Friday, January 24, 2020

Book Review - Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser

I was extremely excited when I bought this book. I loved the Little House series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I was interested in reading about her life. Well, be careful what you wish for. Caroline Fraser has gone above and beyond in her research and detailed writing of Laura Ingalls Wilder's life.

Prairie Fires is a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of non-fiction. It is beyond detailed and frankly, for me,  it got tediously boring. I think the reference notes have reference notes. This is my problem. I do not fault the author - she absolutely achieved her mission. She covered grandparents, parents, droughts, grasshopper, deaths, and more in extreme detail. Her epic tale of Wilder's life truly encompasses an amazing story of survival. It spans Indian Wars to Dust Bowl.

I guess I wanted Laura-lite. I wanted to zoom to her writing career. Truly her life of struggle, rootlessness, and poverty made Laura Ingalls Wilder the writer and achiever she was late in life. She recast her hardscrabble life into a childhood series on homesteading. I skimmed a lot in the book and it was interesting, but also a bit of a slog.

Congrats to the author for her Pulitzer and for her hard work. She truly revealed a complex Wilder life in Prairie Fires.  I admit - I just wanted to roast marshmallows for a few hours.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom

Wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government -
 Thomas Jefferson

Check your sources folks, read a variety, trust but verify, and think...ponder....think

Monday, January 20, 2020

Monday Moments - Martin Luther King Jr.

I've used this picture before - Peace and Teach.  I think it's applicable for Martin Luther King Day - a day, a concept, a man's dream that still needs to be fulfilled.

A dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed "that all men are created equal."

Let freedom ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city. 

An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.

Much to contemplate, much to teach and learn. 

Peace on this MLK Monday - we should all have this dream

Friday, January 17, 2020

Book Review - Text When When You Get Home

Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer hit me with a very positive vibe. I am someone who's kept longtime friends (junior high, high school, and college. I even have a friend from grade school days). I value friends and I work at keeping friends. This book's research and reporting demonstrates the power I have - a solid foundation of friendship.

Back cover blurb - A beautiful portrait of how modern female friendship has evolved to be a positive force that is making women stronger than ever - You will find something in this book that will make you want to text your own person and tell her how much she means to you. 

I met the author's parents at a business Christmas dinner. Lovely people and you could tell how proud they are of their journalist daughter. The book idea piqued my interest and so I got it. They had reason to be proud. This is a very hands-on friendly book with plenty of examples from Schaefer's own life and friendship journey. She's in a competitive field, but learned she needed solid friendships to keep her grounded in this crazy world.

cover blurb - Text Me When You Get Home is a validation. A thoughtful heart-soaring deeply reported look at how women are taking a stand for their friendships and not letting go. 

I'll give a shout out to my valued friends - Joan, Helen, Trish, Terri, Lisa, Mary Ellen, Debbie, Linda T, Linda H, Julie, Trish V.  I am very lucky!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom - Friends

When we’re together the energy and adoration are striking. But underneath that, there’s a subtler sense that we’re intertwined, knit together. My friends inspire me to pull myself together, to shake off whatever might be trying to rattle me that day, or to own what I’ve done well. Just being around them is often all the propping that I need.

This quote is from Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer   page 179 and it applies to my long time friends back in PA.  I've know some since junior high, others high school, and three from college days.

This is wisdom. Friends are the rock. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Movie Review Madness - 1917

1917, a movie directed by Sam Mendes is absolutely superb. It’s WWI and there appears to be a retreat by the German forces in a no-man’s land in France. But no – it’s a trap, and two messengers are sent to warn a British commander to not attack. Don’t put sixteen hundred men into a sure death. The key – one of the messengers, Blake, has an older brother in a regiment there.

Just think, no cell phones, no fancy radars and instant communications. Telephone lines were cut. In one long camera move, we follow our lance corporals through mud, trenches, rats. It’s immersive and horrifying. Dean Charles Chapman is Blake. George MacKay is Schofield, his buddy. Together they are pushed to extremes – straight ahead, past the dead horses, watch for the craters. It’s foggy and mucky and tension filled. Time is of the essence and Mendes keeps the pace moving along with our heroes.

Do the lads make it in time to save their troops?  I won’t tell. You have to see it on the big screen, be under siege yourself from the elements and from fear. Abandoned places…and then shots ring out.  Mendes said, “I wanted something that had the quality of a dream at times, but had real-life stakes.” He succeeds, and so do these actors. War is hell.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Book Review - Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz fills the genre of Agatha Christie, et al.  This book is really clever with lots of twists and turns and whoa moments. I really enjoyed this read and kept turning pages. And then I went, “What?” and had to keep reading.  Forget Ray,  forget house cleaning, cooking, etc.  – I had to finish this book.  That says a lot.

Alan Conway is a bestselling crime writer. He’s been a pain in the butt for his editor, but Susan is willing to deal with his antics. He’s been a proven winner. As she reads his latest Atticus Pund mystery, she’s confident of the normal bodies, suspects, and red herrings. But…there’s another story embedded – one of ambition, greed, jealousy,  and murder at Pye Hall. Alas, pages are missing. What’s the ending?   But wait, Alan Conway is dead – suicide or murder? 

Susan Ryland’s self-investigation into her lead author’s possible murder proves intriguing – it leads into family issues, neighbor issues, too many close encounters, and dead ends. What to make of the book vs. real life?  I can’t write more. I don’t want to give away anything.

Cover blurb – Masterful, clever, and ruthlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage crime fiction.

Trust me. You need this book. You will read and question every clue, every path, and you’ll come away amazed at the finale.  This is an excellent story.