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Monday, July 25, 2022

Long Gone by Joanna Schaffhausen

The second in Schaffhausen's Annalisa Vega series.  

From description:  Chicago detective Annalisa Vega shattered her life, personally and professionally, when she turned in her ex-cop father for his role in a murder. Her family can’t forgive her. Her fellow officers no longer trust her. So when detective Leo Hammond turns up dead in a bizarre murder, Annalisa thinks she has nothing to lose by investigating whatever secrets he hid behind the thin blue line.

The first book in this series was OK, but I didn't love it.  I liked this one better, but still not completely satisfied with it.  I like the Ellery Hathaway/Reed Markham series better.

Read in March.  Review scheduled for July 25.

St. Martin's Press
Suspense.  Aug. 9, 2022.  Print length:  304 pages.




 

Monday, July 18, 2022


 This is simply a reminder that At Home on an Unruly Planet will be published soon.  I reviewed it in February, but it is so good and so timely that it needs to be read widely.  Reviewed Here.  Scheduled for July 18.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

True Biz by Sara Novic

 

from description:  A transporting novel that follows a year of seismic romantic, political, and familial shifts for a teacher and her students at a boarding school for the deaf, from the acclaimed author of Girl at War.

True biz (adj/exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk

I really enjoyed this novel, mostly for what I learned about the deaf community, its successes and its battles. 

 The first time I discovered the beauty of ASL was in college watching a family in a restaurant signing, later I saw the National Theater of the Deaf perform Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales on PBS.  Then there was Children of a Lesser God.  

For a year or so, I've been enjoying Nicky Elliot's videos "Signing to the Oldies" which are delightful.  This month, I happened on True BizBehind the Green Door.  The ASL is so smooth and I love the old songs that Nicky chooses.  

This month, I happened on True BizI learned much more about the history and evolution of sign language and its variations while reading True Biz as I followed the teachers and students at the fictional River Valley School for the Deaf.  I expect this renewed interest in ASL and the deaf community will result in one of the wandering literary itineraries I love.

I already wanted to see Coda, but now...even more so.

NetGalley/Random House

Fiction.  April 5, 2022.  Print length:  386 pages.


Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Woman Eating by Claire Kohda

 

Lydia or Lyd has been keeping the lid on emotions her entire life: on her condition, her relationship with her mother, her loneliness, and her hunger.  

Having just graduated from art school, Lyd has an internship at a prestigious art gallery and has just placed her mother in a home for dementia patients.  She feels as if her life is finally beginning, but she is not prepared for the hunger as her normal food source is much harder to acquire.  

She rents a studio, meets other young people, and Ben, the friendly manager of the studio spaces, and struggles with her desire to fit in and overcome the sense of shame instilled in her by her mother. The internship is not at all what she expected--more an unpaid assistant than a learning experience.

She distracts herself with videos of women eating, cooking, and discussing food or with Buffy, the Vampire episodes. 

Lydia is hungry.  Always.  But if you are looking for a "vampire" book, you will be disappointed.  Woman Eating is psychological and allegorical, an intriguing anomaly with multiple themes. 

Read in Oct. 2021. Review scheduled for April 5, 2022.

 NetGalley.  April 15, 2022.  Print length:  240 pages.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Love You More by Lisa Gardner, One Bad Turn David J. Gatward

Love You More (D.D. Warren #5, Tessa Leoni #1).  State Trooper Tessa Leoni claims she shot her husband in self-defense.  She has been seriously beaten and no one questions her injuries, but D.D. Warren doesn't quite believe Tessa, something is off--and Tessa's six-year-old daughter is missing.  

Tessa is hospitalized for her injuries, then arrested for the murder of her husband.  Six-year-old Sophie is still missing, and D.D. and Bobby Dodge believe they are looking for her body, the kind of thing that disturbs even veteran cops.

Like in the Flora Dane books, D.D. plays a big role in the procedural portions of the book, but the alternating chapters in Tessa's voice propel the plot.  

Gardner ratchets up the tension and slowly reveals all the complications involved in this engrossing thriller.

Suspense/Thriller.  2011.  Print length:  368 pages.

I've caught up on the Grimm Up North series, which I really enjoy.  The characters and the setting work well together, and it is obvious how much the author himself loves the Yorkshire Dales.  

There are some chilling scenes as the body of a young woman is discovered and the terrible and unanticipated aftermath of the discovery.

This has become a favorite series, and I'm so glad stumbled on the first book and already looking forward to the next.

Kindle Unlimited.
Police Procedural.  March 3, 2022.  Print length:  343 pages.




Currently reading Churchill's Band of Brothers.  Excellent so far.






Something I've never thought of before,
 but the last two comments make it clear.  :)

 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Three DI Zoe Finch books by Rachel McLean and Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner

Assistant Chief Constable Bryn Jackson is murdered shortly after returning home on the  night of his retirement. Recently promoted  DI Zoe Finch, fresh off a case involving corruption, fraud, and abuse against children, finds herself on the scene.  

Is Jackson's wife Margaret responsible?  Even with what little is revealed early on, it seems Margaret might have motive.  Zoe is surprised and confused by the way her DCI is handling the case and relegating Zoe to more tedious tasks.  Is he protecting Margaret?  And what changes his mind?

Deadly Wishes is the first in McLean's Zoe Finch series, and I liked it even better than McLean's Dorset Crime series.  Zoe's commitment and perseverance made this police procedural an enjoyable experience.  Zoe's team helps add to the interest:  DS Mo Uddin, DC Connie Williams, and DC Rhodri Hughes.

If the murder of an ACC who spent his life on the force isn't bad enough, Zoe senses a sinister underside to the murder and is determined to dig until all the pieces fit.

Kindle Unlimited
Police Procedural.  2020.  Print length:  402 pages.

Allison Osman takes her children to Cadbury World in a planned excursion her husband Ian was supposed to join.  Ian doesn't show.  Allison  leaves twelve-year-old Maddy to watch her little brother while she stands in line to get their food.

A matter of minutes and both children are gone.  

Another good police procedural with interesting characterization and plenty of suspense.  DI Zoe Finch and her team have to examine several unsavory possibilities in their attempt to determine who and why the children have been abducted.

Kindle Unlimited.
Police Procedural.  2020.  Print length:  400 pages.  


Someone has been making horrific assaults on gay men, creating anger and fear in the gay community.  Amid the pressure to solve the case, Zoe also fears for her eighteen-year-old son who doesn't seem to think he is danger.

There is a connection to police corruption that has been running through from the first book in this series, but as in the previous book, there is a plot that is resolved.  While I'd recommend beginning with the first book, each book can be read as a standalone.  

Two things I like about this series:  the characters on Zoe's team and the fast-paced plots!

Kindle Unlimited
Police Procedural.  2020.  Print length:  430 pages.

(I'm not sure whether all these books were released at once, but each one has a 2020 publication date.)


Lisa Gardner has rarely failed to keep my interest, and certainly the abduction of the Denbe family was a compelling example.  

In 2014, I read and loved Crash & Burn as an ARC.  It started me looking for any Lisa  Gardner book available from NetGalley or the library, regardless of publication date or series.

Anyway, I listened to Touch & Go the second book as an audio book, and was quickly immersed in the story. A common approach in many of Gardner's books is to give the victim as much or more time than the lead detective.  The secondary characters often turn up again in different books.  

Tessa Leoni, former state trooper, current investigator for a security firm, is called in by the Denbe Construction company.  D.D. Warren makes a cameo appearance in her role with the Boston Police Department, but the FBI takes over and Tessa must work with them.  In this case, the story moves back and forth between Tessa and Libby Denbe.  

Libby's voice describes the abduction and the imprisonment of the family.  Justin, Libby, and their fifteen-year-old daughter Ashlyn are stashed in a newly built but unoccupied prison facility in the wilds of New Hampshire.  Through Libby we learn of the mechanics of the family's abduction and the circumstances of their imprisonment.  We also learn a lot of the dynamics of the "perfect" family.  

In the investigation, Tessa interviews employees of the construction company, piecing together an outside version of the Denbes.  Detective Sergeant Wyatt Foster is also involved in the investigation and provides a nice balance to Tessa.  Getting the gradual information about the company, Justin, Libby, and Ashlyn was intriguing.  

Suspense and secrets.  Twists and turns.  When you think it is over.  It isn't.

There is a backstory to Tessa, that D.D. Warren first alludes to, but which relates to the reason that Tessa is no longer a state trooper.  This was a little frustrating, as I had not read that book.

The narration was OK, but Elizabeth Rodgers' attempts to distinguish different characters was not always successful and her occasional attempts at Boston and New Hampshire accents were often annoying.  I'm not sure any single narrator could have done a good job on so many characters, but that was a distraction.  

 It took a little while to find the first Tessa Leoni book because the first book that includes Tessa Leoni is actually the 5th book in the D.D. Warren series--Love You More.  I  couldn't wait and started it last night.

I recommend reading these three books in order. One of those "do as I say, not as I do" situations.

Love You More  (2011)
Touch and Go  (2013)
Crash and Burn  (2015)



Wednesday, March 09, 2022

The Hidden One by Linda Castillo and The Verifiers by Jane Pek

 

An Amish Bishop's remains are discovered 18 years after his disappearance, and an old friend from Kate Burkholder's  childhood and adolescence has been arrested for the Bishop's murder.

Three Dieners, church elders, come to Kate and ask her to investigate as they are positive that Jonas is innocent.

As always, I enjoy the way Castillo reveals Amish customs and culture and I enjoy the way Amish beliefs influence the plots.  When I finished The Hidden One, I felt like this was one of my favorite books in the series.  

The next morning, however, I had some questions... something that was not resolved.  Doesn't change my overall opinion about the book because I was completely engaged throughout, but I am really curious about a couple of things that were not explained.  Spoiler:  Who called Kate and said, "They were all there!"?  Were the Dieners  there?  Did I miss something? 

I checked the reviews on Goodreads, and no one mentions the thing that is bugging me.  

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery.  July 5, 2022.  Print length:  320 pages.


An interesting concept that involves internet dating sites, algorithms, and a company that verifies information of members.

Claudia Linn works for Veracity, a company that verifies profile information if a client finds something that doesn't ring true or that worries them.  When a client ends up dead, Claudia gets involved.

There were several elements that evoked my interest about online dating profiles.  I mean, we've become accustomed to the jokes about "I enjoy sunsets and walks on the beach" kind of thing.  I was curious about the kinds of questions matchmaking sites actually asked to try for a match.  Do these sites try to match only similar interests (if people are even honest in their interests)? Do they ever match "opposites," I wonder.  What algorithms?

On a more serious level, how do companies go about checking for out-and-out dishonesty about professions, locations, financial situations, etc. in a client's profile?  The match-making sites are part of our lives since the advent of the internet, but I have never really thought about them in a way that doesn't include the use of online-dating in a mystery novel or thriller.  

Unfortunately, this book was not a match for me--the characters felt artificial, the promised humor was hit or miss, I didn't learn much about what I was curious about, and the plot itself didn't really engage me.  Note:  I'm in the minority about this according to GR reviews.   

NetGalley/Knopf/Doubleday  

LGBQT Mystery.  February, 2022.  Print length:  368 pages

--------

Note about earlier review of The Silence.  In America:  An 1893 court ruling increased pressure to keep Indian children in Boarding schools. It was not until 1978 with the passing of the Indian Child Welfare Act that Native American parents gained the legal right to deny their children's placement in off-reservation schools.

Also, Cathy mentioned the film The Rabbit-Proof Fence in her comment , and I want to see it.  I may just read the book, but Kenneth Branagh is in the film, and he is always worth watching.

Love this!




Monday, March 07, 2022

Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens by Andrea Penrose, The Silence by Susan Allott, and The Summer We Forgot by Caroline George

The first book in the Wrexford & Sloane series was so much fun!  The last couple of books have been less so.  

The spark has gone out somehow.  The Weasels are still fun, but Wrexford and Charlotte have become less vibrant.  I hope the next one gives the MCs a bit more of their previous élan.

Read in Feb.

Kindle Unlimited
Regency Mystery.  2021. print length:  353 pages





The Silence is a layered story told in alternating timelines that unfold gradually.  Slow paced and character driven, the 1967 backstory reveals the human flaws in two families, flaws that are exacerbated by the situations in which they find themselves.  

 Steve, a policeman, hates the frequent requirement of removing aboriginal children from their homes and placing them in institutions, and he doesn't believe that the institutions will actually provide a better life regardless of what the government says. The strain builds until he can no longer cope; he is unraveling, coming undone.  Mandy, his wife, never grasps the effect the job has on her husband or on their marriage.  Steve wants children, but Mandy doesn't tell him that she is still taking her birth control pills.

Next door, Joe, an alcoholic, and Louisa, homesick for England, have marital problems that are only partially revealed until later, but Louisa hates Australia and wants to return to England.  All of this is divulged in the chapters that give the backstory.   
(Think: "The past is not dead.  It is not even past."--Faulkner; "What's past is prologue."--Shakespeare)

In the 1997 timeline, Isla Green, an alcoholic working for sobriety, receives a call from her father.  Joe tells her that he is under suspicion for Mandy's disappearance thirty years ago, and Isla returns to Australia for the first time in ten years--to her dysfunctional family and some vague memories of her early childhood.

The characters are not always likable, but they are very human and three-dimensional.  The scenes are visual and atmospheric--drawing the reader into the story in a palpable way.  

Theoretically, the removal of indigenous children from their parents was colonial Britain’s attempt to improve their living conditions. But in practice, kids were stolen from loving homes and brought to institutions that trained them to work for white people. Abuse, cruelty, and inhumanity filled their new lives. (via Washington Independent Review of Books)

Being silent about past mistakes doesn't remove the influence of those mistakes.  Not in families, not in social norms, not in government actions.   The problems these two families deal with are both personal and general.  The practices of Australian government are not unique, they have been pretty universal, and we have our own situations to atone for.

Powerful.

Audiobook read by Nelle Stewart.  

from description:  "Darby and Morgan haven’t spoken for two years, and their friend group has splintered. But when the body of their former science teacher is found in the marsh where they attended camp that summer, they realize they have more questions than answers . . . and even fewer memories."

A group of friends who attended a summer camp, can't remember the experience.  The two voices, Darby and Morgan's are indistinguishable.  I had to stop and think about who was actually speaking numerous times.  Difficult to have much character development when the voices don't indicate individuality.

Plot is...less than believable, and the style is disrupted in a number of ways, disjointed and ponderous, and too long.

NetGalley/Thomas Nelson
Mystery.  March 8, 2022.  Print length:  413 pages.  




 

Friday, March 04, 2022

Dorset Crime Series by Rachel McLean

 International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo) is over, but I still have some letters to respond to.  It was difficult to get a letter in the mail each day in February and there were days when I had to catch up with three or more letters at a time.  A challenge, but fun--especially getting so much mail!

I've received letters from new people, in addition to the folks I usually write, and this has been especially enjoyable.  The incoming mail will continue into March--because letters written later in the month take awhile to arrive and some folks are from the UK, Canada, France, and Australia.  The main requirement is to write back to everyone who writes you, and I already do that.  Maybe not promptly, but persistently.  

The last batch of February letters went out on Saturday and on Monday (2.28.22).


Of course, I've been reading, too. A new-to-me series by Rachel McLean; the Dorset Crime books are fast-paced, and I couldn't go through them fast enough!  There is an overarching plot that links the books, but each is fine as a standalone.  

:)




Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A Divided Loyalty by Charles Todd, The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang, and Carville's Cure: leprosy Stigma, and the Fight for Justice by Pam Fessler

 

I began reading this series with the first book years ago, but have missed many recent adventures.  Fortunately, the books can be read as standalones.  A historical mystery series featuring Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge, the series begins shortly after WWI when Rutledge returns to Scotland Yard.  

The Charles Todd books plot excellent mysteries and deal with the aftereffects of the war on society in general and on Rutledge, who suffered from shellshock, in particular.  

The voice of the dead corporal Hamish MacLeod, occurs more frequently in the earlier books, but has diminished over the years.  Rutledge has   become more accustomed to the voice, recognizing Hamish as a part of his own mind.

A Divided Loyalty has Rutledge assigned to a case that a friend and superior officer did not solve:  the murder of a young woman whose body was found next to a standing stone at Avebury.  Rutledge is aware that Chief Superintendent Markham does not expect him to solve the case and that Markham hopes to use his failure as a means of getting rid of Rutledge. 

There is almost nothing to go on, but that does not stop Rutledge from pursuing every avenue he can.  

Written by the mother and son team who publish as Charles Todd.

William Morrow Publishers
Historical Mystery.  Feb. 4, 2022.  Print length:  335 pages


 From Description:
  f
ive years ago, Nora Wilder disappeared. The older of her two daughters, Zadie, should have seen it coming, because she can literally see things coming. But not even her psychic abilities were able to prevent their mother from vanishing one morning.

I am not at all sure what I think of this one.  The writing is excellent, the premise is intriguing, but even though parts that were quite interesting, I wasn't satisfied.

I glanced at reviews when I finished, and almost everyone else loved it.  Several reviewers found it fast-paced, when I found it slow--but I'm definitely in the minority.    

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Fantasy?  Nov. 15, 2022.  Print length:  336 pages.



For some reason, I have associated the leper colony at Carville with Walker Percy, but it must of been just a brief mention in one of his novels.  

At any rate, Hansen's disease was and is one of the real boogiemen of diseases, largely because it has been misrepresented for centuries.   The disfigurement and the stigma associated with leprosy was almost as bad as the disease itself.

In 1894, the first seven patients were taken to what would become the Louisiana Leper Home near Carville in Iberville Parish, Louisiana.  

Pam Fessler's research is impeccable and fortunately the  history of the colony has been recorded in detail by the doctors, the nursing sisters of the Daughters of Charity, and the patients themselves.

I had no idea that the history of Carville would be so enthralling, and the credit is largely due to Fessler's compassionate writing.  The account ended up being as compelling as a novel, something I never expected.  

Quickly immersed in the history and in the lives of those who were patients and the lives of those who treated them, I found the book difficult to put down.  

Once diagnosed, patients had no choice, if they did not go willingly, then they were forcefully taken to the facility, sometimes in handcuffs.  Their names were changed to save their families from the shame and fear of the disease, and they were isolated from the public and even their own families.  All ages, genders, races, religions, and cultures  created a diversity almost unheard of as patients from all over the country  ended up in Carville.  Many patients spent almost their entire lives in Carville.

abandoned plantation that was to house 
the Daughters of Charity
when they arrived in the 1894

slave cabins to house patients

The situation improved, bit by bit over the decades to follow, and I was completely invested in both the history and the patients.  I was horrified at the separation of children from their families and at of some of the early rules to prevent contagion (even though they knew that the disease was not very contagious).  I celebrated the triumphs and marveled at the resilience and determination of both caretakers and patients.  

This was a remarkable book, and I'm so glad I happened on it.  It is not one I will forget--from John Early to Stanley Stein to Betty and Harry Martin, to Jack and Rachael Pendelton, to Simeon Peterson (known as Mr. Pete, who spent 83 of his 89 years in institutions, first in the St. Croix Leprosarium and then in Carville.  

Highly recommended.  

(More about Carville)  Many of you might mark this one down for November's Nonfiction Month if you don't have time to read it now.

Nonfiction.  2020.  Print length: 409 pages.





Saturday, February 19, 2022

Finders Keepers and End of Watch by Stephen King; Hideout by Louisa Vega


During February, I finished listening to Finders Keepers and to End of Watch by Stephen King.  I didn't like Finders Keepers as much as Mr. Mercedes, although it was a good mystery/thriller.  I think this was because, as the second book in the trilogy, I expected Bill, Holly, and Jerome to be a larger part of the book, and they didn't appear at least have way through.  My expectations were more at fault than the book, and the characters were well drawn and believable.  

Although I read End of Watch in 2016 (my first ever book by King), I went ahead and got the audio version because I knew I'd forgotten much of it, and I could listen while doing other things.  Will Patton does an excellent job on the narration, but there were so many characters!  All of the female characters had the same speech patterns and intonations.  

If  I had not read the book first (giving Holly my own imagination of her voice and style), I might not have been bothered with Holly's "voice" in the audio version.  But I did, and I was.  Otherwise, the narration was great and kudos to Patton for all the voices he had to deal with.  Trying to differentiate so many voices is pretty much impossible.  

 While Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers are crime thrillers, End of Watch introduces a supernatural element.  


Private Investigator Alice Vega, takes on a cold case, not her typical kind of thing, but the money is good.

Zeb Williams has been missing for 30 years.  A rising football star, who in 1984 took the ball and ran to the rival team's goal post and kept on running--out of the stadium and out of the lives of everyone who knew him.

Zeb Williams became a cult figure and while initially there were occasional supposed sightings, thirty years later, no one knows if he is alive or dead.  

Alice Vega was given one photograph that showed Williams in a small town in Oregon.  After failing to induce Max Caplan to accompany her, Vega goes alone.

For several reasons, this third book in the series did not resonate with me.  I did not want to abandon it, but Vega didn't feel as genuine in this installment.  Caplan, at home with his daughter, had some problems of his own.  Hideout isn't bad, but I didn't find it as enjoyable as the previous two books.  Maybe Vega needs Caplan to help make her believable. 

NetGalley/Doubleday
Mystery/Suspense.  March 8, 2022.  Print length:  368 pages.

I've continued reading the DCI Harry Grimm series, which are fast-paced and fun with likable Yorkshire characters and distasteful villains. :)

February is International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo), and I decided to participate this year.  It is quite the challenge, and I've found it a bit overwhelming, but it is such fun to find even more letters in my mailbox!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

At Home on An Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth by Madeline Ostrander

 

At Home on an Unruly Planet by Madeline Ostrander discusses the effects of climate change on our sense of home, community, tradition, and history.  As it is often difficult to follow all the dominoes that have been set off by a warming planet, Ostrander looks at a few places specifically to illustrate the larger picture.

Many of us have recognized, if even in a vague way, that there will be more climate refugees as people lose homes and/or an economic base to the changing climate .  In some regions, especially in coastal regions, the movement away from the encroaching sea and more frequent and powerful storms has been recognized for years.  


The damage to the coastal areas of our country and to the livelihoods of people who, for generations, have depended on the sea (and who have lost homes and possessions many times)--for these people, the recurring losses can create a sense of homelessness that is beyond housing.  It is the loss of a way of life that includes family history, community, culture and hope for the next generation.   

By looking at a few places in greater detail, Ostrander lets readers extrapolate that information to apply in varying degrees to all  disaster prone areas.  The country and the world is confronting climate disasters, experiencing higher tides, more frequent and severe flooding, drought, and wildfires.  These catastrophes result in the loss of local histories, traditions, culture, historic buildings, and communities as well as individual homes.  Ostrander examines instances in which communities struggle to prepare for more change, but there are also places where continuing the fight is no longer feasible; where individuals and entire areas have accepted that they have to let go.  

Ostrander looks at an Inuit village in Alaska lost to the sea and thawing tundra that must relocate an entire village (there are more since Ostrander visited and researched Newtok); the fires in the Pacific North West that burn hotter, faster, and more frequently;  the effect of pollution on the local population from a refinery in Richmond, CA; and the loss of historic buildings in St. Augustine, FL.  Her writing is personal and reflects on predictions of how and when the warming climate will make changes in our lives, what is being done to prepare for the changes, and what must yet be done to ease the transitions that are required.

Individuals can and should plan and prepare (as those in wildfire areas and in areas threatened by flooding know--having a go bag with important papers, water, food, flashlights, etc. can make a huge difference in case of a disaster). Communities are often more effective working together as a unit, harnessing the talents and knowledge of its citizens when an emergency occurs.  Individuals and even communities, however, cannot prevent or mediate climate change emergencies on their own.  It is imperative that local, state, and national government be involved in planning for the changes to come.   

Highly Recommended.

NetGalley/Henry Holt & Co
Nonfiction/Climate Preparedness.  Aug. 2, 2022.  Print length:  352 pages.  
                                                                                                                                       



Saturday, February 12, 2022

The Raven Spell by Luanne G. Smith, Between Kings by W.R. Gingell, Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

from description: In Victorian England a witch and a detective are on the hunt for a serial killer in an enthralling novel of magic and murder. 

This was a fun mystery with a lot of magical elements thrown in.  First in a new series.

Read in January.

Fantasy.  Feb. 1, 2022.  Print length:  256 pages.
Final installment of the Between series, which has been building characters throughout.  Some surprises, one that made me happy!     

Gingell has had fun with the series, and so did I. ; ) 

Urban fantasy.  Dec. 31, 2022.  Print length:  273 pages.











Although I read End of Watch, the third in this trilogy several years ago, only now have I gone back to read the first book.

A crime thriller (not horror) featuring retired detective Bill Hodges and a couple of interesting helpers.  

The book opens with a man driving a Mercedes into a crowd of job seekers, killing eight people and grievously injuring fifteen others; the reader experiences empathy with the folks gathered in hopes of finding jobs.  Then...the devastation of lives lost and damaged when the murderer plows into the crowd.

It was the last case of Bill Hodges before retirement, and a case that remains unsolved.  Now retired, bored, and depressed, Bill gets a letter from the Mercedes Killer that taunts him, encouraging him to commit suicide.  

The effect is the opposite of what the killer wants, the smug and sinister letter galvanizes the retired detective and now Bill Hodges want to get to Mr. Mercedes for personal reasons as well as fear of another massacre.

Definitely creepy, but with fascinating characters, three of whom you end up liking a great deal and cheering on.  This is the third Stephen King I've read: End of Watch some years ago, Billy Summers recently, and now Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes was an audio book that allowed me to work on the poor apron I spilled bleach on and have been slowly covering with embroidery.   

The colors don't show up on this, but it is quite colorful on the black.


"Read" in February.  

 
Audiobook narrated by Will Patton.  2014.  Print length:  437 pages. 



 

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team that Barnstormed its Way to Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder; The Self-made Widow by Fabian Nicieza; Best Served Cold by David J. Gatward

 Still catching up on January book reviews.

In the early 1930's Coach Sam Babb went on a search to recruit girls for the basketball team at Oklahoma Presbyterian College.  Girls basketball was big in rural Oklahoma, and Sam Babb offered farm girls the opportunity to continue playing and get a college education--something most of these girls never dreamed possible.

The girls Sam Babb recruited were used to hard work; they fed the animals, planted and harvested crops, learned to drive early in order to further aid their farming families, had outdoor toilets in many cases, and no spare money during the depression and the early years of the drought that was turning their state into a dust bowl.  

An education, a dorm with indoor plumbing, and the chance to play basketball provided an opportunity none of them had expected, and the recruits were eager to take advantage of that opportunity.

Primary and secondary sources of interviews with some of the remaining team, letters, journals, scrapbooks, and newspaper articles give insight into these young women who loved the game and were willing (not necessarily eager) to undergo the strenuous practices and keep up with their college courses.  

A little slow at first, but then Lydia Reeder's story of the barnstorming season that led to the 1932 AAU championship captures the inspiring story of the girls and their one-legged coach and hauls you cheering from Durant, OK through Dallas, Houston, and Galveston, TX; through tiny towns like Castor, LA, and the small city of Shreveport, La to Eureka Springs, Ark.

Aside from the continuous shortage of funds plaguing the OKC Cardinals, President Herbert Hoover's wife was actively campaigning against competitive sports for women (with a special distaste for women's basketball) and many colleges had eliminated their popular girls' teams.   I was unaware of this organized campaign that thought competitive sports too strenuous and too "rough" for young women.  Oh, and Lou Hoover was also totally against women competing in the Olympics.   

Doll Harris, Lucille Thurman, and other members of the OKC Cardinals had mostly grown up on farms or ranches and were in no way incapable of the demands of the basketball court.  In 1932, their final match was with the Golden Cyclones led by the Cyclones star player--Babe Didrikson, who later that year went on to win 3 gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics .  Mrs. Hoover be damned. :)

Dust Bowl Girls proved more captivating than I expected.  I thought it would be interesting because I find the 1930's and the dust bowl fascinating, but when I found myself wishing I'd been in the stands for some of their games...that was more than I expected!


Algonquin Books.  nonfiction.  2017.  Print length:  304 pages.


I have not read the first book in this series, and it took me a while to adjust to it.  

from description:  From the cocreator of Deadpool and author of Suburban Dicks comes a diabolically funny murder mystery that features two unlikely sleuths investigating a murder that reveals the dark underbelly of suburban marriage.

I'm not sure what I thought of The Self-Made Widow.  There were, after I began to finally get a grip on the characters, some amusing and satiric elements, but I didn't find it "diabolically funny."  

Andrea (Andie) Stern and Kenny Lee, college friends who were successful in solving an important crime, have another crime to involve them.  Kenny, a journalist, won a Pulitzer for his articles about their college crime-solving, but he has not lived up to his promise.  Andrea, married with five kids, has begun to find the domestic situation exhausting and less rewarding than if she had joined the FBI as a profiler as originally planned.  The two got back together in the first book in this series and once again they are finding crime solving as interesting and invigorating as before.

Currently, one of Andrea's friends has become a widow.  At first sympathetic, Andrea begins to wonder if Molly's husband actually died of a heart attack...or was helped along by Molly?

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Mystery.  June 21, 2022.  Print length:  400 pages.  

The second in the Harry Grimm series set in the Yorkshire Dales.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and liked this one as well.  

The team is, as I hoped, becoming three-dimensional and the friendships are deepening.  When confronted with an awful farm accident, they reluctantly conclude that there is something "not right" about it.  The next death makes it clear that while accidents happen, they don't usually have the twisted connections that these deaths have.

Again, I find the camaraderie of this little group in rural Yorkshire warm and funny and the mysteries intriguing.

Weirdstone Publishing
Mystery.  2020.  300 pages.

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I find myself suffering from post-dramatic stress.