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text 2017-12-28 16:40
Favorite and Least Favorite Books of 2017
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders - Ross MacKenzie,Soji Shimada,Shika MacKenzie
Y is for Yesterday (A Kinsey Millhone Novel) - Sue Grafton
In the Woods - Tana French
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
A Crown of Wishes - Roshani Chokshi

Just going to recopy part of this from one of the 16 Festive Tasks posts. 

 

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders-Wow all I have to say is that this book was great. More than anything I love clever books like this, and this was definitely very clever. I honestly was a bit worried for a couple of minutes that maybe I wouldn't be able to get the book since the setting is in Japan. But wow the author Soji Shimada is able to pretty much show you that murder is murder no matter where it takes place.

 

Y is for Yesterday- I have to say that I love the fact that even though this book takes place in 1989 there's definitely some similarities to what's going on in the world today in this book. There's the question of rape, there's the question of getting consent, there's the question of violence against women and what do women do in order to fight back against that. I feel like all of those are discussion topics that are very relevant in today's world. 

 

I've really hated how isolated Kinsey felt to me in the past few books was just her interacting with Henry and Rosie. But this one definitely showcases how many people are connected to Kinsey, and how many people just love her.

I was really glad to finally see it seem to laying to rest her whole relationship with the missing Robert Dietz. And I think I see a game plan coming with regards to Cheney Phillips. It was good to read what was going on with him and finally having me not wanting to kick the crap out of him based on what I thought was going on with this character.

 

In the Woods- What a compelling read. I finished this thing in about a day and a half. I will say that at first I found myself somewhat bored. But this book ends up being a nice slow burn of a read. I wanted even more by the time I got to the end. I already put a hold on the second book in the series. I have to say that I am really glad that French didn't try to solve the overarching mystery for the main character, Rob Ryan. I know that some readers ended up loving this character and I had to say that in the end, I didn't feel love, but just outright pity for him.

 

The Hate U Give-I got so many feels while reading this book.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Thomas takes a look at a teenage black girl who is trying her best to be Starr back home in Garden Heights and Starr at her suburban prep school.

 

Thomas doesn't just make this a YA book, she makes this a YA book accurately showing the struggle for black Americans, for black men, black women, interracial relationships, the pain that we feel when we move away into what is considered "good areas", etc.

Thomas is able to show you so many layers to Starr and the other characters in this book that is becomes mesmerizing to read. Even with the subject matter, I loved that Thomas was able to inject humor and show how for many black Americans that tragedy does not define us, that you still keep going as much as you can, as long as you can. Heck, Thomas even shows you how much simmering anger is under the skin for many black Americans in the U.S. right now, and how those that people screech about as "thugs" and "monsters" can finally just have enough and yes start rioting.

 

A Crown of Wishes-  I needed a fantastic book and I savored this one for two days though I wanted to swallow it whole at times. It lingered with me in my sleep and I smiled when I woke up because I was so happy to just keep reading this book. Chokshi includes Indian myths and also just really great characters that you want to keep reading about. We also get appearances from characters from the last book that I was sad to see go when we finished. I often worry when authors start writing a YA book and write a sequel or decide it will be a trilogy. That's only because not many have held up. This one holds up. I highly recommend.

 

 

The Airing of Grievances as performed by the Book Gods:

 

Book God 1: Look I just want to say, this is the price you readers pay to find that diamond in the rough. I don't feel bad for you. Who cares that you read a book where a young girl was slut shamed, where a plot made no sense, that you realized that every book now has the word "girl" in the title. 

 

Book God 2: Speak for yourself. Look, sometimes we can work miracles and you get "The Hate U Give" and other times you get "50 Shades of Grey." Tomato, tomahto. 

 

Book God 1: We told Obsidian Blue the rule was that she had to name 5 books that she actually finished that she disappointed her. No fair just throwing out DNFs. 

 

Book God 2: She maybe flipped us off. Okay, she totally did. 

 

Book 1

 

How to Change a Life

 

Book God 1: Oh yeah. I remember this one. There were two characters that were African American and Obsidian Blue felt as if the author had never met black people before in her life. And also thought it was kind of gross the main character was being portrayed as reasonable after it comes out that she is now sleeping with her friend's ex-husband. 

 

Book God 2: I would have kicked her ass. 

 

OB: What they said. Seriously though. I like/love most of Ballis's books. She incorporates very real characters for the most part and also includes recipes that have me craving all kinds of food while reading her books. I think that she had the opportunity to show how the best friends you have growing up are not the perfect fit when you are adults. I think she was heading that way for a bit, and then it turned into some weird/gross piling on of the character of Lynne for being work focused. I don't know if I can articulate this correctly, it just felt mean to me in a way. Did not enjoy and was very upset that I bought this one. 

 

Book 2

 

Zone One

 

 

Book God 1: Nah. 

 

Book God 2: Nope. 

 

OB: Forget you both! Seriously though. I don't understand how the man who wrote "The Underground Railroad" wrote this mess of a zombie novel. I kept comparing it to the "Girl With All the Gifts" and just did not enjoy it. I think the fact that Whitehead chose to tell this story in a non-linear way focusing on three specific days just didn't work. I liked the idea of the survivors of telling stories about their lives before the dead rose. I wish that Whitehead had worked more of that into his story. Other than that, this was just a lackluster read. 

 

Book 3

 

The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2)

 

Book God 1: Okay, this one actually made me mad too.

 

Book God 2: Dear authors, don't make a character's rape into some weird character motivation for one of your other characters and have them acting as if it somehow affects them more. Did we learn nothing from that story-line on Games of Throne when Sansa's rape is somehow affecting Theon Greyjoy more? 

 

OB: I found issues with book #1, but honestly book #2 just did not work for me on any level. I think the biggest issue that I have said before when it comes to YA books is that when the publisher's think they have a hit on their hands seem to spur the author to put out sequels before they are ready. Or even put out more books than were planned.

 

"The Last of August" moved the setting to Germany and Cavallaro didn't even play that up at all in the book. 


The main characters of Charlotte and Jamie are just toxic together. I am not rooting for them to get together. Jamie in turns desires and hates Charlotte. She doesn't do what he wants her to and gets weirdly competitive with her about who will solve the case they are on now. It doesn't help matters that Charlotte is not as great as deductions as her so-called relative Sherlock is. 


The other characters are poorly developed and Charlotte's brother makes a fatal mistake that I can't even believe he would have made, but you know let's throw some drama in there. 

 

As the book gods have already said, we know that prior to the events in book #1, Charlotte was raped. I hope you enjoy Jamie making it all about him the entire time. Cause that didn't get annoying at all. 

 

Book 4

 

Echoes in Death (In Death, #44)

 

Book God 1: I don't know why she keeps reading this series.

 

Book God 2: At least she no longer buys the books and just borrows them via the library.


Book God 1: Still though, none of the characters are progressing that well based on the last few books. Peabody is a callous moron in this one. And we have the final act where Eve deduces a crime and is all surprise about it in the end to those she gathers. Who is she, Hercule Poirot?  

 

Book God 2: I also kind of hate that it's been like what, 10 books in a row and only three months have passed. Something like that. Get your timeline together Robb. 

 

OB: I should probably just quit this series. But this series has some of my favorite books which is why I keep persisting with it. I think at this point Robb should consider how to wrap things up with Eve Dallas and friends since all of the books have started to read a bit samey. It didn't help that Peabody was abducted by aliens and replaced with a person with no soul. Who stands around a dead body gushing about someone's shoes?

 

The other characters don't have much to do anymore besides sit around and tell Dallas how she is right in all things (see Dr. Mira). 

The writing got very repetitive and there were no surprises in this one at all. You can guess the guilty party earlier on since Robb doesn't provide any other viable suspects. 

 

Book 5

 

Well this was a hard one, but I finally went with this on. 

 

Maybe Someday (Maybe, #1)

 

Book God 1: Man, even I was disappointed with this one.

 

Book God 2: Why are New Adult romance books mostly about cheating/almost cheating and/or slut shaming? 

 

Book God 1: I don't know. It's weird. I also don't get how anyone reads a romance and is all yes main couple, cheat. Please cheat.

 

OB: UGHHHH. This one was so frustrating. I read one of Hoover's books last year, "It Ends With Us" and was so moved by it. I freaking even wrote it in for one of the Goodreads 2016 awards. And to go back and read this I just wonder if the same author wrote both books. 

 

"Maybe Someday" has a very thin plot contrivance to get two strangers (Sydney and Ridge) living together with two other people. Yes, cause Sydney has listened to Ridge play his guitar from his patio they somehow have a connection. Whatever.

 

Things get worse when Sydney and Ridge proceed to get all jealous about any one of the opposite sex paying the other attention. Did I mention that Ridge has a great girlfriend and it makes no sense at all why he is so drawn to Sydney?

 

I can't even discuss the terrible ending where Ridge's girlfriend rightfully dumps his ass and then he runs back to Sydney and she is all true love. 

 

Honorable mentions: "All the Missing Girls" "In the Water", "The Best of Adam Sharp", "The Girl Before", "I Am Watching You", and "The Sleepwalker". 

 

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text 2017-10-29 16:56
Black Cat Productions Presents: Halloween Bingo 2017: Update 12 -- Bingos No. 10-13 and BLACKOUT!

 

 

My Square Markers and "Virgin" Bingo Card:

"Virgin" card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.


Black Kitty:
Read but not called


Black Vignette:
Called but not read

Black Kitty in Black Vignette:
Read and Called

Black Kitty Center Square:

                  Read = Called

 

 

Completed Spreadsheet:

(Note: Physical print editions unless stated otherwise)

 

 

The Final 3 Bingos:
Eleventh Bingo: Squares and Books Read:

   
 

                                                                 

                                                    

                                                      
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    

 

 

Twelfth Bingo: Squares and Books Read:

 
  

                                                                                                     

                                                                                                     

                                                                                                     

 

 

Thirteenth Bingo: Squares and Books Read:


 

 

 

Books Read / Listened to:

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 1:



Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites

 

 



Wilkie Collins: Mrs. Zant and the Ghost
(Gillian Anderson audio)

 

 

 

Martin Edwards / British Library:
Miraculous Mysteries - Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes

 

 



Agatha Christie: Mrs. McGinty's Dead
(Hugh Fraser audio)

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 2:



 Donna Andrews: Lord of the Wings

 

 


Ruth Rendell:

The Babes in the Wood

& Not in the Flesh

 

 

Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

 

 


Cornell Woolrich: The Bride Wore Black

 Raymond Chandler:

Farewell, My Lovely

  The Long Goodbye

The High Window

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 3:

 
Martin Edwards: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books

 

 

 
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
(Prunella Scales & Samuel West audio)

 

 

 
Simon Brett: An Amateur Corpse

 

 

 

The Medieval Murderers: House of Shadows

 

 

 

Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

(Bernadette Dunne audio)

 

 

  


Murder Most Foul (Anthology)

Edgar Allan Poe: The Dupin Stories -- The Murders in the Rue Morgue / The Mystery of Marie Rogêt / The Purloined Letter

(Kerry Shale audio)

 Agatha Christie: Endless Night
(BBC full cast dramatization)

 Dick Francis: Knockdown (Tim Pigott-Smith audio)


 

 Ngaio Marsh:

Artists in Crime (Benedict Cumberbatch audio)

Overture to Death (Anton Lesser audio)

Death and the Dancing Footman (Anton Lesser audio)

Surfet of Lampreys (Anton Lesser audio)

Opening Night (aka Night at the Vulcan) (Anton Lesser audio)

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 4:

 
James D. Doss: Grandmother Spider

 

 


Terry Pratchett: Men at Arms

 

 


Ovid: Metamorphoses
(German / Latin parallel print edition and David Horovitch audio)

Apollodorus: Library of Greek Mythology

Plutarch: Life of Theseus

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Updates 5 & 6:

 
C.S. Forester: The African Queen

 

 

 
Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley
(David Thorpe audio)

 

 

 


Jo Nesbø: The Snowman

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 7:


Antonia Hodgson: The Devil in the Marshalsea

 

 


Gabriel García Márquez: Crónica de una muerte anunciada
(Chronicle of a Death Foretold)

 

 


Peter May: Coffin Road


 

 
Joseph Sheridan Le  Fanu: Carmilla

 

 

 

Final Book Read (= Update 10):


Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills

 

 

Previous Bingos:
First Bingo (Update 3 - Sept. 23, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

  

 

 

Second Bingo (Update 5 - Oct. 7, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

   

                                                                           

                                                   

                                                   

 

 

Third Bingo (Update 7 - Oct. 16, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

   

                                                                

 

Fourth Bingo (Update 7 - Oct. 16, 2017): Squares and Books Read:


                                                                                

                                                                                                     

                                                                                                      
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     

 

 

Fifth Bingo (Update 8 - Oct. 18, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

 

 

 

Sixth Bingo (Update 9 - Oct. 19, 2017): Squares and Books Read:


             

         

Seventh Bingo (Update 9 - Oct. 19, 2017): Squares and Books Read:


 

                                        

                          

                             
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    

 

 

Seventh Bingo (Update 9 - Oct. 19, 2017): Squares and Books Read:


 

                                        

                          

                             
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    

           

                         

Eighth Bingo (Update 11 - Oct. 27, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

  

 

         

Ninth Bingo (Update 11 - Oct. 27, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

   
 

                                                                

                                                  

                                                    

 

 

Tenth Bingo (Update 11 - Oct. 27, 2017): Squares and Books Read:


 

 

 

The Book Pool:

Most likely: Donna Andrews: Lord of the Wings

Alternatively:

* Diane Mott Davidson: Catering to Nobody
* One or more stories from Martin Greenberg's and Ed Gorman's (eds.) Cat Crimes
* ... or something by Lilian Jackson Braun




Most likely: Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
(audio return visit courtesy of
either Michael Kitchen or Prunella Scales and Samuel West)

Alternatively:

* Wilkie Collins: The Woman In White
(audio version read by Nigel Anthony and Susan Jameson)

* Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey
(audio return visit courtesy of Anna Massey)
* Isak Dinesen: Seven Gothic Tales
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* ... or something by Daphne du Maurier




Candace Robb: The Apothecary Rose

Change of plan:

C.S. Forester: The African Queen




Most likely: Simon Brett: A book from a four-novel omibus edition including An Amateur Corpse, Star Trap, So Much Blood, and Cast, in Order of Disappearance

Alternatively:

* Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler?
* Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley
(audio version read by David Thorpe)
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Minette Walters: The Shape of Snakes




Most likely: Something from James D. Doss's Charlie Moon series (one of my great discoveries from last year's bingo)

Or one of Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins mysteries

Alternatively:

Sherman Alexie: Indian Killer




Terry Pratchett: Carpe Jugulum

Change of Plan:

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Carmilla




One or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Miraculous Mysteries: Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes




Most likely: Agatha Christie: Mrs. McGinty's Dead
(audio return visit courtesy of Hugh Fraser)

Or one or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Serpents in Eden: Countryside Crimes

Alternatively:

* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar, To Love and Be Wise, or The Singing Sands
* Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler?
* Peter May: The Lewis Man
* S.D. Sykes: Plague Land
* Arthur Conan Doyle: The Mystery of Cloomber
* Michael Jecks: The Devil's Acolyte
* Stephen Booth: Dancing with the Virgins
* Karen Maitland: The Owl Killers
* Martha Grimes: The End of the Pier
* Minette Walters: The Breaker




One of two "Joker" Squares:

 

To be filled in as my whimsy takes me (with apologies to Dorothy L. Sayers), either with one of the other mystery squares' alternate books, or with a murder mystery that doesn't meet any of the more specific squares' requirements.  In going through my shelves, I found to my shame that I own several bingo cards' worth of books that would fill this square alone, some of them bought years ago ... clearly something needs to be done about that, even if it's one book at a time!




Isabel Allende: Cuentos de Eva Luna (The Stories of Eva Luna) or
Gabriel García Márquez: Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold)




Most likely: One or more stories from Charles Dickens: Complete Ghost Stories or
Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills

Alternatively:

* Wilkie Collins: Mrs. Zant and the Ghost
(Gillian Anderson audio)

* Stephen King: Bag of Bones




Terry Pratchett: Men at Arms




Obviously and as per definition in the rules, the second "Joker" Square.

 

Equally as per definition, the possibles for this square also include my alternate reads for the non-mystery squares.




Most likely: Cornell Woolrich: The Bride Wore Black

Alternatively:

* Raymond Chandler: Farewell My Lovely or The Long Goodbye / The High Window

* James M. Cain: Mildred Pierce
* Horace McCoy: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
* David Goodis: Shoot the Piano Player or Dark Passage
* ... or something else by Cornell Woolrich, e.g., Phantom Lady or I Married a Dead Man




Most likely: Ruth Rendell: Not in the Flesh or The Babes in the Wood (audio versions read by Christopher Ravenscroft, aka Inspector Burden in the TV series)

Alternatively:

* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills




Most likely: Peter May: Coffin Road

Alternatively:

* Stephen King: Bag of Bones or Hearts in Atlantis
* Denise Mina: Field of Blood
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Minette Walters: The Breaker
* Jonathan Kellerman: When The Bough Breaks, Time Bomb, Blood Test, or Billy Straight

* Greg Iles: 24 Hours




Most likely: Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills

Alternatively:

* Karen Maitland: The Owl Killers
* Greg Iles: Sleep No More




Most likely: Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley
(audio version read by David Thorpe)

Alternatively:

* One or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries
* Georgette Heyer: They Found Him Dead
* Ellis Peters: Black is the Colour of My True-Love's Heart




Most likely: Something from Terry Pratchett's Discworld / Witches subseries -- either Equal Rites or Maskerade

Alternatively:

* Karen Maitland: The Owl Killers

* Shirley Jackson: The Witchcraft of Salem Village




Most likely: Antonia Hodgson: The Devil in the Marshalsea

Alternatively:

* Rory Clements: Martyr
* Philip Gooden: Sleep of Death 
* Minette Walters: The Shape of Snakes
* Ngaio Marsh: Death in Ecstasy

* One or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Capital Crimes: London Mysteries




Most likely: Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
(audio return visit courtesy of Sir Christopher Lee)

Alternatively:

* H.G. Wells: The Island of Dr. Moreau 

* ... or something by Edgar Allan Poe




Most likely: Something from Ovid's Metamorphoses

Alternatively:

* Robert Louis Stevenson: The Bottle Imp
* Christina Rossetti: Goblin Market
* H.G. Wells: The Island of Dr. Moreau




Most likely: Jo Nesbø: The Snowman

Alternatively:

* Val McDermid: The Retribution
* Denise Mina: Sanctum 
* Mo Hayder: Birdman
* Caleb Carr: The Alienist
* Jonathan Kellerman: The Butcher's Theater
* Greg Iles: Mortal Fear




Most likely: The Medieval Murderers: House of Shadows
or Hill of Bones

Alternatively:

* Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills
* Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House
* Stephen King: Bag of Bones
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Michael Jecks: The Devil's Acolyte




Ooohhh, you know -- something by Shirley Jackson ... if I don't wimp out in the end; otherwise something by Daphne du Maurier.

 

 

 

 

 

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text 2017-10-27 14:44
Halloween Bingo 2017: Update 11 -- Triple Bingo (Nos. 8, 9 and 10)

Bingo No. 8: Left column.

Bingo No. 9: Bottom row.

Bingo No. 10: Four corners and center square.

 

 

The "bingo" squares and books read:            

Bingo No. 8:

  

         

Bingo No. 9:

   
 

                                                                

                                                  

                                                    
 

Bingo No. 10:


 

There's a nice symmetry to the fact that the bingo call which will give me my "real" blackout (and my final three bingos) is going to be for the square that was also my last bingo read -- "Supernatural" (Sharyn McCrumb, She Walks These Hills).

 

 

My Square Markers and "Virgin" Bingo Card:

"Virgin" card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.


Black Kitty:
Read but not called


Black Vignette:
Called but not read

Black Kitty in Black Vignette:
Read and Called

Black Kitty Center Square:

                  Read = Called

 

 

Current Status of Spreadsheet:

(Note: Physical print editions unless stated otherwise)

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-23 17:00
Hanging the Elephant (Also: Final 2017 Halloween Bingo Read)
She Walks These Hills - Sharyn McCrumb

 

Well, I'm glad that this year's Halloween Bingo ended on a high note for me -- in terms of writing, that is, even if not topically.

 

She Walks These Hills is one of Sharyn McCrumb's Ballad novels, set in the Roan Mountain / Cherokee National Forest part of the Appalachian Mountains -- I'm guessing that the town of Hamelin, TN, featured in the novel is based on Hampton, TN.  (There actually is a Hamelin, TN, too, but it's in a different part of the state, whereas the location of Hampton fits the book's geographical references perfectly.)  The novel is named for the legend of one Katie Wyler, a pioneer girl who in 1779 was abducted by a group of Shawnee, but managed to flee from her captors and walk all the way back home, covering a distance of several hundred miles; only to be killed once she had reached what she believed to be safety -- and whose spirit is believed to still be haunting the area.  While the novel's Katie Wyler is fictitious, McCrumb based her legend on the story of several actual pioneer women who suffered a similar fate (minus being killed upon their return home); most notably, Mary Drapler Ingles

 

That being said, while Katie's story provides the novel's background, the actual plot weaves together the stories of several contemporary (well, 1990s) protagonists:

 

* Hiram "Harm" Sorley, a 60+ year old escapee from a Mountain City prison where he'd been serving a de-facto life sentence without the possibility of parole for killing an affluent neighbor some 25 years previously, and who is (rightly) believed to be trying to return to his hometown of Hamelin, TN -- never mind that he's suffering from Korsakoff's Syndrome, i.e., the memory loss condition where, though you do recall events of your remote past, your short term memory is only able to record things for very brief periods (think of the movie Mememto);

* Hamelin Deputy Sheriff Martha Avery, promoted from dispatcher to her current position (on a probationary basis) as a result of a staffing shortage, who, after volunteering for her current job in an attempt to better herself, unexpectedly finds her relationship with the town's other deputy sheriff (Joe LeDonne) on the rocks -- all the while wondering why she seems to be the only person in the office who is taking Harm Sorley's escape seriously and considering him a potential threat;

* History PhD student and teaching assistant Jeremy Cobb, who has made Katie Wyler's story his pet research project and part of his PhD thesis, and who -- though a city kid and a bookworm who hasn't even gone hiking, let alone camped out in the woods a single time in his life before -- decides there is only one way to "get close" to Katie; namely, by hiking part of the rough, lonesome wilderness trail she must have been traveling some 200 years ago (yeah, well, talk about a recipe for disaster right there);

* Henry "Hank the Yank" Kretzer, a local country & folk music DJ (originally from Connecticut, hence his nickname), who covers the Harm Sorley story on the radio and becomes interested enough to try and track down the circumstances that ended up in Harm's life sentence to begin with;

* and Harm's wife and daughter, Rita and Charlotte, who after Harm's conviction went on to live a life very different from the hillbilly / "white trash" life they had been sharing with him, and whom Rita's new middle class husband Euell had shut off from Harm entirely, enjoining them to consider his being locked up in prison forever the same thing as him being dead.

 

And, in addition to these and other people's stories, which dramatically converge once Harm does actually make it back to the Hamelin area, this is also the story of this particular corner of the Appalachians, whose vast forests, valleys and mountainsides very much make the area's nature and geography a character of its own, and provide for a magnificent backdrop -- and the age-old tale of history repeating itself in that the interests of the defenceless are sacrificed, sometimes very publicly, on the altar of money, power, corruption, and greed: as epitomized by the (real!) story of Mary the elephant, a circus elephant who in 1916 in Erwing, TN, was hanged by a local mob, after she had acted out against and killed a handler who had severely hurt her ... and after the circus owner had realized that as a result she had become a liability instead of the asset she had been so far, and the only way he could generate one last large wad of money out of her was by putting her on display for her public execution.  (Note: You may want to think twice about following the above link or the one in the below first footnote, or researching the story online, if you find it hard to look at images or read descriptions of animals being mistreated.  In fact, I'm going to put the whole passage from the book in which "Hank the Yank" tells the story to his listeners into spoiler tags for the same reason, too:)

"Now the circus was in a pickle. They had to choose between sacrificing an eight-thousand-dollar elephant -- that was Rolls-Royce money in 1916, folks -- or missing play dates in Johnson City and Rogersville.  And the newspaper had fired folks up so that they were screaming for her blood.  It doesn't appear that anybody considered Mary's feelings in the matter.  Ws she a victim of abuse under a  cruel and inexperienced trainer?  Did she consider her actions self-defense? [...]

Those are nineties questions, neighbors.  Nobody asked them in 1916.  The circus owner reasoned that he couldn't afford to lose money from missing show dates, and after the notoriety occasioned by Eldridge's [the handler's] death, he didn't think he could get any other show to buy her.  Apparently, he decided that the only way to profit from the experience would be to reap some free publicity by staging a spectacular public execution.

That's where Erwin comes in.  I mean, how are you going to kill an elephant?  Poison?  How many pounds would it take?  Electrocution?  I wouldn't want to be around if you miscalculated the lethal dosage and pissed her off.  But Erwin, population in 1916 two thousand, was the site of the repair shops for the Clinchfield Railroad.  It offered the circus owner a solution.  Why not hang the beast on a one-hundred-ton railroad derrick?  That's the equipment they used to lift railroad cars.  A five-ton animal would pose no problem at all for such a contraption. [...]

The circus people put a chain around her neck and hoisted her right up off the ground.  It took them two tries,* but they finally succeeded in kiling a rare and intelligent creature, that maybe had no business being enslaved in a sideshow anyhow.  Maybe she even preferred a quick death to a life of servitude.  I don't claim to be an expert on the opinions of elephants."

(spoiler show)

Hank concludes the story of Mary the elephant:

"I do know this: sometimes the law seems more concerned with shutting up mobs who are too dumb to be reasoned with than they are with dispensing justice.  Maybe you're wondering what all this has to do with one old man who took an ax to his prosperous neighbor a quarter of a century ago.  It's just a feeling I have, folks.  Something tells me that Harm was just as much a pawn as Mary was.  I think there's another side to both stories, and while we're never going to hear the truth in Mary's case, I'm still hoping that it can be unconvered for Harm Sorley."**

She Walks These Hills was published in 1994, but given recent political events both in Washington, D.C. and, inter alia, in places like the coal mining areas of West Virginia (which aren't actually so terribly far away from the area where this story is set), large parts of it still read shockingly relevant 23 years later -- now more than ever, in fact.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Sensitivity warning: The below spoiler adds a detail on the hanging procedure.

(spoiler show)

**Contents spoiler warning: Don't read the below spoiler if you haven't read the book and don't want to read anything related to its conclusion.

Turns out that while Harm Sorley's action wasn't self-defense, he certainly was severely provoked -- it's at the very least debatable whether his act would genuinely have qualified as first degree murder; and if he had had the money to afford a better lawyer, he almost certainly would have gotten off with a lighter sentence.  Then again, if he'd had the money (and sophistication) to hire a better lawyer, he'd likely have resorted to different means altogether ... if that rich neighbor whom he ended up killing had dared to do what he did to him and his family in the first place.

(spoiler show)

Merken

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text 2017-10-19 19:00
Halloween Bingo 2017: Update 9 -- Bingos No. 6 & 7

Bingo No. 6: Top row.

Bingo No. 7: Second column to the right.

 

 

The "bingo" squares and books read:

Bingo No. 6:


             

         

Bingo No. 7:


 

                                        

                          

                             
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    
                                                    

 

I'll have another bingo (all four corners and the center square) when "Classic Horror" is called, and I also have a certain incentive to finish my last bingo book -- Sharyn McCrumb's She Walks These Hills -- fairly soonish, as a "Supernatural" call will give me a bingo as well.  Complete blackout should tumble in within the next week or so, depending on how the remaining bingo calls come up. 

 

My Square Markers and "Virgin" Bingo Card:

"Virgin" card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.


Black Kitty:
Read but not called


Black Vignette:
Called but not read

Black Kitty in Black Vignette:
Read and Called

Black Kitty Center Square:

                  Read = Called

 

 

Current Status of Spreadsheet:

(Note: Physical print editions unless stated otherwise)

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