Haskell. (Yale Univ. Press, 2017)   My family complains each year at holiday time that I am impossible to buy gifts for. This is true ...

Read more »

The Persian Always Meows Twice: A Cat Groomer Mystery by Eileen Watkins.        (available on Amazon).           Cassie McGlone needs to start over, escape from an abusive ex-boyfriend, and establish a business of her own. An independent woman, Cassie moves to Chadwick, New Jersey (a ...

Read more »

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press, 2021)   We can’t quibble that Kristin Hannah is one of the most respected authors on the contemporary scene. Her new book, The Four Winds, is number 1 on the New York Times Book Review. Hannah is a wonderful storyteller, who frequently ...

Read more »

Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties by Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman. (Harper Collins, 2017).   I am skeptical of the true crime genre because so much of it is poorly written and sells for its sensationalistic value ...

Read more »

Hungry Girl: Fast & Easy-All Natural Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less by Lisa Lillien (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2021)   Lisa Lillien is a good friend of mine. Oh, I have met her only once in person at a book signing at Wegman’s in Woodbridge, NJ, but I get an e-mail from her every week day from ...

Read more »

The Lost Boys by Faye Kellerman. (Harper Collins, 2021)   Faye Kellerman began the Peter Decker- Rina Lazarus series in 1986. In the first novel, police officer, Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD, is called in to investigate the rape of a woman, who was going home after taking a mikvah, the ...

Read more »