Showing posts from December, 2017

Courting Disaster: An Angie Amalfi Mystery by Joanne Pence

Courting Disaster: An Angie Amalfi Mystery by Joanne Pence stays true to the cozy mystery format giving Angie a mystery to solve while obsessing and stressing over the details of the engagement party her mother is planning without Angie's input. Her fear over the party not being perfect leads her to try to find out what's happening with the party creating as much a mystery for the reader as the connection between the murder that takes place, the mother and baby who find their way into her neighbor's, and therefore her, life, and the criminal behavior they uncover putting them all in danger. Courting Disaster mixes humor, food, mystery, and a set of unfortunate circumstances to keep the reader intrigued.

Red Cape Capers: Playful Backyard Meditations by Linda Varsell Smith

Red Cape Capers: Playful Backyard Meditations by Linda Varsell Smith is filled with thoughts on meditating and the struggle it can be to meditate. Varsell's poetry paints a picture of her backyard, her mother's red cape, and her attempts to meditate that draw the reader right into the experiences she shares as well as her ruminations on life and life events. Red Cape Capers is vivid and enchanting at times while thought-provoking and uncomfortable at others. 

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52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling for Positivity Balance, and Joy by Moorea Seal

I ordered 52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity Balance and Joy by Moorea Seal because I enjoyed her The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration. I wanted to keep exploring this idea of a weekly guided journal. 52 Lists for Happiness took on a different tenor for me though. I opted to do the lists every Sunday because I felt it would be a good way to start off the week. I had some struggles this year that sometimes made the lists hard to write and other times the lists cheered me up. Focusing on simple moments of happiness gave me an opportunity to remember the good in my life no matter what happened in the world around me.

Native Son by Richard Wright

Native Son by Richard Wright pulled me in and refused to let go. I started reading thinking this would be just another novel, just another story, but I soon found myself questioning my reactions, my attitude, and my beliefs. I found it oddly relevant to today's world in a way that made me sad. I had to remind myself multiple times that the book was originally published in 1940. Wright dropped me into Bigger Thomas's heart and mind even when I didn't want to be. Bigger's fear permeated the pages and wafted up from the words. His rage ran as an undercurrent throughout the book. The intensity with with Wright tells the story is at times uncomfortable but still engaging and intriguing. Native Son does little to elicit sympathy or even compassion from the reader though it does push the reader to examine the norms of society and the justice system when the book was written as well as those of the present.

Remarkable Oregon Women: Revolutionaries & Visionaries by Jennifer Chambers

Remarkable Oregon Women: Revolutionaries & Visionaries by Jennifer Chambers offers a snapshot into the history of the role of women in Oregon's history. Chambers provides enough information about each woman mentioned to spark an interest in learning more even providing sources for further reading. Remarkable Oregon Women is an interesting book that reminds the reader that women have always played an important role in the progress of society even when they've been stymied or their efforts have been hidden by history.

Common Courage: Bill Wassmuth, Human Rights, and Small-Town Activism by Andrea Vogt

Common Courage: Bill Wassmuth, Human Rights and Small Town Activism by Andrea Vogt traces the life of Bill Wassmuth through his journey to fight neo-Nazis in the Pacific Northwest, mostly focusing on his time in Idaho. Vogt talks about his efforts to bring awareness through his time in the priesthood and out of it. Common Courage details the power of unity to exact change toward acceptance and diversity in small towns and large towns as well. Vogt tells Wassmuth's life story which often lead him to seek justice for those unable to seek it for themselves. Vogt shares the wisdom Wassmuth shared with her over multiple interviews. Common Courage details Wassmuth's motivation to fight for social justice even at times when the fight seemed to be at odds with the teachings and norms that guided his religious beliefs. Common Courage is an interesting and easy to read book that is as relevant today as it was when it was published.

The Christmas Jar by M. L. Roberts

The Christmas Jar by M. L. Roberts is a short story that essentially tells a story many of us have heard in other iterations. It's a sweet telling of understanding priorities and living a life based on those priorities. Roberts tells the story in an endearing, easy to grasp, loving way. The Christmas Jar will have many nodding along but smiling in the process with its story of family, priorities, love, and loss.

Note: I couldn't find this for purchase anywhere online to link to...

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee covers the vast and myriad history of cancer including much of the development of medicine over the centuries. Mukherjee introduces cancer in terms of both its effects on humans and its resilience. He illuminates the path the myriad of treatments have taken over the years reminding the reader that science and medicine require much determination and a willingness to follow through and change direction as the research points in new directions. The Emperor of All Maladies reminds the reader of the benefits of working across borders and cultures to find answers. The history of cancer is rather dark and even eerie at times but leaves one feeling a grudging respect for its tenacity. Mukherjee explains how it adapts to human beings attempts to eradicate it. As Mukherjee draws direct lines between researchers and research findings from around the world that have brought us to where we are today in the treatment of canc…

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor is one of those books I feel like I should have read years, maybe even decades ago, and not just because it's a young adult book. As I read the words I was transported into the lives of the Logan family. I cringed even as I cheered for Cassie to stand up for herself. My fear for her safety battling my need for her to conquer the injustice she faced. I saw in her an innocent child who couldn't and wouldn't understand why her life as a young black child had different rules than those for the young white children around her. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a story about perseverance, persistence, and strength in the face of injustice, hardship, and deceit. Taylor creates a story that puts the reader in the midst of the Logan family's love for one another, for community, and for their land even as she forces the reader to feel the turmoil of unfairness, manipulation, and danger swirling around them for wanting to keep and f…

The Winding Stair and Other Poems by W. B. Yeats

The Winding Stair and Other Poems by W. B. Yeats contains a myriad of poems the manage to be both mired in their time and timeless.  Yeats takes ordinary events in ordinary lives and writes about them in poems that touch people's hearts and minds even years after they were written. While one might not know the characters about whom he writes, the experiences feel all too real reminding the reader that there are certain experiences that transcend time, boundaries, and locale. With lines that demand the reader read them one, twice, thrice just to feel the entirety of their meaning, The Winding Stair and Other Poems often feels like it's pushing beyond the page and into the shared experience of being human even while searching for what that shared experience really means.