Saturday, February 16, 2019

Playdate Category 5 by Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott, 128 pages


This "Baby Blues" collection is packed with hilarious family situations and childhood challenges anyone can appreciate, whether it's fellow parents riding out their own "storms," empty-nesters reveling in their calms, or parents-to-be wondering what all the fuss is about. Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott are right on target in episode after episode. Their witty observations and insights-such as "I think screaming is the primary form of communication for girls," "We've gotta learn to travel lighter, or just put some wheels on the house," and "Sometimes being the dad is like being the weird kid in the neighborhood"-always hit the mark.

The Wedding Guest by Jonathan Kellerman, 368 pages

In the middle of a "Saints and Sinners" themed wedding, a bridesmaid finds a young woman's dead body in the restroom. None of the wedding guests claim to know the well-dressed victim--but Delaware and Sturgis aren't so convinced.

At this point, I don't love these books, because the killer is never anyone you met until the very, very end so the reader doesn't have a chance of figuring it out. But I've been reading them since about the 4th one came out (this is number 34) and Alex and Milo are almost family at this point, and you stick with family no matter what, lol.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

American Pop by Snowden Wright, 386 pages

The story of a family. The story of an empire. The story of a nation.
Moving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again, a saga of family, ambition, passion, and tragedy that brings to life one unforgettable Southern dynasty—the Forsters, founders of the world’s first major soft-drink company—against the backdrop of more than a century of American cultural history.

The child of immigrants, Houghton Forster has always wanted more—from his time as a young boy in Mississippi, working twelve-hour days at his father’s drugstore; to the moment he first laid eyes on his future wife, Annabelle Teague, a true Southern belle of aristocratic lineage; to his invention of the delicious fizzy drink that would transform him from tiller boy into the founder of an empire, the Panola Cola Company, and entice a youthful, enterprising nation entering a hopeful new age.

Now the heads of a preeminent American family spoken about in the same breath as the Hearsts and the Rockefellers, Houghton and Annabelle raise their four children with the expectation they’ll one day become world leaders. The burden of greatness falls early on eldest son Montgomery, a handsome and successful politician who has never recovered from the horrors and heartbreak of the Great War. His younger siblings Ramsey and Lance, known as the “infernal twins,” are rivals not only in wit and beauty, but in their utter carelessness with the lives and hearts of others. Their brother Harold, as gentle and caring as the twins can be cruel, is slowed by a mental disability—and later generations seem equally plagued by misfortune, forcing Houghton to seriously consider who should control the company after he’s gone.

An irresistible tour de force of original storytelling, American Pop blends fact and fiction, the mundane and the mythical, and utilizes techniques of historical reportage to capture how, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words, “families are always rising and falling in America,” and to explore the many ways in which nostalgia can manipulate cultural memory—and the stories we choose to tell about ourselves.

This was a great read but a little intense at times. The one drawback was the vocabulary at times was over the top. I read a lot and pride myself on my larger than usual reading comprehension, but I had to look up a new word almost every chapter. That had a tendency to distract from the story.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, And a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land, 270 pages

"My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter."

While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work--primarily done by women--fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter's head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today's inequitable society.

While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren't being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.

Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. "I'd become a nameless ghost," Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the "servant" worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.
 

This was a great read. It truly shows how hard poverty is to from and how close many people are, with one bad illness or car repair away from totally financial disaster. This should be mandatory reading for any who advocates for cutting food stamps, WIC or other programs, but unfortunately they will be the ones who will never pick up this book.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Two Plus One is Enough by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, 128 pages



By their third child, most folks have parenting figured out and could teach Dr. Spock a thing or two. Yeah, right! Baby Blues is back with even more of the hilarious trials and tribulations of the growing young MacPherson family.


Two Plus One Is Enough is another collection of this stupendously popular comic strip, which has millions of fans.

Baby Wren is raising the chaos level in the MacPherson household to a new high as Zoe and Hammie compete as only siblings can. Parents Darryl and Wanda somehow keep up their good humor despite a tight budget, their mischievous but adorable older children, and a wailing infant. Precocious Zoe's learning to read-and to point out the inconsistencies in children's books. (For example, after Zoe reads about a bear, Wanda corrects her. "That word is dog, not bear." Zoe, however, astutely observes that the picture looks like a dog: "So which is spelled right? The word or the picture?" Zoe asks.) And Hammie must make sure his baby sister isn't gaining on him, in age or in weight. 


The Library Book by Susan Orlean, 319 pages

On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?
Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.
In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.
Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.
Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever.


This was an outstanding read! I loved following the history of the L.A. library, especially the head librarians. Plus, this was a love story to how important and necessary libraries are. There was a paragraph that I even copied and printed off to have read at my funeral (hopefully decades down the road, lol.)