Musings on family history, regional history, book reviews, and miscellaneous observations and comments by a genealogist and librarian living near the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Well-Read Black Girl
Edim, Glory, editor. Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves. New York: Ballantine Books, 2018.
Editor Glory Edim shares authors' brief reflections on their literary influences, primarily in terms of books or their authors. These stories are broken up by short bibliographies of black-women-authored books fitting specific categories. The author's essays include white and black authors, both male and female. I wish Edim's lists included mysteries written by black authors, but it did not. A closing bibliography includes the titles mentioned throughout the book. Since the book is written primarily for "girls," the focus is somewhat feminist. I have read some of the titles. While not all the remaining ones appeal to me, I would like to read several of the classic novels, books about girlhood/friendship, and a few more poetry volumes. I received an advance uncorrected proof by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.
My Life in a Cat House
Cooper, Gwen. My Life in a Cat House: True Stories of Love, Laughter, and Living with Five Felines. Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books, 2018.
Gwen Cooper, author of Homer's Odyssey, featuring the now infamous Homer, the Blind Wonder Cat, writes more tales about her cats, including Homer. She talks about her life, her loves, her time spent between New York and Miami. She relates episodes from cats contemporary to Homer and cats who came into her life later. Some are humorous; most will be appreciated by cat lovers. The book bogged down at times with too much of the author's own story or with excess verbiage. Still it's a fun read for cat lovers. I received an advance electronic copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Friday, October 26, 2018
Kulling, Monica. Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America's Children. Illustrated by Julianna Swaney. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2018.
Monica Kulling introduces young readers to Dr. Sara Josephine Baker who worked among immigrant children in Hell's Kitchen. She recognized problems and created solutions to these. Dr. Jo's accomplishments make her a woman worth knowing. She saved the lives of many children, both through her medical efforts and through her efforts to educate midwives, babysitters, and parents. The illustrations are cleanly drawn but more reminiscent of books of an earlier era. Perhaps since we are dealing with a historical figure, it is not a major flaw. The author includes a brief biography of books and websites at the end. I would like to read the doctor's autobiography, written in 1939, to learn more of this remarkable woman. I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation of an honest review.
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe
Johnson, Debbie. A Gift from the Comfort Food Café. London: HarperCollins, 2018.
Likable characters and a charming setting make this book a great comfort read. However, it shows its share of adult marital problems as well. After a failed marriage, Katie, along with her small son, moves to Budbury, a village along the Dorset coast. She finds comfort in the charming cafe and the people of the village. Will her parents ruin her peace? Will she be able to love again? With the climax coming around Christmas, it's a perfect holiday read. I look forward to reading earlier installments of the series to learn more about Budbury. This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.
Thomas Kinkade's Cape Light: A Christmas Secret
Spencer, Katherine. Thomas Kinkade's Cape Light: A Christmas Secret. New York: Berkley, 2018.
Martin Nightingale must fulfill some odd wishes in his grandfather's will in order to receive his inheritance and his grandfather's house. His grandfather wants him to spend a large sum of money on personal needs of Cape Light residents with only a small amount going to charity needs. Through the story we learn the story of how Martin's grandfather's toy shop was saved through the generosity of Oliver. In the meantime, Martin finds himself falling for Louisa, the police officer who caught him speeding on his arrival into town. This was a heartwarming story--and a perfect one for Christmas. It reminds us we should bless others with the blessings bestowed upon us. Kindness, even to those who are not kind in return, exemplifies the Christmas spirit. I received an advance electronic uncorrected proof from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles
Arikawa, Hiro. The Travelling Cat Chronicles. Translated by Philip Gabriel. New York: Penguin Random House, 2018.
A stray cat makes his home atop Satoru's van. Satoru begins providing food for the cat. When a passing car injures the cat, Satoru tends to it, eventually moving out of his apartment into one which allows pets. He names the cat Nana. Things go well for about five years until Satoru suddenly announces he must fine a new home for Nana. We learn a lot of Satoru's back story and see similarities between his life and the cat's. Satoru never tells his friends why he seeks a new home for his cat but he knows none of these homes is right for Nana. My favorite parts of the story are those narrated by Nana himself. This tear-jerking Japanese story in English translation will charm cat lovers. I received an uncorrected proof through a GoodReads giveaway with the hopes, but not requirement, of a review.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Cornish Village School: Second Chances.
Wilson, Kitty. The Cornish Village School: Second Chances. London: Canelo Escape, 2018.
I had high expectations for this book, but it simply was not the read for me. I envisioned a book more along the lines of a "Miss Read" book, but instead the narrative was "too modern" to engage me. While I think the intended audience is adult, the writing style struck me as being more appropriate to a middle school audience. I did not feel a strong sense of place in Cornwall either, probably because the descriptions are brief and lack the adjectives which draw a reader into the landscape. If school stories with the headaches of modern technology, overpacked schedules, and societal problems is your idea of escape reading, give it a try. If not, go back and re-read the Fairacre and Thrush Green stories of an earlier day and time. I received an advance review copy of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
In Harm's Way
Sten, Viveca. In Harm's Way. Translated by Marlaine Delargy. n.p.: Amazon Crossing, 2018.
A 400 page book with 107 chapters! The choppy organization disrupted the flow of the novel, making it difficult to follow. A journalist is found dead Christmas eve. Suspicion falls to her "ex" who retains custody of their child, but other suspects and motives exist. The police immediately notice the lack of a computer in the journalist's hotel room, leading them to suspect murder even before the autopsy reveals it. While I like the setting, I did not get a strong feel for it. The police did not seem very developed. I'm sure it's because it is a later book in the series, and I read no earlier installments. I received an advance electronic copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.
Tuesday, October 02, 2018
Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart
Walker, Alice. Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart: New Poems. Translated by Manuel Garcia Verdecia. New York: 37Ink, Atria, 2018.
I really enjoyed the Alice Walker books I read in April for National Poetry Month, so I was excited to find this new collection of poems by the author. The collection contains the English poems and Spanish translations by Manuel Garcia Verdecia. The collection is perhaps focused a bit too much on the ills of society and philosophically aligned further left than my own leanings. While I agree with the author's points of social injustices, I think the way we would address them differs a great deal. I still enjoy the rhythm of the author's poetry. I even read a few of the poems in both languages, mainly to see if I was still able to read and comprehend in Spanish. As far as I can tell, the translator did a very good job--and I was able to comprehend more than expected. I received an advance electronic galley through the publisher via NetGalley with expectations of an honest review.
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