What’s a Roman a Clef?

Have you ever heard of a roman a clef? Until recently, I sure hadn’t. For anyone who doesn’t already know, a roman a clef is a literary genre, usually historical fiction, that includes real events and real people, usually as supporting characters, with fictional main characters — and you know how much I love historical fiction!

I’ve read several of them over the last few months, and enjoyed every one. So, of course, I couldn’t wait to share them with you. Here are the best ones I’ve read:

One of them is the acclaimed novel by Janet Skeslien Charles, The Paris Library. The librarians of The American Library in Paris participated in the French Resistance in ways I never realized. Harassed and threatened by the Gestapo, the head librarian, Dorothy Reeder, an American ex-pat, was determined to keep the library open to the public. She and the other librarians smuggled books to soldiers being held prisoner by the Germans, as well as to Jews who were no longer allowed to enter the library. This is an important book that increases our understanding of the personal experiences of everyday people when war arrives on their turf.  Click here to read my review.

Another truly good one is The Light After the War, by Anita Abriel . This enthralling book is based on the true story of Ms. Abriel’s mother and her best friend, their escape from a train to Auschwitz, and how they rebuilt their lives after the war. This was another book I couldn’t put down – it has friendship and love, joy and sadness, fear and extreme courage.  To read my review of this one, click right here.

Then there is Paris Never Leaves You, by Ellen Feldman. This is a story of survival during the most difficult of circumstances that alternates between 1950s New York and Nazi-occupied Paris. To say people who survived the war were survivors is an understatement. They were resilient, intelligent, and shrewd. To read my review of this one, click here.

Here’s one more I read a couple of years ago that I loved, and just can’t leave out: Fateful Decisions, the debut novel of Trevor D’Silva. This book begins with the sinking of the Lusitania, and covers three generations of the same family. It explores how the choices we make can affect not only ourselves and our families, but generations to come, and recounts events and injustices of the early 20thcentury.  After reading my critique of the writing and grammar of the first edition of Fateful Decisions, the author asked me to edit large parts of the 2nd edition. It was a joy to work with this dedicated and very professional author. Click right here to read my full review.

Posted in Just Book Talk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Visit to the Home of Ernest Hemingway

You are receiving this e-mail because you either subscribed to this blog, or you signed up as a registered user on WordPress. Of course, you may unsubscribe at any time, but I hope you won’t.

I don’t know about you, but my hubby and I enjoy visiting the homes of famous authors. Several years ago, we visited the Hemingway home at 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida. It’s a beautiful old historic home that fits right in with its surroundings. My photos are old, dating back to the time before digital photography was as common as it is today. I took them with a Cannon AE-1 using film. Remember having to buy film for cameras? These are not the best photos I’ve ever taken, but then, I was just a tourist, and never expected to publish them.


Of course, my favorite part of the house was his study. We were told the curators have kept the room just as he left it. I felt a sense of awe just being in the room where he once penned so many masterpieces of literature. Of course, he worked in other places, too — Paris and Havana, to name just a couple. Hemingway led a bohemian, hedonistic lifestyle, and was married multiple times. For more information about his life and adventures check out my review of the book, Love and Ruin. It’s the 2nd of a two-book series, and is about his affair with, and marriage to Martha Gellhorn told from her point of view. The first book is The Paris Wife which I have but have not yet read.


Yep, we saw those famous polydactyl (six-toed) cats of his. Well, we actually saw the descendants of the ones he had. There are 40 to 50 of them on the property today. The funniest thing I remember related to the cats is the “watering hole” he put in the back yard just for them. It’s an old urinal from a bar or restaurant he once frequented. The rain barrel above it catches fresh water to keep the “watering hole” filled.

The cats’ watering hole

There is a cat cemetery with concrete stepping stones used as grave markers bearing the cats’ names. Each cat was named after a famous person. Here’s one of those cats now.

One of Hemingway’s 3-toed cats


This is the first blog post I have sent out in quite a while. I plan to send them out on a regular basis now. If you would like to share your literary interests with me, I will make an effort to send you blog posts about only the type of books you enjoy.

Those of you who are authors know my reviews include critiques of grammar, punctuation, word usage, etc. Let me know if you want blog posts targeting your special interests in this area. Those posts will be just for writers, and not sent to my entire mailing list. By targeting the interests of my readers, I hope to limit the mail flooding your inbox.

Hemingway wrote 18 novels, 2 novelettes, 24 short stories, and dozens of poems. I remember him most for my favorites,  A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Then there is the one I was forced to read in high school: The Old Man and the Sea. I have to admit I did not like that one. I have not written reviews of any of them because it has been too long since I read them. If you want to take a look at them, here are some links to read the summaries on Amazon:

Posted in Authors, Just Book Talk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wonderful Indie Book Store + 4 Great Books, 4 Great Genres

This email is sent to all registered users, and subscribers of The Grumpy Book Reviewer.

There’s not much I enjoy more than curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee or tea. Well, maybe browsing through independent book stores and art supply stores. That’s always sure to put a dent in my credit card.

On a trip last fall we wandered into a wonderful bookstore — Sherman’s Book Store on Main Street in Bar Harbor, Maine. I was immediately enraptured with the selection, not only of books, but art supplies, too. I could have stayed in that store for hours. Too bad we had to move on so soon.

What did I buy at Sherman’s? Well, it was a tough decision. They had so many beautiful gardening books I really wanted, and some new fiction titles, too; but I could pack only so much for the trip back home. So, I bought an art book. That one is just for me.

4 Books 4 Genres — Something for Everyone

If it’s still ridiculously cold where you live, you’re probably doing a lot of reading. I love sharing the books I’ve discovered, or that have been sent to me by authors and editors. So, I have chosen four great books from four different genres:  thriller, cozy mystery, historical fiction, and romantic comedy, to get you through those snowy days. These are just a few of the books I have reviewed, and thoroughly enjoyed:


Fragment, by Craig Russell

This beautifully-written book, Fragment, is one you won’t be able to put down. It is enlightening in too many ways to mention here. It’s an adventure, a thriller, and an eye-opener. I read it at the request of the author, Craig Russell, and I am so glad I did.

It’s one of a new genre called climate-science fiction, or cli-fi, and is highlighted by Yale University’s Climate Connections, along with several other books of this genre. Fragment is on the short list for the Michael Van Rooy Award. I gave it five stars on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and GoodReads. To jump to my full review, click right here.

A Cozy Mystery:  Tandem Demise, by Duffy Brown

I read this book at the request of the author, Duffy Brown. The cozy mystery is one of my favorite genres, and this one did not disappoint. Set on the tourist mecca of Mackinac Island, Michigan, a body is found on the dock. Of course, the local bicycle shop owner cannot resist investigating; and of course, she is instrumental in solving the crime. To jump to my review, click right here.

The Room on Rue Amelie, by Kristin Harmel

Based on a true story, this is one of the most unforgettable works of both historical fiction and Christian fiction I have ever read. Set amidst the danger, sorrow, and intrigue of the French Resistance of World War II, the characters come to life in a way that transports the reader to that time and place. Click right here to jump to my review.

Romantic Comedy:
The Engagement Plot, by Krista Phillips

This fun romantic comedy and Christian fiction from Krista Phillips, will keep you entertained. It’s a light and easy read, and you will likely find yourself pulling for the couple to work out their differences. They met on a TV reality show, and things looked good — then they didn’t.

Even after the relationship ended, the couple created a plot to keep the producers, sponsor, and fans happy. Hence the title, The Engagement Plot.Can they keep up the pretense of being engaged, or will it become a real engagement? I’ll never tell. To jump to my full review, click right here.


Spring will be here soon, so while you’re still cooped up indoors, grab a good book and a cup of tea, coffee, or yummy hot chocolate, and curl up in your favorite chair. If you have a comment or a favorite book you would like to share, please feel free to write to me or leave a comment below.







Posted in Action/Adventure, Christian Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Historical Fiction, Independent Book Stores, Just Book Talk, Romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to The Grumpy Book Reviewer’s New Blog

Welcome, book lovers, to the first mailing of my blog posts. I was somehow under the impression that when people signed up through WordPress to be a “registered user” of this site, the blog posts would go out by e-mail each time I published one. Was I wrong, or what?

I have set up a Mail Chimp account, and added a “Subscribe” button. Now that I have created a list of all of your e-mail addresses, you will be receiving my blog posts at the address you provided. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time, but I hope you won’t. I don’t want to flood your inboxes with too many messages; my goal is to send out blog posts once or twice per month, but certainly no more than once per week – after I’m comfortable using Mail Chimp, that is.

Whenever my blog posts are about a particular book, as most are, I include a clickable Amazon ad for the book, as well as the link to the full review of the book. There are several older posts already on the blog from the days before I set up this mailing list — I will not be sending out mailings on those. I have published lots of book reviews, but have not blogged about all of them, so you may want to peruse the drop-down menus for your favorite genre. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

Posted in Just Book Talk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 25 Thriller Book Blogs

I have to take a minute to brag. During the Labor Day weekend I received word that The Grumpy Book Reviewer is among The Top 25 Thriller BookBlogs to Follow in 2018, as featured by Feedspot. They even sent me the little badge graphic that you see on the right of your screen. This may be the most exciting thing that has happened to Grumpy in a while. 


Most of the thrillers I have reviewed can be found under my category tab “Adventure/Thriller/Political Drama”. A few of those under “Fiction and Literature” have some thrilling (or threatening) parts, as well.


I suppose I need to review more thrillers, now. I have read a lot of them, just need to review more. Now it’s time to go chase more spies – in books, at least. Right now, I am fighting World War II.

Posted in Announcements, Thriller | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dream Daughter is Due Out October 2, 2018

Have you ever wished you could travel through time to a year when a cure for a terminally ill family member would likely be available? I certainly have. Well, in Diane Chamberlain’s new novel, The Dream Daughter, a young woman whose husband was killed at war,  did just that to save her baby girl – her dream daughter.


The Dream Daughter is a wonderful combination of both the sci-fi/time travel and Christian fiction genres. It is sure to be a bestseller when it hits store shelves October 16, 2018. To read my full review, click right here.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Science Fiction / Time Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster. This achingly beautiful, yet frightening story explores the lack of mental health that was available to our returning wounded warriors and their families. It is also a commentary on how our court system treats abused women who strike back. It reminds parents of young love, and that to be too strict, can often backfire. Even more, it is also a travelogue for the fierce beauty that is Alaska. The descriptions of the landscape and the brilliant colors made me want to visit there. To read my full review, and for a link to the author’s web page, click right here.


Posted in Fiction and Literature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Romance Novel – I Flipping Love You

The newest novel from bestselling author, Helena Hunting, is in bookstores and available online now. I Flipping Love You is sure to be another bestseller among fans of good romantic comedy.
Don’t let the cheesy front cover fool you. It’s a great story that will warm your heart – and maybe a few other places. To read my full review, click right here.
Posted in Romance | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

About Fateful Decisions

The day before I was to leave on vacation, I received an e-mail from Trevor D’Silva, asking me to read his new book, Fateful Decisions. I couldn’t put it down! It’s a trip through recent history from the bombing of the Lusitania through the post-war 1940s with families that seem to step right off the page.
It’s a wonderful story of how the decisions we make affect not only ourselves, but the generations who follow. Fans of historical fiction won’t be able to put it down either. To read my full review, click right here.
Posted in Historical Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Vacation, Still Reading

Grumpy is on vacation for a few weeks, but will always be reading. I just finished a pre-pub copy of Mary Alice Monroe’s Beach House Reunion — a little history, a lot of info on sea turtles, of course a good romance, and women’s issues. I am now reading Catherine Coulter’s The Sixth Day — a great geo-political drama, thriller, pertinent to today’s computer hacking issues. My reviews will be out in mid-May. Happy reading, everyone!

Posted in Just Book Talk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment