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Friday, September 24, 2021
Uncharted Waters and Where Cowards Tread by Sabrina Flynn, Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave, Tahoe ice Grave by Todd Borg
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Vanishing Act (Jane Whitefield book 1) by Thomas Perry
Looking at a list of Perry's books, I noticed the Jane Whitefield series. Jane is a Native American, and I like books that feature indigenous characters. I also liked the description of Jane being a "guide" who helps people in serious trouble disappear. Many books in this category are about women and children escaping abusive situations, but Jane's clients vary. They aren't always innocent, but they aren't deserving of being murdered. (Think Kelley Armstrong's Rockton series in which not all of the community are upstanding citizens.)
from description: Thanks to her membership in the Wolf Clan of the Seneca tribe, she can fool any pursuer, cover any trail, and then provide her clients with new identities, complete with authentic paperwork. Jane knows all the tricks, ancient and modern; in fact, she has invented several of them herself.
In that lovely way of synchronicity, Jane's Seneca background is important and there are digressions that tell some of the same myths that Robin Wall Kimmerer relates in Braiding Sweetgrass. Deganawida the Peacemaker features in Kimmerer's discussion of the legends of the Iroquois. Born in Tonawanda, NY, Thomas Perry is well versed in the local indigenous legends and culture. Many things that Kimmerer mentions in her nonfiction Braiding Sweetgrass appear in The Vanishing Act. from legends to environmental and cultural practices of the indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes region.
The plot begins with Jane finishing getting one client to safety and finding another prospective client waiting for her in her home. Jane's professional skills are impressive and the plot has plenty of close calls and one sinister surprise. As skilled as Jane is at making people disappear, she is also capable of making mistakes--and just when it seems her skills are incomparable, Jane finds herself confronting unanticipated problems.
Suspenseful and entertaining! I was glued to this one, and since this is the first in Perry's Jane Whitefield series, I have more to look forward to reading.
Ballantine Books (purchased)
Thriller. 1996, 2007. Print length: 368 pages.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
The Mad Women's Ball by Victoria Mas
In 1885 in Paris, Eugenie, a young woman in a controlling, patriarchal household, reveals to her grandmother that she "sees dead people." As a result, she ends up in the Salpetriere Asylum. Eugenie was already problematic for occasionally taunting her father, and he takes the opportunity to relieve himself of her presence.
The asylum under Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot was in much better shape than it had been previously, and Charcot made many advancements in science, but "Charcot had come to believe that susceptibility to hypnosis was an indicator of latent hysteria. He based this belief on the fact that hysterical symptoms could be reproduced by hypnotic suggestions (Fancher, 1985, p. 54)." (source)
Women in the Salpetriere Asylum range from those who suffer from epilepsy, dementia, "hysteria", sexual trauma, and in Eugenie's case the insanity of seeing spirits. But Eugenie is not insane, and soon enough, Genevieve, the head nurse has to deal with this particular problem.
The book is short and well-researched, and I found it intriguing in its rather unusual approach. The inclusion of spiritualism, family dynamics, and the names of Charcot's famous students were sometimes at odds. Medical science, especially in the area of mental health, has undergone remarkable and often cruel trends and so have cultural norms. Women are much better off today--they can vote, get divorced, retain custody of their children, work outside the home, etc. And yet...women are still expected to meet some of the social norms of a century ago, don't trust that reporting abuse will be taken seriously, and are called hysterical if they respond in a manner accepted as OK for men.
Women Who Defied Gender Roles Were Once Imprisoned in Asylums
Restoring Perspective: Life and Treatment at the London Asylum
Women's Admission to Asylums in United States of America
It was difficult to find accounts of the Le Bal des Folles at the Salpetriere Asylum because almost everything led back to the novel and the upcoming film, but I finally found this.
Historical fiction. Sept. 7, 2021. Print length: 224 pages.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
While I enjoyed some essays more than others and each essay has a strong personal involvement and bias, each one gave me a something to consider about the ecology of this land and the abuses we have inflicted upon it. Unintended and unexpected consequences, as well as "who cares" consequences. Even attempts to correct the mistakes often had other harmful consequences.
First published in 2013, Kimmerer and most scientists were fully aware of the ramifications of global warming/climate change on both flora and fauna. Eight years later, here we are experiencing the cumulative effects that scientists have been warning about since the climate models of the 1970s. The changes may have been gradual for years, but the effects have intensified and can no longer be ignored.
Kimmerer had not despaired in 2013, and her work continues to offer ways of reclaiming damaged environments, but I have to wonder how hopeful she continues to be. The catastrophic fires, floods, hurricanes, and droughts have, for the last few years, forced us to look at what we have wrought and yet, we continue to do the very things that have contributed to the mess we've created.
Do I agree with Kimmerer's basic philosophy? Yes. It is beautiful, scientifically sound, and logical: reciprocate--take care of what feeds and supports you, don't take more than you need, insure that the plants, trees, and animals that help humans survive can also survive and thrive.
I wish I could have read this book decades before it was written. Braiding Sweetgrass may be idealized at times, but it touches people in ways that statistical models cannot. Perhaps it could have helped curtail the some of the practices that have led us to this point. Perhaps it would have encouraged a more open-minded outlook and offered a better horizon.
The Wendigo metaphor of insatiable greed and hunger is an affliction we can all recognize: we want more, faster, easier, more convenient. We never have enough. Instead of recognizing this always wanting more as a flaw, societies have seen it as not only acceptable, but aspirational.
The book is long and the audio version is exceedingly long, but I want to believe that we will, not only this country, but the world, realize the damage we continue to inflict, and think about healing this planet.
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen, Gated Prey by Lee Goldberg, The Killer in the Snow by Alex Pine
Gated Prey is the third entry in Lee Goldberg's Detective Eve Ronin series. In order to have a better understanding of the background, it is better to begin with the first and second books that explain how rookie Eve Ronin ends up in the homicide squad and the resentment the Sheriff's department expresses toward for her high profile appointment and for her role in exposing the corruption in the department.
Two plot threads are included in this third book. One has to do with a Eve and partner Duncan Pavone pretending to be a wealthy couple in order to catch the home invaders who have been hitting very wealthy homes in an exclusive and gated community. The second has to with Eve's questions about a still birth that has serious implications.
From the first book, Duncan Pavone's imminent retirement has been discussed. If Duncan retires, I'm not sure the series will succeed. His mentorship and support help keep Eve balanced. He is the perfect experienced foil to Eve's impulsiveness.
Read in May.
NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer
Police Procedural. Oct. 26, 2021. Print length: 268 pages
A man, his wife, and his daughter are murdered in an isolated farmhouse. The murders are similar to murders that occurred in the same farmhouse twenty years earlier. Too similar to ignore.
This is the second book in this series, and I didn't read the first one.
There are some twists, but an important plot thread seemed obvious from early on. I didn't find the main character Detective James Walker particularly appealing and the references to a couple of previous cases felt more digressive than important.
Alex Pine has written a series of books on true crime, but I believe this is only his second novel.
read in August
Mystery/Thriller. Oct. 28, 2021. Print length: 400 pages
Tuesday, September 07, 2021
Names in a Jar by Jennifer Gold
Sendler's courage, initiative, and ingenuity intrigued me, and I wanted to try this fictional account based on Sendler's activities.
Friday, September 03, 2021
When Carl, began the first R.I.P. Challenge in 2006, I was all in. I think the last time I formally joined was in 2016 or 2017, but I continued to read spooky books during the fall. If you are looking for some suggestions, here are some that I looked back and found.
Renfield: Slave of Dracula (R.I.P. #9)
A list of some of the books that I'd read for the challenge posted in 2011
Almost anything by John Connolly or Sharon Bolton
I wish I'd kept better track of R.I.P. books, because it is such a fun challenge. At first, I concentrated on classics, then I moved on to some more contemporary books that fit the parameters of the challenge. I also read some middle school or YA that were good, too.
Now, I just look for what others are reading and add some to my list.
My favorite holiday is Halloween and spooky/supernatural books fit the season. I'm not quite ready to get the Halloween decorations out, but I'm certainly thinking about it. I just ignore the Heat Advisories and think pumpkins.
Anyway, I'm checking your R.I.P. book lists and stealing your suggestions. :)
Wednesday, September 01, 2021
SOE in Denmark, and Desolation Canyon by P.J. Tracy
September has finally arrived, although it will be a while before it feels like fall. I still have a lot of books to review from August, and I'll have to make myself get some of them scheduled. Procrastination. Instead of reviewing, I often just start another book. Do you do that?
It is 88 this morning with a heat index of 97 degrees; the high today will be 99--so the heat index will be at least 108. Combined with the onset of allergy season and the itchy eyes, sneezing, and overall tiredness, I'm not feeling any incentive to do much today. Weeds, be damned.
I slowed down on my Nightmare Catchers in August, and have only three in progress. Almost done, but they've been waiting on completion for a while.SOE in Denmark is an overview of SOE operations in Denmark written shortly after the war. (Special Operations Executive)
"SOE in Denmark was written at a time when SOE was still largely unknown to the general public and its operations a closely guarded secret. It was expected that its activities would never be officially acknowledged and the study of its actions in Denmark was compiled with the aim of provide a lasting record of its achievement."
While the book offers an account of the SOE's operations and collaboration with the Danish agents, it is an official report and lacks personal information about the agents who risked their lives. The Appendices offer more information and reference material. I was a little startled to find that approximately 2/3 of the book was the reference material, important and informative.
Having read Between Silk and Cyanide by Leo Marks (son of Benjamin Marks, antiquarian bookseller of Marks & Co and 84, Charing Cross Road fame), I mistakenly thought SOE in Denmark would be similar.
It isn't. It is, nevertheless, important. I wish someone had recorded a more detailed account of the individuals involved in the resistance to the Nazi Occupation of Denmark. Although SOE in Denmark lacks the human aspect, it is historically interesting.
(Some of the most famous female SOE agents were in France and included Nancy Wake, Violette Szabo, Odette Sansom, and Noor Inayat Khan--they have been written about many times. I wish we knew more about the Danish agents.)
WWII History. Sept. 21, 2021. Print length: 208 pages.
Desolation Canyon is the second book in this new series by P.J. Tracy.
Jan. 18, 2022. Print length: 320 pages