Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year And More Good Books

happy-new-year 2012Today begins a new year…..a time for new beginnings, a time of resolutions of what to do and what not to do.

For me, I’m always looking for ways to get better organized, get more accomplished, and find time to relax a bit.

One way I find to relax is to enjoy a good book. Whether in print or audio, escaping into a book is a wonderful way to relax and unwind from the day’s stress. Here are several books I found enjoyable, hope you do too.

DILLINGER by Jack Higgins
While much has been written about the legendary bank robber John Dillinger, I confess I know very little about him.

Between his prison escape in Indiana and his death in Chicago in 1934, there are several months no one really knows what Dillinger was up to. Author Jack Higgins has created his own suspenseful theory in DILLINGER.

Beginning with his escape, Higgins takes Dillinger to visit with a country doctor from his past. The doc is about to lose his place to the bank so Dillinger robs the bank. He gives money to the doc to pay off his mortgage or go visit his child in Florida.

The bank job makes things too hot for Dillinger. With a different car from the doctor, a beautiful white convertible, Dillinger heads to Mexico.

Things go from bad to worse for Dillinger when he refuses to work for a ruthless mine owner in Mexico. Dillinger is later forced to work for the man and deals with his share of bandits, Apaches, and corrupt police officers. The one bright spot, Dillinger falls in love with the niece of the mine owner.

Higgins keeps readers on the edge of their seat as Dillinger encounters one problem after another. Throughout the story, however, Higgins shows a gentler side of Dillinger one in which he even risks his own life to save a child.

Narrator Dick Hill does a marvelous job giving malice to Dillinger when confronting his enemies and a tenderness when in conversation with others. Hill’s mannerisms give depth not only to Dillinger, but the array of supporting characters. Hill’s soothing voice makes one image what could have been a part of Dillinger’s charm with the ladies.

Dillinger by Jack Higgins, Read by Dick Hill, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1441846341, Unabridged, 5 Disc, Listening Time 6 Hours, 10 Minutes (Book Format @1983) 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

9780316120685_388X586If there’s a history buff in your family, then THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS ILLUSTRATED TIMELINE OF THE CIVIL WAR is a must have for their collection.

This wonderful coffee table-style book features more than 350 detailed maps, colorful drawings, lithographs, manuscripts, and actual photographs depicting events of the Civil War. The book offers a preface by James H. Billington, The Librarian of Congress, and an introduction by Gary W. Gallagher.

The chapters include: Torn Asunder (February 1861 through April 1862) and Reporting the War; Toward A New Birth of Freedom (May 1862 through April 1863) and Photographing the War; The Hard Hand of War (May 1863 through April 1864) and To Care For Him Who Shall Have Borne The Battle; and The Heavens Are Hung In Black (May 1864 through May 1865) and Epilogue.

This amazing book provides a visual timeline that can be read as a narrative account or to pinpoint information on key events during the war. In addition, the book not only gives information on key historical figures of the time but looks into the lives and effect on ordinary military personal and civilians.

The book also takes a look at the impact women had on the war. It notes their work as nurses, charity organizers, workers in industries, and even as spies.

This is not a book to be read quickly, but one to be slowly enjoyed, studied and savored. The day-to-day accounts contain a mixture of military action and civilan happenings.

Rich in history, THE TIMELINE OF THE CIVIL WAR covers the bloodiest conflict ever fought on American soil. It conveys the anguish, determination, and loyalty that represented both sides and lead to the nation as we now know it.

To read an except of this amazing book, click here

The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War by Margaret E. Wagner, Little, Brown and Company, @2011, ISBN: 978-0316120685, Hardcover, 264 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
TRIPLE SHOT by Sandra Balzo

Triple ShotA coffeehouse setting, mystery, murder, and a long-hidden Mafia stash makes for intriguing reading in author Sandra Balzo’s TRIPLE SHOT.

Things are off to a nice start since Uncommon Grounds, a Brookhills coffeehouse, relocated to the town’s historic train station. Store owners Maggy Thorsen and real estate maven Sarah Kingston are also pleased with the response to the store’s new autumn drink, Triple Shot, Fully-leaded Espresso.

However, things start to go wrong when a terrible stench begins to waft through the coffeehouse. Just then Ward Chitown stops by the coffeehouse. The fading television star is searching for hidden money from a raid 30 years earlier. He has personal reasons since his father, an FBI agent, was in charge of the raid in which 3 agents died and 2 others were injured.

Meanwhile, 2 local real estate agents have been killed. Sarah suddenly finds herself under investigation for irregularities in her real estate business. Things are going from bad to worse for Maggy and Sarah. It seems they’ll need more than sugar and caffeine to find the stench and solve all their problems before time runs out.

The friendship between Maggy and Sarah is filled with laughs and loyalty. The supporting secondary characters are zany and add another layer to the story. Once you pick up the book, you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve finished it.

TRIPLE SHOT is a fast-pace adventure that will grab you on the first page and hold you spellbound till the last drop word. Balzo has created realistic characters, flaws and all. While this is the 7th installment in the Maggy Thorsen Mystery series, it is a stand alone read.

Author Sandra Balzo’s website is

Triple Shot by Sandra Balzo, A Maggy Thorsen Mystery, Severn House, @2011, ISBN: 978-0727850796, Hardcover, 201 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and it was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Wishing everyone a safe, successful and HAPPY NEW YEAR. Thanks so much for stopping by.


  1. Need to let my friend Sean know about the Civil War book.

  2. Mason - Happy New Year to you and your family! Thanks for these three reading suggestions. All three of them look terrific. I like history, so the books about Dillinger and the Civil War look really appealing. Of course, that Balzo mystery looks great, too....

  3. A very Happy New Year to you - looking forward to fun blogs in 2012

  4. Wishing you all the best in 2012!!!


  5. Hi Mason .. many thanks for organising my winning book to arrive just before Santa arrived! Karen Gowen's House of Diamonds ... I've just finished her 'Farm Girl' .. and so am looking forward to reading her novel 'House of Diamonds' ..

    Fantastic present to get .. thanks Mason and Karen .. I shall enjoy ..

    The Library of Congress illustrated timeline of the Civil War .. looks interesting .. especially the aspect regarding women on the war.

    Happy New Year. Cheers Hilary

  6. Happy New Year, Mason! I'm looking forward to another year of adding to my TBR list because of your wonderful reviews!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.