Friday, May 29, 2015

Playing With Poison

                                                      PLAYING WITH POISON

                                                          by Cindy Blackburn


Do you want an easy read? One that will keep you guessing but also tickle your funny bone? 

                                                           I have the book for you.

Jessie, a 52 year old divorced romance novelist, lives in an apartment building with her cat. Her two best friends are Karen and Candy. The three girls like to 'relax' at the local bar where Jessie plays a mean game of pool. One day Stanley, Candy's boyfriend, is found dead on Jessie's living room couch. 

When the cute cop, Capt. Rye, suspects Candy of poisoning her boyfriend and pops her into a jail cell, Jessie gets disgruntled at the slow pace of the investigation. So, she takes the sleuthing into her own hands. 

There's humor, love and scary close-calls wandering about the pages. Will Jessie find the killer or will the killer find her first? And, what about the cute cop. How does he fit into the picture? 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's Book I of the Cue Ball Mysteries by Cindy Blackburn. I am pretty sure I will be reading some more of her work. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Navajos Wear Nikes

Here is the review I wrote for Goodreads (check out Goodreads's a great book site!) I actually finished the book several weeks ago, but will print this, as is:

Just finished this amazing memoir about growing up on the Navajo Reservation and cannot recommend it enough! It is a beautiful if sometimes raw look into a world foreign to most Anglo-Americans. Kristofic gives us an honest account of the difficulties he faced as a young white boy trying to "fit in." This world, so new to him in his young years becomes HIS world, though in equal measure he embraces his Anglo "clans" of British and Polish background as he becomes an adult. It is an easy to read narrative, with insight and heart. He does not over-emphasize political and racial issues, but they are there for the reader to make his/her own conclusions. Loved it!

I am really fascinated by non-fiction accounts, biographies, histories, which I know is sometimes not favored by others.  I hope that you will give this book a chance, even if you are not generally a non-fiction reader.  It was a Spur Award nominee for best western non-fiction contemporary writing, 2012.  May I add as a footnote that I also recently read Outlander, by Gabaldon and did NOT like the book!  I won't be reading any of her sequels, or watching the series!
And in a note to have a question, posed by Anne, in your recent review!  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Wedding Beat

Looking for something light?  A quick read?  A feel good story?  The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher is for you.

Set in NYC we follow the adventures of Gavin Greene who is a reporter for The Paper (aka The NY Times, I'm sure) as he writes those special articles about wedding couples and the back story on how they met and fell in love.  One problem is that Gavin is searching for that special someone and having no luck.  It gets harder and harder to write those glowing love stories when he is so unlucky in love.

One New Year's Eve he does meet Melinda and promptly loses her as he over thinks what he should do.  From the little bit he knows of her he tries to find her.  He thinks he has managed it finally only to discover its the wrong Melinda.

His best friend Hope is also searching for that special someone.  She and Gavin console each other at their lack of success.  You have to wonder as you read whether these two will get together as more then friends.  I won't spoil the surprise but suffice it to say that Melinda resurfaces when Gavin ends up writing up another wedding and it's hers.

It's funny, it's captivating and it's worth the read.

Oh, and the author?  He writes for the New York Times "Vows" column in the weddings section.  Hmm.  Is it autobiographical?  I'm sure he drew on his experience to write this.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Look Away Dixieland

Although Marona Posey and I are from the same hometown in Alabama, I had never heard of her. An age difference, I am thinking. But, I remember the old Posey Store at the edge of town. Last time I was back in Jasper it was still there. And, there is where Marona announced she was holding a book signing.

My middle daughter told me about finding out that Ms. Posey had written some books and I looked them up on Amazon and ordered the first three in the series. I just finished reading "Look Away Dixieland".

Skye is 8 1/2 months pregnant when she wakes up her 13 year old daughter, Carrie, and asks her to come help her. There is blood everywhere so Carrie thinks her Mom has gone into labor. There's a snow storm raging outside but Skye says they have to go to the barn. Seems Skye's no-good husband, Owen,was caught in the barn having sex with his 16 year old step-daughter, Jenna, (Carrie's sister).

There's no phone, no way to call authorities, no car, nothing. And, Owen died at the hands of one of those women. Which is not revealed right away. So Skye and Carrie load Owen onto a sled and pull him to the Tennessee River and dump his body in.

I was mesmerized from page one. But, it did drag a bit in the middle of the book as the author describes what happened to the cast of characters over the next few years. For all their backwoods ways of the early 1940s, most of them turned out pretty well. You see, Owen's body had gotten buried under a sort of overhang or cave in the river and it was over 20 years before he was discovered. A lot, and I mean a lot, had happened in those years.

All this time Owen's brother won't let the police forget that his brother Owen disappeared. Skye said he ran off and joined the Army after Pearl Harbor was bombed. But, he doesn't believe a word of it. He is certain Skye or Jenna or maybe both had killed the only family he had. And, if the police won't investigate he sure will get to the bottom of it and the women will pay.

I am ready to start on book 2 of the series. Wonder where it will head? There's another killing just before book 1 ends.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This is another true story, about a woman who was never given any accolades for her contribution to science, because she never even knew that she made an earth-shattering contribution to the understanding and treatment of cancer.  It is the story of the ethics of "informed consent,"  and on a deeper level it is about who owns our cells and we or does medical science, when it is for the "greater good?"  This book is also about a family, poverty stricken when the story begins, and poverty stricken as the story concludes.  It's about being treated in the "colored ward" of Johns Hopkins hospital, and about  the black patients's lack of confidence and trust in institutions such as Johns Hopkins.

In 1951 Henrietta's cancerous cervical cells were taken and used for research without her knowledge.  Known as HeLa cells, they reproduced at an amazing rate, and allowed clinics and laboratories all over the world to use them for research.  But Henrietta never knew about her amazing cells.  Today, though the question of payment for profitable tissues remains unresolved it’s still not necessary to obtain consent to store cells and tissue taken in diagnostic procedures and then use the samples for research. This oversight has far reaching consequences.

The book is written by a woman of great compassion, who like a true detective, is looking for the truth.  It takes Skloot, a white woman, a great deal of time to be accepted by the Lacks family.  Her book is fascinating, and an important  document in understanding medical research as it applies to human illness, and about our rights regarding parts of our own bodies.  But it is also a very human story, about a brave woman, about a suffering family, and in part about racial divides.  Following Skloot along her path for the truth is a rewarding and amazing ride.  I hope you will consider reading this important book.

The book was awarded the National Academies Best Book of the Year Award,[7] the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Best Young Adult Book Award,[8] The Wellcome Trust Book Prize, awarded annually to an outstanding work of fiction or non-fiction on the theme of health and medicine.[9] It also won the Heartland Prize for non-fiction,[10] among others, including a Salon Book Award, and a 100 New York Times Notable Books of the Year. The paperback edition had spent 75 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list.[11]

Henrietta and David Lacks, c. 1945