Saturday, January 23, 2021

 

From Pigtails to Chin Hairs: A Memoir and More by Becky Lewellen Povich  316 pages

I first met the author way back in 2007; I thought she had talent. And after reading her memoir, I know she does, and for me, it was like taking a stroll down memory lane…and cringing at our current bodily state.  Just for the record, she’s a tad older than me, but we grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s. Was it really as simple then or is that how we remember it? Don’t tell me; I like my---and Becky’s---memories the way they are.

The book is divided into six sections. At first, I thought it was important to read them in chronological order, but it wasn’t. I liked that Becky jumped around a bit. Oh, each section had theme, don’t get me wrong, but reading it was like talking with an old friend---we are talking about one thing and another memory pops up, then it’s back to where we were!

The first chapter was about life on the street and the home where she was raised. It looked oh so different as an adult---so much smaller, but the memories are oh so precious.  I remember feeling that when I drove past the home where I spent the first six year of my life. The oak tree was much smaller, as was the house. But mostly, like Becky, I remember the love and the fun we had there. Like life, there were times when this story was hard to read (keep a box of hankies nearby) (her first marriage) and times that I was laughing so hard that I need those hankies (the tale of the klutz genes)!

Now I do have to talk about a one thing that I didn’t like:  Becky, lose ninety-nine percent of the exclamation points. They almost drove me mad! However, it was a privilege reading this book, as I got a chance to watch Becky turn into the confident, creative, intelligent, goofy and beautiful woman that she is today.  And she’s got the scars to prove that she has earned everything all those things. What really stood out is her love of family and writing.  And I’m so glad she wrote this book!

From Pigtails to Chin Hairs: A Memoir and More receives 4 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.

Remembrance


Remembrance by Rita Woods  416 page


Great story tying the lives of four black women over the course of 200 years together through their magical abilities.   Remembrance is a special place created by Mother Abigail where escaping slaves can enter but white slavers cannot.   Winter, Mother Abigail's adopted daughter and apprentice.   Margot and Mother Abigail have common unhappy ties to the Rousse family and Gaelle, who in present day has ties to the powers of these women.   Well told tale of finely developed characters who almost step from the pages of this book.  I recommend this book to Middle schoolers on up an enchanting tale.

  - Shirley J.

A Promised Land


A Promised Land by Barack Obama   1,136 pages


Excellent book.   It is as though you are sitting across from the President and he is relating all the things he experienced throughout his two terms as Commander in Chief.  He adds in some memories from his past growing up in Hawaii, beloved times with his parents and grandparents and times with Michelle, her family and their daughters and family dogs.   You learn about Obama the man, the husband and father, the organizer,.the politician and the President.   He talks honestly about his life and career.  So many interesting historical events laid out in detail told as only Barack Obama can.   Most excellent read and he pulls no punches on the real people he came in contact with and just how he feels about them.  I recommend this book to Middle Schoolers on up.  

- Shirley J. 

Gray Mountain


Gray Mountain by John Grisham    480 pages


When up and coming lawyer, Samantha Kofer's career hits a snag during the recession and she is put on an indefinite furlough she finds herself accepting an internship with a legal aide firm in Brady, Virginia, oh yes and she is doing it for FREE.  While she misses New York and her lifestyle there, she finds a deep satisfaction in helping the poor of Appalachia fight their legal battles.   A good story with lots of heart wrenching characters in very real situations.   Good book, I highly recommend it to middleschoolers on up.

  - Shirley J.

Alaskan Holiday


Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber  352 pages


Josie Avery takes a Summer job cooking in a lodge in Ponder, Alaska up past the arctic circle.   Her dream job os to work as a sous chef under the famous Chef Anton who is opening a new hot restaurant in Josie's hometown of Seattle, Washington.    While living and working in Ponder she soon falls in love with its beauty, the great people living there, in particular Palmer Saxon and his husky as well as a crusty older fellow named Jack Corcoran, who adores her cooking..    Josie never makes any illusion she plans to stay iun Ponder and always talks about her dream job working with Chef Anton.   When things heat up between her and Palmer she turns down his marriage proposal knowing she is not about to give up her dream nor does she have any desire to live her life in the outskirts of humanity in Ponder.    the tory is happy, sad ,but, Debbie Macomber may give you lot of twists, som laughs and the occasional broken heart along the way but her writing will never disappoint.   I recommend this book to middle schoolers on up and especially to Cooking show fans.

- Shirley J.

Turbo Twenty-Three


 Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich   352 pages

This book is part of a series - everyone seems to be writing series these days.   Stephanie Plum is a female bounty hunter with a best friend and side kick who is a retired prostitute named Lula.  Lula is always looking for an angle to make some money and decides to go into reality t.v. with a show titled, "Naked and Afraid," which puts the lead characters naked out in a tough neighborhood to see what all they go through to survive.  While this is going on Stephanie's mentor, Ranger, who also happens to be one of two of Stephanie's love interests brings her in on a murder case. when an upper level employee of an ice cream factory's dead body falls out of a stolen ice cream factory truck covered in chocolate and nuts.   Stephanie goes under cover as a factory employee to try to find the killer.   It is a pretty laugh out loud series of events that take place in the pursuit of the perpetrator.    I liked the characters, especially Lula and Stephanie.    I think this series would be amusing to males and females from middle school on up.   Good series, think I will read more of their adventures.

 - Shirley J.

Look Alive Twenty-Five


Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich   336 pages


Another fun story with Bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum and her best friend and helper also former hooker, Lula going under cover working at a deli this time.   Seems the managers at the Red river Deli keep disappearing when they go out to take the trash to the dumpster in back of the deli.   The managers disappear, and all that is left is one of their shoes.    Can Stephanie and Lula pull a Cinderella move and find them by their shoe or will they solve the mystery and several murders with the help of Granger and Morelli (Stephanie's 2 love interests before Stephanie's day as Manager leaves her missing with only her shoe for a clue left behind.   Good book, funny repartee. I recommend this to mature highschoolers on up due to some sexual content and references.

- Shirley J.

The Safe Place: A Novel


The Safe Place: A Novel by Anna Downes   368 pages


Emily Proudman, aspiring actress and receptionist for Corporate CEO, Scott Denny can't believe her luck when after a bunch of mishaps her boss hires her to move to his fabulous estate on the French coastline to help his wife Nina with her day to day activities and to be an au pair to their daughter, Aurelia.    Things aren't always as they seem.   What looks good isn't always all you hoped it would be and Nina is a lot more eccentric as time goes by.   What has Emily gotten herself into?    I recommend this one for middle schoolers on up.    A very good story.  Loads of twists. 

- Shirley J.

Tthe Immortalists


The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin    368 pages


Good book.  When the four Gold children hear there is a Gypsy Fortune Teller in their building who can tell people the day they will die, naturally they are curious and must find out what she will tell them.  And she does.  The book follows the lives of the Gold family, very moving story as each individual deals with their own mortality, and all the things that life brings their way.   Lots of emotional situations and a very good storyline.  I would recommend this for mature teens on up as there are explicit sexual situations.

- Shirley J.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder (Book 1 in the series) by T. A. Willberg 336 pages

London 1958. The city is still trying to pick up the pieces shattered during World War II. Far below the city streets are a series of secret tunnels and passages, shifting doors and hallways, gadgets of all kinds and the home of Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries. A group of researchers, spies, agents that take on the cases that Scotland Yard cannot solve.

As the story opens, Michelle White is on duty, monitoring the letter boxes. All over London are secret receiver boxes that take letters (tips) from the streets down a six-mile pneumatic system, to land in Miss Brickett’s Filing Department, where they are read and either passed on or filed away. This night, April 11, Michelle received a letter addressed to her with only “a name, a time a place and one simple revelation.” She decides to investigate, grabbing her belongings and heading upstairs, toward the library and the locked room gate. Once inside, Michelle is murdered in a decidedly gory manner. Her body is discovered in a locked room, a la an Agatha Christie murder mystery.

Enter Marion Lane, a resourceful young woman, eager to rise through the ranks. She and her best friend, Bill, are apprentices, spending part of each day in various departments to learn what a successful Inquirer needs to know. I felt like I was on the set of “Get Smart” or a James Bond movie (without the coolness).

Michelle’s murder seems to just fade away until the last third of the novel, but all the efforts Marion and Bill have been putting forth are to solve the mystery. It’s convoluted and not very interesting. Well I will admit that the aluminum (I think) snake had cameras in its eyes and could detect movement was kinda cool in a creepy sort of way.

This is supposed to be the first book in a new series, but I’m done.  The story was interesting enough to keep me reading, but it was a slow read.  Therefore, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder receives 3 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.

 

The Amber Spyglass

 

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman; 467 pages

This is the conclusion of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Philip Pullman. I've been rereading this series because I've had a hard time finishing new books, but I didn't want to stop reading. So I picked up something I knew I loved and knew I would finish. 

It's difficult to describe this book without referencing the previous two titles. All the main characters of the previous two books return, and we follow closely the stories of Will and Lyra, both separate and reunited, and Mary Malone, a scientist who met Lyra in the second book. These three characters play important parts in a destiny that has caused all of the alternate worlds to either work to keep Lyra from fulfilling a prophecy, or to aid her and keep her alive in order to do so. Mary ends up in a beautifully described alternate world inhabited by strange but gracious and kind people, and I loved reading the descriptions of this world and its people again.

I really can't give a recap, as it might contain spoilers from some of the previous books! I will say that this book is excellent and recommended for any teen or adult who wishes to be swept away by beautiful writing and unforgettable characters and events. Now I will move on to Pullman's companion series to these books and will get to read about Lyra at other times in her life!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Royal Rabbits of London: The Hunt for the Golden Carrot

The Royal Rabbits of London: The Hunt for the Golden Carrot (Book 4 in the series) by Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore 230 pages

It’s late summer in London. Deep below Buckingham Palace, our favorite fictional bunny, Shylo Tawny-Tail, is happy with his role as a Royal Rabbit. The Royal Rabbits are a secret group of specially trained rabbits whose mission it is to guard the Royal Family…on the QT of course!

As the story opens, it’s a special day for Shylo. He gets to go his home warren for a visit; he hasn’t been home since the spring!  He is sooooooooo excited! And while he has had many grand adventures, he misses his mom and his siblings. After packing and saying his so longs, Shylo hops aboard the underground Rabbit Rail bound for the English countryside.  

But when he arrives, he quickly realizes that something fishy is going on.  All the other rabbits are mesmerized by a mysterious named Harlequin. Shylo, with his outsider’s perspective, sees that Harlequin has developed a cult-like following. I was reminded of Jim Jones, Charles Manson and others who have convinced followers into blind obedience.

Harlequin is after the Golden Carrot, which, according to ancient legend, will give him complete power of all humans and animals. All Shylo’s siblings and his old friends are digging up the countryside, looking for the valuable artifact. More and more rabbits come to the farm to look for the Golden Carrot.  But when the search turns deadly, Shylo must use all his resources to figure out exactly what Harlequin is trying to do. 

Shylo calls on all his hometown friends and his Royal Rabbit colleagues and even some of bad guys he has recently encountered to help him solve the mystery.  It was fun to see all the characters from the previous three stories. The appearance of these characters may signal the end of the series—it has that feeling.

The Royal Rabbits of London: The Hunt for the Golden Carrot receives 4 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.


Saturday, January 2, 2021

December, 2020 SLPL team totals

 This month:
6 people
read 37 books
for a total of 12150 pages!

Shirley J was our Super Reader again, logging 5130 pages. However, Jen O. wasn't too far behind, and neither was Julie E-C, who logged 2785 and 2160 pages, respectively.

Onwards to 2021!!

Zhuangzi

 Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings with selections from traditional commentaries translated by Brook Ziporyn, 238 pages

Zhuangzi was a late 4th century B.C. Daoist philosopher. Zhuangzi's writings have a very poetical style, especially if contrasted with the Daodejing. His writings and philosophy can be hard to define because they have elements of multiple ideas. His writings show him as a mystic, a skeptic, a metaphysical monist, a spirit-body dualist, an intuitionist, a theist, a deist, an agnostic, a relativist, a fatalist, a nihilist, a linguistic philosopher, and an existentialist. 

However, some themes that can be found in his writings include: relative magnitudes in time and space, the emptiness of words, the imperative of self-preservation, and the non-distinction between life and death. 

Readers can choose how to take in this book. They can read just the Inner chapters or any chapters or jump around. The commentaries are optional but can add meaning. I liked this book and recommend it to those interested in Chinese philosophy or those interested in Daoism.