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2020 Personal Threads > Debbie's Book of 2020

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message 1: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Widows of Malabar Hil
Author: Sujata Massey
Book #1
Date: 1.6.20
Comment: Picture Bombay in the 1920’s when women had many restrictions and especially attempting to work as a lawyer. Perveen Mistry begins the classwork of learning law, but the male students and the instructors thwart her ambitions and change the course of her life. Marriage and disappointment again force Perveen to alter her dreams. The Widows of Malabar Hill bounces back and forth between 1917 and 1920 with the reader given the history of Perveen and her family in Bombay, India. Sujata Massey presents a well written story of the social mores of India. Perveen must help and assist three widows of a recently deceased businessman and discover the culprit of a murder. The biggest problem of the story is the usage of Indian terms that are explained in a glossary that hides in the back of the book and causes too much flipping back and forth. I feel this detracts from the story.

message 2: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Hope: Entertainer of the Century
Author: Richard Zoglin
Book #2
Date: 1.7.20
Comment: What an amazing entertainer! I actually saw Bob Hope perform in Charlotte, NC, many years ago when he was probably in his 80’s. What a wonderful performance, much better than some legendary performers. Richard Zoglin in his book Hope relates the good and the bad of Bob Hope. Bob Hope started in vaudeville and went to radio, movies, and television. Bob Hope also entertained military from WWII until Vietnam. What man could maintain Bob Hope’s level of activity for so long and so well. Bob also presented the Oscars for many years and hosted many celebrity galas. I learned so many hidden facts concerning this icon—a womanizer and a Scrooge. I enjoyed the stories and the pictures and learning about the development of entertainment.

message 3: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Clown William & the Wind of Vengeance
Author: Robin Elno
Book #3
Date: 1.8.20
Comment: I enjoy westerns as much as the next person but feel that Craig Johnson does a better job than Robin Elno. Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance left me feeling numb. Gunfights happen constantly and nothing seems resolved. Maybe, I needed to read the other books in this series because I felt I was missing the reason for all the gunfights. Yes, the Wild West in alive and shooting in this novel, but what are the reasons. I am unsure of which team is the “good” team and which team is the “bad” team. We encounter Billy “the Kid”, who suffers a gunshot wound, but escapes the fight again another day. The main character, Clown William, suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, which was not diagnosed until 1885. William struggles with this affliction and his reputation as a fast gunfighter in his quest for a normal life.

message 4: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: If Beale Street Could Talk
Author: James Baldwin
Book #4
Date: 1.8.20
Comment: Decades ago, I read If Beale Street Could Talk, and I must have been too young to understand what was happening. What a task, the book has no chapters, but over 200 pages of the ramblings of “Tish”. What a life in Harlem, where in the 1970’s, a black man can be arrested and imprisoned just for being black. The streets abound with deadbeats of whores and drug users, and life is difficult. Tish and Fonny love one another, but Fonny is arrested and thrown in prison, and a pregnant Tish must depend on her family. I did not like the continuous dialogue and no chapter breaks. The language descended in the street jargon, but not as bad as The Hate U Give. The story lacks strong emotion among the many family members, and the parent supervision seems nonexistent. Religion runs rampant in Fonny’s family, but the religion stands for outward appearance and not for Christian charity. A very stark view of a black person’s life in Harlem.

message 5: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Southernmost
Author: Robin Elno
Book #5
Date: 1.10.20
Comment: Southernmost by Silas House displays religion and love in bright contrast. The novel shows the hatred of homosexual couples in rural Tennessee and the absence of extreme hatred in Key West, Florida. Asher Sharpe, a Tennessee preacher defends a homosexual couple in his congregation and in the process loses his church and his son. In a moment of rashness, Asher kidnaps his son and heads to Key West in hopes of locating his estranged brother. Silas House beautifully describes the flooding in Tennessee and the beauty of Key West. Key West holds many troubled souls: Luke, Asher’s brother, Bell, Asher’s landlady, and Evona, another worker for Bell, and Justin, Asher’s son. So much symbolism in the book: the flooding, the sky, the birds, and the poetry. A wonderful way to spend a dreary day.

message 6: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Dressmaker's Gift
Author: Fiona Valpy
Book #6
Date: 1.13.20
Comment: Another book on the horrors of WWII in France and in the German “work” camps. Fiona Valpy does a wonderful job presenting Paris in the early 1940’s and showing Paris today. The current Paris lives in constant fear of terrorist attacks such as the ones in 2011 and 2015. Paris, in the 1940’s, faced the brutality of the German invaders. The story covers three seamstresses during WWII and the hardships these girls faced and their determination to resist the Germans. The other story follows two granddaughters of the seamstresses learning about their grandmothers’ bravery. Harriet wins an internship in Paris and discovers her past and learns her place in the world. Valpy’s novel depicts the human element of war and love and friendship. Claire and Mireille survive the terrors of WWII, but only Mireille relates the history to Harriet and her own granddaughter. Fiona Valpy creates brilliant imagery with the description of the dresses, the scenery, and the food of Paris.

message 7: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Good Neighbor
Author: A J Banner
Book #7
Date: 1.14.20
Comment: The Good Neighbor by A J Banner held me in suspense as Sarah tries to sort her feelings for her husband, an orphaned four-year-old, a feisty eighteen-year-old, and the burning of two houses. Sarah writes children’s books and her husband is a prominent dermatologist. One night, the house next door catches fire and Sarah saves the four-year-old Mia. In the meantime, Sarah’s own house catches fight. Sarah encounters a cheating husband and many roadblocks to her ideal life. Who is the arsonist? And what women has Doctor McDonald, Sarah’s husband, secretly met? The novel shows that not everyone fits the outward appearance that is shown in public. The style reminds me a little of Mary Higgins Clarke in later years when her writing had lost some of the edge.

message 8: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: A Murderous Tangle
Author: Sally Goldenbaum
Book #8
Date: 1.15.20
Comment: Sally Goldenbaum delivers another delightful story of friendship, loyalty, humor with A Murderous Tangle. Sally Goldenbaum supplies a complete roster of the characters in her novel, which I find wonderful. The Seaside Knitters of Massachusetts provide warmth, love, and friendship in this tight knit community where the town presents many events to strengthen a sense of belonging. Sometimes I feel that the murder stands behind the actual emotional ties of the town. The novel does not dip into a graphic description of the murder and at times seems like a Joanne Fluke mystery. Both writers provide a recipe at the end of the novel, but Sally Goldenbaum also gives a knitting pattern and portrays characters and setting better than Fluke.

message 9: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: A Divided Loyalty
Author: Charles Todd
Book #9
Date: 1.18.20
Comment: The mother and son team of Charles Todd continue to write a well-balanced mystery. In this novel, Ian Rutledge must reinvestigate a murder in which Chief Inspector Brian Leslie could not find the killer. Rutledge feels that Chief Superintendent Markham has set him up to fail and to lose his job. Charles Todd paints beautiful and chilling scenes of an area close to Stonehenge, where the villagers stumble in this mystic area. Rutledge’s past life enters into many scenes and seems to hinder his investigation, but he continues to pursue the killer even when he discovers who the killer could be. I am reminded of the writing of Elizabeth George minus the psychological wanderings.

message 10: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Unquiet Dead
Author: Zehanot Khan
Book #10
Date: 1.31.20
Comment: The Unquiet Dead presented a chapter of history that I overlooked. A man falls to his death from an English hillside. Was the man pushed or did he commit suicide, or did he accidently slip and fall to his death? Rachel Getty and her boss, Esa Khattak gingerly search for answers in a death possibly connected to the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica. Author Zehanot Khan artfully maneuvers through the persecution of the Muslims in Srebrenica. These unfortunate people were starved, beaten, raped, killed, and imprisoned. Zehanot Khan displays the horror and the beauty of the Muslims. The story also shows the human errors of people such as Christopher Drayton and Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty. Rachel and her family suffer the disappearance of a brother/son and must come to acceptance of his lifestyle. A troubling but uplifting book.

message 11: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Sentence is Death
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Book #11
Date: 2.3.20
Comment: The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz provides humor and a tongue in cheek detective story. Ex-inspector Hawthorne exhibits Sherlock Holmes tendencies, while the sidekick author, Anthony Horowitz bumbles among missing all the clues. Horowitz, like Dr. Watson, records the progress of the investigation. The story displays humor and many red herrings. Who killed the divorce lawyer, Richard Pryce, with an expensive bottle of 1982 Chateau Lafite wine? As Hawthorne and Horowitz follow the clues, another man dies. Suicide or murder? Does the drowning death of a fellow cave dweller play into the deaths? Horowitz also uses the novel to laud his television scriptwriting endeavors.

message 12: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Will to Die
Author: Joe Pulizzi
Book #12
Date: 2.10.20:
Comment: The last three books have informed me of unknown subjects. The Will to Die exposes the demise of private funeral homes due to more people electing cremation over embalming. I also learned about life insurance policies becoming insurance settlements and the deception of these policies. The Will to Die details rampant white supremacy in smaller towns, and the policing and scrutiny of citizens. The story line races and intensifies as Will Pollitt learns what is happening in Sandusky, Ohio. Another funeral director/owner has installed himself as the Supreme Leader and like Hitler has chosen what people will populate and work in Sandusky. The story reads like 1984. Another author, Mark de Castrique, also outlines the problems of family owned funeral homes in his Barry Clayton series. I always thought that funeral homes would have business. My only distraction of The Will to Die is the lack of psychological description.

message 13: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Island
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Book #13
Date: 2.14.20:
Comment: The Island starts slowly and builds intensively, I almost ceased reading. A local policeman finds a dead young woman, and the hunt begins for her killer. Police arrest the father and charge him with the murder. The story resumes with the four surviving friends of Katla, the dead young woman, ten years after the incident. Benedikt, Klara, Alexandra, and Dagur journey to an island to reminisce about Katla. Another member dies—is it suicide or murder. Detective Inspector Hulda jumps into the investigation and falls into the earlier death of Katla. Ragnar Jonasson presents a story seeped in the beauty and hardness of Iceland. Jonasson portrays each of the characters in vivid detail. The short chapters that bounce back and forth between characters give an easy reading. Plus Jonasson, inserts the problems of Hulda with her job, her mother, and a long-lost father. An enlightening story.

message 14: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: News of the World
Author: Paulette Jiles
Book #14
Date: 2.19.20:
Comment: News of the World portrays the wild and unsettled land of America after the Civil War. Captain Jefferson Kidd agrees to transport Johanna Leonberger to her relatives in Texas. Captain Kidd, a 71-year-old itinerant reader begins his 400-mile trek with feral Johanna. This unlikely team faces many hazards and hardships and form a friendship. Paulette Jiles creates a realistic story of the wild and difficult journey these two individuals must undergo. What will Johanna face with her uncle and aunt? Why does Captain Kidd treat Johanna with such kindness? What are the thoughts of Johanna during this journey? Ms. Jiles suggests further reading on the plight of returned captives of the Indian tribes and the settling of these captives to a new, tamer life. An interesting story about an uncertain time in America’s history.

message 15: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Knife
Author: Jo Nesbro
Book #15
Date: 2.20.20:
Comment: As usual, Jo Nesbro’s Harry Hole series is brutal and graphic, and Knife is no exception. Harry plummets into alcohol and depression and self-loathing after Rakel throws Harry out of the house. After a long night of drinking and fighting, the following morning Harry receives a telephone call that a murder has taken place. The female victim has been brutally killed with a knife. Svein Finne, just released from prison, kills in this manner and has sworn to avenge his son’s death. Nesbro artfully maneuvers among a multitude of suspects in the death of Harry’s wife, Rakel. Along the way, Nesbro introduces other individuals who have suffered or are suffering from the “deeds” of Svein Finne. Secrets surface and emotions run amok. The story skillfully closes with all the loose ends welded.

message 16: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Magpie Murders
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Book #16
Date: 2.23.20:
Comment: I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful mystery which contains not one but two mysteries. The first mystery involves a new manuscript from a mystery written, but unfortunately the ending has disappeared. The editor, Susan Ryeland, commences a search for the missing chapters, but before she starts, the author falls to his death and a suicide note arrives at the publishing company. I loved Susan’s search for the missing chapters and her search for the truth about the writer’s fall from a tower. Anthony Horowitz does an excellent job with the parallel characters in the mystery and in actual life. The setting also runs a parallel track between fiction and reality. So many red herrings in both versions of the whodunit mystery. I relish the description of clues and minute details, and lack of graphic details and foul language. Horowitz presents an anagram and links characters and places with other noted English mystery writers that impel a reader to reread those authors, again.

message 17: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: A Cruel Deception
Author: Charles Todd
Book #17
Date: 2.23.20:
Comment: Most of the time I enjoy reading mysteries by the mother/son team of Charles Todd, but this time, the writing hedged on dreariness. Maybe the prior two mysteries I have read displayed better writing and story-telling that this novel shrunk in comparison. WWI has ended and Bess has been given the duty to find Matron’s son in Paris and relay information concerning him to his mother. Bess finds Lieutenant Lawrence Minton addicted to opiates and suffering from guilt-ridden nightmares. Lawrence escapes from Bess’s care, only to suffer a brutal beating at the hands of a mysterious man. Bess bravely faces many hazards in her quest to find and assist Lawrence and this journey drones on and on for too long. Of course, the reader knows that Bess will prevail in her duties and will seek Simon.

message 18: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Word Is Murder
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Book #18
Date: 3.1.20:
Comment: Sometimes, an author gives too many characters and The Word is Murder has an abundant cast. How to decide which character has enough motive to commit murder. Diana Cowper walks into a funeral home and arranges her future memorial service. Later that same day, Diana is brutally murdered. So many individuals have motive for wanting Diana dead, but who is the guilty culprit? Hawthorne and the author, Anthony Horowitz, gathers the information. Anthony learns the tactics employed by Hawthorne, an ex-policeman. Another story of an event ten years ago interweaves between Diana’s murder. Horowitz employs himself as a narrator which provides an explanation, an aside, which is very well done.

message 19: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Dopesick
Author: Beth Macy
Book #19
Date: 3.3.20:
Comment: Dopesick by Beth Macy provides an interesting discussion about the prescribed drug epidemic, but too much information given like a textbook. Macy shows that drugs have invaded the population and have gotten out-of-control. The drug OxyContin manufactured by Purdue Pharma, who targets the poor souls in Appalachia. The stories are heart wrenching as the crisis spreads to other areas.

message 20: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Perfect Couple
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Book #20
Date: 3.8.20
Comment: Celeste and Benji will soon enjoy the perfect wedding as prepared by Benji’s mother, Greer Garrison Winbury. Loads of planning and money have been thrown on this very important social event. But hours before the wedding a dead and floating female is discovered. Merritt Monaco, the bridesmaid, tuns out to be the body, is this an accident, suicide, or murder? Chief Ed Kapenash must question all the wedding party and determine what has happened. Elin Hilderbrand leads the reader on a hunt for the answer to this puzzling question. Hilderbrand explores the psychology of each member of the wedding party and uncovers a multitude of secrets.

message 21: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Big Sky
Author: Kate Atkinson
Book #21
Date: 3.15.20
Comment: Big Sky by Kate Atkinson is number 5 in the Jackson Brodie series. I am not enamored by this installment and found too many tedious characters. I floundered among this epic cast. Jackson Brodie has been demoted to investigating cheating spouses. Jackson relishes the chance to find the killer of Wendy Ives, the wife of a man Jackson just saved from jumping off a cliff. In the course of this searching, Jackson uncovers foreign girls enmeshed in sex trafficking. The theme of money hungry glimmers on every page, but does money protect the owners of this wealth?

message 22: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Educated
Author: Tara Westover
Book #22
Date: 3.15.20
Comment: Educated by Tara Westover drills home the false beliefs by many of government control. Tara’s father withdraws his children from school and does not apply for birth certificates for many of his children. He is stockpiling food and supplies in rural Idaho. Can you image withdrawing from government contact and education for your children? Tara’s mother supplements the family income by working as a midwife and herbalist. The children are self-educated, and a few actually enter school and college. This reminds me of The Glass Castle in the story of despair.

message 23: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Queen's Fortune
Author: Allison Pataki
Book #23
Date: 3.19.20
Comment: I am a glutton for historical fiction and thoroughly enjoyed The Queen’s Fortune by Allison Pataki. Pataki expertly shows the terror, love, and atmosphere during the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte. Desiree Clary’s sister, Julie, marries Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, and thus interweaves the two families together. The story follows Desiree’s loves and disappointments which run from France to Sweden. Pataki creates an interesting woman that shaped history, but that has been sadly overlooked. Yes, many movies have been made about Desiree, the love of Napoleon, but Pataki shows this remarkable woman.

message 24: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Dead Land
Author: Sara Paretsky
Book #24
Date: 3.26.20
Comment: Many years have passed since I have read Sara Paretsky, and I have missed her view of the South Side of Chicago. In this installment, V I Warshawski labors to save the Lake Michigan shoreline from uninterested commercial builders who murder to get what they want. This is an advance reader’s edition with several editing errors on page 53, page 172, page 365, and page 385 that need to be corrected before the printing. Relationships fall flat in this story, with little or no emotion in a scene. The story contains many scenes of Warshawski changing clothes, swimming in a lake, running through the park, and taking a shower. A story of multitudes of action, but little psychology.

message 25: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Girl With the Louding Voice
Author: Abi Dare
Book #25
Date: 4.6..20
Comment: I am amazed that conditions in other places continue to exist with old-fashioned beliefs. The story of Adunni, a young woman/girl, in Nigeria shows a male dominated society seeped in traditions and superstitions. Adunni’s father forces her marriage to Morufu, an older man with two other wives to provide much needed money for Adunni’s family. I found the language difficult at times like trying to read Uncle Remus stories. The lack of necessary household items caused much despair. As Americans, we take too much for granted, and this pandemic shows us that all our possessions mean nothing in the end.

message 26: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: What Momma Left Behind
Author: Cindy K Sproles
Book #26
Date: 4.22..20
Comment: During the current pandemic in the United States, the hardship of the Tennessee mountains during the 1870’s reminds readers that we still have a better life. Cindy K Sproles conveys a sense of the everyday hardship of the influenza epidemic and the unshaking belief in God. Worri Dressar loses her mother, her home, and security during the outbreak of influenza in the mountains. She inherits four homeless orphans and two troublesome brothers. At 17-years-old, Worri must care for this motley crew of survivors. Cindy K Sproles narrates the story from the eyes of Worri, who questions this dilemma. Worri’s words are simple and uneducated, but strong in the wisdom of survival and in God’s plan.

message 27: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Beach House
Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Book #27
Comment: Mary Alice Monroe delves into the Southern psyche in The Beach House. She brilliantly flitters on Southern history with all the platitudes of Brett on his Southern man beliefs and in the history of Lovie’s family with all her family’s wealth and heirlooms. Then Lovie must explain to Cara a woman’s place in the world, of course, this belief of the “good ole wife” that sacrificed all for her husband, her lord and master. Next, we have the importance of family where secrets are locked away and expected never to leak, such as the terrible temper of Mr. Rutledge and Lovie’s secret love affair with Sullivan. A sense of community and your role in that community as with the Turtle Ladies who protect and nurture the eggs of the loggerhead turtle. With the character of Toy, a young and pregnant teen-ager, we see the sense of class and her reluctance to join high society of the Rutledges. Mary Alice Monroe does not write in the Southern dialect but does mention Southern basics like sweet tea and a fish fry. I enjoyed this journey into the head of a determined woman finding her true identity.

message 28: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Swimming Lessons
Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Book #28
Date: 5.6.20
Comment: Swimming Lessons continues the saga of Cara, Toy and Little Lovie. Cara and her husband are trying for a baby, but Cara is over 40 years old and is having difficulty. Toy has finished high school and college and supervises the care of loggerheads at the aquarium. Due to her fabulous turtle rescue program additional turtles enter her program and Toy earns a grant. Toy has the chance to connect with Lovie’s father or chose her current life. Mary Alice Monroe skillfully weaves the loggerheads nesting and the “nesting” of Toy and Cara. The men in the story present different personalities ranging from strong, kind, destructive, and weak. Monroe instills a love of the South Carolina beach, but relates the danger of the tropical storms that quickly destroy. Mary Alice Monroe’s books draw me to the beach and to the saga of the loggerheads.

message 29: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Book Club
Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Book #29
Date: 5.11.20
Comment: The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe shows the life of five women: Annie, Doris, Eve, Midge, and Gabriella. What does the reader enter in this emotionally charged story? Women need the friendship and understanding and love of other women to traverse life. This book shows all the problems that women encounter such as cheating husbands, dead husbands, unemployed husbands, and no husband. A book club brings the five women together and cements their friendship. The books read and discussed by the women follow the feelings and hardships of the ladies: A Christmas Carol, Moby Dick, Madame Bovary, The Call of the Wild, The Awakening, and Pride and Prejudice. I have read all of the books but would consider rereading to understand the story and emotion contained in these classics. I strongly recommend this book and have suggested this book for future book club selections.

message 30: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Long Road Home
Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Book #30
Date: 5.13.20
Comment: As I continue reading Mary Alice Monroe in this stay-at-home world, I just finished The Long Road Home that displays life in New York City and in the state of Vermont. Nora MacKenzie’s husband, Mike commits suicide in front of banker Charles Walker Blair and Nora’s world plummets out of control. In the flash of a gun, the glitzy life of a pampered society lady turns to a life of hardship in the wild, chilly mountains of Vermont. Nora has only this primitive and unfinished house and acres of pasture and sheep to keep the wolves at bay. This is a story of new friendships forged and trust restored, and love awakened. The story is beautifully written, but the events and outcomes of the story are predictable.

message 31: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Book #31
Date: 5.16.20
Comment: Delia Owens portrays an amazing girl/woman in Where the Crawdads Sing. Kya lives in the swamp/marches of North Carolina alone when all her family members leave the shack in the marsh. Kya cunningly avoids the truant offices most of the time, and only goes to school one day. She feeds herself and learns the skills to survive, but along the way she befriends Jumpin and Tate Walker. The story alternates between the 1950’s and the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Tate teaches Kya to read and Jumpin and his wife Mabel supply Kya with gas, food, and friendship. The story begins with a death that many believe is a murder. Sheriff Ed Jackson arrests Kya for the murder of Chase Andrews. Tom Milton, a retired lawyer, defends Kya. Owens interweaves the two stories with poetry of Amanda Hamilton, an unknown poet. Owens presents the beauty of the swamp and all the creatures in harmony with Kya. A very disturbing look at the prejudices of the people and the Southern attitude.

message 32: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Spotted Dog
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Book #32
Date: 5.20.20
Comment: What a wonderful way to spend the stay-at-home Memorial Day weekend than reading mysteries. My first novel, The Spotted Dog, by Kerry Greenwood jumps into various topics: religion, espionage, morals, war, animals, and relationships. Corinna Chapman and her cat Horatio live in a unique building named Insula in Melbourne, Australia, where Corinna owns and operates Earthly Delights, a bakery. Corinna’s lover/boyfriend, Daniel, an ex-Israeli soldier, leaps back and forth in the story. The dog, Geordie, an Afghanistan trained sniffer, has been kidnapped from his handler, Alasdair. The story skips to too many diversions and characters with an over abundance of religion and religious wars. The language and description excelled, but too many details bogged the story.

message 33: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Stranger Diaries
Author: Elly Griffiths
Book #33
Date: 5.22.20
Comment: The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths presents a better mystery with two mysteries within the novel and three narrators: a mother, Clare, her daughter, Georgia, and the police inspector, DS Harbinder Kaur. Griffiths utilizes quotations from Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest, plus passages from The Stranger by RM Holland. Griffiths displays the full story of The Stranger at the end of the book. As new people are murdered, the hunt for the killer accelerates. What is the motive? Envy? Love? Diaries by Clare and Georgia relate feelings and frustrations that could lead to murder. One of the memorable quotations from The Tempest appears at all the murder scenes, “hell is empty, and all the devils are here”. So many clues and such inspiring quotations.

message 34: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Pope of Palm Beach
Author: Tim Dorsey
Book #34
Date: 5.31.20
Comment: I am attempting to alter my opinion of Tim Dorsey’s writing, but not much has changed. I feel that too much violence and foul language and utter disregard for life. In this adventure, Serge and Coleman undertake a literary tour in Florida of notable authors such as Leonard Elmore and Charles Willeford. Two other stories portray The Pope of Palm Beach-Darby, a legendary surfer, and a survivalist hermit, Trapper Nelson. Coleman jumps in and out of his drug and alcohol cloud while Serge punishes or kills the bad guys in exotic ways. Then Kenneth Reese, an author, goes into virtual hiding when he believes the bad guys are searching for him. The writing is choppy, but the characters and setting display finesse. I am still not crazy for Tim Dorsey.

message 35: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Broken Bone China
Author: Laura Childs
Book #35
Date: 6/2/20
Comment: I always enjoy a Laura Childs mystery that includes delicious recipes and entertaining suggestions. Of course, each installment in the Tea Shop Mystery follows a writing formula that very seldom changes. Laura Childs starts with a murder, then little by little Theodosia and Drayton are pulled into solving the murder. Of course, minor characters slip in and out of the story like Haley Parker, Miss Dimple, Dale Dickerson, Timothy Neville, Burt Tidwell, Bill Glass, and Angie Congdon. The story contains much talk of fashion and food and tea and the city of Charleston, SC. And of course, Theodosia encounters frightening chases in her search for the truth. The reader follows many suspects and many red herrings before the killer comes to light. A tried and true literary treat.

message 36: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Why Kill the Innocent
Author: C S Harris
Book #36
Date: 6/4/20
Comment: C S Harris presents a novel rich in the history of England during the 1810’s. The description of the frozen Thames River and the festivities of the Frost Fair show an England attempting to survive a brutal winter with the poor population struggling with hunger and cold. Where people are hanged for the mere crime of stealing food and men are pressed into service for the navy. A gruesome murder begins the novel as Hero unknowingly stumbles in the ice and snow across the body of a young woman. The story hinges on the rights of women with even a rich woman dominated by her male relatives. The majority of the story focuses on Sebastian determining the murderer of a young piano teacher and showing his blundering inquiries into Jane’s last day. This story sadly lacks interaction with Jarvis and Hero.

message 37: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Lavender Blue Murder
Author: Laura Childs
Book #37
Date: 6/9/20
Comment: The scent of lavender floats through the air, as Reginald Doyle exhales one last time as Theodosia Browning watches. Next begins Theodosia’s quest to solve the death of Reginald but add to this the burning of his mansion and the disappearance of his daughter-in-law. The story provides hours of reading pleasure, but too many loose ends distracting hang at the end forgotten. As always, Drayton, Haley, and Theodosia make a beautiful tea party, this one laced in lavender. Where do all these delicious recipes appear? The scenery sometimes overtakes the characters, and what a wimpy boyfriend in Pete Riley. He is never around when Theodosia encounters trouble and seems oblivious to her antics.

message 38: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Book #38
Date: 6/13/20
Comment: My Lovely Wife upset me immensely and I almost stopped reading this deranged story. Millicent, the lovely wife, must control everything in the life of her family. Even though she works hard to sell houses, she must still cook and clean and supervise every household task. Her unnamed husband, a tennis teacher, narrates the story. This seemingly normal married couple kill women and frighten the community to believe a serial killer from the past has returned. Of course, the husband only kills one woman, while Millicent kidnaps, tortures, and kills many women. As the story unfolds, Millicent’s fury and anger encroaches on the children. Samantha Downing uses short chapters in the style of James Patterson. As the terror and horror mounts, the reader plows on with the story. So many lessons stand out such as the behavior of the children. Have we turned into such as callous society?

message 39: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Whisperer
Author: Karin Fossum
Book #39
Date: 6/14/20
Comment: The Whisperer by Karin Fossum reminds of novels by Elizabeth George. But Karin Fossum story pivots on the mental stability of Ragna Riegel. The reader enters the mind of Ragna as she struggles with an unknown man leaving messages in her mailbox and seemingly stalking her. Not long after the story begins, Inspector Konrad Sejer begins questioning Ragna, as we learn that Ragna has been arrested, but the details of the arrest are not disclosed. Ragna leads an uncomplicated life working and living alone. Through Ragna’s story we learn that she had an affair with an older man and had a son. Both Ragna and her son, Rikard Josef, lived with Ragna’s parents. After the death of her parents, Ragna and Rikard lived in the house until he moved to Germany at the age of 17. What causes the arrest of Ragna? Will Rikard Josef return home? The story moves quickly with little dialogue and action. Many of the feelings of Ragna bear feelings of women today. What does society see as normal reactions? A chilling look at mental health.

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Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: An Appalachian Summer
Author: Ann H Gabhart
Book #40
Date: 6/17/20
Comment: I enjoyed An Appalachian Summer by Ann H Gabhart. The story, set in 1933, shows love, turmoil, beauty, and love of nature. The story centers on Piper Danson, a young woman who must reason with love and her future. Will the future be with Braxton Crandall and a life of easy comfort or with Jamie Russell and a life of struggle and of uncertainty. For Piper, the summer brings her as a volunteer as a courier in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky with the Frontier Nursing Service. What dedication of these women who assist the mountain women in childbirth and sickness. The story flows with the beauty of the mountains, but also with the hardships and the persistent belief in God. The ending proves to be too predictable.

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Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Who Slays the Wicked
Author: C. S. Harris
Book #41
Date: 6/20/20
Comment: C S Harris selects the title of her books from the Bible which gives each novel a different view on murder. The murder of Viscount Ashworth shows that the wicked do not escape forever. Anthony Marcus Ledger, the Viscount Ashworth, lands in a vicious death and now Sebastian St. Cyr, the Viscount Devlin, must find the killer before his niece is suspected of murdering her husband. C S Harris provides little tidbits of intrigue from England in 1814. The rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte glimmers in the story. And Hero provides a second story concerning the poor masses of English people who barely survive. Hero relates the burdens of the rag people, the bone people, and the privy cleaners. I never imagined these tasks, and of course many do not know. I relish the information that C S Harris weaves into her stories about life in the 1800’s. The description of the characters and the settings and the ladies’ fashion paint an amazing look of life.

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Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Murder in Morningside Heights
Author: Victoria Thompson
Book #42
Date: 6/22/20
Comment: Frank Mallory and his new wife Sarah are not use to the life of leisure that wealth has given them. Frank has begun a detective agency and has Gino Donatelli for an assistant. Of course, Sarah and Mauve jump into the adventure whenever they are needed. In this caper, a young woman has been brutally murdered in a gazebo of a local women’s college. Abigail teaches at the college and lives with two other women teachers. Victoria Thompson presents many interesting facts such as a “Boston” marriage and the rules of teaching at a woman’s college. Is the murder a result of a love triangle or is the murder concerning a scandal waiting to be reported? Victoria Thompson relates many of the customs and rules of Knickerbocker New York that are very interesting.

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Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Queen Bee
Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
Book #43
Date: 6/23/20
Comment: I am incredibly lucky to have received a free copy of Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank. This lovely story alternates between two sisters: Holly and Leslie. Their mother is Katherine, the ultimate Queen Bee. Holly leads a dull life tending her bees and catering to her mother with her only joy watching the two young boys of her widowed neighbor. I love Holly and her blind acceptance of her servant existence to her mother and her sister and her neighbor, Archie. Where is her determination to find her own pleasure, but instead she divulges her secrets to the bees? Leslie has her own problems in that her husband has decided to be a performing female impersonator and where does she fit in this equation. Of course, the iced tea cools all the heat and steam of these family dilemnas. The relationships and petty arguments flood each chapter. And I love the facts concerning honeybees presented at the beginning of each chapter. What a lovely way to end a writing career with a heart-warming story that love abounds.

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Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Murder in the Bowery
Author: Victoria Thompson
Book #44
Date: 6/24/20
Comment: I am on a roll in reading Victoria Thompson whose mysteries provide hours of entertainment. In this caper, we descend into the Bowery, an unsavory section of New York where ladies do not venture. Victoria Thompson enjoys throwing a little history into her stories and we learn of the newsboys strike in 1899 when newsboys refused to sell newspapers in order to get better wages and the plight of Orphan Trains where orphans in New York were transported to farms in Minnesota, Iowa, and others farming states. Victoria Thompson also mentions that the wealthy citizens would seek guides to lead them into special places in the Bowery so these wealthy could see how the slums looked, hence the term “slumming”. We also see that wealth does not mean respectability and those in the Bowery may act better than their wealthy peers.

message 45: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Murder on Union Square
Author: Victoria Thompson
Book #45
Date: 6/26/20
Comment: Victoria Thompson presents the world is a stage in Murder on Union Square. Frank and Sarah Mallory plan to legally adopt Catherine, the illegitimate daughter of Mr. Wilbanks and his mistress, Emma Hardy. Unfortunately, since Emma was married to Parnell Vaughn at Catherine’s birth, Parnell must give his consent for the adoption. Before Parnell can sign the paper, he is brutally murdered, and Frank discovers the body and is arrested as the murder. Thompson parades into the theatre of 1890’s and the life of the cast. Each actor or actress has a fragile personality based on vanity and distrust. Victoria Thompson shows the callousness of the police department that only investigate the death if the case benefits the department, meaning that the death of a poor individual will not be investigated. The main issue in this story rests with the Syndicate, a group that controls the theatre by arranging tours, setting salaries, and controlling the plays and actors. Many actors spurned the Syndicate stating that individual style suffered. An amazing look at the theatre.

message 46: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Murder on Trinity Place
Author: Victoria Thompson
Book #46
Date: 6/26/20
Comment: Murder on Trinity Place exposes the pasteurization of milk and shows the dangers of milk production in New York. Many poor children in New York died in the 1850’s to 1900’s due to bad milk from cows that ate swill, a residual mash from nearby distilleries. Mr. Pritchard, a local dairy owner, pasteurized his milk. Victoria Thompson also shows the crime and lawlessness of New York. The police expect compensation for investigating a crime and are not averse to stealing from a corpse. Mr. Pritchard is murdered but someone with money bribes the police not to investigate his death. The police also turn a blind eye to the stealing, gambling, and crime within the city. Thompson also shows that a reputation for an unmarried lady must be maintained in order to obtain a good marriage. Frank and Sarah adopt Catherine and Sarah arranges a marriage between Jocelyn Vane and Jack Robinson. Mrs. Pritchard and her lover are now free to marry after not being able to marry when young. Almost all the problems are solved, except who will now run the dairy. An enjoyable mystery with little graphic violence.

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Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Diana's Altar
Author: Barbara Cleverly
Book #47
Date: 7/1/20
Comment: In the past, I enjoyed the Joseph Sandilands series. The last novel of this series presents a sad disappointment. The novel features the daring and intrigue of the past novels, but the language does not evenly flow. The banter into the workings of Scotland Yard and M15 proved tedious and boring and the descent into the works of ancient writers lengthens the boredom. The erotic habits of the wealthy and the eventual effect of this debauchery continue the dribble. Veterinarians have just found a medical to euthanize animals and one of the characters uses this medicine. The big scare is the splitting of the atom and the consequences of this means of mass destruction. Hitler and his regime silently steal into the scene. Too much trivial explanation and not enough romance.

message 48: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: Barracoon The Story of the Last Black Cargo
Author: Zora Neale Hurston
Book #48
Date: 7/7/20
Comment: The story of Barracoon should have been interesting, but with all the hype with introduction and editor’s note and the foreword by Alice Walker and the preface and introduction by the author, I was exhausted and totally disheartened with the story. I struggled to stay on task with the unfolding story. Yes, I wanted to learn about the degradation of fellow humans but maybe I was not in the correct frame of mind with all the civil unrest during this summer.

message 49: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Secret Wisdom of the Earth
Author: Christopher Scotton
Book #49
Date: 7/11/20
Comment: The Secret Wisdom of the Earth portrays a story of a boy’s journey into manhood a rural town in Kentucky. So many tragic events dominate the story, but the reader does not learn Paul Harvey’s “the rest of the story” until halfway into the novel. Christopher Scotton weaves classic novels into his story: The Call of the Wild, Treasure Island, The Lord of the Flies, Robinson Crusoe. What a treat to be transplanted into these old stories. Pops, Kevin’s maternal grandfather, resembles Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Pops stands for justice and humility and he is highly respected. A tragic accident plunges Kevin and his mother into a self-made prison and the two must return to Kentucky and Pops for redemption. Throughout the novel, Kevin faces choices that present good and bad and flight or fight. Kevin must rely on his grandfather’s teachings to lead the way. The story centers on racism, ignorance, and poverty. This is a community built on the coal mines and the ravaging of the land. Scotton builds on the beauty and harshness of the land and the people. A long but enlightening book.

message 50: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Maskus (delphimo) | 372 comments Book: The Night Drop: Resistance in the Marshlands
Author: Ian D Wright
Book #50
Date: 7/14/20
Comment: World War II novels rehash the errors and problems that continue after the end of that war. The Night Drop by Ian D Wright delves into the unresolved issues that linger into the 1960s. Ian D Wright utilizes dialogue to tell the story and omits setting and character development. This approach to story presentation lacks the heart of a novel. The characters have no depth. And lack of setting gives no threshold for ambience.

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