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Saturday, October 15, 2022
Monday, July 25, 2022
Long Gone by Joanna Schaffhausen
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
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 Biz. Behind the Green Door. The ASL is so smooth and I love the old songs that Nicky chooses.
This month, I happened on True Biz. I 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.
Fiction. April 5, 2022. Print length: 386 pages.
Tuesday, April 05, 2022
Woman Eating by Claire Kohda
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
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Three DI Zoe Finch books by Rachel McLean and Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner
Wednesday, March 09, 2022
The Hidden One by Linda Castillo and The Verifiers by Jane Pek
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
While Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers are crime thrillers, End of Watch introduces a supernatural element.
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.
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.
Saturday, February 12, 2022
The Raven Spell by Luanne G. Smith, Between Kings by W.R. Gingell, Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
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?
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.