GIRL WAITS WITH GUN: A REVIEW

This 2015 mystery by Amy Stewart is based on a real person, the first female crime fighter, and the plot comes from a newspaper clipping. It is set in the days in America when cars are just beginning to be used instead of horses. The opening scene has a horse and buggy driven by and carrying three sisters being “attacked” by a new-fangled auto.  It is a lively scene which demonstrates the “sides” of the horse vs auto debate. The auto is driven by an inebriated Henry Kaufman of Kaufman Silk Dyeing Company.  It is a hit and run, and Miss Constance, the oldest of the three maidenly sisters does not intend to let him get away with it. Other sisters are Miss Norma, the homebody, and the much younger, very attractive Miss Fleurette, the only one injured (slightly) in the accident.

The Dallas Morning News describes this novel-based-on-fact as a “fresh, winning, and delightful mystery with a warm heart, impish humor, and a heroine (Miss Constance) who quietly shatters convention.” I found this description to be apt.

Sheriff Heath comes into the investigation not as a love interest, but as a man who comes to admire Miss Constance and respect her skills in the solving of the mystery that occurs in the events before and after the accident and the harassment of the three sisters by Mr. Kaufman and his thugs.

There are moments of danger, moments of humor, and moments of moral courage as both family mysteries and the current mystery are examined and solved. It is a very satisfying read.

Neil Gaiman’s THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS: A Review

Gaiman, a British citizen living in the US is perhaps best known for his graphic novel, The Sandman, or his huge fantasy novel, Everywheres. Both are captivating reads.  In his introduction to “Cheap Seats,” he says this is not a collected works of his non-fiction, but that is precisely what it is. College commencement speeches, acceptance speeches for rewards, musings and thoughts presented to different academies join book reviews and introductions and other written pieces by the versatile Gaiman.  I began with something I knew, the “Make Art” address to the University of Arts in Philadelphia, which went viral in 2012. It was as stirring as I remembered it when I showed it to my university students that year.

He points out that just as like doctors are approached with, “I have a pain on the left side of my right hip…” and teachers are approached with, “My child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, what should I be doing at home?” authors are constantly presented with, “Where do you get your ideas?”  Sarcastic at first, Gaiman attempts to give an honest answer which is the following:

“I make them up.

Out of my head.”

The title essay comes from his experience of being invited to the Oscars and having to sit in the nosebleed section far away from the stage. He had been nominated for the animated film, Coraline, (He did not win, but how could he, competing against Up?) His accounting of that night makes good reading. His British sense of humor carries the day and keeps the reader turning pages, followed by pondering the depth of the point the author has just made. Gaiman has been called, “an inquisitive observer,” and this collection of 60 works of his non-fiction writings is worth the time for anyone who loves books, writers, and writing.

A DARNED GOOD READ THAT HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

Watching Glass Shatter, an October 2017 publication by blogging friend, James J Cudney, is a darned good read. It is his debut novel, but at least one more is almost ready for publication, Father Figure.  If you like stories about the complexities of families, you’ll LOVE this one. With the unexpected death of Benjamin Glass, father of a family of five boys, we watch the Glass family shatter and try through the efforts of Olivia, Ben’s widow, try to mend itself. Olivia herself, shattered more than any widow would be, is  further devastated by a confessional letter from Ben left behind.  His “secret” involves one of their five sons, but the letter does not reveal which one.

Olivia decides to visit each son, in his home, as she tries to make sense of the letter and determine “which one” the letter refers to. Unknown to Olivia, each grown son has been keeping a secret from her and the family. Irony abounds, and I kept turning the pages to find out more answers and satisfy my curiosity.

Cudney’s characterization is excellent, and I came to care about all six of the major characters. (I had no trouble keeping the characters and secrets “straight” because of the author’s transitions and format of the chapters.) Each son is very different from the others (true in all families), yet the love and sense of family they all come to feel is heartwarming.  Cudney’s word choices and phrasing are spot-on as well, sweeping the reader along in the action while the reader enjoys the appeal of the writing.

I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars, not because the writer is a blogging friend (I bought the book), but because, as a serious reader, I enjoy good writing, fine characterization, and a darned good read.

 

NOTES FROM A SMALL DOG, FOUR LEGS ON TWO: A Review

This delightful 2013 publication by Sue Vincent deserves much more space and time than I can allot to it. To simplify matters, I will follow the outline a fellow blogger offered.

How I came to read it: I have been following Sue Vincent’s blog since I began reading blogs almost two years ago.  She mentioned her book, Notes from a Small Dog, in one of her posts, and I knew I had to purchase it.

Synopsis: It is basically a collection of Ani’s posts(a beautiful black dog, winking at the reader in a photograph on the title page) and Sue Vincent’s posts about Annie.

First Thoughts: I was immediately captivated by the posts and stories told both by Sue and by Ani, barely wanting to leave the pages that were so poignantly and cleverly written. For example, Sue does some philosophizing on her musings on faith in God, other people, and the unconditional love from dogs. Ani writes so cleverly, calling Sue’s sons her (Ani’s) “boys” even though they are grown men, and refers to them as Sue’s “pups.”

Writing Style: In a word, dee-light–ful!

Final Thoughts: I am so glad I purchased this book. It brought me many happy reading moments and contemplative moments as well. It is a FANTASTIC book and a FANTASTIC read.

Rating: 5 out of 5