Book reviews

Suggested Books to read this fall

Fall is a busy time of year as children go back to school and the pace of life picks up after a hot and long summer. I still like to read as much as I can. I like to mix up my reading between fiction and non-fiction so I don’t get in a rut. So here are a few of the many books available in the Dallas Public Library.

If you have an e-reader, you can also download a wide variety of books directly from the library to your e-reader.

Non-fiction History books

  1. The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan.  This is the story of the women workers who helped in the development of the atomic bomb at Oak Ridge,TN. Many of the women were just out of high school. It is an interesting glimpse into our country’s history as the atomic bomb turns 70.
  2. Our Kids the American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam. This book examines the reasons why poor children are falling behind in school and how it contributes to income inequality.
  3. Dead Wake by Erik Larson. This is the story of the sinking of the Lusitania. This is the centennial of the sinking of one of the most famous passenger ships to sink during the First World War. Erik is the author of such famous books as Issac’s Storm, about the Galveston Hurricane & The Devil in the White City, about the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.
  4. Anonymous Soldiers by Bruce Hoffman. This is the story of the struggle by Jewish settlers to liberate Palestine from British rule 1917-1947.

Murder Mysteries

  1. Game of Mirrors by Andrea Camilleri is the latest murder mystery involving Inspector Montalbano. This time there is a mysterious woman, a missing husband and of course lots of secrets that are slowly unraveled as the Inspector eats and thinks about the mystery confronting him.
  2. Murder in Mykonos by Jeffrey Siger. This is a new series to me about a police officer solving murders in Greece. After reading this first novel it made think that Inspector Montalbano has it much easier in Sicily than Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis. Not only is he dealing with solving a crime but he has the local mayor trying to minimize the crime to avoid scaring the tourists who flock to Mykonos every summer.
  3. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny. This is yet another murder mystery involving the town of Three Pines in Quebec. This is a series of murder mysteries where you have to start at the beginning to avoid getting lost. Inspector Gamache is still dealing with a corrupt police force while trying to solve a murder mystery while his right hand man is fighting an addiction to pain killers. It is the kind of book you hate to put down.

Other Books

  1. Mrs. Queen takes a Train by William Kuhn. In the spirit of the 100 year old man who climbs out the window and disappears, comes a light novel about Queen Elizabeth II and her problems as she ages. She tries to keep up with the latest ways to communicate such as Twitter but is not sure if that is what the Queen should be doing. She is also upset that the British Govt. won’t replace her old yacht and is thinking about getting rid of her private rail car.
  2. The Saint of Incipient Insanities by Elif Shafak. This book by a Turkish writer is an insightful novel about three foreign college students from Morocco, Turkey & Spain and their life in Cambridge. It is a funny tale of life as these students cope with college, life and living in America.

Older Flash Newsletter articles

Mystery Writer Recommendations (the first in a series)

Article written by: The Editor

Date: February 12, 2015

I love to read a good mystery and sometimes it is hard to find a good mystery writer; however, the last few years I have found a number of good authors. When I read a mystery novel, I am looking for more than just a series of murders; I look for an author who gives me a sense of a place and a time (if the mystery is historical).

Many of my favorite murder mystery writers write historical murder mysteries. I will list a couple from ancient Egypt, Lynda S. Robinson, whose murder mysteries take place at the time of Akhenaten and Paul C. Doherty whose murder mysteries take place during the region of Hatshepsut, the only female Pharaoh. Ancient Rome is the setting for a number of murder mystery authors. I can recommend Lindsey Davis, whose books are set during the reign of Vespasian and Steven Saylor, whose books are set during the time of Julius Caesar.

For contemporary murder, I would recommend three authors:

  1. Louise Penny who sets her murders in Quebec.
  2. Andrea Camilleri who sets his murders in Sicily.
  3. Donna Leon who sets her murders in Venice and nearby parts of Italy.

Each of these authors give a strong sense of place, murders that are thoughtfully planned and are well written. You feel like you have spent your time wisely and learned a bit as well.

DVD TV series in the Dallas Public Library

Article written by: Editor

Date: February 9, 2015

Did you know you can checkout recent TV series from the Dallas Public Library? You can check current network TV series, series that air on HBO, Showtime and other contemporary TV networks.

I can recommend a few TV series that are excellent series to watch a DVD at a time. Usually for a complete TV season there are 2, 3 or sometimes 4 episodes per DVD. The library has almost every series you can imagine from “Game of Thrones”, “Mad Men” to “Foyle’s War” which recently aired on PBS. Just look up the series online, select the volume you wish to check out in a matter of days, that DVD will appear at your local branch library.

I can recommend the following TV series:

  1. Murdoch Mysteries – a Canadian murder mystery series set in the 1890’s into the early 20th century in Toronto. Detective Murdoch uses the new scientific method to solve murders with rudimentary equipment.
  2. Foyle’s War – set in Great Britain during World War 2, Chief Inspector Foyle has to stay behind and solve murders on the Home Front. He is based in Hastings, just miles from the English Channel.
  3. House of Cards – the American remake of a British series that aired in 1990. The setting is Washington D.C. and Kevin Spacey is the Majority Whip in the House of Representatives.

Recommended Historical Thriller Authors

Article written by: Editor

Date: February 12, 2015

I love a book that you can’t put down because it is so well written you are lost in the story. There are a couple of authors I have read in the last year who are great writers of thrillers where you can’t put the book down because you want to read what happens next.

I will recommend two authors in this section of the newsletter:

  1. David Downling — this is a very versatile author who writes both non–fiction and thrillers. The series I would recommend starts with the “Zoo Station”. The setting is Berlin in 1939 just before the 2nd World War begins. The main character is John Russell. He is a journalist, a former communist and he lives in Berlin as a freelance writer. He is divorced and has a son from his marriage. His girlfriend is a German actress. The author gives you a very strong sense of place and the tension of living inside Nazi Germany where you have to watch what you say and who you associate with. This is the first in six books that begins in 1939 and ends in 1948. The Zoo Station in the title refers to a train station on the Berlin S–Bahn and subway line adjacent to the Berlin Zoo.
  2. Robert Olen Butler — has written 14 novels. The three thrillers are the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series which are spy thrillers starting in 1914 in Vera Cruz Mexico and ending in 1915 in Germany. This is a very interesting series since Christopher Cobb poses as a journalist while secretly spying for the United States Government. He gets to travel the world since the US is not at war when these books take place. It is a very intriguing look at prewar America and how it tries to protect itself in a time of danger. The title of the first is “Hot Country”.



Editor: Stan Aten

Guest Columnist

Cathy Ritchie

Accessing Library Services Online

My favorite activity on Sunday afternoons or evenings is to go online to the Dallas Public Library website at

I explore the catalog for books I have seen mentioned in the Sunday paper & order those books if they are available or I renew books or DVDs that are close to being due.