Prussian Blue is the first novel I have read by Philip Kerr. It is a 2018 Edgar Award nominee. After reading it, I understand why!

Based in Germany, Austria, and the French Riviera, this story of intrigue covers two eras in the main character, Bernie Gunther’s life. One takes place in 1939 prior to Hitler’s fiftieth birthday and the other plot line is in 1956. Both storylines share common characters.

Bernie is about to become unemployed when he is tricked into a meeting with Erich, a man he dislikes from his past who makes him an offer he “can’t refuse”. Bernie’s perilous attempt to escape from Erich and his thugs brings back unpleasant memories of the past when Bernie was hired to solve a murder which took place in 1939 in Hitler’s private retreat in Berchtesgaden right before Hitler is scheduled to arrive to celebrate his birthday.

There is a lot going on in this novel which hops back and forth in time. It was easy for me to follow however. I thought the stories were exciting and, from a historical perspective, informative.

I like Kerr’s style of writing and recommend this exciting mystery!

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Good and Evil

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey was a complete departure from the books I normally read. This is a science fiction story which is also being billed as a love story. The jacket cover description sounded interesting so I decided to give it a go.

This is a story about two FBI agents named Claire and Will who live and work in Chicago. Claire is Will’s boss and they are lovers. When they aren’t in bed with each other, they are trying to identify and stop a shooter who is randomly killing people in the city. Then, the story takes a bizzare turn atypical of fantasy novels. In order to not give it all away, let it suffice to say, the turn takes the reader to unknown planes of existence. And that is where this reviewer loses touch with this genre!

This is an interesting plunge into the way some people are able to fantasize and convey those thoughts in words. For me, I think it is creepy, but to each his own. I loved the Lord of the Rings, What Dreams May Come and City of Angels, but this particular novel contained way too much graphic sex and violence for me. I suppose that explains the fact that it is being made into a movie. If you enjoy this genre, have at it. As for me, my dreams tend to be much tamer and even though I tried to like this book, it goes against my grain. As far as I am concerned , stories like this are the stuff of my worst nightmares.

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Slippery Riverbanks

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley is the latest novel in the Flavia de Luce mystery series. For those who have yet to meet this precocious  young female detective, I recommend a gander at this series.

In this novel, Flavia, the family friend Dogger, and her two sisters take a boating holiday after the unexpected death of the girl’s father. As they gently cruise along the river, Flavia’s hand dangling overboard in the water catches something – the corpse of a dead man! This discovery leads Flavia and Dogger on a new quest to solve not one, but four mysterious deaths in a small town in England.

This is an engaging mystery with poetry, poison, and pessimism when Flavia finds herself unable to unravel the clues. All is not as it seems because the townspeople tell many conflicting stories.

I have enjoyed previous Flavia de Luce novels. Even though I liked this one a bit less, I will look forward to future installments in this series!

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Degrees of Separation

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout is another gripping novel by an excellent writer. If you have read her previous novel My Name is Lucy Barton, you will certainly appreciate this continuation of the characters in that book. This story takes place years later and reads like a connect the dots collection of neighbors and relatives from the first novel.

Here we encounter Lucy Barton, her siblings, and townsfolk, but this time, the intimate secrets of others are told as well. These are not happy ever after stories, but rather raw, painful ones which shed light on the human condition and are written in such a way that one story leads to another.

I loved this novel, it’s truth, and the compelling stories about the difficulties life hands us and our ability to survive despite them. I do suggest you read My Name is Lucy Barton first however, because it will enhance this novel all the more. Both of these novels I highly recommend.

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Family By Choice

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg is a philosophical tale about life. The recent fiction novel centers on a widower named Arthur, his unhappy neighbor Lucille, and a high school loner named Maddy.

During one of Arthur’s daily trips to his late wife’s grave, he encounters Maddy who, bereft of friends, spends her lunch period in the cemetery. Maddy’s mother died in a car accident soon after Maddy’s birth. It was a loss from which Maddy’s father never recovered. Arthur and Maddy become friends and so the story begins.

With well-defined, vivid characters and a huge dose of the meaning of life, this novel is heartwarming and delivers a message of hope. With the exception of some graphic sex scenes I thought were unnecessary, I enjoyed the book and appreciated its acknowledgement that not all families are necessarily the ones we are born into. Many times, we create our own which more closely satisfy the needs of our hearts and souls. This is a book I recommend.

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Louisa Abroad

Still Me by Jojo Moyes is the latest installment of the Louisa Clark story which began in Me Before You. This novel finds Louisa in New York City working as a personal assistant to the second wife of a wealthy man.

Having left Sam, Louisa’s paramedic boyfriend in England behind, she finds herself embroiled in city life and becomes a closed-mouth keeper of her employer’s secrets.

It has been a while since I read the first two books in this series and my recollection of them is fairly vague. This posed a problem for me as there are so many references in this latest version which require a better memory than I possess! However, I was able to fit the pieces together and understood the plot.

I liked the novel, but unfortunately, not anywhere near my feelings toward Me Before You. If you intend to read Jojo’s latest installment of the Louisa Clark saga, I suggest you refresh your memory of the previous novels beforehand.

If you are interested in winning a free copy of this novel and reside in the U.S., please send us your mailing address to bookwinked at to enter! The winner will be announced this coming Friday. Good luck!

Congratulations to Marissa H. who won our giveaway! Thanks to all who entered!

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The Polish Front

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter is a 2017 book based on World War Two events experienced by the author’s Jewish ancestors. I have read many books about the war, but this is the first I think I have read about Jewish people living in Poland during the German and Soviet invasions and subsequent occupation.

This is a gut-wrenching story told with exceptional skill. So good that I am astounded by this being Hunter’s first book! Her extensive research is presented in a way which brings her family members to life as they struggled to survive unspeakable horrors, humiliation, and degradation. I felt I knew these people and broke down sobbing near the end of the book when their long, grueling suffering ended.

What makes this book unique, as the title conveys, is that so many of the nuclear family survived the war. Their courage and fortitude is inspirational.

I highly recommend this book. It is one of the best historical books I have read.

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