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Showing posts from March, 2015

The Dead Beat by Marilyn Johnson

The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries is Marilyn Johnson's first book.  It is the second book by Marilyn Johnson that I have read and reviewed here on the blog.  I previously read and reviewed This Book Is Overdue.  Her research for The Dead Beat and the interesting obituaries of librarians that she found led her to the subject of her follow up book, which was This Book Is Overdue.

This book was a little slow to start, but it sucked me in around the part about how the New York Times dealt with 9/11 and its resultant obituaries or "portraits" as the paper dubbed its articles about the myriad missing but not yet confirmed dead.  Indeed this particular section was rather poignant.  Johnson is a fan of obituaries--she reads obits from several newspapers, including some from Great Britain.  She has even attended an international obituarists conference, an eclectic gathering of both obituary writers and the fans who faithfully, obses…

Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange

I discovered the book Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange through a patron request (it's one of the pitfalls of working in a library... you see all these interesting books come through and you have to read them).  The author has several books written from the perspective of Jane Austen characters.  This book was readable, but there was something missing.  You know how some books just hit a point and all of a sudden they just suck you in and all you want to do is read and breathe that book until it's over?  Well, this book didn't really do that, and I was disappointed..

The novel is set up as a series of letters written between several characters from Pride and Prejudice, such as Mr. Darcy, a couple of his cousins and aunts, Mr. Bingley and his family, the Bennetts and their aunt Gardiner and (unfortunately) Mr. Wickham (UGH.  Can't stand him.) and his opportunist friends, but we won't talk about the latter two.  Let's forget I even mentioned the 'W' name.

Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into A Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg

I was looking up a book about genealogy on Amazon a while ago, and as those things often do, that book led to another book led to this one, I think.  Or something like that.  I requested Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into A Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg through ILL.  I know that I always say that non-fiction and I don't get along, but lately that seems to be all that I'm reading.  And honestly stories like this that essentially are some sort of genealogical scavenger hunt or detective story tend to suck me in.  I like them because I have an interest in genealogy and have become by my own family's historian and keeper of the family tree--and anyone who has done any long term genealogical research knows that every family tree has its share of mysteries.

This story begins with the roundabout revelation of a decades old family secret.  At a meeting with her doctor and social worker, Luxenberg's mother, Beth, casually mentions a sister.  This information perplexes the s…

Isabella: The Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey

A couple of reviews ago, I mentioned that there was a book I was reading that was taking forever and a day to finish.  Well, this is that book.  I finally finished it, and even though it felt like it went on and on (and on), I'm glad I finished reading it.  I feel I really learned a lot.  And now this review may go on forever and a day because I have a lot to say.  I believe I first learned of this book when I read a review about it in Time magazine or Book Page or some place like that.  It's a fascinating and interesting read.

When I was a young girl I read a lot more non-fiction than I do now.  I read a lot of Greek mythology, fairy tales, and books about queens and royalty.  I remember there was book about Joan of Arc that I borrowed from my library (and which is still in the collection here!).  This fascination with royal history and the customs, traditions, and history that go along with it has carried over into my adulthood.  While I was reading this book about Isabella…

Napkin Notes: Make Lunch Meaningful, Life Will Follow by Garth Callaghan

Napkin Notes by Garth Callaghan is a book that my grandmother ran across in one of her magazines back in December.  But before she could give me the title, she lost the list.  Then she found it again sometime in January.  So the library got a copy, and I passed it along to my grandmother so she could read it, and then she returned it to me, and I ended up reading it before I returned it to the library.  My grandmother and I both had the same reaction to the book, which I will share later in the review.

When his daughter was young, Garth Callaghan began including napkin notes in the school lunches he packed for her every day.  At first the notes were thrown in sporadically, but when he realized how much his daughter looked forward to them, the notes became a constant and essential component of her lunches.  The notes were a means for father to connect with daughter in the midst of the school day during the school year when his time with her was limited due to school and work commitment…