Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Where are the Children Now - by guest reviewer Christina Brown


This was a a fast read for me, with well described characters and interesting details to set the scene, as is typical from Clark. Immediately prior to reading this, I reread Where are the Children? but found that I didn’t really need to as this book had plenty of context/back story for Nancy and her children’s history included - which was primarily meant to highlight how bizarre (and traumatic) it was for this family to be dealing with another missing child case in their lifetime. 

While I found myself suspicious of a few characters even early on, I was still surprised by the story’s twist in the end for who was actually behind Riley going missing. Which is what usually happens when I read Clark’s books- her character and intricate scene development leave you wondering who is truly to be trusted and what is even true. 

I found a few style differences in how the book was written as compared to other Clark books but it wasn’t anything bad per-say (just different) and I couldn’t quite discern if that was due to Alafair Burke’s contributions, the current/modern time period references or something else entirely. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and found it on par with Clark’s other books! Oh, and the original Where are the Children? still holds up as a really great book- only some references and details (ex: commonplace cigar/cigarette use in public) felt dated despite this being written in the 1970’s. My suggestion: read them both!

My two cents...

I agree...this is vintage Mary Higgins Clark. I totally enjoyed reading a traditional mystery where the plot is linear and the clues logical.  Predicting the ending is half the fun or reading mysteries, isn't it?  I never - and I mean NEVER - get it right, be it a novel or a TV show.  The trend in twister mysteries, started with Gone Girl, I guess, frustrate me.  They jerk me around, lead me hither and yon, and then, in the last twenty pages, they tell me they were just kidding,  Hidden clues, minor characters, and tons of red herrings make it nearly impossible to solve the mystery.  But they sure are popular so it's probably just me...too old fashioned for these new fangled styles.

Christina Brown has joined us as a now and then reviewer.   Let me know if you are interested (Steve? we miss you).  The marvelous perks include Advance Reader Copies (ARC) of books, continued pressure to get your review to me, and of course, a review on our blog is sure to make you famous.  Thank about it. 

Spring...yes, we see hints that it will surely arrive soon.

Stay safe, Stay healthy, Stay happy. Stay groovy.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Eight Mennonite women have two days to decide their next move.  Will they run -- leave the settlement and the only life they have ever known?  Will they stay and remain subservient to a culture in which women are all but invisible?  Might they take unspeakable measures and risk their relationship with God in a superb effort to claim their freedom and search for independence and identity?

In two days, the men who have been systematically sexually abusing these women, as well as several young children, will be released from jail.  Gathering in the hayloft of a senile community member, the women meet secretly to discuss their future.  The fear of leaving sickens them, as does the fear of staying.  

For the past two years, the women have been repeatedly violated, and were told evil spirits came to them in the night to punish them.  The women believe these lies until one of them fights off the belladonna depressant used to sedate her, coming face to face with her attacker.  No spoilers here...suffice it to say the agonizing realization of what has been happening paralyzes some of the women while mobilizing others.

Since most of the women cannot write, they enlist the help and the skills of an expelled Mennonite man to keep minutes of their meetings.  There is no wonder this based on truth book has become the subject of a much talked about film.

On a Happy 2023 note...each year I choose a reading theme and try to wedge in as many books as possible that fit that mold.  Last year I chose tween books that I had somehow missed along the way, books like Black Beauty and Mary Poppins.  Books for the 9-12 year old age group are playful, imaginative, and --in my opinion -- too often sad.  But with the plethora of fine writers in that category, it is easy to circumvent those tear jerkers.  

2023?  I'll be checking out all sorts of mysteries -- cozies, police procedurals, locked rooms, supernatural, local color.  FB me with any suggestions you have for me please.

Thanks for stopping by.
Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay happy.


Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Wintering by Katherine May...reprint from 2021

  In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

― Albert Camus

That Camus quote nicely sums up what Katherine May discovered as she wintered through some tough times.   Categorizing this book challenges...part memoir, part self-help, part commentary on ritual...and then there's all the history, and quirky details about things we (or at least I) just don't think about.  Winter is May's metaphor for quietly working through troubling times, no matter when, where or how long he working through takes.

May takes us along as she winters through a full year filled with doubts, fears and high anxiety.  At times she frustrated me with her Debbie Downer routines, and just like that, a smooth transition would begin.  In the process of allowing herself to drift away from the darkness, she learned, she grew, and she accepted her life in the moment.

New age thinking took center stage at times, not quite unicorn thinking, but close. New age has never been my genre of choice but,  stepping aside from that, May filled the book with stories past and present.  She offered insights into the Druid religion, the feast of Saint Lucia (that story was a doozie), and took me to the sauna culture of Scandinavia.  Like May, I'd take a fast and hard pass on that one.  No way I am going to sit sweating with a bunch of naked strangers, plunge into icy water, and declare myself renewed.   

Oh, but the wolves stories and the bee keeping - mesmerizing.  Embedded in all her experiences was the warmth and strength we get from ritual.  Weekly coffee with friends, game night, or perhaps something bigger like religious celebrations...rituals keep us close to what is important to us, to what grounds us, and to what brings us together.

This is a book to share.  It will resonate with each reader differently.  My copy will find its way later today to a friend's front porch with the hope that, after reading, she will do the same.  Maybe, in a couple years or so, it will find its way back to me, battered, highlighted, written in, and questioned.

For some reason, after reading May's closing words...

"It often seems easier to stay in winter, burrowed down into our hibernation nests, away from the glare of the sun. But we are brave, and the new world awaits us...we have a kind of gospel to tell and a duty to share it. We, who have wintered, have learned some things"

...I wanted to walk to my dog on this cold January day, and the let the bitter cold air surround me...just to see what is has to say.  

Pleasant wintering to you all.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay happy.

Only ten Mondays till spring. 

Friday, December 16, 2022

It's a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn


You all have been keeping us busy the past few months here at LaDeDa.  Thank you for that.  We sure do appreciate your continued support by purchasing books, and recommending our shop to your friends.  But more than that, there is nothing better than hearing the bell ring, watching the door open and seeing your smiling face.  This has become a second home for me, and your visits...well, I wish I had the word's to tell you how much they brighten my day.

During these brisk months, I usually kick back with some fun, easy reads.  I have missed a couple Chet and Bernie book over the years and, when this holiday title popped up I took it as a sign. Time to get reacquainted with an old, favorite series.  If you haven't' read a Chet and Bernie book, here's the scoop: Bernie is a washed up cop with some crazy habits, but still well connected to people in his previous world.  Bernie open his own PI business and  takes on random, and quirky cases.  Chet, his obnoxious, insightful, and mixed-up breed dog and constant companion, helps solve Bernie's wack-a-doodle cases.  Oh, Chat narrates all the books and I sincerely believe that Spence Quinn was a dog in a former life.  He nails dog ways and wags on every page.

In this special edition book, Bernie Little and Chet are enjoying a joyful holiday in the Valley.  Despite the dismal shape of the finances in the Little Detective Agency, Bernie passes on a case and refers it to a fellow PI.  But when Victor doesn't show up at his mother's house to light the Hanukkah candles, she hires Chet and Bernie to find him.

They soon discover that Victor's clients have also vanished, and the trail leads to whispers of a previously unknown art treasure, possibly buried for centuries..

No one is better than Chet at nosing out buried secrets, but soon he and Bernie are dashing through a Christmas blizzard with danger closing in around them.

You can pick up the books any where in the series, but starting with Dog On It will introduce you to Bernie, Chet, and Chet's little friend, Iggy.  Such fun.

Thanks for stopping by.
Stay safe, Stay healthy. Stay happy.
Read silly stuff one in a while. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Killers of the Flower Moon


In May of 1921, Mollie Burkhart's family members began to disappear. People adjacent to her life became ill. Many died.  The "coroners" and other officials shook their heads, and then turned their heads - away from the issue. After all. Mollie, her family, and friends were Osage Indians. Murdering them seemed to be the only way white men could get possession of the valuable land owned by this tribe.  Eventually there were arrests and a series of questionable trials.  One reporter wrote "It is a question in my mind whether this jury is considering a murder trial or not. The question for them to decide is whether a white man killing an Osage is murder -- or merely cruelty to animals."

The complexity and shame of this piece of American history if finally coming to light.  The stories of murders and rapes of indigenous women throughout history are finally being told in numerous showcases.  Recently the Manitowoc Public Library hosted an compelling exhibit - much of it with appalling details, hard to read, and even harder to believe.  "Alaska Daily," a new network tv series focuses on missing indigenous women in Alaska --  women authorities simply don't care to spend time searching for.  And Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series tells us the story of a missing Indian youth in Daughter of the Morning Star,

The more I read books like this, and books like Radium GirlsThe Woman They Could Not Silence, and historical fiction pieces such as Before We Were Yours the more  I am grateful for the happy bubble where I can retreat to a space filled with friendly, honest, and ethical people.  But I can't stay there too long; outside the bubble, there are more people in need than we can imagine.  Our own community may not be hosting the type of atrocities we read about, but there are needs.  Now is the time we begin to think about our neighbors in need, our fellow citizens,  and we donate time, goods and money.  Moving into 2023, let's think about year long awareness, giving and helping. 

Thanks for stopping by
Be aware. Be grateful.  Be happy.

Oh...forgot to mention, this story of Mollie Burkhart is made into a streaming movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  He will play Mollie's husband. A white man who married Mollie with a specific plan in mind.

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Hacienda


Like it or not, pumpkin spice season has arrived. That warm scent drifting though every conceivable airspace signals me that the time has come to get scared.  Can't explain why. As I kid I spent hours
working up the courage to watch one of the corny Vincent Price movie spin-off of Poe tales.  I also spent many hours with eyes covered in fear of seeing something I would never forget...and  fingers in my ears to not hear the woman scream (it was always a woman being terrorized, wasn't it?).

That was all too much for me and eventually I turned to scary books. Not much better. I found myself  warning the sweet young thing not to open the door, or to go down into the basement.  The Hacienda is one of those books.  Chapter one.  Right out loud.  I asked Beatrix "What were you thinking?"  Stir up a potion of Rebecca and Mexica Gothic and you have this book

During the overthrow of the Mexican revolution, Beatrix's father was executed and their home was destroyed.  When handsome Don Rodolfo Solorzano proposes, Beatrix ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife's sudden death.  Marry Rodolfo - live in a lavish estate with servants.  Yup...sounds like trouble...and it is. 

There are visions.  There are voices. There are threats.  And there is Rodolfo's odder than odd, sister, Juana.  Beatrix has nowhere to turn so she clings to the village priest, Padre Andres, who...well, he has his own bag of disturbing tricks.

I warned her again and again....
Great Halloween read.
Thanks for stopping by.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay happy..,and get a little scared.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Author Meet and Greet

Susan Fink and Mary Schmal will be visiting us for an author Meet and Greet 

Saturday,  October 29, 10:30 -12:00.

Manitowoc author, Susan Fink, has written an accessible guide for anyone struggling with a number of life's stressors such as time management, parenting, social media use, and alone time.  Each chapter looks at a myth about self-care, shares the author's personal challenges, and identifies misconceptions. Scriptural explanations, questions, and prayer prompts are included with blank spaces for interactive use.  The book's easy to use format is conducive to personal and group study.

Mary Schmal, Milwaukee teacher and writer, hopes that her Children of the Light Series inspires readers to acknowledge and embrace, as do her character, all nine Fruits of the Spirit. Nine kids, Nine gifts. Nine blessed.

Each book in the series focuses on a different Fruit of the Spirit.  The stories tell of the many adventures, challenges, and experiences of nine children and their lives in a remote lighthouse in 1884.  Each child learns about the importance of a specific Fruit of the Spirit meant not just for him or her, but for everyone. 

Books will be available for purchase and signing on the day of the event.  Author signings such as this help independent bookstores stay alive and thriving.  Therefore we respectfully ask that you not bring in books to be signed that have been purchased elsewhere.  If you would like a signed book but cannot attend,  we will happily reserve one for you.  Pre-payment required.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

A Death in Door County by Annelise Ryan

 So many of us follow the fall colors, watching the lush greens change day by day painting the world with soft brown, orange, and beige.  This magic foliage show stands out as one of the highlights Door County has to offer us.  That and miles of shoreline for sea glass searching, campgrounds, hiking trials and of course limitless shopping and eating.

Now let's add a monster and a murder to that list.  Since I haven't quite finished the book's the info from the inside flap...

Morgan Carter, owner of the Odds and Ends bookstore in Door County, Wisconsin, has a hobby. When she's not tending the store, she's hunting cryptids - creatures whose existence is rumored but never proven to be real. It's a hobby that cost her parents their lives but one she'll never give up on.

So when a number of bodies turn up on the shores of Lake Michigan with injuries that look like bites from a giant unknown animal, police chief Jon Flanders turns to Morgan for help. A skeptic at heart, Morgan can't turn down the opportunity to find proof of an entity whose existence she can't definitely rule out.  She and her beloved rescue dog, Newt, journey to the strait known as Death's Door to hunt for a homicidal monster in the lake, but if they're not careful, she just might be its next victim.

A tag line on the binding says "A monster Hunter mystery."  Could that mean Morgan survives to solve another Door County mystery?

Thanks for stopping by.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay happy.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Bake by Paul Hollywood

 Covid wasn't all bad, was it?  Here at LaDeDa we felt life slow down.  Customers wandered and shopped longer, and then they stayed around for conversation.  We made new friends during covid, friends to have coffee with, friends to laugh with, and friends to listen to as they philosophized.

People read more. Because of  travel challenges including masks, and  mass of complex restrictions, people stayed here - right in the Lakeshore.  Discovers were made. We really do have an endless treasury of goodness right in our own backyards.  And backyards got a whole lot of attention during covid.  Gardening, canning, and best of all, sharing the wealth of produce with neighbors became the norm.

 And people baked.  I have arrived a bit late to the baking craze, still I have arrived.  For me, baking has always been a chore.  Even making cookies gets out of hand. Flour everywhere, gooey dough, complicated, ingredient laden recipes.  Not my idea of fun.  But then there's Paul Hollywood.  Yup, he lured me in with those steely blue eyes, leaning in and critiquing the nervous contestants on The Great British Baking Show.   

I caved and purchased his very expensive, bake book filled with manageable recipes, and beautiful colored pictures of bakes, and of Paul Hollywood.  My plan is to bake my way through the book. So far so good.  I have owned the book for exactly one month now, and have made one recipe, the first one - banana bread.  OK. I did OK as you can see from the above picture.  I will make a few changes if I ever go back to this recipe, but no time for that now.  I must move and learn to make a proper Victoria Sponge.  This one looks easy and if it works out, I may share it with my book group.  But for sure, you will get a picture of the final product.

Thanks for stopping by

Stay safe. Stay healthy, Stay happy.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Daughters of the Morning Star

Thanks to friend Nebraska Steve for introducing me to Walt Longmire and the gang years ago.  I first got hooked on the TV series, and then backtracked and began reading the books.  The series is good...but the books...offer so much more.  Starting with the series planted a voice and a cadence in my ear, making reading the books that much more powerful.  

Walt is a sheriff on the border of an Indian reservation, requiring him to balance his law with reservation law. The two often frequently due to deeply held beliefs and traditions.  

This particular book brings even more meaning to the recent exhibit at the Rahr-West on missing, murdered, and exploded indigenous women.  I am not quite finished yet so rather than bumbling though a summary. here's the info from the back of the book....

When Lolo Long's niece Jaya begins receiving death threats, Tribal Police Chief Long calls on Absaroka County Sherriff Walt Longmire along with Henry Standing Bear as lethal backup. Jaya "longshot" Long is the phenom of the Lame Deer Lady Morning Stars high school basketball team and is following in the steps of her older sister, who disappeared a year previously, a victim of missing Native women in Indian Country. Lolo hopes that having Longmire involved might draw some public attention to the girl's plight, but with this maneuver she also inadvertently places the good sheriff in a one-on-one with the deadliest adversary he has ever faced in both this world and the next.

If you're intrigued and want to dig into a Longmire book, Cold Dish would be a good place to start.

Thanks for stopping by.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay happy.