Barbara L's Book Reviews

The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine

The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine

Laurel and Daphne Wolfe are identical twins, as close as two people can be without being physically joined at the hip. From infancy on they have shared a special “twin talk,” a private language that even their mom can barely grasp. They also share a deep fascination for words, regular ones that is, and would […]


The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

I can’t quite put my finger on which Grimm fairly tale this wonderful new novel by Patchett reminds me of. Is it Cinderella? Maybe Hansel and Gretel. No matter, the key elements are there: a missing mother (perhaps evil), a definitely evil stepmother, a cold hearted father, step sisters, a magnificent though odd house (some […]


The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Amor Towles earned his place in my list of top writers with his runaway success A Gentleman in Moscow. This earlier book is by no means as compelling or luminously written, but it entertains and informs nonetheless. In the waning days of the Depression, on the brink of WWII, we join the adventures of Katey […]


The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Two things haunt Kitty Milton: the death of her five year old son who fell from an open window trying to see if his teddy bear could fly, and a few years later her refusal, in 1936, to take in Willy, the five year old German Jewish son of one of her husband’s friends in […]


The Cockroach by Ian McEwan

The Cockroach by Ian McEwan

Do you understand all the nuances of a parliamentary-style government? Me neither. Well, I suppose the Brits who pick up McEwan’s latest (and slimmest) book might guffaw more loudly because they get the joke, but even with my limited understanding of British government and its current issues, McEwan manages to get me chuckling at least […]


The Whisperer by Karin Fossum

The Whisperer by Karin Fossum

A new psychological mystery offering from one of my favorite Nordic Noir authors. Cool, cerebral Inspector Sejer sits in his office interviewing Ragna Riegel, middle-aged, dowdy perpetrator of a horrendous crime. Ragna is the eponymous whisperer. Her vocal chords were damaged in a botched surgery when she was younger. She lives her life in a […]


Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

Jackson Brodie is back and it seems his biggest challenges these days are maintaining a good parent-child relationship with his moody, teenage son and tending to his beloved, aging Labrador. Settling in to a new home in a quiet seaside village with occasional income from lightweight detecting work–trailing spouses suspected of cheating–Brodie is easily distracted […]


An Elderly Lady is up to No Good by Helene Tursten

An Elderly Lady is up to No Good by Helene Tursten

Meet Maud. She’s a spunky octogenarian you don’t want to annoy. Her solution to being annoyed is to get rid of the offender. She is diabolically clever, thorough, and completely untroubled by a conscience. Maud is a classic example of a murderous, sociopathic, narcissistic little old lady. Very spry (able to climb the scaffold outside […]


Father Brown TV series [seasons 1-6]

Father Brown TV series [seasons 1-6]

Golly, there are a lot of murders in Kembleford! And if it weren’t for clever, observant and somewhat nosy Father Brown of St. Mary’s Catholic church, played by the perfectly cast Mark Williams (Mr. Weasley from Harry Potter), not a single one of them would be solved. Charm and period quaintness (early 1950s) abound in […]


Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Highly acclaimed author Chabon can certainly turn a phrase, stretch out a cliff hanger escapade, and craft a metaphor that tips into the poetic. I wish he had restrained himself a bit in this semi-autobiographical novelization of his fascinating and enigmatic grandfather. The book could have been a good 25% shorter. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the […]


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