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review 2018-09-15 17:08
Mardi Gras Murder: Not Your Typical Murder Mystery
Mardi Gras Murder: A Cajun Country Mystery - Ellen Byron

I can’t really give much about this book (without spoiling it, that is) but what I can give you is this set of keywords on what you need to know and expect about the book: murders, traitors, secrets, lies, lineage, Mardi Gras, festivities, celebration, mystery, and issues. (because supposedly everyone has them.)


I haven’t read any book by Ellen Byron yet, or any installment from the Cajun Country mysteries series either so I’m really new with their writing and the setting of Cajun Country. Because I’m a clueless human, the book introduced me to new things such as Mardi Gras and the orphan train to name a few. Her writing is also simply amazing.


By reading the story, I got a small glimpse of the Pelican culture and some snippets on history. The story may be fictional but part of me felt that. :)))


One thing I really really really liked was the flow of the story. The transitioning of each chapter makes me smirk every time. It’s just begging me, inviting me to read the next chapter immediately, and I did.


Most chapters ended in a cliffhanger (spoiler!) which, for me, was frustratingly good (if that makes any sense). I started slow but quickly picked up my pace when the cliffhangers began, continuing one chapter to the next. I just had to.


Onto the characters… (yayyy!) I absolutely, genuinely adore the characters in Mardi Gras Murder. I felt that most of them had character development. You can see how each character is well-rounded and that each one has a different story to tell. You can’t really point out who is good or bad, innocent or guilty, at fault or not.


Here’s one thing I can tell you: We can’t really say who did what because we don’t really know know everyone. We all have our secrets but at some point, they’ll be revealed. Someday, one way or another.


It's a chill book that gives chills. So settle in and ready your little tiny heart for some murder action and mystery in a town where it seems fun and light on the outside but secretly hides quite a lot of darkness on the inside.

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text 2018-08-16 16:18
Reading progress update: I've read 69 out of 190 pages.
The Solitary Summer - Elizabeth von Arnim

Fatal objections to the candidacy of new parsons for the living becoming vacant on the estate:

"One was too old, another not old enough; another had twelve children, and the parsonage only allows for eight; one had a shrewish wife, and another was of Liberal tendencies in politics -- a fatal objection; one was in money difficulties because he would spend more than he had, which was not surprising when one heard what he did have; and another was disliked in his parish because he and his wife were too close-fisted and would not spend at all ..."

And they say the princess in King Thrushbeard was picky.


Also -- imagine living in a time when having twelve kids is a problem because your house only has room for eight ...

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review 2018-08-13 19:45
Terrible, Thank Goodness it Was Only 99 Cents
A Country Affair - Alice Ross Colver


If you want to read a book about terrible people and the decisions they make, this is for you. I loathe romance books that have adultery as the main theme. We have a married couple (each contemplating adultery) a woman who has had an affair (and gotten pregnant due to the affair) two teens, one who is horrified that her mother is not special/awesome enough and that's pretty much the whole story.


Ross jumps around to Julia (married woman), Miranda (had the affair) and Faye (Julia's daughter) and also Julia's husband Paul. We get their four points of view throughout the story and honestly I didn't root for anyone. The majority of this book was people excusing or being excused for terrible crap they did. The fact that Julia and Paul's son had an eating disorder (at least it seemed to me) was glossed over. I hated that Julia and Paul never had  real conversation, instead they both are looking to other people to paper over the cracks in their marriage. I loathed Paul more since he was contemplating an affair with his assistant. Apparently sexual harassment isn't a thing in the UK?

The writing wasn't great. Maybe if Ross had stuck to Julia and Miranda and left out the other POVs. The flow was too choppy too. At one point I was confused on the timeline and realized I didn't care and continued on with it.

The ending was definitely some pie in the sky stuff, not realistic at all. 

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text 2018-08-03 17:21
Barely Breathing By Pamela Clare Free! A very good romance!
Barely Breathing: A Colorado High Country Novel - Pamela Clare

Lexi Jewell left Scarlet Springs twelve years ago, vowing never to return to the small Colorado mountain town where she grew up. Now, here she is—over thirty, out of a job and with little choice but to move back in with her eccentric father. Lexi knows it’s just a matter of time before she runs into Austin Taylor, her first boyfriend and her first heartbreak. She’s determined to show him she’s over him—until he steps out of a pickup truck and back into her life, looking sexy as hell in his mountain ranger uniform.

As far as Austin is concerned, Lexi can turn her snazzy little convertible around and drive back to Chicago. After all, she ripped his teenage heart to pieces and turned her back on the town he loves. But from the moment he sees her again, he can’t get her out of his mind. Even her smile messes with his head.

When an evening of conversation turns into something else, Lexi and Austin agree to be friends—with benefits. But as Lexi starts making plans to return to the big city, Austin realizes he’ll lose her a second time unless he can show her that what she’s searching for has been right here all along.


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review 2018-06-16 04:18
Interesting perspective - infuriating, frustrating and sad
The View from Flyover Country - Sarah Kendzior

I follow Sarah Kendzior on twitter - @sarahkendzior - and I find her social media feed to be engaging and illuminating in this age of Trump. The View from Flyover Country is a collection of essays that she published back in 2012 - 2014, in which she focuses on several topics that, in hindsight, appear to provide insight into how Trump carried the important, and unexpected, 60K votes in a few counties in Michigan and Wisconsin, which led to his victory.


The sections are entitled:


I. Flyover Country

II. The Post-Employment World

III. Race and Religion

IV. Higher Education

V. Media

VI. Beyond Flyover Country


When Kendzior talks about "Flyover Country," she is speaking of the swath of the U.S. that is in the center of the country, much of which was firmly Democrat until it wasn't, and which has been in decline for decades. She herself lives in St. Louis, and much of her perspective is taken from her home city and home state, which is desperately poor and racially tense.


She riffs on several themes throughout the book, which really boil down to a meditation in inequality - every theme has as an underlying coda the reality that a small percentage of Americans are in possession of most of the private, and public, good, and that the price to buy into privilege is far too high for the average American to pay.


For example, her discussion about higher education focuses on the stark reality that only about 25% of the "professors" are full-time, tenure track employees with real salaries and benefits that form the reward for their years of education. Approximately 75% of "professors" are piece-work adjuncts who live in poverty, sometimes making as little at 12K a year, living in their cars. Their educations and intelligence are indistinguishable from the professional class, but they are unable to obtain for themselves a "real job" in academia, even after serving as the foot soldier of the University (unpaid graduate student) for years, toiling for their Ph,D. If one is not interested in higher education, this may not inspire sympathy, but she demonstrates the same model is being used by employers in essentially all markets, with the possible exception of the financial sector.


When she talks about employment in highly sought after fields, she makes the point that the barriers to entry in those fields - knowing someone who is already powerful, and the ability to participate in unpaid internships - act to keep out everyone who doesn't already come from a family with status. Young people who want to break into publishing or the media or foreign policy must be able to take unpaid internships in expensive cities in order to meet the right people who control the hiring process. Therefore, it is a self-fulfilling prophesy - the already powerful consolidate power in themselves and their progeny and the rest of the nation goes begging.


The major downfall of the book is that it tends to be repetitive because it is a collection of essays published over a number of years, and so you read the same or similar anecdotes in multiple essays. It is also, to be quite honest, simply depressing as fuck. I am fortunate to be at the tail end of a moderately successful and quite stable career - I am 3 years away from being able to take an early retirement which will enable me to live, if not in luxury, certainly without being reduced to eating cat food and sleeping on sewer grates under newspapers. I was lucky enough to buy a house that has increased substantially in value, and will continue to do so until I can cash out and use the money to sustain myself in more austere circumstances.


I'm not really worried about me, although a total global economic meltdown would no doubt ruin me as it would ruin everyone except for the global elite which seems to invariably emerge from every crisis with an even larger percentage of the resource pot. 


But, I am launching kids into adulthood right now. And this shit makes me want to cry and scream and demand to know who the fuck thought it was a good idea to create a new Gilded Age where those ultimate expressions of vacuous grasping mediocrity - the Trumps and their ilk - would end up winning the financial lottery at the expense of my children. It's bullshit.


So, yeah, Sarah Kendzior just depressed the fuck out of me. It's true, most of it, and it's gross and it should be a goddamned crime. But it's the way we live now.

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