Friday, July 13, 2018

The Gypsy Gene

I grew up in a Mississippi home with slightly older parents and brothers who were fourteen and sixteen years older. With brothers graduating high school at ages two and four, I spent most of my childhood and youth pretty much as only child would.

My parents loved to travel. I remember making long trips to visit Aunt Daisy in Iowa. On trips like that one, we usually stayed in motel rooms along the way.

The vacations we really enjoyed were spent camping. We started out in a tent when I was about five. We went to a family camp in the Kiamichi Mountains of Oklahoma. Mom and Dad found a spot on a hill near the bathhouse. It rained quite a bit that week. Our next camping trip was made in a pop-up camper. We stayed in that camper a year or two. It really only had room to sleep with maybe a tiny storage space. We cooked meals outside on a camp stove. We graduated from that to a Starcraft which had a table where we could be comfortable when it rained as well as an indoor stove and sink. We made trips to Bull Shoals Lake and Eureka Springs in Arkansas, to Guntersville Lake in Alabama, to the newly opened Walt Disney World in Florida, to the Smokies, to Virginia, and many other places I've long since forgotten. We took it to Sardis Lake just for the weekend many times. It took only two and a half hours to make that trip. 

Eventually the Starcraft was replaced with a Coachman travel trailer. I was probably in the last couple of years of middle school then. They replaced the Coachman with an Allegro motor home sometime when I was still in high school. It was a very large rig and more than they really needed so they downsized after I was in college. I think the first smaller motor home was a Midas. They finished their camping in a Minnie Winnie which they purchased on the road in Florence, South Carolina. I think there was one other motor home in between those. Dad who was two years older than mom retired at 62; she retired at 65. When she retired, they spent a lot of time camping. They often made long trips, being gone for several months at a time. They made a trip to New England and a trip out west. They made many other trips as well. They had campground memberships which made it very affordable. They only paid $1 to $5 a night, depending on the agreements between campgrounds. Their favorite camping spot was in the Smokies at their "home" campground, Mill Creek Resort in Pigeon Forge. 

I lived in Cincinnati part of the time and often drove down on weekends when they camped there.When I moved to East Tennessee, they rarely stayed at my house, preferring to stay in the RV in Pigeon Forge. As they grew older, Dad's comfort level driving diminished, so they did most of their travelling during my breaks so I could drive.

The Minnie Winnie parked at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Florida

Mom and Dad at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Florida


Mom called her love of camping and traveling "the gypsy gene." I remember telling her about all the places Levi Lantz lived. He was born in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. He moved to Wayne County, Ohio, where he married Barbara Yoder. They moved to Knox County, Ohio for a brief time before returning to Holmes County, Ohio, which adjoined Wayne, to care for some of her aging relatives. They moved near Oak Grove, McLean County, Illinois, where my grandfather Abraham met his wife Laura. Levi, however, moved on to Howard County, Indiana, where his wife died. He then moved to St. Joseph County, Michigan, back to Oak Grove in McLean County, Illinois, to Johnson County, Missouri, and eventually to McPherson County, Kansas where he died in 1887. After I'd recited all his moves, Mom declared, "That's where I got my gypsy gene."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Woman Named Anarchy?

I spent several hours Tuesday researching at the Calvin M. McClung Collection in Knoxville. I followed my plan to use published abstracts for Bedford County, Tennessee to help me trace my Mosely and related lines forward and to find things missing from my ancestral line research.

As I checked the index of a volume, I came across an unusual name. Turning to the page, I found the entry summarized thusly:

Marriage Volume A, page 438
Couple: Clifton Neill and Anarchy Moseley
Security: B. M. Tillman
Marriage Date: 29 July 18661

As I read the entry, I wondered who would name a child Anarchy. This record appears in the section for colored marriages so I assume Anarchy recently enjoyed her first taste of freedom from slavery. Another section in Volume A records marriages of free persons of color. Of course, by 1866, former slaves were free. I located the marriage record's image at Ancestry to verify the abstract's information.2

The mulatto couple resided in Bedford County's fourth district in 1870 with ten-year-old Jim. Clifton was enumerated as Cliff Neil and Anarchy was enumerated as Anica. Both were age forty-five.3 It is unknown if Jim was the natural son of both Cliff and Anica or if only one "parent" belonged to him. Many African-Americans married in the years following the Civil War, and Bedford County's marriage register is filled with multiple entries on each day, with many of the grooms serving as securities for another groom marrying on the same day.4

I was unable to locate the family in 1880. Is the woman's name Anarchy as the marriage record suggests or Anica as the 1870 census suggests? Without further evidence I may never know. Perhaps I'll run across a record with additional evidence for the name. I certainly hope it turns out to be Anica.


1 Helen C. Marsh and Timothy R. Marsh, Official Marriages of Bedford County, Tennessee (Greenville, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1996), volume 1, page 66.
2 "Tennessee, Marriage Records, 1780-2002," database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 July 2018), Clifton Neill to Anarchy Moseley, 29 July 1866, Bedford County; citing marriages available at Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.
3 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Bedford County, Tennessee, population schedule, 4th District, Shelbyville post office, page 177B (stamped), page 22 (written), dwelling and family 140, lines 27-29, Cliff Neil household; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 July 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication M593, roll 1514.
4 Marsh and Marsh, Official Marriages of Bedford County, Tennessee, pages 51-77/

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Why I Dislike "Smart Matches"

My Heritage trees offer users "Smart Matches" when matching persons are found. It is designed to help improve or fill in gaps in your tree. A recent match for me yielded some additional information about my ancestor Martha Horn (d. abt. 1761). (I am not citing the specific tree it matched because I do not wish to call out the person who placed the information online.)

The tree owner provided a middle name for Martha in her tree. Martha was born before middle names were common. The person also provided the middle name of "Asbury" for Martha's husband. Since Francis Asbury was not born until after my ancestor William, this seems rather unlikely unless William's maternal grandfather, or possibly a great-grandparent, bore the surname "Asbury." However, men born during William's time only possessed a single given name. I definitely do not want to add either middle name to my tree without good documentation.

The next reason I do not like to add smart matches relates to place name information provided. The individual provided a birth date for Martha of 1719. (I lack a birth date, but it seems a likely date since the youngest known child was born about 1740. I need better documentation before I add a qualifier such as "abt" or "est" to the date.) However, the birthplace given is Bertie County, North Carolina, United States. The last time I checked my American history books, North Carolina was a colony at the time, the Revolution had not been fought, and the United States had not been birthed in 1719. Bertie County (or Precinct) was divided from Chowan in 1722, so even the birth location is incorrect. The tree owner also places "USA" at the end of the death date, which occurred before the birth of the United States.

The tree owner provides parents for Martha. I do not wish to add those until I establish the fact through my own research.

I want to be fully in control of the data entered on my tree, and "Smart Matches" do not provide that opportunity. The default is that all new or improved information is added. While I like the idea of connecting with others researching an individual through some sort of confirmation, I do not want to be forced to accept their data in order to do so. Until accepting data becomes optional, I simply peruse the smart matches for clues, avoiding acceptance of questionable data. Of course, my tree at My Heritage is simply skeletal for DNA matching purposes in the first place. I like being able to see matching trees Ancestry without being forced to accept their data. I always ignore the trees, but I can still see those ignored hints if I click on hints. With MyHeritage, I want to be able to consult the tree but the only options on the review page are to confirm the match or reject it. At least by not confirming or rejecting the matches, I can still view the matching trees by looking at the pending smart matches.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Blood on the Tracks



Edwards, Martin. Blood on the Tracks: Railway Mysteries. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2018.

An uneven, but mostly enjoyable collection of short stories compiled by Martin Edwards.

"The Man with the Watches" by Arthur Conan Doyle - A mysterious death on a train is solved when a letter from abroad arrives.

"The Mystery of Felwyn Tunnel" by L. T. Meade & Robert Eustace - The death of a signalman casts suspicion upon a railway worker. Before investigators arrive on the scene, they find another corpse in almost the same location. Science solves the mystery.

"How He Cut His Stick" by Matthias McDonnell Bodkin - A thief gets off a train traveling at full speed. Dora Myrl figures out how.

"The Mysterious Death on the Underground Railway" by Baroness Orczy - A look back at an unsolved murder about a woman poisoned on a train.

"The Affair of the Corridor Express" by Victor L. Whitechurch - The son of a wealthy Londoner is kidnapped on a train while in the care of a school official, disappearing before the destination is reached.

"The Case of Oscar Brodski" by R. Austin Freeman - Forensic evidence helps solve the crime.

"The Eighth Lamp" by Roy Vickers - More suspense than mystery. A signalman sees a circle line train running after hours. Still enjoyable, even if the mystery element is not strong.

"The Knight's Cross Signal Problem" by Ernest Bramah - A signalman performed his duties but an oncoming train sees a "go ahead" resulting in a crash. A blind detective figures out what happened.

"The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face" by Dorothy L. Sayers - A corpse with a mutilated face appears on a beach with no clues to the victim's identity left. While riding a train, the detective overhears Lord Peter Wimsey's theory, leading to the victim's identification.

"The Railway Carriage" by F. Tennyson Jesse - Solange Fontaine boards a train headed for London in Merchester. The occupants of her third class car speak of the execution of a young man that morning. The train crashes. With the next car aflame, a young man appears urging them to get out, but then he disappears.

"Mystery of the Slip-Coach" by Sapper - A bookmaker's corpse lies in a railway coach with egg splattered upon the door. A bullet killed him. One passenger's luggage contains a firearm, but the bullet doesn't match.

"The Level Crossing" by Freeman Wills Crofts - After a stock deal, a man is found dead at a railway crossing.

"The Adventure of the First-Class Carriage" by Ronald Knox - A Sherlock Holmes mystery written by someone other than Doyle.

"Murder on the 7.16" by Michael Innes - ***SPOILER***"Not a real murder" on "not a real train."***END OF SPOILER*** Different!

"The Coulman Handicap" by Michael Gilbert - A woman under surveillance gives her tail the slip in a case involving precious jewels.

This review is based on an advanced electronic copy received from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an unbiased review.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Murder at the Mansion



Connolly, Sheila. Murder at the Mansion. (Victorian Village Mystery; 1) New York: Minotaur Books, 2018.

This promising start to a new "Victorian Village" series by Sheila Connolly features Kate who returns to Asheboro after the hotel for which she works sells to new ownership who release Kate and her boss from their positions with nice severance packages. Kate's mission to see how the town can make a turnaround may be impossible, but the key lies in an old mansion now owned by the town. Its previous owner Henry Barton left a generous trust fund to maintain the property. Kate's nemesis, a councilwoman, was murdered. Kate finds herself assisting in the investigation as she examines some important letters she becomes certain the woman found. I loved the mystery but guessed the murderer's identity fairly early. A lot of questions remain unanswered for the readers, indicating the author intends to reveal more solutions to those questions in future installments. While genealogical research was done, the author included few details. Hopefully more will unfold as the series progresses. The series shows promise and should provide mystery-loving genealogists with a few hours pleasure as each book is published.  I received an advance electronic copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The King's Justice



Powell, E. M. The King's Justice. Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2018.

When the manorial Lord comes to seek permission of the king's justices to execute a man charged with murdering the town's blacksmith, the justice's clerk Aelred Barling along with Hugo Stanton, a messenger in the king's service, to make inquiries and serve justice. Stanton does not believe the accused committed the crime, but he's not the one there to give the verdict. Another man is murdered the night the accused escapes from the "gaol." The body count and attempted murder count climbs as the story progresses and the search for the missing man continues.

This was a nicely plotted mystery that held my interest. The guilty party was not immediately obvious although one might suspect the person among several others. The writing is not as strong or tight as it could be. I will probably seek future installments of this medieval mystery series. This review is based on an advance e-galley received from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review in exchange.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Spook in the Stacks



Gates, Eva. The Spook in the Stacks. New York: Crooked Lane Books, 2018.

Once again Lucy, the staff, and patrons of the Lighthouse Library, located on North Carolina's Outer Banks, find themselves in the midst of a murder. The victim,a former area resident who planned to donate his collection of valuable historical documents to the library, dies at a library event, and Lucy finds him. Until the evening of the murder, his finalists list for the collection also included Blackmore College's history department. His granddaughter and curator accompanied him to the Outer Banks, immediately becoming suspects. Lucy's boyfriend Connor seeks re-election as mayor, spending much of his time, campaigning. Butch, the detective, warns Lucy against detecting, but somehow the mystery seeks her out. Louise Jane enthralls guests with her haunting stories of local ghosts while Lucy spots her first one and some inexplicable happenings with a model ship on loan from Louise Jane. Although light and cozy, the book keeps the reader engaged. Some portions, particularly in the first few chapters, seemed a bit repetitious, providing details such as Lucy's living arrangements in more than one location. I received an advance electronic copy from the publisher via NetGalley with expectations of an honest review.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com



Hendrickson, Nancy. Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: How to Find Your Family History on the #1 Genealogy Website. Revised and updated ed. Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2018.

Author Nancy Hendrickson describes using the Ancestry.com site. The book, aimed at new researchers more than experienced ones, contains good comment, but often comes up a bit short. For example, although she cautions new users about accepting information from trees if it appears wrong, she really fails to tell them they should never add the tree as a source but instead should verify the information and add it manually after it is verified. While she is correct that uploading information from a GEDcom file is quicker, she fails to mention reasons for not doing so--and many exist. In the chapters on using AncestryDNA, she fails to mention some of the tips leading genetic genealogists suggest. For example, she tells readers to email those who do not have a tree without telling them how they may be able to find an unattached tree by checking the match's profile or how the connection may be determined by looking at "shared matches." In fact, she never mentions "shared matches." She also failed to mention and caution users about some of the weaker databases such as some of the public records collections lacking dates and some of the collections drawn from older user-submitted sources which contain errors. Of course, the author could not anticipate the problems tree sync users currently experience due to some data migration issues. She could not anticipate the problems with the Rootsweb portions of the site which resulted in long outages for some resources and continuing outages for others. Most supplemental resources suggested appear to be mostly sources from the book's publisher rather than using the "best sources" for acquiring additional subject information. Recommended only for true beginners, but with the caution to supplement with additional resources and webinars to gain a better picture of the power of Ancestry and to understand the genealogical proof standard which did not appear to be a consideration of the author. I received an electronic copy for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Fire in the Thatch



Lorac, E. C. R. Fire in the Thatch. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2018.

This clever mystery featuring Detective Inspector MacDonald sends him to a rural Devon community where Nicholas Vaughan, a very private man, burned in the home he leased. At first glance, it appears to be an accidental fire, but things don't add up in the death of the meticulous and well-liked man. A man who tried to lease or purchase the same property, known as "Little Thatch," questions the man's identity. MacDonald finds the missing pieces, leading to the murderer's motive and identity. This installment is one of the better reads in the British Library Crime Classics series. I received an electronic copy from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Friday, June 01, 2018

What is a "stave dealer"?

Background: Today's post was going to be about a research breakthrough, but I ran into something needing resolution before the intended post can be published. I worked many hours on the problem, but it may require more resources than available online. I'll keep working on it, and hopefully its resolution will be found.

An alternate post needed creation. While researching the problem, I came across an occupation called "stave dealer." I looked up the definition of the word "stave," finding it is a piece of wood used in making barrels. An entry for the occupation "Cooper" in a mid-nineteenth century British publication explained:

The business of a Cooper is to make vessels for the safe keeping of liquids. Those vessels are made of different kinds of wood, oak being generally used for the larger vessels where the staves are required to be of great length and thickness. They are cut before they are imported into England from the Baltic, and are sold to the Cooper by the stave-merchant who imports them. Staves are sent here cut to the lengths required for various sorts of vessels, and are sold under the following designations: viz. pipe staves, five feet, six inches in length, two inches thick, and six inches wide; hogshead staves, four feet long; barrel staves, three feet, six inches; there are also long and short headings of various sizes. The stave-merchant sorts them for the Cooper, according to the quality required calling them best and seconds. There are a vast quantity of staves imported from Canada; but though they are finer in the grain and make up better to the eye than the staves of the north of Europe, they are not found to be so durable.*

Other online sources indicate the stave industry thrived in the United States as well. The stave dealer I found worked in Illinois.

___

* N. Whitlock, J. Bennett, J. Badcock, C. Newton, et al. The Complete Book of Trades, or the Parent's Guide and Youth's Instructor in the Choice of a Trade or Profession . . . London: Thomas Tegg, 1842, pp. 160-161.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

An Impressive Member of the FAN Club

Most genealogists recognize the acronym FAN popularized by Elizabeth Shown Mills. For those not acquainted with the term, FAN represents your ancestor's friends, associates, and neighbors.

Micah Taul, then clerk of courts in Wayne County, Kentucky, granted marriage bonds on 22 Jan 1811 to two couples. The bondsman for Charles Harris to wed Dicey Davis was John Harris, believed to be his father. The bond states Dicey was "of age" and that Charles' parents were present and consented. The other marriage that day was Joseph Mays to Nancy Davis. Presumably Nancy was Dicey's younger sister for John Davis, presumably their father, consented to that marriage. Nicholas Banes served as bondsman. Mays' parents also consented according to the record.

I wondered who Micah Taul was. Born in Maryland in 1785, he moved with his parents to Wayne County, Kentucky, in 1787. His admission to the bar at the age of sixteen in 1801 is notable. He began serving as county clerk that same year. He served as a Colonel in the War of 1812. He served a term as United States representative from 1815 to 1817. He later moved to Winchester, Tennessee where he practiced law and eventually to Talladega County, Alabama where he owned a plantation near Mardisville. Taul's son Micah later served as Alabama's Secretary of State.

Taul wrote memoirs. The originals no longer exist, but they were serialized in the Register of Kentucky State Historical  in 1929 and typescripts are available at University of Kentucky and Appalachian State University. Appalachian State's special collections contain letters from a Taul descendant.

____
Sources:

Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/25309452/micah-taul : accessed 28 May 2018), memorial for Micah Taul (1785-1850), memorial no. 25309452, citing Taul Family Cemetery, Mardisville, Talladega County, Alabama; memorial created by Bill McKern, 16 Mar 2008.

"Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797-1954," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-893Y-BLFB?cc=1804888&wc=QD3Q-H3V%3A1589735718 : 17 May 2018), Charles Harris to Dicey Davis and Joseph Mays to Nancy Davis, 22 Jan 1811, Wayne County, Kentucky, FHL film 005773126 > image 172 of 707; citing record at Madison County Courthouse, Richmond.

"Memoirs of Micah Taul," Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, vol. 27, no. 79 (Jan. 1929): 343-380; vol. 27, no. 80 (May 1929): 494-517; vol. 27, no. 81 (Sept. 1929): 601-627. 

"Micah Taul," Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micah_Taul : accessed 28 May 2018).

Micah Taul Papers, 1848-1978. Belk Library, Appalachian State University, W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Collection 170. 2 folders. At the time of writing, the special collections web site did not load. Information obtained from Worldcat (https://worldcat.org/ : accessed 28 May 2018).


Monday, May 28, 2018

Why I Became a Genealogist

In the mid-1980s and from 1989-1999, I lived in Cincinnati. At that time the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's collection often appeared in top ten lists of genealogy research facilities in the United States. I always loved history and often saw lots of people researching their family histories as I used the main library.

On one visit home to Mississippi, my mother and grandmother (Nanny) discussed a trip they made to try to find out more about more about Nanny's grandfather Walton (or Walter) Harris. Nanny believed he came from Clinton, Kentucky, or at least that relatives resided there. The family story states he drove cattle to somewhere around Starkville, Mississippi. He stopped to water his horse and the cattle at the Mosely farm in Giles County, Tennessee where he met the woman who became his wife. She and a couple of female friends or relatives sunbathed in view of the men. After the cattle drive, he returned to the farm, taking her as his bride, never returning to Kentucky. I decided to try researching the story, hoping to locate Walton's parents in Kentucky.

Driving cattle from Hickman County, Kentucky, home of the town of Clinton, to Starkville, Mississippi by way of Giles County, Tennessee did not seem a likely route, and early efforts to find a family there which fit known data about his family from other censuses failed. I spotted Clinton County, Kentucky and wondered if Nanny confused the town and county. Clinton County was established in 1835, more than a couple decades after Walton's birth. However, its parent counties held relevant records. I built a case for his parents, based largely on naming patterns. I know I was a newbie researcher and that my case did not meet the Genealogical Proof Standard. I occasionally work on that line, trying to poke holes in my theory, but so far the conclusion reached remains viable.

It appears I inherited more DNA from Walton's wife than from him, but other cousins whose kits I manage hold valuable clues. My matches indicate a connection to the family, but those of cousins hold more matches showing a relation. I look forward to a day of research at Kentucky Department of Archives and History in a couple weeks when I look for additional things to incorporate in my proof argument.

The search for Walton's family ignited an enduring passion for genealogical research. I always did love jigsaw puzzles, logic puzzles, and the mystery genre. Genealogy releases my inner sleuth!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Taking Time To Blog

Life sometimes gets busy. I do not take time to find things to blog nor do I take time to write posts. Early blog posts here did not always include full citations because I did not know how to create footnotes on a blog. It adds time to the creation of blog posts because of the complexity of creating the HTML coding. I want to include citations when needed (and sometimes when not) to ensure adherence to genealogy standards.

Lately book reviews filled my blog. They will continue to be part of it. I need the outlet to fulfill requirements for advance review copies. However, I do not want reviews to become the main thing here as I allowed. After reflecting, I decided on an action plan to reclaim the blog for its intended purpose. I resolve to blog three times weekly about something genealogical or historical in nature. Sometimes the post may take the form of a book review, but I hope most book reviews fall on Tuesdays. I hope to post most other non-genealogy reviews on Thursdays or Saturdays. However, book reviews coincide with book release dates set by publishers. Most fall on Tuesdays, but exceptions exist.

The new plan presently includes genealogy or history posts scheduled to appear on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I may include posts other days if I regain the momentum I once possessed. If I'm on vacation or otherwise out of town, the posts may include something about a place I visit or a genealogical reflection on a person associated with the place.

If I fail to keep up with this schedule, hold me accountable! Ask "What's up?" or in some way let me know someone reads and misses the posts. This will encourage me to get back on track. Thank you, readers, for bearing with me.

The Blogger privacy notice only appears when an IP originates in EU countries or if you change the domain to a European one. After I figure out how to use the new pages feature on the updated blog template, I will add one of my own as well. However, it covers the only cookies and such. I removed the "followers" element from the sidebar to increase privacy of readers. I did not know if readers could opt out, so I decided to be safe.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Better Off Read



Page, Nora. Better Off Read. New York: Crooked Lane Books, 2018.

A library with a 75-year-old librarian who still drives a bookmobile (and speeds while doing so)? The set-up for Nora Page's new series features that implausible scenario. The mayor of Catulpa Springs, Georgia,somewhere just north of the Florida state line, wants to do away with its tree-damaged library, its bookmobile, and its librarian. An antiquarian book collector and library friend's death turns suspicion to the man's neighbor. Cleo doesn't believe it and sets out to investigate. Not even Rhett Butler the cat could redeem this book. Far too many characters appear too quickly without sufficient development to sort in the reader's mind. A low-level officer related to one of the characters seems to be the main police officer investigating rather than police detectives or the man referred to throughout the book as "Chief." The conversation-intensive narrative likely appeals to a younger audience while the septuagenarian librarian tries to draw older readers. Unfortunately as someone who recently dealt with aging parents, I question how a town could afford insurance to allow an elderly woman known to speed to drive a bookmobile. While the story does improve as the book goes on, it fails to redeem itself and leaves the reader dissatisfied. I received an advance review copy from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Bats in the Belfry



Lorac, E. C. R. Bats in the Belfry. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2018.

Bruce Attleton and Mr. Debrette disappear about the same time. Friends and family believe Attleton went abroad, but his luggage and passport turn up in a London studio called the Belfry. Inspector MacDonald investigates. Searchers find a mutilated body in a cleverly disguised location. Although slight doubts about its identity surface, it turns out to be Attleton. Blackmail, affairs, imposters, and more add to the plot. While the book itself suffers from being dated in writing style, the mystery's plot could probably still do well as a movie. It commands the attention of the reader. I received an advance electronic copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Best Cook in the World



Bragg, Rick. The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table. New York: Knopf, 2018.

Rick Bragg relates family stories as he shares some of his mother's recipes. His mother, like most Southern cooks of that generation, did not follow recipes. She cooked by eyeballing things and getting the ratio correct based on practice. The family stories needed editing. They failed to draw me in, partly because of excess verbiage and lack of action verbs. Most recipes can be found in other Southern regional cookbooks. In the electronic advance copy, the recipe's conclusion often bumps into text following it, making it difficult for readers. The distinction between the recipe and stories about the recipe needs more separation as well. Perhaps his identification of his mother as the best cook in the world elicits the most contentious point of the book. Why? Because my mom in the neighboring state of Mississippi earned that honor. I received an advance electronic copy of the book through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables



Reid, Catherine. The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: the Enchanting Island that Inspired L. M. Montgomery. Kerry Michaels, photographer. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2018.

Catherine Reid and Kerry Michaels produced a book which Anne of Green Gables enthusiasts everywhere will welcome. The book's focus is on the landscapes (gardens, woods, lakes, etc.) inspiring Montgomery's settings for the Anne series. Readers see the birch wood in varying seasons. They encounter gardens which inspired the Barry's garden of the books. They see the "Lake of Shining Waters." Gorgeous flower photographs appeal to the eye. The author includes excerpts from the books as she adds details. For academics the author's analysis needs improvement, but fans of the book will treasure the book anyway. Recommended for fans of the series.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Macbeth



Nesbo, Jo. Macbeth. London: Hogarth, 2018.

This retelling places Duncan has chief police commissioner in a once-important industrial city infested with drugs, organized crime, and corruption. All the major players have roles in the police leadership. When Duncan dies, Macbeth, the head of the SWAT team, succeeds him as commissioner. The Norse Riders fill the role of a gang. The setting did not work for me. I'm not a fan of gritty noir novels, and this take on the classic Shakespeare fit the category. I received an advance electronic copy through the publisher via NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide



Beidler, James M. The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide: How to Find Your Ancestors in Archived Newspapers. Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2018.

Well-known genealogist James M. Beidler discusses newspapers as a genealogical source. He covers most types of newspapers. Religious newspapers were omitted from separate treatment although a few titles showed up in a geographic sample in the book. He does an excellent job relating available databases, even acknowledging ethical questions about business practices of some. Beidler, best known for his German genealogical research, includes international newspapers, not limiting the discussion to the United States. The book's greatest flaw lies in the format of the otherwise excellent bibliography. It does not employ a recognized style manual such as Evidence Explained or Chicago Manual of Style. Since one chapter included information on citing newspapers following the recognized genealogical citation manual Evidence Explained, this surprised me. Beidler's work will become the most-cited "how to" guide on newspaper research in the genealogical community in the near future. All genealogy libraries with methodology collections should purchase a copy. I received an electronic advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Death by the Sea



Bridge, Kathleen. Death by the Sea. New York: Lyrical Underground, Kensington, 2018.

Liz Holt returns to Indialantic, Florida where her father runs the Indialantic by the Sea Hotel. We meet an odd assortment of characters who appear to find little to do other than drop names of old movies. (How many old titles can be fit into the book? Hundreds, it seemed.) Robbery appears to be the motive when a wealthy guest turns up dead about 40% of the way into the book. This installment failed to make me care about the amateur sleuth, detective, or any other character. I felt the author simply tried to show off her knowledge of old movies. I looked forward to a mystery set in this locale but came away disappointed. Other readers may find it more appealing. I will skip future installments. I received an advance reader's copy through NetGalley with the expectation an honest review would be written.