Monday, April 24, 2017

Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena

The Dialogue of the Seraphic Virgin Catherine of Siena, Dictated by Her, while in a State of Ecstasy, to Her Secretaries and Completed in the Year of Our Lord 1370, Together with an Account of Her Death by an Eyewitness by St Catherine of Siena and others, 344 pages

The full title of the Dialogue is most of the context provided in this edition - the brief introduction is primarily concerned with the spiritual state of Italy, Christendom, and the saint rather than a true biography of the author or commentary on the text.  That text is a transcription of conversations St Catherine had while in an ecstatic state with the first two Persons of the Trinity.  None of the voices - those of God or that of the saint - ever descends into the kind of babbling emotionalism popularly associated with ecstasy - they speak clearly, rationally, and, on the part of God, with a commanding authority.  There is not even a trace of self-aggrandizement - St Catherine is not interested in her status as the mouthpiece of the Almighty, but with how she - and we - can draw closer to Him.  The result is an eminently practical guide to the spiritual life, showing "clearly in each state the means of cutting away imperfection and reaching perfection, and how the soul may know by which road she is walking and of the hidden delusions of the devil and of spiritual self-love."

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Double Bind: Women on Ambition

Double Bind: Women on Ambition by Robin Romm  320 pages

"...the word "ambition," for many, remains loaded with ambivalence. Women who are naturally driven and goal-oriented shy away from it. They’re loath to see themselves—or be seen by others—as aggressive or, worst of all, as a bitch."    This book of essays explores the concept of female ambition from many angles and is written by a diverse group of women.

This title caught my eye as a new book, and I picked it up because I was curious.  I did find some of the essays more interesting than others, and some definitely easier to relate to than others. I agree with the point that there are words used to define women (especially in the workplace) that are negative when applied to women, but which have a positive connotation when applied to men. The word "ambitious," is one of those words and something that definitely be perceived differently both by men and women, and when applied to the behavior of a man or a woman. While I don't feel that my own opinions about the word "ambition" are changed by this book, it made for some thought-provoking reading.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor    533 pages

"The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever. What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?"

Well, one answer lies in the fact that there are five people (are they really people) living in the Citadel in Weep, including Sarai, whose power lies in her ability to influence people's dreams.

I really enjoyed Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, so I was excited to pick up this new book. The writing is just as beautiful as I expected, and I enjoyed how she crafts the characters and the story, bringing the characters and the storylines together slowly so you can appreciate how they are connected. While I skimmed through some of the more romantic spots (I am not a teenager and these parts fail to make me swoon.  I am jaded enough that my eyes roll a bit . . . but that's just me, not really a criticism of the book.)

The one flaw in the story was . . . it's part of a trilogy.  I hadn't paid attention when I picked up the book, and when I was about 3/4 of the way through it, I was thinking that there was way too much story to wrap up by the end (even though it's 533 pages) --- and I got about 50 pages to the end and then looked at the last page and figured out that of course, Taylor is going to leave me hanging.   *sigh*

Here's an example of her writing, a bit that I thought really said something about not just the characters, but something that generally is thought-provoking and maybe even something some readers could relate to: "So they layered cynicism atop their longing, and it was something like laying laughter over the darkness -- self preservation of an uglier stripe. And thus did they harden themselves, by choosing to meet hate with hate."   p 147

From the Ruins of Empire

From the Ruins of EmpireFrom the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia by Pankaj Mishra, 310 pages

In From the Ruins of Empire Pankaj Mishra examines the careers of three prominent Asian intellectuals from the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, all of whom struggled with the cultural, economic, and military dominance of the West - not only as such power was deliberately, oftentimes violently, exercised, but also as the uncritical embrace of the mechanistic, utilitarian Western worldview by modernizing elites in their homelands.  Each of the three represents a third of non-Russian Asia - itinerant journalist Jamal al-Din al-Afghani for the Islamosphere, scholar and activist Liang Qichao for the Sinosphere, and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore for the Subcontinent.  Each sought freedom for his people, but also a form of modernity that preserved the values of his own culture.

It is possible to go on at great length about the problems of perspective in this book, problems that are only somewhat excused on the grounds that the perspective is that of the subjects.  Understandably, in writing about anti-colonialists Mishra concentrates on the negative impact of colonialism on Asian nations and cultures, but at times he oversimplifies to the point that he falsifies - even a casual reading of Finkel's Osman's Dream (which Mishra cites in his bibliography) demonstrates that the problems of the Ottoman Empire were not only - or even primarily - the result of Western imperialism.  That the reality was somewhat more complicated than Mishra's default narrative of Asians fighting for liberty from Western injustice is implied in the fact that both al-Afghani and Liang were persecuted by their native governments, and both took refuge in the oppressive, racist West - the only one of the three who was consistently safe in his homeland was Tagore, who lived under British rule (and was celebrated in the West, lecturing to packed halls and winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913).

It is possible, again, to go on at great length about the problems of perspective in From the Ruins of Empire, but to do so would obscure the very real value of the book.  Beginning in the eighteenth century, the great civilizations of Asia were confronted with the reality that they were not, after all, the center of the world or of history.  How they adapted not only helps explain the world of today, it also has lessons to teach the West as it begins to discover the same truth.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman                             Audio Book: 11 hours, 1 min      Hardback Book:368 pages          

These stories are meant to be triggers to the reader, tales that offer disturbing subjects meant to trip the readers’ fear reaction.   The author points out one of his friends told him her trigger was anything with tentacles she is terrified of such so yes, there is a story here with tentacles for days.   Stories found here include an imaginary lover named Cassandra, who comes to life,  a story that reminded me of Tyrion Lanister (Game of Thrones) which is interesting as the author gave these stories to George R. R. Martin to read them before he submitted them to his publisher, there is a story about a landlady of a bed and breakfast who seduces her male tenants then they disappear,  and a story of a young man who’s mother knows a lot about a lot of things as mothers do, though, her info deals with ancient alien relics and time continuum refractions with visits from Aztecs etc.     These tales are so good and told in such a smooth way even when they are describing talking skeletons, ghosts interacting with humans, devils, demons spectres, shadows and many things above, upon and below the earth that tend to make the reader cringe just a bit now and then.    Really good read.

After Dead

After Dead by Charlaine Harris                     Audio Book: .75 hour   PaperBack Book:  208 pages          

This was like a letter from home.   The Bon Temps version of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon.    I have missed Sookie, Eric, Bill, Tara, Lafayette and all the wonderful characters that the imagination of Charlaine Harris dreamed up.   Characters so rich in detail they took on a life of their own to those of us who are devoted fans.    The reader can become attached to such vivid sensory imprinting and like baby ducks we want to follow all our favorite residents of Bon Temps, Louisiana.    Heck, we feel like we are now residents of Bon Temps we know everybody there so well and when Ms. Harris gave the death knell to the Sookie series it was as though a family member had died.   Our hearts were literally shaken.   We were ran out of town on a rail and even that dear Sheriff Andy Belflour couldn’t help us.   So, in many ways this book is a cool drink of water to a thirsty soul.   Some closure.   We aren’t just out there dangling in our shocked state any longer.     A few crumbs tossed and gobbled up hungrily.   I am happy that Ms. Harris wrote this.   It was a joy to get some news from home.   I would be greedy and wish Ms. Harris would miss Sookie, too, and want to bring her back, but, that is not likely.    I think by virtue of Sookie’s followers becoming over zealous that freaked the author/creator out.    Then, I think fans inundating her with requests or complaints or folk disputing something in the Stackhouse genealogy or the story timeline, maybe a new wrinkle in vampire lore really ticked Charlaine Harris off.   Having attended one of her lecture, I noticed two things: 1.) Fans writing stories using her characters and sending them to her in homage desperately meaning to please her and gain favor for their writing skills most certainly did not please her.   It peeved her off immensely.    There were HER characters afterall not theirs and she could do what she wanted to with them.   THEY ARE HER CHARACTERS.    She was not flattered by the fanfiction at all.   I bet she ripped them to shreds or burned them judging by her deep set reaction.   2.)  Charlaine Harris was totally pissed off that fans predominantly wanted to see Sookie end up with ERIC not BILL and BILL was who loved Sookie unconditionally and Bill Is who Ms. Harris had seen Sookie being with always to the end.  I could tell that Ms. Harris herself was in love with the Bill character and didn’t care much for Eric’s arrogance, always writing him as a disturbing, nasty, vile, out for himself above all others.   But, Eric was hot.   Eric didn’t need anybody, but, he loved Sookie and would do anything for her.   He mellowed so much after their tender moments together when she took care of him when the witch coven caused him to completely forget who he was.  My favorite book in the series I might add.   Besides, the bad boy is always the nonconformist that embodies that free spirit even the most inhibited of us wish they could let out to howl once in a while.   We may not like him, but we respect his toughness therein lies the attraction.   We want that wildness.    Bill is a highly loveable guy.   Old South, southern gentleman with impeccable manners, talk dark and handsome, also hot just in a more subtle subdued way.    Bill would be a wonderful protector and provider he would always see to his lover’s needs, always be there just a breath away.   Eric would keep his lover wondering all the time but it would be so worth it when he was in the moment.   But I honestly believe it angered Charlaine because Bill was her choice for Sookie (her stand-in) and the idea that fans preferred who she felt was the bad guy that infuriated her and she was Not going to let fans tell her how she was supposed to seal the deal.   So, I do feel that to let fans know they were not going to push her around, she quit writing Sookie stories.   Oh what a blow that was!  I just think in Charlaine’s mind that would put it all to rest and get the fans off her back and drop all the stress of keeping a team around her to keep her facts on point against the barrage of fan mail, tweets, email etc.   Like some rock stars who simply want to play their music, Charlaine simply wanted to write and to write her stories her way fans be damned it all got way too overwhelming so she stopped it so she no longer had to deal with it which left her able to persue new characters in new book series she was fond of and wanted to see develop more.  I admit I am crushed by the door slamming on Sookie’s house and story, but again, this tidbit of info on the citizenry of Bontemps, Hotshot,  Nial and the fairy folk, cousins from Shreveport and other points, Kings and Queens of states mentioned and characters big and small brought in to mention, if briefly, how the later years of their lives transpired.    Many endings are funny, or bittersweet or downright unfortunate, maybe a little catty in a retaliatory way.   It’s like when Queen Elizabeth did that quick dip/nod as Diana’s hearse passed, Charlaine did a quick dip/nod to the Sookie Stackhouse series fans and threw us a bone.   Thank you, Charlaine, I accept this bone gratefully.    Thanks for the news from home.   I am content if not satiated.

Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours  by Lisa Wingate 352 pages

Warning: Don’t start this novel unless you have plenty of time to read because you won’t be able to stop reading.

Wingate has taken a footnote from history and turned into a page-turner. The reality of the story is Georgia Tann and her Tennessee Children’s Home Society. On the outside, the home appears to be just like any of the other orphanages that are common in 1930s America. But Tann had a  dirty secret. She stole children from rural, poverty-stricken areas, then sold them to wealthy clients, charging absorbent fees and treating the children as if they were a piece of garbage.

Based on this solid fact and careful research, Wingate creates a Mississippi River family whose home is a shantyboat named the Arcadia in 1936. The Great Depression is raging across America, so life on the river isn’t so bad…at least they always have something to eat.

The five children and their parents, Briny and Queenie, lead a wanderer’s existence, traveling up and down the river. The kids get schooling here and there, but they seem to always be on the move to where the fishing is better and the weather is warmer. When Queenie goes into labor and a river midwife can’t help her deliver, Briny is forced to leave the boat and take his wife to a Memphis hospital. Twelve-year-old Rill is left to care for the boat and her four siblings.

The parents have been gone a couple of days when strangers passing as the law come to collect the children, telling them they only be staying at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society until their parents can come and collect them. The abuse they endure at the hands of Tann and her minions are criminal.

Then flash forward to contemporary time. Avery Stafford and her father, Senator Stafford, have returned to South Carolina for the Senator’s health issues.  Avery is being groomed to take his place in the Senate, following in her father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. But it’s a chance meeting with an elderly woman during a nursing home photo opp, that changes her life forever.

The encounter compels Avery to dig through her family’s history to try to determine what the elderly woman and her dementia-addled grandmother have in common.

Waving between past and present, this is the story of how one family’s past has shaped its present. A highly compulsive read, the characters are complex and well-drawn. Before We Were Yours receives 6 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world. 

The Barrowfields

The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis 368 pages

I was attracted to Lewis’ debut novel for two reasons. First, I read that someone thought this is the kind of novel “you’d get if you crossed Shirley Jackson and Pat Conroy; a southern Gothic haunted house tale with a coming of age story.” Jackson, Conroy, Southern, Gothic, haunted house. I admit it, there wasn’t much that could stop me from reading this one.

I had, wrongly, assumed, that Barrowfields was either a) the family name, b) the name of the house, or c) the name of a town. Actually, Barrowfields is a barren wasteland in North Carolina. I “think” it’s near the coast, but I can’t remember right now.

The story centers around the Aster family. They are typical Appalachian folk: poor, hard-working, honest. Helton and Madeline do their best. Their “children were well cared for even if food and clothes were hard to come by.”

The couple has one son, Henry. He is different than other kids; he loves to read (another reason I was drawn to this story). He leaves the mountains, desperate to make it as writer, but gets a law degree, for college, but ultimately returns with a pregnant wife in tow. They settle down to make a life, purchasing a gothic house high on the hill.  

They have a son, Henry, Jr., who narrates the novel. They settle into life. And that’s the problem with this novel. While the writing is beautiful, the plot just moseys along, It’s like reading about a bunch of people sitting around thinking. I think it’s the long sentences and the slow pace that made this such a chore. I wasn’t pulled into the story; I couldn’t find an arc that really enticed me to read. 

Little to no plot in a beautifully written novel are the reasons that  The Barrowfields receives 3 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

An Unlikely Cat Lady

An Unlikely Cat Lady: Feral Adventures in the Backyard Jungle by Nina Malkin       Paperback Book:  182 pages                            Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/Feral Cats/Urban Animals

Oh how I love this book!   I so relate to Nina Malkin’s experiences becoming friendly with all the ferals that wonder through my backyard, at least the ones I see.    I’m sure there are loads more that only show up during those dark hours before dawn while I’m sleeping but I have met many a feral friend over the years.    Nina and her husband Jason name the ferals they meet and look after (feed, get neutered/spayed, provide shelter for) Axl Rose because of the female’s side to side swagger when she walked and her kittens who would come running out at them hissing and spitting, claws out: Ray Snarls, Sid and Nancy Vicious, Paul Wolke, and the sorry looking male cat that hung around when the females went into heat -Yeff Smeef (they loved the way a Korean friend’s mother used to shout when it was time for her favorite cooking show to come on t.v. – chef, Jeff Smith) and a Nancy Vicious look-alike that happens to be male, they name Nigel Tufnel (see “This Is Spinal Tap” the film).     The stories she tells are hilarious and all she and Jason go through to TNR (trap-neuter-release)  their crew of feral friends is material for a sit-com.    They grow to love them all dearly and mourn when one of them passes.   Families come in all kinds, and animal lovers know we love our furry family members just as much as our human ones.    This is a love story worthy of a “West Side Story,” score.    And hilarious.    This dear lady who had never thought much about outside critters until she just happened to look out her back window one day to see a tiny mama cat and 4 teeny fur balls out in her and her neighbors’ backyards foraging for food in the winter in Brooklyn.   Her heart melted and she was out on her hands and knees with bits of food getting scratched for her troubles by the cutest little roughians she had ever seen.   She was hooked.   After that, she made it her mission to be Professor Henry Higgins to these little Eliza Doolittles to try to get them adopted.   I laughed out loud reading about how she took photos of them curling up in her hands, snuggling against her neck so that she could post the photos to Craigslist and other pet friendly sites offering free adorable friendly kittens for adoption.    Her intentions were good, she wanted the poor things to have a forever home so they wouldn’t have to live the stray life during the brutally cold snowy New York winters.   She neglected to disclose at the time that the kittens were actually attached with their claws to her body parts and not the sweet darlings reposed in precious loving positions around her.    She would have to run in the house and try not to drip blood everywhere because the little rascals were like Tazmanian devils tearing at her flesh faster than she could see it coming.   I laughed so hard reading this book.    It is a delight.   It is so funny and so real and so genuinely true and sincere.   One lady’s quest to save the cat world one kitten at a time.   God bless you, Nina Malkin.    You deserve a Purple Heart and a Medal of Honor.   Cats and Cat Lovers applaud you, thank you for all you have done and continue to do in helping to care for the feral cats in your area and beyond.    You have more kindred spirits than you will ever know.

Geek Girl Model Misfit

Geek Girl Model Misfit by Holly Smale      Audio Book:  8 hours     Hardback Book:  416 pages    Genre: Young Adult/Fiction  Social Themes/Friendship

Harriet Manners is a teen who is not only academically brilliant but is also a fashion model.    Her mother passed away when she was little and now she lives with her father and his second wife, both of whom she adores until her step-mother becomes pregnant.    All of a sudden she has a full-on  attitude change toward her parents and becomes argumentative about everything.    Seems she is jealous of the baby to be and feels she is being squeezed out by the thought of this new thing growing in her step mom’s belly.    Then while she is processing this new state of being her bff is shipped off to Austrailia to some previously unknown relatives for the Summer.    The only person each of them can reach out to during their times of stress and now they will be thousands of miles from one another.   Cell phones shorten the distance some, but, not enough.   Add to all this stress that her boyfriend’s family has decided to move to Canada.   Harriet’s life is in shambles then her agent calls to tell her that a Japanese fashion designer wants Harriet to be the new face of her clothing line and wants Harriet to come to Japan for a photoshoot to kick off the new line.   Harriet has always dreamed of going to Japan one day so here is the answer she has been hoping for except her parents can’t chaperone her with the new baby coming, her step-mom can’t travel and she wants her Dad to be with her for the delivery.    Harriet throws a fit and goes into anger mode shouting and calling the baby “That thing” and going all evil on how her parents are selfish and don’t care about her ad infinitum.   Feeling like her world is completely dark, her boyfriend gone, her best friend gone, and now the opportunity to see the one place she has always dreamed about going to is dashed, she is beside herself with anguish.  But, sometimes at our lowest answers come from mysterious places and change our lives for the better, enter step-mom’s hippie dippie mother.    Not the most reliable of chaperones but a chaperone.   The parents are o.k. with it thinking a little space apart for all of them and less stress in the house might be a really good thing for all of them, plus it is a really great career opportunity for Harriet to have an in with a top fashion designer.   Its all good till Grandma goes off on her own path leaving Harriet in the hands of the designer and her other models.   Language barrier aside, being a brilliant student, Harriet researches the Japanese language and has a handle of enough words to have some conversation and the other models speak broken English and all except one become fast friends.   That one just happens to be the NEW girlfriend of Harriet’s boyfriend, who was also contacted for this photo shoot.   Harriet’s happy place didn’t last long and her bff, Natalie is too far away to cry on her shoulder.   However, Natalie rallies and gives Harriet a buck up and act as though she could care less and is even happy for the new couple.   It isn’t easy but Harriet does follow her friend’s advice and proves herself Oscar worthy as she is dying inside the whole time.   Her now ex-boyfriend is thrown by her nonchalance and yep, he comes running back.   Many mishaps occur during the time in Japan and Harriet’s troubles are far from over.   I won’t spoil the ending, I will just say this was a very pleasing story in the vein of a Sophie Kinsella novel.     I didn’t realize this book was part of a series, but, I think I will read the other titles as well as this was a very well written story and I especially like the attention to detail.   Good read.

Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue

Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue by M.C. Beaton Audio book 4 hours Book 152 pages

The poor relations are back in this fifth addition to the series. It is typical among the gentry to stay in a hotel and to leave without paying. Colonel Sandhurst has volunteered to retrieve the amount owed to the hotel from the latest cheapskates. While attempting to do so, he encounters, Frederica, the lovely daughter of the family (who did not stay in the hotel) and he comes up with an idea. Frederica wants to run away from home because her father is going to make her marry a beast of a man. So the Colonel figures she can take shelter at the hotel and he can get money out of her father in order to secure her safe return to him. Once again the poor relations find themselves in a difficult situation. Can they help themselves and Frederica or will her wants and desires play second fiddle to their financial troubles? Read it, listen to it, either way you won't regret it.

The Rules

The Rules by Stacey Kade, 410 pages

Ariane isn’t who she seems to be.  When she was six, she escaped from a genetic lab with the help of her adoptive father, who had recently lost his own daughter.  Ariane has his daughter’s name and life and since the girl had lived with her mother, no one in town knew anything was wrong.  Except that Ariane had some trouble fitting in, partly because of her early upbringing but also because she wasn’t completely human.  Still, Ariane’s life has been okay, as long as she follows all of her father’s rules, designed to keep her safe.  Ten years later, Ariane is finally letting her emotions get the better of her and has decided to break the rules, which could have devastating consequences.  This was a good story with a definite science fiction bent.  This isn’t very hard science.  It reads a little more like a typical high school reality romance with a science fiction twist.  It is a good story that will probably have more girl appeal.

Sir Philip's Folly

Sir Philip's Folly by M.C. Beaton Audio book 4 hours Book 152 pages

Sir Philip's folly is actually his decision to bring in a course widow named Mary Budge whom he has taken as a lover. She is lazy, rude and has an appetite that threatens to eat the hoteliers out of house and home. And to top it off she wants to be a partner in the Poor Relation Hotel. Naturally hilarity ensues as the poor relations scheme and plot to get rid of Mrs. Budge. The solution actually comes from a young woman named Arabella Carruthers whose mother is trying to pass her daughter off as a child and herself as a young widow in order to remarry. Arabella who knows nothing of the world quickly learns a lot about life dealing with the poor relations. Will she find love or will she be forever condemned to a life of pretense with her delusional mother? The 4th book of the Poor Relation Series does not disappoint.

Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace

Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace by M.C. Beaton Audio book 4 hours Book 152 pages 

Image result for mrs budley falls from graceBook 3 of the Poor Relation Series was just as engaging as the last two. I suspect all these reviews are getting repetitive so I’ll try to mix things up. Having run into money troubles yet again, the poor relations must come up with money fast and turn to thievery yet again. Poor Mrs. Budley has drawn the short straw so it is her turn to rob a rich relation. Sir Phillip comes up with the idea for her to pretend to be the relative of an elderly, rich Marquess. But as it turns out the older Marquess has died and his younger, more handsome relative now resides at Warwickshire Castle. Well when a man meets a woman feelings are going to be caught. Does she get the money? Does she get the man? Read the book to find out or get the audio book read by the ever talented Davina Porter. 

Great Classic Stories

Great Classic Stories by Various Authors             Audio Book: 7 hours, 4 minutes  (I did not find a book edition)     let's say 250 pages ?

I enjoyed listening to these wonderful stories so much.   Many I was already familiar with from my youth, but, like visiting with old friends from your past these tales are timeless and always a pleasure to listen to and get a new understanding or new perspective on at different ages and maturity.    Oscar Wilde’s, The Sphinx Without a Secret you can feel his amusement through like he is sharing a  private joke that only he and the reader are in on.    Tobermory was bittersweet about a  human teaching a cat to speak, but, because the cat had always been privy to conversations he spilled a lot of truisms and didn’t mince his words when dealing with foolish fops.   The privileged society he was a part of did not like to have their sins revealed and wanted the poor cat killed.  They planned just how they would do it while the poor linguist who was so thrilled with the accomplishment of actually teaching an animal to speak was devastated.   But the animal can speak, can converse intelligently, it had never been before and these awful people wanted to kill the poor cat for merely telling the truth?  Unfathomable!  While they were all arguing their points the cat had seen another cat and slipped outside.   Sadly the other cat was tougher than him and did the job for them.    The rich haughty folk told the linguist to go to the Zoo and teach elephants to speak they wouldn’t have anything to say about society folk as they would speak only of their days on exhibition and if of anyone certainly the lower class!   How far the lofty have to fall!  The rats!   On Being Idle is the story of a man with too much time on his hands for sure.   He keeps coming up with one conundrum after another as he thinks himself into a mental stupor.  For Better or Worse a woman and her husband fought during the early years of their marriage to the point he leaves and puts out to sea.    25 years later he hears she is doing very well for herself has a good income and lives the high life, he decides to go get some of the wealth she has managed to stockpile.   At first she puts him off as if she is someone else because after all those years, he didn’t recognize her nor remember her voice.   But instead of giving him the heave-ho, she felt sorry for him and made him promise he would be a better person and she took him back.  Savior Complex.  Appeal to one’s sympathy with your down and outness and the maternal instinct kicks in and she wants to save him.   Ohhhhhh!   Next!  I liked theModel Millionaire.    A poor man sees a poor begger posing for an art class as their model for the day.  The poor man only has a bit of money to live on but gives most of what he has to this poor man who surely needs it more than he does.   The philanthropist feels a fool when he finds out the man had so much money he could have bought ENGLAND and was just dressed in a costume for the session.   Now thoughts of how in the world am I going to make it start flooding into the poor man’s mind however, because of his generosity the millionaire has a $10,000 pound check delivered to the poor man for his sincerity of spirit and kindness to a fellow human being.     So many great stories here for sure.   And dear Edgar Alan Poe, The Black Cat  and The Tell-Tale Heart images of Vincent Price and Peter Lorre come to mind!   The last story in the collection is The Monkeys Paw.  That one never ceases to get my pulse racing.   Just the thought of what is coming and what lies beyond the door is so frightening I get goosebumps no matter how many times I read it or hear it or see it on the screen.    Whew!   A shudder just went down my spine, it is said when that happens someone has just walked over your grave.  (Cue the maniacal laughter of Vincent Price.)    They truly are great stories.


Imprudence by Gail Carriger, 352 pages

Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England's scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue's best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types. Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue's beginning to suspect what they really are... is frightened.”  This sequel is just as fun as all of Carriger’s other books.  This is for fans of steampunk fantasy.

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

The Family FletcherTakes Rock Island by Dana Alison Levy, 259 pages

This is the sequel to “The Misadventures Of The Family Fletcher”.  Sam, Jax, Eli, Frig and their two dads have been coming to Rock Island every summer since they’ve been a family.  Nothing on the island ever changes, which is one of the reasons they like it.  But this year there are a few changes.  One very big change that the family hates is that the lighthouse is closed to the public.  Someone was hurt and now it’s closed pending inspection.  No one is sure what will happen but they can’t bear the thought of it being torn down.  One change that ends up being not so bad is some other kids that are staying nearby this year.  Valerie and Alex seem a little strange at first but may end up being not so bad.  Then there’s a weird artist running around the island.  He might not be too awful but he seems to be up to something.  And there’s an ice cream truck on the island!  At least that’s one change that’s good.  This was a great sequel.  I recommend these books to any school age kid who likes realistic fiction.

My Pet Human Takes Center Stage

My Pet Human TakesCenter Stage by Yasmine Surovec, 103 pages

In this sequel to “My Pet Human”, Oliver has settled into life off the streets very well.  He loves his human, Freckles, and really loves his bed and his food and his treats, especially olives.  He doesn’t love when Freckles tries to go to school without him.  And he really doesn’t love when Freckles decides to foster a kitten.  And he hates when she decides to have him and the new kitten be part of a pet show.  But Oliver loves Freckles and maybe everything will work out for the best.  This is a sweet little book for beginning chapter book readers who like animals.

Miss Tonks Turns to Crime

Image result for miss tonks turns to crimeMiss Tonks Turns to Crime by M.C. Beaton Audiobook 4 hours Book 152 pages 

This is the second book in the Poor Relation Series and M.C. Beaton did not disappoint. The crazy antics of the poor relations were just an entertaining in this book as the last. The plot was quick and to the point with no dragging. Spinster Miss Tonks has been chosen to steal something from a rich relative so the Poor Relation Hotel may have the funds it desperately needed. Hilarity ensues. Being short, these stories pack a comedic punch and one might even say they end abruptly. As a reader I am grateful when there is another book in the series so I know I’ll be disappointed when I get to the last one. The only thing that really needs to be said about this book is that it is recommended. If you enjoy British humor (or humor period) you will enjoy this series. I definitely recommend listening to them as Davina Porter does an excellent job bringing the story to life. Thumbs up!

If Not for You

If Not for You by Debbie Macomber Book 364 pages

If Not for YouThis is the story of Beth and Sam. Beth is a friend of Nichole, the protagonist of the book A Girl's Guide to Moving On, so if you liked that one you will like this one. Two people who couldn't be more different and yet circumstances pulled them together and they can't (or rather don't want to) pull apart. This book is a case for the old adage "opposites attract". A woman from a sheltered, gentile background meets a rough man with a chip on his shoulder and cynicism in his eyes. Filet mignon meets hamburger basically, both are good but you wouldn't normally catch them together much less going well together.

This book was typical of the author. It starts off as the two people not really caring for one another but indifference gradually morphs into attraction. The story is a nice one with a predictable ending. The characters are semi-believable and semi-lovable but not particularly enigmatic and I don't think they were written to be so. Debbie always does a good job telling a story, there are never any lulls in the middle. One guarantee is that there will be a lot of emotion and this book was no different. One can tell she really puts thought into saying "they kissed" or "she was hurt" as many different ways as is humanly possible. That in and of itself is no small task. So if you enjoy romance and take comfort in knowing how the story ends, you will enjoy If Not for You.