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December 28th, 2012

36 of 52

Mr. Churchill's SecretaryMr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I was torn between a 3 star and a 4 star for this book. When it was good, it was delightful. It got much of the incoming "tide of war" feel beautifully. The sense of living on the edge of a cliff, and then falling over as the first wave of the Blitz happens. The changes in aspiration that the war brought to both men and women, in terms of work, romance, promise. So much was beautifully done.

And the mystery itself was interesting, especially in how it took up a thread of intrigue that wasn't the least bit overdone and, at least at the outset, handled it well.

But then it all fell apart. The first half of the book was a delight. The second half devolved into something about as realistic as an episode of The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. I was very disappointed in how what seemed to be the author's sensitivity to the mores and customs of the time just seemed to vanish and instead the book became an implausible mess.

I originally picked this up because I saw Princess Elizabeth's Spy and nearly bought it at Barnes and Noble, until I saw it was the second in a series. So I picked up this novel first. I'm now torn. As I said, the parts I loved, I did truly enjoy. Which part will the more mature writer embrace--the wonderful sense of character and place, or the more cliched action and mannerisms that are exhibited in the second half of the book? And do I want to spend my spare allotment of reading time to find out?



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37 of 52

Cat Deck the Halls (Joe Grey #13)Cat Deck the Halls by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was a light, fluffy little mystery.

I haven't read any of the other Joe Grey books, so I have no idea if it is typical. The characters are under-developed, the writing is repetitive, the mystery, with nearly no mistakes, I figured out about halfway through.

But it doesn't matter. My standards for Christmas-themed books is that they not offend me (either in content or skill), don't require much attention, and cause me to be pleasantly diverted. This succeeded on all counts.



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