Monday, October 14, 2019

national lowercase day

october 14 is "national lowercase day."

a public domain poem by e. e. cummings seems appropriate to honor the day:

songs (ii)

when life is quite through with
and leaves say alas,
much is to do
for the swallow,that closes
a flight in the blue;

when love's had his tears out,
perhaps shall pass
a million years
(while a bee dozes
on the poppies,the dears;

when all's done and said,and
under the grass
lies her head
by oaks and roses

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

The Bodies in the Library

Wingate, Marty. The Bodies in the Library. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2019.

Hayley Burke, curator of a library devoted to the golden age of mysteries, has never read a mystery in her life. The compensation and benefit of living on the premises attract her to this dream job. Mrs. Woolgar, secretary to the library's founder Lady Georgiana Fowling, lives in the building also. Hayley tries to find ways to improve the library's visibility and invites a group of mystery writers to meet there. When a group member's body appears in the library after hours and after the group left, Hayley inserts herself into the police investigation to mitigate damage to the library and the writers' group. I never warmed to Hayley--perhaps because of her lack of affection for the mystery genre. I found the book easy to put down. The plot seemed convoluted. More insights into the police investigation and less of the amateur sleuth's attempts would improve the book.The library's cat Bunter was my favorite character. I received an advance review copy through GoodReads. While a review is encouraged, it was not required.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Mad Hatter Day

Original illustration (1865), by John Tenniel (February 28, 1820 - February 25, 1914), of Lewis Carroll's novel, Alice in Wonderland.
October 6 is celebrated as Mad Hatter's Day because of this John Tenniel illustration from Alice in Wonderland.

Sounds like a good excuse for a tea party!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Along the Tapajós

Vilela, Fernando. Along the Tapajós. Translated by Daniel Hahn. s.l.: Amazon Crossing, 2019.

I enjoyed this story about persons living along the Tapajós River system who must move when the rainy season arrives each winter. In this story, they forget their pet turtle, and the children sneak out one night to retrieve the turtle from the now flooded village. They encounter an anaconda. The illustrations were okay but not outstanding.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Women and the Law

In my library-related work, I often run across books potentially useful to genealogists. One such book is Women and the Law: The Unfinished Revolution by Leo Kanowitz. It was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 1969. Chapter two which talks about coverture and married women's property rights especially appear useful.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

National Homemade Cookies Day

Apparently October 1 is "National Homemade Cookie Day." I don't bake a lot of cookies for myself, but I occasionally make a batch for something at church or work. A batch simply provides too much temptation when kept at home.

Since my mother worked when I was young, we rarely had homemade cookies at the house. Oh, she'd occasionally make some, but she'd usually make pie or cake instead.

When I was in middle school, we learned to make M & M cookies like those pictured above in our home ec class. I took the recipe home with me, and I began to bake an occasional batch of cookies.

My Aunt Rae kept homemade cookies on hand at her house--mainly because Uncle Bud loved them so much.

The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories

Edwards, Martin, editor. The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2019.

As in most collections, some stories are better than others.

"A Christmas Tragedy" by Baroness Orczy
Although occurring at Christmas, the story is not Christmas-y. It’s a rather boring story in which Lady Molly identifies the killer of Major Ceely. Suspicion fell to his daughter’s secret boyfriend who maintained his innocence.

"By the Sword" by Selwyn Jepson
I didn’t like this one. I was distracted while reading it, but I didn’t like it well enough to go back and read the rest of it.

"The Christmas Card Crime" by Donald Stuart
Interesting story involving passengers on a train impeded by snow with the focus being on a girl with a partial Christmas card.

"The Motive" by Ronald Knox
Westmacott waits for Robinson to board the train. Although Robinson had not shown up, Westmacott boards after receiving a message when seems to ease his mind. Robinson boards near departure time. The two men share adjoining compartments. Robinson asks for a “wake up” call. When it is time for him to leave the train, he is not there. What happened to him?

"Blind Man’s Hood" by Carter Dickson
Rodney and Muriel Hunter arrive late at “Clearlawns,” and their hosts are out. However, a woman tells them the story of an unsolved murder that occurred years ago at the castle while they await their hosts to return from a church function.

"Paul Temple’s White Christmas" by Francis Durbridge
Kind of resembles a very short spy story. Other than the references to snow and Christmas, it could have been set any time.

"Sister Bessie or Your Old Leech" by Cyril Hare
Rather boring and not much mystery to this tale. Bessie feigns death, and Timothy rifles through her things in search of the letter before being confronted by Bessie herself. He kills Bessie but then learns a lesson.

"A Bit of Wire-Pulling" by E. C. R. Lorac
An inspector recalls an account of a man who was shot while he was in the room. The solution was obvious from the moment the inspector told his observations of that night.

"Pattern of Revenge" by John Bude
The wrong man is sent to prison for a murder. The evidence pointed to him because of his peg leg, but three years later another man confesses to the crime on his death bed.

"Crime at Lark Cottage" by John Bingham
John Bradley stops at a home near Skandale where a woman and her daughter reside.  It is nearing Christmas as they are decorating the Christmas tree. The woman seems frightened. Bradley sees a wedding photo of the woman and a report of her husband’s escape from jail. As noises are heard, the woman becomes more frightened, and Bradley suggests he should go on to town. He finally gets her to confess to her part in planting evidence against her husband to protect her lover from incarceration and then reveals his Scotland Yard affiliation.

"‘Twixt the Cup and the Lip" by Julian Symons
Thieves plan a heist of Russian jewels, but it doesn’t go exactly according to their plans.

Best story: "The Christmas Card Crime" by Donald Stuart
Worst story: "By the Sword" by Selwyn Jepson

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Tide and Punishment

Baker, Bree. Tide and Punishment. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2019.

Everly Swan owns Sun, Sand, and Tea Cafe in Charm, North Carolina. When Aunt Fran discovers the mayor's corpse with one of her sister's garden gnome as the obvious weapon and picks it up, she becomes the chief suspect, particularly since she planned to seek his office and had arguments with him. Everly appears to have some sort of relationship with the investigator, but having not read earlier installments, I never quite figured that out. The setting is near Christmas, but there is not much of a Christmas feel to it. Everly puts her nose in places she should leave to official investigators, but they don't seem all that bothered by her efforts at amateur sleuthing in spite of a couple half-hearted warnings. I suspect my main problems with the book stem from not reading earlier installments. I found the book easy to put down. I received an advance review copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

My Little Crocheted Christmas

Eisterlehner, Doerthe. My Little Crocheted Christmas. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2019.

My beginner crochet skills will not enable me to complete most of these projects, but I love everything in this book. Originally published in German, Dover Publications releases this to American crafters later this month (September 2019). Some large projects could be done with variations from other "sets" in the book. Finger puppets and dolls will entertain young ones. An adorable "snow fox" makes a perfect huggable toy for a tot. The nativity set is wonderful. I pre-ordered my own copy of the book in hopes my crochet skills will grow into it. Based on the cover alone, two friends who love to crochet plan to order copies also. I received an electronic advance review copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Negro Folk Music U.S.A.

Courlander, Harold. Negro Folk Music U.S.A. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2019.

First published in 1963, Negro Folk Music, U.S.A. remains an interesting read on the history of African-American songs. Courlander studies the characteristics of the lyrics as well as the rhythms and instrumentations of the songs. He compares the instruments of the American South to those in Africa in regards to comparable sounds. He covers genres from ballads to Gospel songs to the blues. He often includes snippets of songs with lead lines or simply texts of songs in the text. The book concludes with lead notes and lyrics to several African-American songs of multiple genres. The weakness is the lack of chord notations along with those lead lines. Dover should be commended for republishing the work. Many persons will find it an interesting work to add to their private collections, and many libraries may replace worn copies. I received an electronic copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Night of His Birth

Paterson, Katherine. The Night of His Birth. Illustrated by Lisa Aisato. Louisville, Kentucky: Flyaway Books, 2019.

Stunning illustrations and a wonderful account of the Nativity of Jesus through the eyes of his mother Mary. This lovely book would make a wonderful gift! It deserves a Caldecott nomination. I received this book through a GoodReads giveaway with the hopes, but not a requirement, of an honest review.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Molten Mud Murder

Johnson, Sara E. Molten Mud Murder. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2019.

The scene for the first Alexa Glock mystery fascinates. A body discovered in a New Zealand mud pot, similar to the ones found in Yellowstone National Park, provides an opportunity for North Carolina forensics expert Alexa Glock to assist the local police with their investigation. Although the boiled corpse leaves few clues, Alexa carefully uncovers a couple which assist the investigation. Maori customs and culture plays a part in the investigation. Glock inserts herself into the investigation, over-extending her charge and possibly jeopardizing work of investigators. Glock's interest in one officer causes readers to wonder if Glock will remain in New Zealand longer to pursue a relationship, which seems "tentative" at the moment. I found the book easy to put down for the first half, but it picked up later. The ending was a little anti-climactic. With an interesting setting, I will likely read the next in the series. I received an advance electronic reader's copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Wilhelm's Journey

Bar, Anke. Wilhelm's Journey: An Emigration Story. New York: NorthSouth Books, 2019.

Wilhelm grew up in farming family, but he wanted to become a woodcarver. He learns the trade from a man who teaches him to read. He finds literature describing America and wants to move there because land and opportunity to own a shop do not exist in Germany. He sketched aboard the ship. The book describes his voyage. At the book's end, we learn Wilhelm only remained in America long enough to earn money to return to Germany and own his own business. The illustrations are appropriate for young readers. The book presented an even-handed treatment of immigration to the United States. I received an advance electronic copy in exchange for an honest review through NetGalley.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

The North-East of England

Worker, Julian. The North-East of England. (Travels through History). n.p.: Andrews UK Limited, 2019. [Print edition by AG Books, 2018]

Only a few sites in northeast England garner inclusion in this short work by Julian Worker. The author chronicled his own travel, including a few interesting facts about the sites visited. The publisher's website claims it is "the UK's leading independent publisher." The book needed extensive editing to cut down on "be" verb use, excessive words, and overuse of passive sentence constructions. I received an electronic copy through NetGalley with expectations of an honest review.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Singapore Sapphire

Stuart, A. M. Singapore Sapphire. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2019.

After losing her husband and son in India, Harriet Gordon works at a school in Singapore where her clergyman brother Julian serves as headmaster. She decides to offer stenography services to provide income. She discovers her client Oswald Newbold's murdered body. Harriet's skills impress Inspector Curran. A clue VOC, which most people consider the old East India Company, surfaces. Inspector Curran and Harriet both know it must bear a different meaning. As the investigation begins to focus on the victim's past, multiple suspects emerge.1910 Singapore offers an interesting setting. I read an advance review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

The Healing Jar

Brunstetter, Wanda E. The Healing Jar. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, 2019.

When Jesse and his young daughter move to their community, Lenore falls in love with the motherless child. She gets her chance at love, but will Jesse be able to move past his love for his first wife to give Cindy the mother she needs? Threads of the story focus on Sara's pursuit of finding her biological father and Michelle's move with husband Ezekiel to New York. I haven't read the earlier books in this series, but I feel certain they provide additional insights into the characters backstories. While the writing style needs improvement, the story itself is enjoyable and should resound with fans of the Amish fiction genre. Discussion questions at the end provide good fodder for book discussion groups in churches. I received an advance review copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Amish Voices: A Collection of Amish Writings

Igou, Brad, compiler. Amish Voices: A Collection of Amish Writings. Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2019.

Brad Igou collected writings from Amish publications on such topics as Amish history, marriage and family, work, church, discipline (especially church discipline), clothing, aging and death, and war and peace. While many people think they know what Amish believe, this book shares their beliefs in their own words. While I enjoyed the book, coverage was uneven. Some topics such as rumspringa which interest the "English" barely received treatment. I would have enjoyed more perspectives from nineteenth century Amish life, but I really do not know if the same type periodical literature or even diaries and letters survive that would allow the Amish to share their story from that era. I received an advance copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Belsinger, Susan. Grow Your Own Herbs: The 40 Best Culinary Varieties for Home Gardens. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2019.

This book discusses growing one's own herbs. It discusses not only how to grow them but also how to use them fresh or to preserve them for later use. The illustrations are lovely. Some aspects of the narrative may be more detailed than the average lay person wants, but those with strong interest in herbal gardening will find it useful. I received an electronic review copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Liar in the Library

Brett, Simon. The Liar in the Library. Edinburgh: Black Thorn, 2019.

Boring! The description I read on NetGalley mentioned an inspector. I did not realize this was a late installment in a cozy series. A man allergic to walnuts meets his death from something laced with walnuts. For those new to the series, the characters are not well-enough developed in this book to make it enjoyable. I did not enjoy it and really wish it had been a police procedural instead of a cozy. I received an advance electronic book through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

The Artist Who Loved Cats

Bernardo, Susan S. The Artist Who Loved Cats: The Inspiring Tale of Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen. Illustrated by Courtenay Fletcher. Los Angeles: Inner Flower Child Books, 2019.

Telling the story of Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, the artist famous for his Chat Noir cat illustrations, this picture book will please young readers who love cats. A young girl sees a bronze cat in a shop, enters, and hears the story from the shop owner (and from the cat). I enjoyed the illustrations. A little more biographical information is presented after the main part of the picture book. I received an advance copy through NetGalley with the expectation I would write an honest review.