1960's Somerset is no fun for cousins Polly and Annabelle Williams. Mourning their non-existent love lives, and the mundanity of village life, their only pleasure is baking - until a chance encounter has them magically transported to the bright lights of London... in 2019!
Promised a chance of love, first they must teach the people of the future about the simpler pleasures of life by becoming Cake Fairies. Over the course of a year they set off on a delectable tour of the UK, dropping off cakes in the most unexpected of places and replacing the lure of technology with much sweeter temptations.
But will their philanthropical endeavours lead them to everlasting love? Or will they discover you can't have your cake and eat it?
The Cake Fairies is the fifth novel by fantastical foodie author, Isabella May.
I jumped on the chance to read this book because of the title. I love books about food and books with fairies. Why not combine them?
I loved the idea that Polly and Annabelle meet their fairy godmother who is frustrated with them. She has set them up to meet many good husbands but their lack of adventurous spirits has derailed every plan. Now it is time to do something drastic.
They are good bakers who are brought forward to 2019 to spread joy through random gifts of cake. I always like time travel books where people need to figure out a new time. I especially like it when people move into the future since that is a rarer storyline. This book did make me a bit salty though. The problem that they are brought forward to combat is that people spend all their time on mobile devices instead of talking to the people around them. The fairy godmother wants people to look away from their screens.
Holy Introvert Nightmare! I am old enough to remember when people didn’t have screens to occupy themselves. People didn’t just go around talking to random strangers. We just had books and newspapers to hide behind. Besides, what do you think people are doing when they are typing on their phone? Communicating! Why would we ever want to go back to a world where I have to wait until we get home and can check the encyclopedia to prove to my husband that I was right about whatever we might be discussing when I can google it in the moment? Oh, and by the way, I read this ebook on my iPad in part while sitting in a restaurant apparently being antisocial and contributing to the downfall of society. /rant, maybe.
So anyway, the idea that this utopia that they thought they were building equals my idea of a crushing defeat of civilization may have altered my enjoyment of the book just a bit. I was sassy while reading especially when there was a reveal that the reason one character wasn’t nice was because her mother used to make cake for her father and not for the children. Her mother loved her father more than she loved her children. That’s the way I always thought things were supposed to work. I didn’t think it was cause for alarm. /rant, seriously this time.
If you are ok with the premise, it could be a cute, light read with a little bit of romance.
Forty-one-year-old polo player Roxy arrives in Argentina with a to-do list that includes healing from a polo injury and falling in love with a handsome Argentine. From polo boots to tango shoes, the adrenaline of riding horses to glamorous after-game parties, Roxy learns to navigate this unfamiliar landscape with the help of new friends who teach her to take life as it comes. But will she find true love? Over three months in Buenos Aires, nothing goes according to plan, and yet, all the items on her list mysteriously get ticked off in the end. Just not the way she had imagined.
Fans of the Bridget Jones series will love the blend of humor, travel, and romantic comedy at the heart of Single in Buenos Aires, all topped off with the unforgettable flavor of life in one of the most sensual and passionate cities in the world.
I was interested in this book for the adventure of living in a new country and trying to meet people with the bonus aspect of horses. For a while the book works as Roxy moves to Argentina with several goals in mind. She wants to rehab her wrists after breaking both arms in a polo match. She is taking Spanish lessons. She wants to start playing polo again. She also wants to fall in love.
I enjoyed the parts of this book that dealt with her learning about Argentinian customs. I liked the women around her coaching her on how to date in South America and how it is different than in Europe. However, there is a point towards the end where her love interest yells at her for being shallow and I agreed with him totally. She doesn’t seem to know what she wants. She flips between wanting a boyfriend and then not wanting to commit and then being mad when the person she has refused to commit to has to work or doesn’t help her move. I was exhausted by it and I wasn’t in the relationship.
This book is based on the author’s real life so it seems churlish to say that I wanted the main character to be a better person but I did. She has a life that lets her move to foreign countries to play for half the year without working but she is so “woe is me” about it all. There is also some strange vibes given off at times. There are a few references to fat people in the book that struck me as judgemental without actually saying anything mean. It is hard to explain but the fact that the person was fat was not relevant to the story but she would make sure to point it out. Likewise she has some real hangups about disabilities. She labels herself disabled when she has a broken arm. She talks about how no one will date a disabled person like her. She refuses to dance because of her “disability”. Who cares? It’s a broken arm.
For a book that supposedly centers around polo, there is very little of it here. I come into horse sports from the perspective of loving horses. I don’t get that from her. She never talks about the horses. She never refers to any by name or acknowledges them at all. During the time she can’t play polo she never does anything else with horses. Most horse people would still be hanging out with them or riding around while their arm heals enough to play again. She appears to have no interest in them. Now, there is a sequel to this book called A Horse Named Bicycle so maybe that changes.
Cat behaviorist and star of Animal Planet's hit television show My Cat from Hell, Jackson Galaxy, a.k.a. "Cat Daddy," isn't what you might expect for a cat expert. Yet Galaxy's ability to connect with even the most troubled felines -- not to mention the stressed-out humans living in their wake -- is awe-inspiring.
In this book, Galaxy tells the poignant story of his thirteen-year relationship with a petite gray-and-white short-haired cat named Benny, and gives singular advice for living with, caring for, and loving the feline in your home.
I am so disappointed in this book. I’m a fan of Jackson Galaxy’s way of interacting with cats and his ability to work through their issues. It always amazes me how clueless a lot of people are about what is going on in their cat’s mind. I picked this book up to find some more inspiration about working with cats. I did find that and I understood that a lot of this would also be about his life but I wasn’t expecting to also find that he seems to be a pretty awful human being.
Over half this memoir is dedicated to the story of his many addictions and how he dealt with them. He acknowledges that he didn’t treat people well during these times but since this book is written afterwards you would hope that he would have gained some clarity. Instead he is still quite a jerk when writing about people. Perhaps I am a bit sensitive to this because the group he singles out for most of his abuse (besides his sexual partners) is veterinarians. If he just hated us all that would be one thing. I can deal with the conspiracy-theorist type client who thinks we are out to get their money and poison their cat. He is a worse type of client. He’s the type who bonds and likes you until an animal inevitably gets sick. Then he turns on you viciously for either causing the problem or not fixing the problem or doing too much to fix the problem or usually all of these at once. This happened several times in this book. I also have a real problem with his using the names of the vets he did this too. In some cases he only uses Dr. First Name which is better than the whole name but is still a jerk move to lash out at people who didn’t seem to do anything wrong even according to his own narrative. He admits that he is a person who needs to place blame for everything. Guess what, the blame very rarely lands on him. He’s a victim in all these stories.
In one case he had a diabetic cat. He gets mad because no one talked to him about nutrition. What? Nutrition is the staple of treatment for diabetes in cats. The goal is to get cats off insulin. Even if the nutrition counseling wasn’t his preferred all natural diet, I can almost promise that nutrition was discussed at some point.
In another case he had a dying cat. He didn’t want to face that fact. Then he gets mad because his cat is on a lot of meds. Here’s what probably happened. He went to the vet and didn’t want to hear about his cat dying. He wanted to try everything. Then when everything was tried he got mad because the miracle he expected didn’t occur. Suddenly it is the vet’s fault for forcing all these meds on his cat. Because it ALWAYS IS SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT!
He even got pissed off at a vet who he went into business with who had the audacity to get heart disease. She had to cut back on how much she was working. Is she ok? Is she dead? We don’t know because we only hear about how this was a hardship on him.
So read this book for the tips on cat behavior and skim/skip the rest in order not to lose all respect for him.
This is a memoir by two-time CrossFit Games champion, Katrin Davidsdottir.
Dottir is two-time consecutive CrossFit Games Champion Katrin Davidsdottir's inspiring and poignant memoir. As one of only two women in history to have won the title of “Fittest Woman on Earth” twice, Davidsdottir knows all about the importance of mental and physical strength. She won the title in 2015, backing it up with a second win in 2016, after starting CrossFit in just 2011.
A gymnast as a youth, Davidsdottir wanted to try new challenges and found a love of CrossFit. But it hasn't been a smooth rise to the top. In 2014, just one year before taking home the gold, she didn't qualify for the Games. She used that loss as motivation and fuel for training harder and smarter for the 2015 Games. She pushed herself and refocused her mental game. Her hard work and perseverance paid off with her return to the Games and subsequent victories in 2015 and 2016.
In Dottir, Davidsdottir shares her journey with readers. She details her focus on training, goal setting, nutrition, and mental toughness.
I’m a CrossFit Games junkie. When I started CrossFit I just happened to wander into a class that included a reigning Games senior (60 years old and over) champion. Every morning the first thing we did was a 1/4 mile run. I suck at running. I was always last. One time she was talking to the coach when we started out running. Part way through she ran up behind me, gave me a cheery “You are doing really well!”, and then kicked into some other gear that I just do not possess and then she was talking to the coach again when I got back inside. Another time I had dropped a barbell that I was using for squats. It was too heavy for me to pick up from the ground. I was going to have to take the weights off of it, put the bar up on the rack, and put all the weights back on before I could do more squats. I looked at it and sighed to myself. Suddenly a blur of a tiny old lady appeared, grabbed my too-heavy bar off the floor, put it on the rack for me, and said, “There you go” before fluttering off again. I’m aware of the super human abilities of Games participants and that was just the older people. The things that the younger Games athletes do are flat out crazy.
Even though I don’t do CrossFit anymore I am still glued to the Games live feeds every summer. That’s why I was interested in reading Katrin Davidsdottir’s memoir when I saw it on my library feed. Icelandic women are famous in elite CrossFit competition. Katrin is a two times Games winner. This memoir discusses her approach to training with emphasis on the mental and emotional aspects.
I wish that she tried to make this more accessible for people who aren’t familiar with CrossFit. I liked a suggestion I saw on another review to look up each event on YouTube when she talks about it to see what happened and then hear her recollection of it.
This would be a interesting book for people interested in sports psychology in addition to CrossFit games junkies like me.
In 1957, while most teenage girls were listening to Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue," watching Elvis gyrate, and having slumber parties, fifteen-year-old Melba Pattillo was escaping the hanging rope of a lynch mob, dodging lighted sticks of dynamite, and washing away the burning acid sprayed into her eyes by segregationists determined to prevent her from integrating Little Rock's Central High School - caught up in the center of a civil rights firestorm that stunned this nation and altered the course of history. Her critically acclaimed and award-winning memoir Warriors Don't Cry chronicled her junior year in high school, the year President Eisenhower took unprecedented, historic action by sending federal troops to escort Melba and her eight black classmates into a previously all-white school. Now, in answer to the often repeated question "What happened next?" Melba has written White Is a State of Mind. Compelled to flee the violent rage percolating in her hometown, young Melba was brought by the NAACP to a safe haven in Santa Rosa, California. This is the story of how she survived - healed from the wounds inflicted on her by an angry country. It is the inspirational story of how she overcame that anger with the love and support of the white family who took her in and taught her she didn't have to yearn for the freedom she assumed she could never really have because of the color of her skin. They taught her that white is a state of mind - that she could alter her state of mind to claim fully her own freedom and equality.
After reading Melba Patillo’s memoir of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School, I wanted to know more details about what happened next. Instead of letting the black teenagers have a second year in Central High, the governor closed the high schools. This lead to increasing anger towards the families that were involved in the integration from both white and black families. Melba finally had to flee the state when a bounty was placed on her by Klan members.
Let’s talk about how she found out about this. Her mother had a cousin who was passing as white. That wasn’t that unusual at the time. In fact, she had several relatives passing. But this man was not only married to an unsuspecting white woman and had kids who thought they were all white, he was the sheriff of a small southern town and the head of the local KKK. You read that right. A black man was head of the local KKK. He found out about the bounty on his little cousin and called the family to alert them (presumably before putting the word out to his members). I want to know more about this. I want a whole book about him and then I want that book turned into a miniseries. Somebody make that happen.
She is taken to a safe house in California. The NAACP there was mostly made up of white liberals. It gets cringey. They want so badly to be helpful but they can’t understand why she was terrified. She came from an environment where she was only safe with (some) black people and now she is surrounded by white people. It was complete culture shock for her.
She came from a world where survival consumed everyone’s thoughts. She had never had the experience of planning to go do something just because it might be fun. She couldn’t relate to teenagers with seemingly trivial concerns. On the other hand, once she saw that a better life was possible, she couldn’t fit in with the survival mentality in Little Rock. She also had to face discrimination from black people in California who looked down on her for being southern.
She didn’t have an easy life but learned gradually to stand up for herself.
An electrifying look inside the wild world of extreme distance running.
Once the reserve of only the most hardcore enthusiasts, ultra running is now a thriving global industry, with hundreds of thousands of competitors each year. But is the rise of this most brutal and challenging sport―with races that extend into hundreds of miles, often in extreme environments―an antidote to modern life, or a symptom of a modern illness?
In The Rise of the Ultra Runners, award-winning author Adharanand Finn travels to the heart of the sport to investigate the reasons behind its rise and discover what it takes to join the ranks of these ultra athletes. Through encounters with the extreme and colorful characters of the ultramarathon world, and his own experiences of running ultras everywhere from the deserts of Oman to the Rocky Mountains, Finn offers a fascinating account of people testing the boundaries of human endeavor.
I’ve talked on this blog a lot about how I hate running with a passion that is only equal to how much I love reading about running. This book was perfect for me.
The author decides to learn about ultrarunning by getting a press pass to run the UTMB, a ultramarathon in the mountains in France. In order to use his pass, he has to qualify by getting enough points in other ultramarathons around the world. His journey to learn to love (and survive) ultrarunning and his interviews with the people he meets along the way are the heart of this book.
He covers the different types of ultrarunning – running 50-100 + miles at once, running a marathon every day for several days in a row, and running a short stretch of trail or on a track for 24 hours. Each has its own challenges.
He meets up with some of the best competitors and realizes that their lifestyles help them with their training. One person lives in a cabin 5 miles up Pike’s Peak. There is no road. You have to run in to get there and to leave. Others travel the world racing the hardest trails and mountains they can find.
He tries to talk top Kenyan marathoners into trying longer distances without a lot of success.
He talks to coaches and health care providers about how to stay fit for this and whether all of this is ultimately healthy or not.
I loved this story. I loved seeing what goes into pushing beyond marathon distance. I would never do it but I liked reading other people’s adventures.
The incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.
Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the enchanting Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she discovered courage as she faced off against a bull she couldn't see, and found in herself an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents' harrowing experiences during Eritrea's thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging. She explored numerous fascinating places, including Mali, where she helped build a school under the scorching Saharan sun. Her many adventures over the years range from the hair-raising to the hilarious.
Haben defines disability as an opportunity for innovation. She learned non-visual techniques for everything from dancing salsa to handling an electric saw. She developed a text-to-braille communication system that created an exciting new way to connect with people. Haben pioneered her way through obstacles, graduated from Harvard Law, and now uses her talents to advocate for people with disabilities.
HABEN takes readers through a thrilling game of blind hide-and-seek in Louisiana, a treacherous climb up an iceberg in Alaska, and a magical moment with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating memoir is a testament to one woman's determination to find the keys to connection.
The thing that impressed me about this book was her sense that her disabilities, especially her blindness, really aren’t that big of a deal. She repeatedly says that blindness is “just a lack of sight” like it is mostly inconsequential. I think this is because there is more adaptive infrastructure for blind people than for Deafblind people. She is able to use braille computers and books, cane skills, and her guide dog to get around the world. Adaptation for deafness like sign language aren’t as accessible to her because of her blindness.
It amused me that she could never understand why her parents were so “overprotective.” She couldn’t understand why they didn’t want her to go off and build a school in Africa. Most parents wouldn’t say their teenager could go on a several month trip to Africa during the school year without thinking about it a bit. That’s without adding in the additional issues raised when that teenager is Deafblind.
It was frustrating to read about people who wouldn’t inconvenience themselves a little bit to make adjustments that had huge impacts for her. I would like to think that people would want to help others but I guess I’m being naive.
This memoir is written as a series of essays on different points of her life so dwells for a while in one time period and then jumps ahead sometimes by several years. I liked this format because a lot of memoirs get bogged down in minutia during the less interesting times of the subject’s life.
I’d recommend this memoir to anyone who wonders what it is like to be Deafblind in a seeing and hearing world.
Gripping drama as Pennington's department store prepares for a glittering Christmas in 1911, but a killer stalks the women of Bath.
Christmas sees Pennington's at its most glorious, thronged with shoppers, its grand staircase and balcony adorned with holly, mistletoe, tinsel and lights. It should be the happiest time, but dramas are seething beneath the surface.
For Cornelia Culford, in charge of jewellery, a divorce hearing looms, where she could lose custody of her young sons to her overbearing and unfaithful husband.
For Stephen Gower, being head of security at Pennington's is the perfect refuge from a tragic past at Scotland Yard. But soon the past will call him back, as Joseph Carter and Elizabeth Pennington beg him to help solve the murder of Joseph's first wife, now that it seems as if the killer has struck again.
For Joseph and Elizabeth, their marriage depends on exorcising the past. But can it ever be laid to rest?
This is the third book that I’ve read in this series set in an English department store. Each of the books focuses on a particular couple but because there is a larger mystery that moves through all of them, it is best to read them in order.
Cornelia is a soon to be divorced woman who is working at the jewelry counter. Stephen is a policeman on leave pending an investigation into his role in a case that went horribly wrong. He’s working security at the store. Several people find out that he is from Scotland Yard and decide to enlist him in solving problems of their own. He doesn’t want to be involved in anyone’s affairs but he finds himself being drawn in.
I like the setting of the books. It is 1911. That’s isn’t a time period I see represented a lot in historical fiction. The backbone of this series is women who are trying to move themselves out of the domestic sphere that they have been pigeonholed in. One is trying to run a business. One is active in trying to get the vote. One is trying to get away from an abusive husband. I like seeing those perspectives.
I’m not a fan of the men in these books. I really learned to despise the man who was the romantic lead of book one. He’s obsessed with finding out who murdered his first wife. That’s fine but it is turning him increasingly nasty which is an interesting story arc for a person who was supposed to be a hero. He keeps saying that his first wife won’t be able to rest in peace if he doesn’t find her murderer. I don’t think that is how it works. She doesn’t care because she is dead. You care, sir.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the resolution of that story line either. For the buildup it was over pretty quickly. There was a connection between several victims that I have a hard time believing no one noticed. “Oh, 50% of our group has been murdered? Is that why we don’t need as many refreshments at meetings?”
But if you are willing to let that go, it is an interesting look at a time and place.
Author Bio – Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath, England. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical. In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018, A Rebel At Pennington’s February 2019 and Christmas At Pennington’s September 2019. Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. To sign up for her quarterly and new release newsletter, click here to go to her website: https://rachelbrimble.com/
The landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, brought the promise of integration to Little Rock, Arkansas, but it was hard-won for the nine black teenagers chosen to integrate Central High School in 1957. They ran the gauntlet between a rampaging mob and the heavily armed Arkansas National Guard, dispatched by Governor Orval Faubus to subvert federal law and bar them from entering the school. President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded by sending in soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, the elite "Screaming Eagles" - and transformed Melba Pattillo and her eight friends into reluctant warriors on the battlefield of civil rights. May 17, 1994, marks the fortieth anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which was argued and won by Thurgood Marshall, whose passion and presence emboldened the Little Rock struggle. Melba Pattillo Beals commemorates the milestone decision in this first-person account of her ordeal at the center of the violent confrontation that helped shape the civil rights movement. Beals takes us from the lynch mob that greeted the terrified fifteen-year-old to a celebrity homecoming with her eight compatriots thirty years later, on October 23, 1987, hosted by Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in the mansion that Faubus built. As they returned to tour the halls of the school, gathering from myriad professions and all corners of the country, they were greeted by the legacy of their courage - a bespectacled black teenager, the president of the student body at Central High. Beals chronicles her harrowing junior year at Central High, when she began each school day by polishing her saddle shoes and bracing herself for battle.
You’ve seen the pictures of the Little Rock Nine being escorted into the school by soldiers and the famous picture above of the angry mob around Elizabeth Eckford. What I never heard about or considered was what happened after they got into the school. I guess I thought that everything was fine once they got inside. It absolutely wasn’t. This is that story.
I listened to the audiobook of this story. It is brutal. Every day after listening I was completely disgusted with white people. I’d tell the white people I work with all about what I had learned that day so they could be mad at our fellow white people with us. I proposed a road trip to Arkansas to beat up some elderly white people but no one has taken me up on it so far. That’s only because they haven’t read the book. If they had, they’d get over their reservations and join me in giving some old people some well deserved whuppings.
All day long the white kids in the school tormented the black students. It was completely ignored by the adults. That’s what amazes me the most. The adults seemed to give up control of the school. I understand that most of them wanted the black students gone too but you’d think that they would at least try to keep some order during classes. They didn’t. It seems like the whole school was ruled by packs of students.
On the first day the teenagers were in school a mob was threatening the school. There was actually talk by the adults in charge of giving one of the students to the mob to be lynched in order to settle them down. They discussed this in front of the kids.
Beatings happened daily. They were kicked all the time. White kids tried to set Melba on fire several times and she had acid thrown in her face. Lit dynamite was thrown at them in the hallways. I don’t know how many textbooks they went through because white students destroyed them routinely. This went on EVERY DAY FOR A WHOLE SCHOOL YEAR. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine living through it and I can’t imagine hating anyone or anything so much that I could keep that level of abuse up for a whole school year.
Melba credits her family with the strength to get through. This is where I differ with her interpretation a bit. Her grandmother was a very religious woman who kept saying that god was in control of everything. As a non-Christian, this grated on me. I think it would have been better for the adults in her life to help stand up for her in any way they could (which admittedly was very little) instead of spouting platitudes. Melba did embrace these and gained strength from them so I’m glad it helped her. As a reader though they made me grind my teeth in frustration.
At the end of the book she talks a little about her perspective on the experience in retrospect. She says that she would have never put her own kids into that kind of abusive situation. That was something I wondered about. The cause was good and just but what they went through was child abuse. They sacrificed their mental and physical health for integration. There is a second book that discusses what happened in her life after this hell year. I’m going to read that. She was definitely damaged by the experience.
I would also like to read about this from the perspective of some of the white people. I kept trying to get into their minds and figure out how they were possibly justifying any of this. I can’t make that mental leap. I’d love to just be able to ask, “What the hell were you even thinking?”
This is a book I want to put into the hands of everyone. These teenagers were amazing. They took unimaginable abuse from both the white and black community. This is history that we can’t forget.
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the "downfall of the Black man."
But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for "anti-white discrimination."
Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?
Slay is a great book if you are capable of massive suspension of disbelief.
I love the description of the game. The virtual reality world that this game exists in sounds absolutely amazing. I’d love to see video games like this. In the world of this book V.R. technology appears to be commonplace. It is much more technologically advanced than we are now but everything else besides gaming seems to be about the same level of technology.
Slay is a virtual world where people duel using powers granted to them by cards that they draw from a deck. The cards are based on aspects of black lives across the globe. Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese makes the ground your opponent is standing on gooey so they get stuck. The Afro card surrounds you in a protective bubble of hair. Other cards on based on famous people. I loved reading about the cards. The world building here was so inventive and funny. It was everything I love about fantastical worlds.
In order to play Slay you need to have a passcode from another player. It is understood but never explicitly stated that you have to be black to play. When a top player is murdered in real life because of a dispute about the game, the media finds out about the exclusivity of Slay. They start to debate about whether or not it is racist to limit play to black people.
There are great discussions about harassment of black videogamers and the importance of having spaces where you can be yourself. Who gets to decide what is black culture?
This part of the story is all good. The problems come if you think about the details too much.
Supposedly this game was built by a teenager. It has 500,000 players using virtual reality. Where is this being hosted? How is it being paid for? It is a free game with no apparent advertising. The murder was over people pooling resources in the game. It implies that there was money being spent on the game but she never seems to collect any money. How would a minor be able to set up a company that could do that alone? Somehow her family has never noticed that she is running a massive undertaking from her bedroom. She doesn’t really seem to do much but moderate some large duels. She talks about adding new features and about some glitches but she never seems to fix anything. She goes to school full time, has a boyfriend, tutors, does her homework, and goes to bed early. Nothing ever seems to crash or absolutely need her attention. Games need teams of people to keep them going but she checks in for a few hours a day when she can get away from her family? Not likely.
If you can let all that go and pretend that this is a totally self sustaining game, then you can enjoy the larger social issues brought up in the story.
Rama, the Hindu god who maintains dharma, or the balance of all things, is in terrible trouble, and only Barnabas and Wilfred can save him!
Private detectives to the gods, Barnabas Tew and Wilfred Colby, believed they’d discovered the secret to taking charge of their destinies. Unfortunately, they’re about to be taught a hard lesson: nothing is as it seems and taking control is easier said than done.
Fresh off their most challenging case to date, the two detectives step into a cenote: an otherworldly portal that connects worlds and can take them anywhere if they know how to use it. Each is hoping to be reunited with someone he left behind, but they soon realize that something has gone terribly, disastrously wrong. Instead of being reunited with their lady-loves, they find themselves in a Hindu temple, together with Kamadeva, the Hindu god of desire.
Kamadeva asks them to save his friend Rama, who is in grave danger. It seems an innocent enough request, but Barnabas and Wilfred have learned that not everything is at it seems, and the right thing to do is not always so obvious. It doesn’t take long to discover that not all the gods want Rama saved, leaving the two detectives to make a terrible choice.
The detectives have faced dangerous deities before, but the Hindu gods are different. Otherworldly, wise, and full of shadowy motivations, they all seek to manipulate the hapless detectives to suit their purposes.
Can Barnabas and Wilfred see through the illusions and the lies to uncover the truth of the matter? Or will they fail, and choose the wrong side?
I loved the synopsis for this book. The idea of a pair of detectives for the gods is right up my alley. There have been several books in the series previous to this one but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by just reading this one.
They mistakenly end up with the Hindu gods after trying to use a portal in a cenote and failing miserably. They spend the first several pages of the book arguing about this instead of interacting with the beings that they have appeared in front of. That was one of my issues with this book. I understood these to be British detectives who spend a lot of time ignoring or disparaging their surroundings. When they are ignorantly mocking things like a group of people doing yoga with an attitude of their own superiority it gets a bit uncomfortable.
There isn’t really much a plot here. They wander about interacting with some of the gods that they meet. They never really know what is going on. They discover things mostly by accident. I did enjoy the part where they were turned into fish and had to figure out how to get from a moat to an ocean. They were active participants in their own story for this – not just passive observers that events happened to.
Columbkill Noonan is the author of the bestselling “Barnabas Tew” series, which features the bumbling-yet-lovable Victorian detective Barnabas and his trusty sidekick, Wilfred. Columbkill combines her love of mythology and her affinity for period fiction to craft unique cozy mysteries that will leave you guessing (and chuckling!) till the very end.
LOVE IS . . . A MYTH?
That's the belief of Frida McKenzie, devoted member of The Love Delusion movement, determined to cure humans of our ridiculous obsession with love.
But there's something she's forgotten...
When Frida finds a mysterious picture of herself with a man she barely knows, the certainties she has about her world begin to unravel.
What are the sinister roots of the cult that seems to have gripped humanity? Why can't she remember anything about her life before - including the strange(ly attractive) man in that picture? And just when exactly did she take up fantasy role play?
As a battle approaches that's been millennia in the making, it's beginning to look like there's only one question that really matters: if love conquers all, what happens when it's gone?
This is the second book in a series where I didn’t read the first. Usually that is a problem but this series is perfect for this situation. The book opens with two people being captured. You don’t know why they are running. The next chapter is two years later and their memories have been wiped. If you didn’t read the first book you get to figure out what is going on right along with the characters. It worked really well. I’m sure reading this book is a totally different experience if you read the first book and know everything that they have forgotten.
Frida is active in a group that aims to support and protect the rights of single people. They are changing the culture. No more requirements to pay double occupancy rates on trips if only one person is going. No social shaming for not having a date. The group is growing rapidly. People are figuring out that love is a delusion and they don’t have to fall for it. Frida enjoys her life until she meets a protestor on her way to a meeting. She feels drawn to him but she doesn’t know why. Then she finds a picture that she doesn’t remember of the two of them together.
I read this a long time after I signed up for the book tour so I didn’t remember anything about the synopsis. I was totally surprised by everything that happened just like the characters. I think I was expecting something along the chick lit/romance line but this is more of a light fantasy book. There is magic all around.
I quite enjoyed this book. It would be perfect for anyone looking for a fun, fast paced story with twists and turns that you might not expect.
Author Bio – Nicola was born and lives in Manchester. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature and has spent more time immersed in the works of Philip Larkin than is strictly healthy. Her inspirations are Stephen King, Tina Fey and Joss Whedon and as such she’s a big fan of the funny – both ha ha and peculiar. Her debut, The Gods of Love, was shortlisted for The Writers’ Guild Best first novel. The Love Delusion is the companion novel. As well as writing novels, she works as a creativity coach and has written a non-fiction book for aspiring writers, Seven Creative Gremlins. For more about Nicola visit www.nicolamostyn.com Social Media Links – Twitter – @nicolamostyn Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/nicolamostynauthor/ Insta: @NicolaMostyn http://nicolamostyn.com https://linktr.ee/nicolamostyn
Australian bestselling novelist Karen Brooks rewrites women back into history with this breathtaking novel set in 17th century London—a lush, fascinating story of the beautiful woman who is drawn into a world of riches, power, intrigue…and chocolate.
Damnation has never been so sweet...
Rosamund Tomkins, the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, spends most of her young life in drudgery at a country inn. To her, the Restoration under Charles II, is but a distant threat as she works under the watchful eye of her brutal, abusive stepfather . . . until the day she is nearly run over by the coach of Sir Everard Blithman.
Sir Everard, a canny merchant, offers Rosamund an “opportunity like no other,” allowing her to escape into a very different life, becoming the linchpin that will drive the success of his fledgling business: a luxurious London chocolate house where wealthy and well-connected men come to see and be seen, to gossip and plot, while indulging in the sweet and heady drink.
Rosamund adapts and thrives in her new surroundings, quickly becoming the most talked-about woman in society, desired and respected in equal measure.
But Sir Everard’s plans for Rosamund and the chocolate house involve family secrets that span the Atlantic Ocean, and which have already brought death and dishonor to the Blithman name. Rosamund knows nothing of the mortal peril that comes with her new title, nor of the forces spinning a web of conspiracy buried in the past, until she meets a man whose return tightens their grip upon her, threatening to destroy everything she loves and damn her to a dire fate.
As she fights for her life and those she loves through the ravages of the Plague and London’s Great Fire, Rosamund’s breathtaking tale is one marked by cruelty and revenge; passion and redemption—and the sinfully sweet temptation of chocolate.
Let me just start this review by saying that I really liked this book. It was over 600 pages but it flew by. I felt fully immersed in the world of 1660s London. However, this book also really made me angry. The reason for that is the treatment of the female characters.
The story starts with Rosamund, as a teenager, working as a serving girl in the inn that her mother and stepfather own. You quickly find out that her stepfather and two stepbrothers have been sexually abusing her since she moved in with them years earlier. This is not spelled out in detail but is made clear from their interactions.
In an attempt to run away from her brothers to avoid being raped again, she meets a wealthy man. He offers to take her to London with him for reasons that he doesn’t make clear. Her mother sees this as an opportunity to get her daughter away from the men in her life and get her a better life. She arranges a fast marriage ceremony and then sends Rosamund away with orders never to return.
Her new husband turns out to be a controlling man who owns slaves and who tells her that he doesn’t want to her any opinions or ideas from her. Her job is to learn to make chocolate. Her husband is going to be opening a chocolate house and he wants her to serve the chocolate.
You learn a lot of chocolate at this time in England. It is just being introduced. It is considered a very racy drink. The English are started to add sugar and milk and herbs to it to fit their tastes instead of drinking it straight like Central Americans and Spaniards.
Rosamund is an anomaly. She is in the chocolate house. She is seen in public. So of course in the minds of the men in the area she is up for grabs. There are more attempted rape just because she is on the street. In the chocolate house she is molested and called all kinds of names just for existing in public. The attitude of the men of the era is completely repulsive. I want to shove this book into the hands of everyone who tells me that women had it better when they lived at home and were protected. This is what it was like to have zero rights even as a noblewoman. It is even worse for the few other female characters. There is a widow who cleans the chocolate house, there is a young girl who starts working there, and there is a female slave in the household of Rosamund’s new husband. Add the sexism into the hatred of the poor and into the racism of the time and these women were just hanging on.
Real events of the time period like outbreaks of plague and the Great Fire are detailed to show how this affected people living in London at the time. I really did learn a lot in this book. I appreciate a book that can make me angry at the injustices that fictional characters are faced with. So, read this book – just don’t be surprised if you feel like yelling at men afterwards.
About Karen Brooks
Karen Brooks is the author of twelve books, an academic of more than twenty years’ experience, a newspaper columnist and social commentator, and has appeared regularly on national TV and radio. Before turning to academia, she was an army officer for five years, and prior to that dabbled in acting.
She lives in Hobart, Tasmania, in a beautiful stone house with its own marvellous history. When she’s not writing, she’s helping her husband Stephen in his brewery, Captain Bligh’s Ale and Cider, or cooking for family and friends, travelling, cuddling and walking her dogs, stroking her cats, or curled up with a great book and dreaming of more stories.
Confessions of a Traveler: The Observations of Alien 597
Grotesque insect looking beasts, which burst out of your chest, and have acid for blood. Grey and short aliens with big eyes, who want to take over your mind, and they do horrible experiments with instruments that go up your anus. They’ve come to take over the world, and make you into a zombie or dinner. If they ever land in full view, they would either be worshiped and a new religion would form, or murdered immediately, and their ship parts sold to the highest bidder. Alien 597 read her report about aliens that humans had encountered.
A short story about an alien visiting Earth.
Alien 597 didn’t want to grow up to be a traveler. But now her species has found out about humans and she is going to go and observe life on Earth.
I love fish out of water stories about people (or aliens) finding new cultures. This is a very quick read since it is a short story. She makes many mistakes trying to understand how humans are interacting with her.
Author Bio – Clara L Molina writes Science Fiction books most of the time, dabbles in comic drawings occasionally, and writes to laugh at herself all the time. She has a computer science degree, but has been a lifelong writer. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, and enjoys fresh air and days where her hair is not frizzy.
To become one of only a few hundred certified wine experts in the world, Kate must pass the notoriously difficult Master of Wine Examination. She’s failed twice before; her third attempt will be her last. Suddenly finding herself without a job and with the test a few months away, she travels to Burgundy, to spend the fall at the vineyard estate that has belonged to her family for generations. There she can bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian vintages and reconnect with her cousin Nico and his wife Heather, who now oversee the grapes’ day-to-day management. The one person Kate hopes to avoid is Jean-Luc, a neighbor vintner and her first love.
At the vineyard house, Kate is eager to help her cousins clean out the enormous basement that is filled with generations of discarded and forgotten belongings. Deep inside the cellar, behind a large armoire, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, some Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. Piqued by the secret space, Kate begins to dig into her family’s history—a search that takes her back to the dark days of the Second World War and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed, a great half-aunt who was teenager during the Nazi occupation.
As she learns more about her family, the line between Resistance and Collaboration blurs, driving Kate to find the answers to two crucial questions: Who, exactly, did her family aid during the difficult years of the war? And what happened to six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection?
I’ve read Ann Mah’s nonfiction about french food while traveling through France, so I jumped at a chance to read her fiction about a vineyard in Burgundy.
This book was inspired by stories of what happened to French women following D-Day. Many were treated as traitors for having collaborated with the Germans. This was mob justice so no investigations were done to see who was innocent and who wasn’t. No distinctions were made for women who willingly were sleeping with German soldiers and those who were raped. Women who had nothing to do with the Germans were turned in as collaborators by angry neighbors.
There is a lot going on in this book. The present day story involves a woman who is studying for a wine test. She goes to a family vineyard where the current generation is trying to modernize against the will of the older generation. There is an ex-fiance next door. There is a potential new love interest who may be up to no good. (I felt like that was a story line that could have been taken out.) She finds a hidden area in the wine caves with evidence of a relative that no young people have heard of and no older people will discuss.
I found the historical fiction aspect of the story more interesting. Helene-Marie’s story is told mainly through her journal. They find out that she was denounced as a collaborator after D Day. This causes some issues in the family because no one wants to think of their family helping the Nazis. Do they want to dig deeper into what really happened?
This is an interesting point to raise. We all want to think that we (and by extension our families)would be on the right side of history but that obviously isn’t true. I think about this a lot. I want to be on the morally correct side of conflicts, not just a bystander who let things happen because they weren’t affecting me directly.
Using a journal as a story telling device lets the author dive deeply into what life was like in occupied France. It shows clearly how much there was to gain by collaborating with the Germans. Do you starve with your morals intact or do you live through actions that you might have previously disapproved of? Do you let your family starve? What were the risks of working with the Resistance?
About Ann Mah
Ann Mah is a food and travel writer based in Paris and Washington DC. She is the author of the food memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating, and a novel, Kitchen Chinese. She regularly contributes to the New York Times’ Travel section and she has written for Condé Nast Traveler,Vogue.com, BonAppetit.com, Washingtonian magazine, and other media outlets.
Widowed society matchmaker Mrs. Clara Sommersby thinks handsome, self-made businessman Mr. William Lane is just the man for her neighbor’s overlooked daughter. He’s successful and confident, if somewhat emotionally distant, until suddenly—shockingly—his attention turns to Clara herself! She thought her days of romance were over, but is this younger man intent on giving her a second chance?
I’m an absolute sucker for older female protagonists in fiction. As soon as I saw the description of this book, I was all in even though she is only in her 40s. Bring me all the older ladies!
Clara entertains herself but selecting a young woman each season in Bath and working as her matchmaker. She’s not looking for romance for herself. She is a widow and honestly, she’s doing quite fine on her own, thank you very much. Her husband wasn’t much of a business man. He never listened to her ideas. When he died she bought a hotel for gentleman that she had had her eyes on. She set up a male relative as the supposed owner but she actually runs the business.
She meets a man in the pump room and gently flirts with him. What she doesn’t know is that he just bought the property next door to her hotel and is looking to buy her property also if he can just figure out who owns it.
I loved this book for its description of all the locations in Bath. I visited there a few years ago and could visualize most of the places they discuss. It added to the story to have all these famous places as background.
This was a great storyline that you don’t often see in romances. This woman isn’t pinning all her hopes on finding the right man. She is living an independent life and she needs to consider the real risks to her freedom of allowing another man in her life. She will lose all her legal rights if she remarries. Is it worth it?
Recalling contemporary classics such as Americanah, Behold the Dreamers, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a funny, poignant, and insightful debut novel that explores the complexities of family, immigration, prejudice, and the American Dream through meaningful and unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances.
Pival Sengupta has done something she never expected: she has booked a trip with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company. But unlike other upper-class Indians on a foreign holiday, the recently widowed Pival is not interested in sightseeing. She is traveling thousands of miles from Kolkata to New York on a cross-country journey to California, where she hopes to uncover the truth about her beloved son, Rahi. A year ago Rahi devastated his very traditional parents when he told them he was gay. Then, Pival’s husband, Ram, told her that their son had died suddenly—heartbreaking news she still refuses to accept. Now, with Ram gone, she is going to America to find Rahi, alive and whole or dead and gone, and come to terms with her own life.
Arriving in New York, the tour proves to be more complicated than anticipated. Planned by the company’s indefatigable owner, Ronnie Munshi—a hard-working immigrant and entrepreneur hungry for his own taste of the American dream—it is a work of haphazard improvisation. Pival’s guide is the company’s new hire, the guileless and wonderfully resourceful Satya, who has been in America for one year—and has never actually left the five boroughs. For modesty’s sake Pival and Satya will be accompanied by Rebecca Elliot, an aspiring young actress. Eager for a paying gig, she’s along for the ride, because how hard can a two-week “working” vacation traveling across America be?
Slowly making her way from coast to coast with her unlikely companions, Pival finds that her understanding of her son—and her hopes of a reunion with him—are challenged by her growing knowledge of his adoptive country. As the bonds between this odd trio deepens, Pival, Satya, and Rebecca learn to see America—and themselves—in different and profound new ways.
A bittersweet and bighearted tale of forgiveness, hope, and acceptance, America for Beginners illuminates the unexpected enchantments life can hold, and reminds us that our most precious connections aren’t always the ones we seek.
I loved this book that brought together several people who are new to America. I love reading books that give you a new perspective of America.
Mrs. Sengupta is newly widowed. She has lived a sheltered life in Kolkata, constrained by what was expected by her husband’s traditional family. Now her husband is gone and she is going to take this opportunity to do what she wants to do and no one will stop her. Her only child moved to America. He called home and told her husband that he was gay. Soon afterwards her husband told her their child had died. She never knew if he was lying or not. Now she is going to go see the country that her son loved and find out for sure what happened.
Ronnie Munshi is a Bangladeshi man who runs a tour company catering to high class Bengali tourists. He doesn’t want anyone to know that he and all his tour guides are just pretending to be Bengali.
Satya is his newest hire. He’s never seen anything outside of New York but he has his guide books. What could go wrong escorting one widow on a country-wide tour?
Rebecca is an American struggling actress who is hired to be a companion to Mrs. Sengupta. She knows when Satya is making things up. Is she going to bring the whole scheme down?
Mrs. Sengupta, Satya, and Rebecca take off across the country enduring bad Indian food, multiple tourist traps, and subpar hotels all while each is confronting their ingrained biases and attitudes. They rub against each other’s sharp edge and find themselves reshaped into people they didn’t imagine that they could be.
This is a character driven novel that is beautifully written. Suspense comes from wondering what she is going to find when she gets to Los Angeles and the last known address of her son.
Leah Franqui is a graduate of Yale University and received an MFA at NYU-Tisch. She is a playwright and the recipient of the 2013 Goldberg Playwriting Award, and also wrote a web series for which she received the Alfred Sloan Foundation Screenwriting award (aftereverafterwebseries.com). A Puerto Rican-Jewish Philadelphia native, Franqui lives with her Kolkata-born husband in Mumbai. AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS is her first novel.
One week before Jake Rutledge is scheduled to graduate from law school, he receives the devastating news of the death of his fraternal twin, Blake. What makes this death even more terrible for Jake is that his brother died of a drug overdose. Until hearing of his death, Jake had no idea his brother was even using drugs.
When Jake returns home to Oakley, West Virginia, he takes a hard look at the circumstances of his brother's death. In the five years Jake has been away for his schooling, his hometown has drastically changed. Because of the opioid epidemic, and the blight it has brought, many now call Oakley Zombieland. Jake can see how his town's demise parallels his brother's.
Undeterred, the newly minted lawyer takes on the entrenched powers by filing two lawsuits. Jake quickly learns what happens when you upset a hornet's nest. The young attorney might be wet behind the ears, but is sure there is no lawyer that could help him more than Nick Deke Deketomis and his law firm of Bergman/Deketomis. Deke is a legendary lawyer. When he was Jake's age he was making his name fighting Big Tobacco. Against all odds, Jake gets Nick and his firm to sign on to his case before it's too late.
I was interested in reading Law and Addiction because I work in a town that has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Every week I read the local paper purely for the police blotter. In between the entertaining tales of some really stupid criminals there is report after report of officers treating overdoses. I find it interesting to see how many dose of naloxone they need for each person. The record I’ve seen so far is 14 doses. (That person then woke up and refused all other medical treatment.) So when this book describes the cost to towns of treating all these addicts and overdoses I understand what it is talking about.
I’ve also had a few people bring their dogs in who they claim are on mega doses of tramadol for their arthritis. Usually an in-depth conversation about alternatives to controlled medication and a discussion of the dispensing schedule we will have them on to make sure they aren’t getting too many means we never see those people again.
In the middle of reading this book I actually had to put it down to go pick up some opiates from a pharmacy. The husband had had surgery and was prescribed opiates even though it was fairly minor. He took some prescription NSAIDS and iced the area and did well. Opiates were a bit of overkill in this instance. (He asked how we were going to get rid of them. I said I’d take them to work. He slowly questioned again, “What are you going to do with them?” Yeah, he knows the town I work in. “Getting rid of them” there can be interpreted a few ways. For the record, I am going to put them in the Drug Destroyer solution.)
On the other hand, my doctor side comes out and I don’t really want more regulation on access to them by doctors for people (and animals) who really need them. They have a place in medical care. Proper dosing and monitoring are the key.
Down the street from my house there is a place with a chalkboard in the front lawn with a running total of people who died from overdose in the city since they started keeping count. I think they are in the 600s.
All of that means that I can relate to the setting for this story. Jake is a new lawyer who has lost his twin brother to an overdose. He decides to try to get local governments to let him sue pharmacy companies on their behalf for the cost of treating the addiction crisis.
The book does a good job explaining the various causes and effects of the problem. Some of them I hadn’t thought of before. I hadn’t tied together economic collapse due to decreased business in affected communities with the ability for other people to buy up real estate cheaply potentially leading to gentrification and large profits.
A lot of this book consists of lawyers sitting around and discussing how they are going to build their case. It is a lot of exposition. That is interesting if you want to see how people put these kinds of large cases together. It is also how you get the information about how opiates came into these towns and what it causes. I think this book works as an educational piece but it doesn’t really work as a thriller for me. There is a bit of mystery but it never really gets intense and “can’t put it down.” Use this as primer on opiate addiction and the economic effect on towns more than a nail biting story.
Set during Reconstruction-era New Orleans, and with an extraordinary and unforgettable heroine at its heart, The Undertaker's Assistant is a powerful story of human resilience--and of the unlikely bonds that hold fast even in our darkest moments.
"The dead can't hurt you. Only the living can." Effie Jones, a former slave who escaped to the Union side as a child, knows the truth of her words. Taken in by an army surgeon and his wife during the War, she learned to read and write, to tolerate the sight of blood and broken bodies--and to forget what is too painful to bear. Now a young freedwoman, she has returned south to New Orleans and earns her living as an embalmer, her steady hand and skillful incisions compensating for her white employer's shortcomings.
Tall and serious, Effie keeps her distance from the other girls in her boarding house, holding tight to the satisfaction she finds in her work. But despite her reticence, two encounters--with a charismatic state legislator named Samson Greene, and a beautiful young Creole, Adeline--introduce her to new worlds of protests and activism, of soirees and social ambition. Effie decides to seek out the past she has blocked from her memory and try to trace her kin. As her hopes are tested by betrayal, and New Orleans grapples with violence and growing racial turmoil, Effie faces loss and heartache, but also a chance to finally find her place . . .
The Reconstruction period after the Civil War was a time when the hopes of the newly freed African-Americans were built up and then dashed by the resurgence of white supremacy. This book looks the life of a black woman during that period.
Effie is a fish out of water. She escaped slavery as a child. Her first memory is being taken in by a Union army camp. She was cared for by an Army doctor who took her home with him to Indiana after the war. She was raised as his ward and trained to help him with his new career as an undertaker. Now as an adult she is drawn back to New Orleans to try to find out more about her life. Did she have family? Can she find them?
Her instinct is to stay to herself. She has an introduction from her guardian to an undertaker who was a Union officer in the war. She gets a job that takes up most of her time but she slowly starts to meet new people. She gets involved in Republican politics after developing a crush on a black state senator. This exposes her to the ambitions of people who were formerly enslaved. She also meets a Creole woman and her mother. They are biracial upper class women who mourn the loss of status and wealth that has come about because of the war. These two groups of people allow the author to explore the effects of the end of slavery on several different classes of black and mixed race people.
I would have liked to known more about her employer. He was a southerner who chose to fight the for Union and then came back south to his hometown. Stress from the war and his unwelcome reception back in town have started him drinking. Over the course of the book he works on acclimating back into upper class white society. He needs to abandon the beliefs that would have led him to fight for the north to do this. Because we don’t see his point of view, it appears very random and arbitrary. I would have like to have seen this change explored more deeply.
I loved this book. It shows how historical fiction can be used to explore many points of view and experiences in the same time frame. Using Effie as an outsider to all of them is a good device to see everyone clearly.
About the Author
Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. Between Earth and Sky was her first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Readers can visit her website at www.amandaskenandore.com.
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In this dazzling memoir, the acclaimed writer behind Babylon 5, Sense8, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling and Marvel’s Thor reveals how the power of creativity and imagination enabled him to overcome the horrors of his youth and a dysfunctional family haunted by madness, murder and a terrible secret.
For four decades, J. Michael Straczynski has been one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, one of the few to forge multiple careers in movies, television and comics. Yet there’s one story he’s never told before: his own.
Joe's early life nearly defies belief. Raised by damaged adults—a con-man grandfather and a manipulative grandmother, a violent, drunken father and a mother who was repeatedly institutionalized—Joe grew up in abject poverty, living in slums and projects when not on the road, crisscrossing the country in his father’s desperate attempts to escape the consequences of his past.
To survive his abusive environment Joe found refuge in his beloved comics and his dreams, immersing himself in imaginary worlds populated by superheroes whose amazing powers allowed them to overcome any adversity. The deeper he read, the more he came to realize that he, too, had a superpower: the ability to tell stories and make everything come out the way he wanted it. But even as he found success, he could not escape a dark and shocking secret that hung over his family’s past, a violent truth that he uncovered over the course of decades involving mass murder.
Straczynski’s personal history has always been shrouded in mystery. Becoming Superman lays bare the facts of his life: a story of creation and darkness, hope and success, a larger-than-life villain and a little boy who became the hero of his own life. It is also a compelling behind-the-scenes look at some of the most successful TV series and movies recognized around the world.
I’ve seen a lot of J. Michael Straczynski’s work. I watched He-Man and She-Ra in the 1980s. I’m a huge fan of Sense8. But I didn’t know who he was until I read this book.
Becoming Superman refers to many things in the author’s life. He eventually was able to write the Superman comic which fulfilled a lifelong dream. More importantly, it refers to his ability to survive and then thrive despite of his chaotic home life.
He was raised by very manipulative people. His family tree is a list of people who did what they wanted in order to get ahead with no thoughts to how their actions would impact anyone else. Content warnings for this book would include genocide, rape, kidnapping, murder, domestic violence, and animal abuse – and that is just talking about his father. Michael built his life on the simple premise that he was going to do the exact opposite of what he believed anyone in his family would do. It has served him well. He was able to build a successful career (or four) as a writer in journalism, television, movies, and comics. He deliberately distanced himself from his family but curiosity about the secrets that he knew his family was keeping made him dig a little deeper. What he found out shocked even him.
This isn’t an easy book to read but it is worthwhile. Pick it up if you like stories of people overcoming horrible childhoods or if you just like some of the shows that he was written. You’ll be amazed.
J. Michael Straczynski has had one of the most varied careers of any American writer, penning hundreds of hours of television, comic books for Marvel and DC that have sold over 13 million copies, and movies that have grossed over a billion dollars.