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text 2018-01-15 16:47
Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.
Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution - Diane McWhorter
At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68 - Taylor Branch
Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 - Taylor Branch
Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 - Taylor Branch

Some suggested reading from publisher Simon & Schuster's newsletter.

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review 2018-01-13 15:42
Sweet concept but it's as appealing as melted ice cream.
Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across Am... Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America - Blanche Ettinger

The premise of the book sounded like lots of fun: author Ettinger loves ice cream and spends her time traveling around the country learning about the brands, their histories, how they're made, the stories behind the creators, etc. Microhistories about foods are often fun and this sounded like a light-hearted but intriguing travelogue.

 

Unfortunately, it's not. The criticisms are right and the low rating on Goodreads is warranted. Initially it starts off well at first with how and why she is so interested in ice cream in itself. But the writing meanders, goes off on tangents, talks a little too much about herself, doesn't focus on the ice cream. There are some really funny and endearing stories (like how she named an ice cream recipe after her father-in-law who had passed away recently but couldn't get it quite right) and some actually interesting tidbits (like I didn't know one of the founders of Ben & Jerry's had sinus problems hence why it's so big on flavor and texture). 

 

But the book reads like she had a first draft and then nobody edited it and it was sent to print as it is. It's quite sad because I had really been looking forward to it but was put off on how pasted together it seemed and how often it seemed like so many things just weren't right to the author for any number of reasons. There IS a story and history of ice cream but this book wasn't the place to find it.

 

Library borrow. Some people might like the approach and not mind how the author went about telling this story but this just reinforces my own experiences of how journalists really shouldn't think their work in the newspapers or magazines or TV, etc. translates well to book form. If you're not that passionate or are put off by the negative reviews, go ahead and skip this one.

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review 2018-01-12 18:48
Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle
Triangle: The Fire That Changed America - David von Drehle

This was a dud. I guess I had higher expectations for this book than I was aware of because all I am feeling is disappointment. Yeah, the book does explain (not that well enough in my opinion) what happened and how it happened, but I felt that the author was much more interested in writing about the men of Tammany Hall. Basically this book is almost all about every man involved, however loosely, in the strike of 1909 and the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire. Seriously, I felt that every man in Lower East Side of NYC got a full back story and like maybe 3 women did.

 

The writing was a little over the top, especially when the author was describing what each character looked like, including the shape of heads. Also he was pre-occupied with how plain or pretty the women in the book were and how feminine they acted. It was a bit weird and not really added any value to the narrative.

 

Tip of the hat to the author for working on a list of victims who died in the fire. His author note on sources was more entertaining than a lot of the book, the way he detailed how he went about trying to find the names from varying sources and using detective work to whittle down the list.

 

I did give an extra half star for the author adding in details about Francis Perkins early days prior to working with and then for FDR.

 

 

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text 2018-01-12 12:11
Friday Reads - January 12, 2018
Triangle: The Fire That Changed America - David von Drehle
Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal - G. Willow Wilson,Adrian Alphona
A Right Honorable Gentleman - Courtney Milan
Love is Love - Phil Jimenez,Various
Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances - Alyssa Cole,Rose Lerner,Courtney Milan

I have 40% left in Triangle, so that is the first one to read. There may be less left due to the index, sources, etc. taking up a big part of the page count.

 

Starting tomorrow, I will be reading off my COYER Winter Switch reading list, kicking off with volume one of Ms. Marvel and A Right Honorable Gentleman by Courtney Milan (previously published in RWA's anthology Premiere).

 

I will also begin reading Love is Love edited by Phil Jimenez, a graphic novel anthology that was created to raise money for Pulse Nightclub victims and survivors.

 

To round out the end of BoB cycle 21, I might get to Hamilton's Battalion anthology.

 

Happy first 3 day weekend of 2018!

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review 2018-01-11 06:58
Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country
Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country - Craig Pittman

I'm not sure this is the kind of book that has broad appeal, but as one of the rare true natives of the Sunshine State (as are three previous generations of my dad's side), I had a very vested interest in reading it.  I grew up in a blissful bubble of ignorance regarding Florida's off-the-charts location on the crazy scale, and it wasn't until after I moved away that I started hearing all the jokes.  I own that I was more than a little bit indignant.

 

Now that I've read this book, I get it.  What felt totally normal to me for decades, while living in the midst of it all, when looked at objectively from a distance, is decidedly ... eccentric, to say the least.  I'd like to blame all the carpet-baggers, but if I'm being truthful, Florida was invaded by the nutty centuries ago.

 

However, as Pittman points out, we may be crazy, but we're also history makers and trendsetters.  For better or worse, a lot of what's good and bad in American can be traced to Florida.  NASCAR (admittedly, a matter of perspective as to whether this is a good or bad thing), the space program, USA Today, and authors like Carl Hiaasen, Meg Cabot, Ransom Riggs and Donald J. Sobol.  We also have to own the highest rate of concealed carry permits in the nation and the lowest level of funding for mental health programs, a combination most rational people would say is unwise.  Also, The National Enquirer.  And threaded throughout all the good, bad and ugly are the most hilarious kinds of crazy.

 

"Does it seem strange to you that the beloved figure of Walt Disney would wind up working with a guy tied to the CIA, drugs, Cuban revolutionaries and the Mafia?  Does that odd juxtaposition make you feel uncomfortable?  In Florida, we call that feeling 'Tuesday'. " 

 

Pittman does a great job making just about all Floridians look like the cracked fruitcakes we probably are to some extent, and he does almost as good a job tying all the crazy in to the rest of the country.  Occasionally, his tone veers into derisive and it's clear that while he may be a native too, he's not a kool-aid drinker.  Floridians should be proud of their eccentricities, but they should be appalled by the truly horrific way we allow our state to be run.  I'm not sure we've ever elected a sane politician on a state level; hell, I'm not sure we've ever elected one that was law abiding.

 

Still, I miss my home state.  Florida is a part of my soul; a big reason why I can be both conservative and tolerant, why for me anything less than 50mph winds is a breezy day, and why a 10 foot long reptile won't make me blink an eye, but a 2 inch cockroach will send me running, screaming bloody murder all the way.

 

If you've even wondered why Florida is the way it is, this book won't be able to explain why, but it is going to make you laugh.

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