Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Sagebrush Singers

Kernecker, Herb. The Sagebrush Singers. Reno, Nev.: Humboldt American, 2014.

This is a retelling of the story of the Bremen Town Musicians with a southwestern American setting. A burro, a coyote, a skunk, and a crow head toward town to sing when they come across a band of rustlers. While I prefer the original story, this one should be entertaining for children. The illustrations are done by noted illustrator James Watts although they are not his best work. Although the book was released on May 15, the website advertised in the book has not been updated with the music and other features that were promised. Although the target audience is age 5 and up, I think  younger children would enjoy it. My review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation a review would be written.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Goodnight, June

Jio, Sarah. Goodnight, June. New York: Plume, 2014.

What a fun read! June Anderson is a New York banker specializing in foreclosures. Her work has created life-threatening stress for her which she refuses to acknowledge. Suddenly she inherits her aunt's bookstore for children back in Seattle. June plans to take a week off and close it down just as she has closed down so many businesses over the years, but the bookstore still holds power over here. She meets a restauranteur in the adjacent space. The two of them hit it off well. There's a lot of resolution of family matters. The big thread in the novel is the friendship between her aunt and Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon and other children's stories. The letters June finds among her aunt's books point to her aunt's influence in the creation of the much beloved children's book. Ironically, June discovers that the bookstore is in financial trouble and finds herself on the opposite end of her banking role. Can she save the bookstore? I loved this book. You can tell that the author loves children's literature and literature itself. It may not be the most plausible story. There are more famous names dropped than could possibly actually occur, but even in spite of that, I loved the book. It's a fun and creative fictional look at what might have been the inspiration of a classic. This review is based on an e-galley received from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

The Tastemakers

Sax, David. The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up with Fondue. New York: Public Affairs Books, 2014.

Have you ever wondered how food trends begin and end? Author David Sax takes a look at how some food trends began, why some of them decreased in popularity, and how some will likely continue. He also takes a look at political and economic factors in the food industry. He includes a bibliography for each chapter at the end rather than utilizing footnotes in his narrative. From cupcakes to Indian cuisine, from food trucks to fondue, he takes a look at the culture of food in American society. I found the book interesting in places but bogging down in others. The review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

SNGF: Mother's Birthday

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver has challenged us with a set of questions regarding our mom's birthday.

1)  What day of the week was your Mother born? Tell us how you found out.

Mom was born Saturday, 30 August 1924. [1]

2) What has happened in recorded history on your Mother's birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

August 30, 1682 - William Penn set sail from England to the New World. [2] 
August 30, 1850 - Honolulu becomes a city. [3]
August 30, 1862 - Confederates defeated the Union at the Second Battle of Bull Run. [4] 
August 30, 1945 - General MacArthur lands in Japan. [5]
August 30, 1967 - Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as the first African-American justice of the United States Supreme Court. [6]

3)  What famous people have been born on your Mother's birth date?  Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.

August 30, 1797 - Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein [7]
August 30, 1818 - Emily Bronte [8] 
August 30, 1870 - Maria Montessori [9]
August 30, 1893 - Huey Long, governor or Louisiana [10] 
August 30, 1930 - Warren Buffett, businessman [11] 

4)  Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook or Google+.

It's obvious that I'm putting them on my blog!

[1] InfoPlease Perpetual Calendar, online resource, InfoPlease ( : 17 May 2014).
[2] "Historical Events on 30th August," ( : 17 May 2014). 
[3] Ibid.
[4] "August 30," On this Day ( : 17 May 2014).
[5] "Historical Events on 30th August," ( : 17 May 2014).
[6] "August 30," Wikipedia ( : 17 May 2014), s.v. "Events." 
[7] Ibid., s.v. "Births." 
[9] "August 30," On this Day ( : 17 May 2014), s.v. "Births."
[10] Ibid.
[11]  "August 30," Wikipedia ( : 17 May 2014), s.v. "Events."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

Gaynor, Hazel. The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic. New York: William Morrow, 2014.

Maggie Murphy was one of fourteen from the village of Ballysheen, Ireland aboard the Titanic. She was heading to America to live with an aunt after her mother's death, leaving behind the love of her life, Seamus Doyle in the village as he cared for his sick father. The story alternates between 1912 and 1982 when Maggie finally tells her story to her great-granddaughter, a journalist. One of the heroes of the book is a steward by the name of Harry Walsh who ensures that Maggie gets safely on board a lifeboat. The published story, of course, receives much attention by the press and brings with it some touching moments. I loved the historic story of the TItanic, but the parallel story of the present between Maggie's great-granddaughter Grace and Jimmy didn't have the punch that was probably intended. Fortunately, that is a minor part of the overall book, so the book was quite enjoyable. The book was received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation that a review would be written.

Monday, May 12, 2014

NGS Recap

Randy Seaver was lamenting (on Facebook) the lack of posts last week during the NGS conference. I really didn't have a chance to post much. I was using my iPad to access the Internet although I had the laptop with me also. The only time I pulled it out was when I was giving my presentation on Wednesday. That went well, by the way.

Favorite sessions that I attended:
  • "Hell on the Home Front: War-Time Damages and the Claims They Generated" by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  • "North Carolina Research" by Jeff Haines
  • "Shootout at the Rhododendron Lodge: Reconstructing Life-Changing Events" by Judy Russell
  • "DNA and the Golden Rule: The Law and Ethics of Genetic Genealogy" by Judy Russell
  • "Working with Documents: The Importance of Context in Record Analysis" by Barbara Vines Little
  • "South Carolina Research" by Jeff Haines
Socially this conference was a bit different than most. Usually genealogists tend to congregate in the lobby near the bar area in the evenings. Not this time! I think we were spread out over too many hotels for this to work. As a result, it was hard to make connections with people, and you saw a lot less of people than you often did. One person joked that we were just all getting too old.

Food: We tried several local restaurants. The worst food and service award goes to the Hilton Garden Inn's restaurant. On that evening, we had a group of seven. We were the only people in the restaurant, and they couldn't seem to get the orders right and the food was horrible. I ordered crab cakes. They were quite dry. They didn't give you remoulade sauce or anything to cut that dryness. The worst part was that part of the crab shell was in my crab cake. I probably left more than I ate. It was pretty much inedible. Another person had a burger which he had ordered medium rare. It was way past well done. It had taken so long to get the food we got that he didn't dare send it back. The waitress had forgotten to take my "side" order which was supposed to accompany my meal so I had to wait on that after I got the crab cakes. On the good side, my side order of fries was actually hot as opposed the ones the others had gotten. The Best Food award goes to a place we found through Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It was called "Dot's Back Inn." Burgers are their specialty. I had the one with the jerk seasonings, provolone cheese, and grilled onions. I think it was called the "Rasta." Jeff had the Greek one that had feta and tzatziki sauce. We both thought ours were great. We knew that they had a lot of burgers. We wished we'd tried it earlier because when we got there, we discovered that they had a menu of things on a hand-written board that were daily features. For example, there was a Moroccan-spiced swordfish with cilantro sauce. The fish of the day was shark that day. They had a shrimp and andouille sausage dish served on a bed of cheese grits that sounded quite yummy. They had blackened mahi and much more. They were also quite reasonably priced with most dishes being under $15. If we had not eaten at Mama J's (a soul food place near the convention center that was also quite good) at lunch, we might have tried one of the bigger meals instead of the burger that night. One of the highlights was a donut run we made with friends one evening. They were in search of a maple bacon donut at The Sugar Shack. They were out of that flavor, but we tried the Baby Ruth donut which was absolutely wonderful.

Exhibits: I didn't spend a lot of time in the exhibit hall except for my shift at the APG booth. It was small and crowded. I did manage to walk by most booths, but I just didn't spend money this time. My bank account thanks me although that is a bit odd for me not to purchase a little more than I did.

Hotel: The staff at the Marriott where I stayed was great. The valets who parked our cars were very service-oriented, making it a good experience every time I needed to get my car out.

All in all, it was a great conference!