“Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening out at the cemetery. “Still Meadows,” as it’s called, is anything but still.”
I love Fannie Flagg’s books. You know what you are going to get with them. They will be funny and heartfelt stories of small towns.
This is the story of the founding of Elmwood Springs, Missouri. It is settled by Swedish farmers who decide that they need to carve out a town to support their farms. The first white settler in the area was named Lordor Nordstrom. Eventually the women of the surrounding farms decide that he needs a wife. He advertises for a bride and finds a nice Swedish woman in Chicago. Their romance is sweet and charming.
The town grows through the years and eventually the founding settlers begin to die. This is where the story takes a turn. In Elmwood Springs the residents of the cemetery are still involved in town life. They keep up on the local gossip from interviewing new arrivals and from listening to what visitors to the cemetery say.
I liked the beginning of the book but most of the cemetery section was less interesting for me. The action skipped over years at a time. It was hard to keep track of the family trees as time passed. The epilogue of the book redeemed it for me though. It ties together what appeared to be major plot holes in the story in a satisfying way.
This was a quick read. I read it in one setting. This is a great book for a cozy night of comfort reading when you don’t want anything too challenging.
Book received from NetGalley in exchange for a review
“The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.”
This book is amazing. That is all. Go preorder it.
I was reading this on my Kindle app and was highlighting like crazy. Trevor Noah has been an outsider all his life. In South Africa under apartheid there were four racial categories – white, black, colored, and Indian. Colored people were the descendants of interracial relationships in the past. There was no category for 50/50 black/white children because it couldn’t legally happen. He chose to identify as black because that’s what his mother was but he wasn’t accepted there either.
Growing up both defined by and outside of such a strict racial hierarchy sharpened his insights.
“That is the curse of being black and poor, and it is a curse that follows you from generation to generation. My mother calls it “the black tax.” Because the generations who came before you have been pillaged, rather than being free to use your skills and education to move forward, you lose everything just trying to bring everyone behind you back up to zero.”
“British racism said, “If the monkey can walk like a man and talk like a man, then perhaps he is a man.” Afrikaner racism said, “Why give a book to a monkey?”
He talks about history when describing why having a friend named Hitler wasn’t considered strange.
“Every country thinks their history is the most important, and that’s especially true in the West. But if black South Africans could go back in time and kill one person, Cecil Rhodes would come up before Hitler. If people in the Congo could go back in time and kill one person, Belgium’s King Leopold would come way before Hitler. If Native Americans could go back in time and kill one person, it would probably be Christopher Columbus or Andrew Jackson.”
“Holocaust victims count because Hitler counted them. Six million people killed. We can all look at that number and rightly be horrified. But when you read through the history of atrocities against Africans, there are no numbers, only guesses. It’s harder to be horrified by a guess.”
This is the story of growing up illegally because his mother fought to make a place for him even before the fall of apartheid. She was a visionary. However, even after apartheid there wasn’t a place for him to make a legal living as easily as it was to make an illegal one in the townships. He talks about the saying about teaching a man to fish vs giving him a fish. He points out that it doesn’t work if you don’t also help him get a fishing pole.
This isn’t the story of how he became a comedian or how he ended up taking over for Jon Stewart as the host of The Daily Show. That all comes later. This is the story of the world that shaped him into the person he is today. It is funny. It is horrifying. It is necessary reading.
“Richard, Marquess of Devon is satisfied with his ton marriage. His wife of five months, Lady Eugenia Devon, thought she was, too, until she found the book. Their marriage is one of respect and affection, with no messy entanglements such as love. Devon’s upbringing impressed upon him that gentlemen slake their baser needs on a mistress, not their gently bred wives. However, once married, he was no longer comfortable bedding a woman other Eugenia. When she stumbles onto a naughty book, she begins a campaign to change the rules.”
This book started with an interesting twist. Instead of being all about the courtship like most Regency romances, this story starts after the couple has been married for five months. Eugenia hears the news that her husband’s mistress has died in an accident and decides to take this opportunity to convince him to not find another one. At the same time she comes across a sex manual in a book store. (Let’s just set aside the unlikeliness of a sex manual in a Regency bookstore in a place where a lady could come across it, ok?)
Up until now their physical relationship has consisted of scheduled three nights a week sex mostly clothed in the dark in order to produce an heir. She was told by her mother that she should just lie still and think about redecorating and it would be over soon. He was told that you do you duty with your wife and keep a mistress on the side for any of your desires other than procreation. All this advice has resulted in some people with some very mixed up ideas and hang ups about sex.
Eugenia’s attempt to spice up their marriage does not go well. Her husband is horrified. He starts to avoid her. No more scheduled times. Now she has to try to seduce him to get him back. He is convinced that she has taken a lover because of her new found knowledge. It is all an object lesson about why people should talk to each other when they are married instead of making assumptions.
I did enjoy this twist on a historical romance. This book would be good for Regency fans who don’t mind a little bit of explicit sexual talk and activity.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.
“Dancers After Dark” is an amazing celebration of the human body and the human spirit, as dancers, photographed nude and at night, strike poses of fearless beauty. Without a permit or a plan, Jordan Matter led hundreds of the most exciting dancers in the world out of their comfort zones not to mention their clothes to explore the most compelling reaches of beauty and the human form. After all the risk and daring, the result is extraordinary: 300 dancers, 400 locations, more than 150 stunning photographs. And no clothes, no arrests, no regrets. Each image highlights the amazing abilities of these artists and presents a core message to the reader: Say yes rather than no, and embrace the risks and opportunities that life presents. “
It started with an offhand comment from a contortionist. She’d be available for a photoshoot after her show. It might be raining. Maybe they should try nudes.
Jordan Matter had been photographing dancers and circus performers for years but now that work went in a new direction. This is a book of photos of dancers naked in public at night. There were no permits. No closed sets.
The photographs in the book are beautiful. Several of them I stared at just to try to figure out how they got into those positions. I love one of a dancer balancing on pointe on top of a wine bottle. Other times I could only imagine how incredibly cold they must have been. Here’s a behind the scenes video of one of the shots that made me freeze just looking at it.
The cover dancer is Michaela Prince, whose autobiography I reviewed. Most of the rest are anonymous except for Alan Cumming. At the end of the book there are some of the stories behind the pictures. It wasn’t enough. I wish there had been a story for every picture. I wanted to know if the participants were ballet dancers or modern dancers. Did they perform on Broadway or in circuses? Luckily there is video of the process that gives more background on his website.
“When Paul Graham was suddenly diagnosed with a serious wheat allergy at the age of thirty-six, he was forced to say goodbye to traditional pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and more. Gone, too, were some of his favorite hobbies, including brewing beer with a buddy and gorging on his wife’s homemade breads. Struggling to understand why he and so many others had become allergic to wheat, barley, rye, oats, and other dietary staples, Graham researched the production of modern wheat and learned that not only has the grain been altered from ancestral varieties but it’s also commonly added to thousands of processed foods. In writing that is effortless and engaging, Paul explores why incidence of the disease is on the rise while also grappling with an identity crisis—given that all his favorite pastimes involved wheat in some form.”
This is an unflinchingly honest account of what it is like to give up one of the things that you enjoy most in life. Paul Graham loves to eat. He loved bread in all its forms. He loved beer. Suddenly he found out that those foods were behind a sudden illness that caused him to lose 25 pounds and end up hospitalized.
The honesty of the writing can certain come across as whiny, especially for those of us who have had restrictive diets by choice or necessity for long enough to have moved past the first stages of grief. He laments what it means now to travel without being able to eat anything and everything on a menu. Eventually he learns to move past that and see that there is life after allergies.
“But the most sensitive have also come to know something that “normal” eaters do not often have occasion to consider: to have anyone make food for you is an implicit extension of trust. The more serious the consequences, the greater the confidence one puts in the cook.”
Yes! I can be a nervous wreck when we go to new restaurants. Honestly, I only implicitly trust food that I make myself for the husband because of his allergy. The author laments people disrupting the orderliness of buffets so he can’t be sure anything is safe for him. I can relate totally.
He discusses the privilege that he has as a fairly well off person with the skills and time to cook from scratch in order to accommodate his new diet. He wonders how people how have to survive on prepared food do it. The answer seems to be – not well according to the research. He points out the irony that the foods that were once considered only good enough for poor people are now the rare grains and ingredients that cost more than wheat.
I’d recommend this book for any food lover or person interested in knowing what it is like to live with food allergies.
Book received in exchange for review from BloggingforBooks.com
“Saving Delaney is the heartwarming true story of a baby who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome and the unconventional family who fought for her right to life. Andrea Ott-Dahl, who with her partner Keston Ott-Dahl has with two other children, agreed to act as a pregnancy surrogate for a wealthy Silicon Valley family. When pre-natal testing revealed the baby would be born with Down Syndrome, Andrea was urged to abort the child. Instead, the Ott-Dahls chose to keep and raise the daughter they would call Delaney, overcoming their fears while navigating legal, medical and emotional challenges.”
I’m not going to lie. I read this book for the chocolate.
I was at BEA and the authors were signing right next to another author I was in line for. When I finished they had a short line and the BEA worker said that they were handing out chocolate with the book. That got my attention. I hadn’t been interested in the book because I don’t like babies. I’m also pro-choice and didn’t care to read a pro-life screed. Turns out I’m really more pro-chocolate than anything. I went up and got a copy of the book. Delaney even signed it for me herself.
Now I’m glad that I read this book.
The book is told from Keston’s viewpoint. When her mother died when Keston was in her early 40s, she went through a bit of a wild time. She broke up with her long term partner and decided to just have fun for a while. She wasn’t planning on meeting a woman in her late 20s with two young children and falling in love. She certainly wasn’t planning for her new girlfriend to decide that she needed to be a surrogate for another couple.
Keston had always had a phobia about people with disabilities. This view was formed when she did some community service in a residential care facility. Since that time she had actively avoided any contact.
Trying to get pregnant as a surrogate wasn’t easy for Andrea. Tensions rose between the Ott-Dahls, the prospective mothers, and the sperm donors as months passed with no pregnancy. Right when they were about to give up, Andrea got pregnant.
Routine prenatal testing showed abnormalities early. Andrea was the biological mother. An egg donor was not used. Now the question was, could she be made to abort her biological child if she signed a contract stating that the prospective mothers got to decide about any health concerns to the child? Should they keep a child with Down’s Syndrome knowing Keston’s issues with disabilities?
This book is the story of growing up and growing together. It is standing up for your family in the face of pressures from all sides. It is about learning to overcome your prejudices and convincing others to do the same.
Regardless of your personal opinions on abortion or surrogacy, I’d recommend reading this book. It gives the perspective of people wrestling with the tough choices that come with assisted reproduction that aren’t usually heard.
“Two nights ago, a young woman brought her husband into the emergency room of the Sriphat Hospital in Thailand, where he passed away. A guard thinks she remembers her coming in before, but with a different husband – one who also died. Ladarat Patalung, for one, would have been happier without a serial murderer-if there is one — loose in her hospital. Then again, she never expected to be a detective in the first place. And now, Ladarat has no choice but to investigate…”
Ladarat Patalung is a nurse ethicist at a hospital in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. When a police detective asks for her help in searching records to see if this woman has brought other men to the hospital, she finds herself falling in love with the idea of being a detective.
Her life has been stagnant. She was widowed twelve years ago after just a few years of marriage. Her life revolves around her job and her cat. Now she is being proactive and getting involved in the lives of people around her.
It becomes obvious very quickly that this book is written by a Western man for an intended audience who is not familiar with Thai culture. Terms that would be easily recognized by a Thai audience are painstakingly defined. The author has spent a lot of time in Thailand and has done a lot of research but it does distance the reader from the story. He works all this detail in by having Ladarat contemplate everything around her very deeply. It makes her come off as a very cerebral and unemotional character who is always partially removed from the people and circumstances around her.
I love the premise of the main mystery. Why does a woman bring in a second dead husband a few months after her last one died? That’s what made me interested in the book. I also haven’t read many books set in Thailand. However, there are several other plots in this book and sometimes that mystery gets forgotten for a while. There is the story of an American man who is injured while on his honeymoon. This serves to set up discussions on American versus Thai responses to health care and crises. There is also a mystery man hanging out in the waiting room who never speaks to anyone. Ladarat is charged with getting rid of him because there is an inspection of her hospital in a few days and the administration doesn’t want homeless people hanging around.
I did learn about Thai culture and attitudes while reading this book. I’d recommend this for people who like deliberately paced stories with plenty of slice of life details about places that they aren’t familiar with. Another book that does this well is The Marriage Bureau for Rich People.
“What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century. In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever.”
This was one of the books that I was most excited about after BEA. It is a book that seems designed just for me.
Historical fiction ✔️
About women’s history ✔️
So why did I delay reading this until now?
Every time I picked it up I couldn’t quite bring myself to read it. I knew what it was going to be. It is yet another story of a woman who was forced to give up her own ambitions to fit in with the mores of her time. Honestly, the thought exhausted me.
The book is a well written story of the life of Mileva Maric. She was a Serbian woman who attended university in Zurich in physics. She was Einstein’s classmate. She finished her coursework but failed her degree. She had a child with Einstein before they married. That child either died young or was given up for adoption. Nothing is known for sure. After their marriage they had two sons. They divorced when he was having an affair. His mother didn’t like her because Mileva was an inferior dark-skinned Slavic person. (I don’t know. She looks pretty pale to me but I’m Slavic too so Mama Einstein probably wouldn’t have cared for my opinion either.)
It isn’t known if she helped him with his scientific work. There are some letters from him to her where he refers to “our work” but it is earlier in the relationship. This book imagines that she had the idea for relativity and worked on the math.
What follows is a story of erasure. Her name isn’t on the paper because it wouldn’t look good that he needed the help of a woman. He stops asking her for advice. She feels like he sees her as just a housewife. He spends more and more time away and blames her for being selfish if she questions him. He tries to impose a bizarre contract on her in order to keep the marriage together for the sake of the children.
A. You will make sure:
1. that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order; 2. that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room; 3. that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
B. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, You will forego:
1. my sitting at home with you; 2. my going out or travelling with you.
C. You will obey the following points in your relations with me:
1. you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way; 2. you will stop talking to me if I request it; 3. you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.
D. You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behavior.” Source
This is the part that was hard to read. I wish I was more surprised by it but my feeling as I was reading this was, “Yeah, same ol’ same ol'” This is the story of ambitious women from the beginning of time.
I was thrilled when she was awarded the proceeds of any future Nobel Prize in the divorce settlement. You go girl! She got it too. That’s actual historical fact. Actually she got to live on the interest from it which she invested in rental properties.
I’d recommend this book to any historical fiction fans.
“Ian Purkayastha is New York City’s leading truffle importer and boasts a devoted clientele of top chefs nationwide, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Chang, Sean Brock, and David Bouley. But before he was purveying the world’s most expensive fungus to the country’s most esteemed chefs, Ian was just a food-obsessed teenager in rural Arkansas–a misfit with a peculiar fascination for rare and exotic ingredients. The son of an Indian immigrant father and a Texan mother, Ian learned to forage for wild mushrooms from an uncle in the Ozark hills. Thus began a single-track fixation that led him to learn about the prized but elusive truffle, the king of all fungi. His first taste of truffle at age 15 sparked his improbable yet remarkable adventure through the strange–and often corrupt–business of the exotic food trade.”
This book starts with the admission that it is weird for a 23 year old to be writing a memoir. It’s good to get that out there early because it is a bit presumptious but you’d be forgiven for forgetting that he’s only 23 while reading this.
While still in high school, Ian Purkayastha started an exotic foods club to make meals with strange ingredients for people in his Arkansas school and raise money for charity. He used his vacation time to travel to trade shows and meet up with people in the exotic food community. He set up his own business importing truffles from Italy for chefs in his area. This led to a job after high school graduation importing truffles in New York. This is where he started to see the problems in the industry. As he spends the next few years starting his own business, he travels around the world sourcing ingredients and meeting the people who hunt for mushrooms in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Did you know:
A lot of “Italian” truffles come from eastern Europe
Truffle oil usually doesn’t have truffles in it
U.S. chefs prize the appearance of truffles so much that the vast majority of harvested truffles aren’t sent to the U.S. market because they aren’t the “correct” shape
There are attempts being made to raise truffles in specially planted orchards but it will take decades to see if it works
This book tries to dispel some of the snobbery around high end foods. It shows the work involved in finding and harvesting. It also points out how markets are kept artificially tight and how some countries become known as the best source of ingredients for reasons that may not be true.
This ARC of Truffle Boy is one of the prizes up for grabs this month for people who link up with Foodies Read. If you like reading books featuring food, link up your reviews with us!
Speculative fiction, art and graphic stories from African authors, based on African folklore, myths and legends about monsters. African Monsters is the second in a coffee table book series with dark fiction and art about monsters from around the world.
Monsters should be scary
African Monsters is a collection of stories where the monsters aren’t misunderstood or easily turned to the side of good. These are the stories of monsters from sub-Saharan Africa who prey on humans.
The locations of some of the stories in this collection.
Reviewing a collection can be difficult because not every story resonates with every reader. Here are few of my favorites.
On the Road by Nnedi Okorafor – An American policewoman returns to Nigeria and her grandmother but is confronted with a mystery surrounding an injured child.
Severed by Jayne Bauling – A camping trip to a remote lake goes horribly wrong
That Woman by S Lotz – A policeman investigates reports of witches dispensing punishments in the countryside.
After the Rain by Joe Vaz – A man who left South Africa as a child returns and finds himself trapped in a bar in his old neighborhood by werewolves.
Taraab and Terror in Zanzibar by Dave-Brandon de Burgh – A man is brought from South Africa to Zanzibar to clean up a monster problem that he thought he had handled before.
A Whisper in the Reeds by Nerine Dorman – Water spirits tempt a man
Acid Test by Vianne Venter – After Johannesburg is evacuated due to an environmental catastrophe a team returns to monitor the recovery.
Thandiwe’s Tokoloshe by Nick Wood – A girl is put in a fairy tale and refuses to be satisfied with the typical endings.
This is a wonderful chance to familiarize yourself with some African authors. I’m already a huge Nnedi Okorafor fan but I’ve added some of Nerine Dorman’s books to my TBR list too because they sound amazing.
“Famed Broadway producer Milo Short may be eighty-eight but that doesn’t stop him from going to the office every day. So when he steps out of his Upper West Side brownstone on one exceptionally hot morning, he’s not expecting to see the impossible: a woman from his life sixty years ago, cherry red lips, bright red hat, winking at him on a New York sidewalk, looking just as beautiful as she did back in 1934. The sight causes him to suffer a stroke. And when he comes to, the renowned lyricist discovers he has lost the ability to communicate. Milo believes he must unravel his complicated history with Vivian Adair in order to win back his words. But he needs help—in the form of his granddaughter Eleanor— failed journalist and family misfit. Tapped to write her grandfather’s definitive biography, Eleanor must dig into Milo’s colorful past to discover the real story behind Milo’s greatest song Love Me, I Guess, and the mysterious woman who inspired an amazing life.”
In 1999 Milo is the recently widowed patriarch of a high achieving family. He lives surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He still goes into his production company even though his son is the running the place now. The business isn’t doing as well as it used to and his son wants to do a revival of the last musical Milo wrote, The High Hat, along with commissioning a biography of Milo as a tie-in. Milo is opposed to both.
He’s leaving the office after telling his son that when he sees a woman he knew in the 1930s. She looks exactly like she did then. She looks at him and he collapses. When he wakes up he is unable to speak or use his right hand. Robbed of ways to communicate, he has to figure out why Vivian Adair is haunting him without looking so confused that his family insists on a nursing home.
Now that Milo can’t voice his objections, the plans for the revival go ahead. His granddaughter Eleanor is chosen to write the biography. She is the only person who seems to understand that Milo is still lucid and aware and she doesn’t talk past him. In her interviews with the son of his writing partner she hears the name Vivian and starts to investigate why that family thinks that this Vivian ruined everything.
I loved Milo and Eleanor!
Milo’s mind is fast, as fits a lyricist, and he has a great sense of humor that comes through even when he is locked inside himself. Eleanor has always been seen as the family misfit because she is quiet and she isn’t ambitious. The rest of the family feels like they need to manage her life for her since she isn’t doing it up to their standards on her own. She feels bad about being handed a book deal that is both a charity project for her and something that she knows her grandfather doesn’t want. Now she’s gone and uncovered a scandal so everyone will be mad at her.
The author writes both time periods well. There are little details from each era that anchor the writing firmly in that time. Some of the social attitudes of the characters are jarring to modern thinking but seem accurate for the time and the place.
I stayed up past my bedtime to find out more about Vivian role in Milo’s past. The mystery was well done with no easy easy to guess answers.
I would recommend this to any historical fiction fans even if you aren’t a fan of ghost stories. The ghost aspect is just a way to get Milo to start focusing on this aspect of his past. It isn’t written as a scary or horror-type story. Ghost Vivian mostly just makes sarcastic comments that only Milo can hear.
In 2030 college student Daniela Delgado decides to kill herself. Instead of dying though, she is dropped through time to 1923 where her pixie cut and boy clothes convince people that she is a young colored boy. Soon she is on the run with an abused farm girl posing as an aristocrat and her male servant.
Back in 2030 Daniela’s mother fears that the only way to find her daughter is to contact her mother. They have been estranged ever since Emma came out as a lesbian. She also didn’t want any part in her mother’s delusions that she was a witch. But what if she wasn’t crazy and she is the only one who can help Daniela?
This is one of the more realistic time travel books that I’ve read. Daniela doesn’t land among rich people who will help her. She isn’t a history scholar who can fix past events. She’s just a girl who knows that the 1920s aren’t a good time to be mistaken for a young colored man and she needs to get out.
Things get weird when her smartphone still works. She is able to message another smartphone user in the area. This turns out to be another time traveler who recognizes the significance of her last name. The Delgados are family of powerful witches. An unprotected Delgado is an opportunity to earn a big ransom.
In the future, Emma is getting a crash course in the magic that she has rejected all her life. Can she embrace her family legacy and not destroy her relationship with her wife?
This is the first book in a series so things aren’t tied up at the end. I like a little more ending than we got here. I am interested to see what comes next in the series.
East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch. They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he's forced to take on clients that can pay. This time, it's a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.
Isaiah Quintabe’s whole world fell apart when his brother Marcus died leaving teenaged Isaiah on his own. In order to make his rent he gets a local drug dealer and petty criminal named Dodson as a room mate. It changes both of their lives.
Now years later Dodson has a case that he thinks Isaiah would be interested in. It has a huge paycheck attached and Dodson has decided to help out to get his cut – whether Isaiah wants him around or not.
This book reminded me a lot of a Carl Hiaasen novel. The mystery is convoluted. The characters are quirky and unexpected. The book is laugh out loud funny at times.
IQ is a loner who is brilliant and who has trained himself to be observant and make deductions like Sherlock Holmes
Dodson is a drug dealer who wants to move on to crimes with a better class of criminals
Deronda is a woman from IQ and Dodson’s past who is looking to be become famous any way possible
Cal is a depressed rap superstar who has a greedy entourage
Add in a hit man with an obsession with breeding the perfect attack dogs
The story is told through dual time lines.
Cal is too depressed to leave his house and go into the studio to record his contractually obligated next album. Anything he writes is way too depressing to record anyway. He is attacked in his house by a gigantic dog. He only gets away by falling in the pool and making so much noise that the neighbor calls the police. A man comes out of the woods to get the dog and lets Cal live. Isaiah takes the case.
In the Past
Dodson has just moved in with a grieving Isaiah. He realizes that he has a genius as a room mate and that genius is in need of money. He decides to put Isaiah’s brain to use to think up better criminal activities.
It is interesting to see what happens in the past to make Isaiah the detective that he is today. This is supposed to be the start of a series and I can’t wait to see what Isaiah gets up to next.
My only quibble is that at one point they rob a pet store and take feline epilepsy test strips. I wish they would have gotten me some. Those would be handy since nothing like that actually exists. The author probably meant feline diabetes test strips. Sorry, that’s my veterinarian side coming out.
First come first served and if you want to throw in a few dollars for shipping that would be great but not required.
Ever since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, they proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.
Now, one century later, a plantation in the flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby. A tomboy who shares her father's deft hand with complex automatons. Being raised on the Martian frontier by her Martian nanny, Arabella is more a wild child than a proper young lady. Something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.
Arabella soon finds herself trying to navigate an alien world until a dramatic change in her family's circumstances forces her to defy all conventions in order to return to Mars in order to save both her brother and the plantation. To do this, Arabella must pass as a boy on the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company with a mysterious Indian captain who is intrigued by her knack with automatons. Arabella must weather the naval war between Britain and France, learning how to sail, and a mutinous crew if she hopes to save her brother from certain death.
Arabella was born and raised on a plantation on Mars. Her mother is from England and wants to take her daughters back to have them raised as proper ladies. When Arabella’s father dies, she seizes the opportunity and takes them back to England, leaving Arabella’s brother in charge of the plantation.
Back on Earth, Arabella doesn’t fit in. When a nasty cousin realizes that he will be heir to the plantation if her brother dies, he jumps on an airship to Mars to kill him. Arabella realizes that she needs to get to Mars first to warn her brother.
This book felt a lot more like a sea-going novel like Horatio Hornblower than a space-traveling sci fi book.
The ships that travel to and from Mars are basically British naval vessels of the sailing era fitted with balloons. Arabella disguises herself as a boy and gets a job on a ship. Most of the book takes place on the ship on the way to Mars with aerial battles and possible strandings and mutinies.
I was interested to see how this wooden ship was going to be made able to withstand the rigors of space. Were the balloons going to wrap around it and seal the ship? Nope. In this world science is different.
There is air in space so you don’t need oxygen.
There is wind in space to move the ship using the sails.
It isn’t cold. You can wander about in normal clothes.
There’s no vacuum so you don’t explode.
The only thing different on Mars is lighter gravity.
Social issues discussed
The role of women in society
The captain of the ship Arabella works on is Indian and that doesn’t sit well with several of the white crewmembers
There are native inhabitants of Mars who the English treat as servants as they were wont to do when colonizing places. The Martians are not pleased with this.
For an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American Dream? Julissa Arce shares her story in a riveting memoir. When she was 11 years old Julissa Arce left Mexico and came to the United States on a tourist visa to be reunited with her parents, who dreamed the journey would secure her a better life. When her visa expired at the age of 15, she became an undocumented immigrant. Thus began her underground existence, a decades long game of cat and mouse, tremendous family sacrifice, and fear of exposure. After the Texas Dream Act made a college degree possible, Julissa's top grades and leadership positions landed her an internship at Goldman Sachs, which led to a full time position--one of the most coveted jobs on Wall Street. Soon she was a Vice President, a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties, yet still guarding her "underground" secret. In telling her personal story of separation, grief, and ultimate redemption, Arce shifts the immigrant conversation, and changes the perception of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant.
Julissa Arce’s parents were working legally in the United States while she and her older sisters lived with her extended family in Mexico. Her younger brother was born in the United States. When Julissa started acting out in school at age 11, her parents brought her to live with them. She had no idea that it was illegal for her to go to school. She didn’t know that she had outstayed her visa until her mother explained that she couldn’t go back to Mexico for her quinceanera because she wouldn’t be able to come back into the United States.
She was a star student but was not accepted to any colleges because she didn’t have a social security number. At this point Texas passed a law that allowed undocumented students to go to college at Texas state schools. This allowed her to be able to go to school.
I was conflicted when reading this book. I think people should follow the rules of the country they live in. I also think that it should be much, much easier for people to come to the United States from Latin America so people aren’t required to sneak into the country. Julissa also buys fake documents as an adult to be able to get a job. I can see that she was brought into the country by her parents and she had no intent to do anything wrong at that point, but now she was actively breaking the law because she felt she was entitled to stay here and get a very high paying job. She talked a little bit about whether or not she should go back to Mexico because she would be able to get a very good job so it wasn’t like she didn’t have options. She also marries specifically get to a green card. The more unethical things she does, the less sympathy I retained for her.
This book made me understand the issues around children of undocumented immigrants. They are stuck as they become adults. I think there should be a way for these children to be able to be legally documented.
First come first served and if you want to throw in a few dollars for shipping that would be great but not required.
In her new memoir, Cookie Johnson, wife of NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, shares details of her marriage, motherhood, faith, and how an HIV diagnosis twenty-five years ago changed the course of their lives forever.
On November 7, 1991, basketball icon Earvin “Magic” Johnson stunned the world with the news that he was HIV-positive. For the millions who watched, his announcement became a pivotal moment not only for the nation, but his family and wife. Twenty-five years later, Cookie Johnson shares her story and the emotional journey that started on that day—from life as a pregnant and joyous newlywed to one filled with the fear that her husband would die, she and her baby would be infected with the virus, and their family would be shunned. Believing in Magic is the story of her marriage to Earvin nearly four decades of loving each other, losing their way, and eventually finding a path they never imagined.
November 7, 2016 will mark a quarter-century since the announcement and Cookie’s survival and triumph as a wife, mother, and God-fearing woman.
Cookie has never shared her full account of the reasons that she stayed and her life with Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Believing in Magic is her story.
We all have had that friend. You know the one. She’s the one with the loser boyfriend who she insists is just the sweetest and kindest person ever to exist but he just doesn’t show that side of himself in public. If you just knew him like she does, you’d understand.
This is what the first half of this book felt like to me. I felt like I needed to stage an intervention even though it all happened years ago.
While they were dating, Magic:
Publicly shunned her and then asked her if she learned her lesson when she didn’t follow his orders
Got upset when his friends teased him for calling her on an out of town trip so he broke up with her because she was “too controlling.”
Dated other women when they were supposed to be exclusively dating and then had the nerve to get mad at her for calling him out on it
Saw her with her new boyfriend during a 2 year breakup and then going out of his way to publicly humiliate the new boyfriend.
Repeatedly broke up with her for long periods and returned only when he found out she was dating someone else
Let her know that he had impregnated another woman during one of their breakups by bringing the now 3 year old offspring to a family party and introducing them to each other in front of his whole family
Proposed and then called off the wedding – TWICE
And just like your friend who keeps getting back with her jerk of a boyfriend, she keeps making excuses for him.
Now, I give her credit for not moving to LA with him and living the lifestyle of a basketball girlfriend. He wasn’t going to make a commitment so she stayed in Toledo and worked on her career. Good for her!
Eventually she did move because she felt that she had to prove to him that she could fit into his world. She kept a job in her field though to maintain her independence. Soon she had to choose between her career and the NBA finals. She quit her job to stand by her man and what did he do? Dumped her again.
This book is advertised as the story of a long and successful marriage in the public eye. It doesn’t read that way at all. To me it reads like a woman trying too hard to convince you that everything is ok.
I found the second half of the book more interesting mostly because Magic almost entirely disappears from the story once they got married. She tells the story of raising her son, who she was pregnant with at the time of Magic’s HIV diagnosis. She talks of coming to terms with the fact that their son was absolutely not athletic and over time realizing that he was gay. She talks about the adoption of their daughter and the affect that adoption had on the life of her child. She touches on the work they do in HIV education. She does not discuss what it is like to have an HIV positive partner.
This is also advertised as a story of faith. She talks about getting through the hard times when Magic would run off again by reading the Bible and discovering what God wanted her to do. Amazingly, God always wanted her to do exactly what she wanted to do. He would always lead her back to her emotionally abusive boyfriend. Wow, thanks for looking out for me God!
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her of the Underground Railroad and they plot their escape.
Like Gulliver, Cora encounters different worlds on each leg of her journey...Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors of black life in pre-Civil War America. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage, and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
Georgia functions like a typical slave state. There are large plantations that house many slaves. Cora was born here and has been on her own since her mother escaped when Cora was nine. All she has of her own is a very small plot of land where she grows some vegetables. After she violently defends her plot from an interloper, she is an outcast among the slaves.
When the master dies and the plantation is in the hands of his sadistic sons, an educated slave convinces Cora to escape with him. He tells her about the Underground Railroad. This is a literal railroad underground with stations under houses of abolitionists. There aren’t many stations now. Service is erratic at best and no trains may come at all. They run and catch the train.
Slavery is illegal here. Former slaves are educated and given places to live. They have jobs and the ability to live a peaceful and productive life. But there is a strange tension. There is a feeling of something sinister under the surface of this utopia.
African-Americans are banned here. Labor is done by immigrants from Europe. The penalty for an African-American being in the state or a white person helping a black person is death.
Tennessee is dismal and bleak. The slave catcher finds her here but she escapes with help from some other escapees.
In this free state, black people live happily on a prosperous farm but will they be allowed to keep their enclave?
This book addresses a lot in a short space.
The hierarchy of slaves
White people reluctant to help to free people
Black people helping to catch escaping slaves
What is an ideal society?
My only issue with this book is that there is a jarring change of story structure in Tennessee that took me completely out of the story. I had to work to get back into it. I’ve talked to other people who have read this and they agree that it was strange. That’s the only reason why I’m going with 4.5 stars instead of 5.
I loved the idea of making it a literal train and exploring each state as a different form of government. It lets him examine what might have been after emancipation if different ideas took hold.
Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.
Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.
Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she's just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…
I loved the premise of the British Army using mediums to communicate with soldiers killed in battle in order to find out more about enemy troop movements. This takes place in 1916 during World War I in France during the Battle of the Somme.
This book is a great historical fantasy/mystery but it also addresses issues of class and race in the British Army at the time.
Ginger is the American niece of the titular head of the Spirit Corps. She attends all the briefings because she is better suited for that duty. Her aunt is in charge though because she is a Lady.
The most powerful medium is a West Indian woman named Helen. She isn’t known to be the mastermind behind the program because she is black and the army command won’t consider listening to her.
Indian soldiers aren’t trained on how to report in after death. They feel that it is a slight stemming from the fact that the white officers don’t feel that they wouldn’t be able to report accurate information.
Married women regardless of their abilities are not allowed to participate until things get desperate.
The women of the Spirit Corp are thought to be there to help morale in clubs like USOs. No one outside knows that they also spend time talking to the dead. No one thinks of this because they are women so how could they be doing anything vital?
I can’t talk much about the actual plot without giving away some spoilers. No men know how the Spirit Corp trains soldiers to report in. Only a few know who the mediums are. The Germans know that it is happening but want to find out how it all works. There is a spy and Ginger goes to investigate because she is one of the few people who knows all parts of the operation.
I loved the first half of the book. For me the story bogged down a little in the second half so I gave it 3.5 stars instead of 4. I’d recommend this to any historical fiction or paranormal fans.
People often say, I feel like I've been run over by a truck. Katie actually was. On a sunny morning bike ride in Brooklyn, twenty-four-year-old Katie McKenna was forever changed when she was run over by an eighteen-wheeler. Being crushed under a massive semi wasn't something Katie should have survived. After ten hours of emergency surgery, she woke to find herself in a body and a life that would never be the same. In this brutally honest and surprisingly funny memoir, Katie recalls the pivotal event and the long, confusing road to recovery that followed. Between the unprepared nudity in front of her parents post-surgery, hospital happy hours, and the persistent fear that she would never walk again, Katie details the struggles she's faced navigating her new reality. This inspiring memoir follows Katie's remarkable journey to let go of her old life and fall in love with her new one.
This was the first book I read that I received at BEA. It was handed to me when I was on my way off the floor one day so it didn’t get packed up with the rest of the books I was shipping home. (I started it that night in a Jamaican restaurant that served me the most amazing avocado and plantain sandwich.)
Katie was riding in Brooklyn in the early morning. She pulled up next to a semi that did not signal that he was turning. When the light turned, the truck pulled into her lane, knocking her over and running over her abdomen with 8 wheels before stopping.
What I find amazing about this is that she never lost consciousness. It probably would have been better. She was able to tell witnesses her name and had them call her parents before the ambulance got there. Because she was talking, her parents didn’t realize the severity of her injuries until they got to the hospital.
In an instant she went from a healthy woman with no major issues in her life to a person completely dependent on other people for her every need. She was taken to a hospital well equipped to deal with major trauma. However, this hospital’s main purpose was treating prisoners so when she is recovered enough to get out of ICU, her quality of care falls dramatically. This is where this book is difficult to deal with at times. As a young white woman who is not in custody, with parents who are able to advocate for her, she is able to get out of this situation. She also causes problems for several doctors who give her straight answers to her questions without coddling her. She seems to only want to hear happy answers about her prognosis and anyone who doesn’t go along with this suddenly is getting the brunt of her family calling their supervisors and demanding that they never get to speak with her again. Several times while reading this I paused to be grateful once again that I don’t work in human medicine.
I would recommend this book for anyone who ever wondered what to say to someone dealing with a life changing diagnosis or injury.
ARCs are meant to roam so if anyone would like to read this, leave a comment and I’ll send it to you. If you would like to send a few dollars to help cover shipping that would be appreciated.
Who'd have thought a bright, but fairly ordinary young man from middle class America who got just above average grades, dated the same girl throughout high school and went to church most Sundays, would grow up to eventually head a very secretive band of brave individuals--both men and women--who regularly put their lives on the line because they wanted to protect the rest of you. Yet that's what we did, often sacrificing our personal lives (four marriages for me, all in the book) and our health (countless broken bones, major surgeries, even death) to do it.
Meanwhile you're just going to have to call me "Papa" like everyone else around the globe has through most of those wildly unpredictable and dangerous years.
John Murray joined the Marines during the Vietnam War after working as a police officer in Florida. He becomes friends with two men named Jake and Bill. Over time he finds that Jake’s father is a powerful man who has the power to make things happen for him, including getting him out of the Army.
Eventually, Jake’s father offers them all a job. He heads a team of people who are the American branch of an international organization who kill people that governments can’t touch for various reasons. They will be given cover careers but will be out of contact with their families for much of the time and they can tell no one what they actually do.
Not a lot is explained about how it all works. Jobs are assigned but by whom? How is this funded? He says over and over that it isn’t illegal but defined how? I kept waiting for the plot twist. You know the one. In the thriller the main character is working for a shadowy organization and eventually realizes that he is on the side of evil. Spoiler alert – it doesn’t happen here.
Some of the locations discussed in Code Name Papa
The stories of the jobs are told in a very matter of fact style. There is not much emotion expressed about the many people who died in these jobs except for when it was decided to kill innocent people to eliminate witnesses. The descriptions are brutal but clinical instead of sensationalized. It is a lot like listening to war veterans discuss battles.
When Jake’s father becomes ill, John takes over the running of the team. He decides how to recruit and train new members. He decides how to get jobs accomplished. He makes decisions like requiring all female team members to have a hysterectomy because periods are inconvenient but the men don’t need to be castrated (because I guess testosterone never leads to anything bad happening?).
I read the book in one day because I found it intriguing but the more you think about it the more disturbing it becomes. I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone who is bothered by reading about violence. The husband read this book also. Like me he was quickly absorbed into the story and read it over the course of a few days.
I received a copy of this book from the author for possible review.