F is for Fugitive and G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

Title: F Is for Fugitive (Kinsey Millhone Series #6), Author: Sue Grafton F Is For Fugitive. Finished 6-13-19, mystery, pub. 1989

Kinsey Millhone series 1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat  5-E is for Evidence

Floral Beach wasn’t much of a town: six streets long and three deep, its only notable feature a strip of sand fronting the Pacific. It was on that sandy beach seventeen years ago that the strangled body of Jean Timberlake had been found.

And then, by sheer fluke, the cops stumbled on Bailey Fowler. And a case seventeen years dead came murderously to life again.

For Royce Fowler, old and sick with not much time left, his son’s reappearance was the chance to heal an old wound. For Kinsey Millhone, the case was a long shot, but she agreed to take it on. She couldn’t know then it would lead her to probe the passions buried just below the surface of family relations, where old wounds fester and the most cherished emotions become warped until they fuse into deadly, soul-destroying time bombs.    from Goodreads

An cold, cold case and private eye Kinsey Millhone on the case?  Makes for some fun reading.  This one had a very ominous feel with the super creepy family that Kinsey was hired by and living with and the way the town viewed the dead girl with a bit of fear.  Floral Beach is not somewhere I’m adding to my travel list!

Title: G Is for Gumshoe (Kinsey Millhone Series #7), Author: Sue Grafton G Is For Gumshoe. Finished 9-29-19, mystery, pub. 1990

Kinsey Millhone series 1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat  5-E is for Evidence

Good and bad things seem to be coming in threes for Kinsey Millhone: on her thirty-third birthday she moves back into her renovated apartment, gets hired to find an elderly lady supposedly living in the Mojave Desert by herself, and makes the top of ex-con Tyrone Patty’s hit list. It’s the last that convinces Kinsey even she can’t handle whoever’s been hired to whack her, and she gets herself a bodyguard: Robert Dietz, a Porsche-driving P.I. who takes guarding Kinsey’s body very seriously. With Dietz watching her for the merest sign of her usual recklessness, Kinsey plunges into her case. And before it’s over, she’ll unearth the gruesome truth about a long-buried betrayal and, in the process, come fact-to-face with her own mortality. . .    from Goodreads 

I’m enjoying this series the further along I get.  Kinsey moves back into her newly remodeled apartment just in time for a death threat and a need to hire a bodyguard.  She also takes a case that gets her out of town for a bit, but that doesn’t stop the attempt on her life.  There’s a mystery spanning a generation and a bit of romance with a solid (and single!) guy.  Can’t wait to continue on with more Kinsey adventures.

The Time is Now: A Call To Uncommon Change by Joan Chittister

Title: The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage, Author: Joan Chittister The Time is Now. Finished 12-3-19, 4.5/5, inspirational, 136 pages, pub. 2019

Beloved nun and social activist Joan Chittister, who appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, offers a soul-stirring and inspiring guide that speaks to all who feel disillusioned and dissatisfied with the power-hungry institutions and systems of this world.

Joan Chittister has been a passionate voice for women’s rights for over 50 years. Called “one of the most well-known and trusted contemporary spiritual authors” by Publishers Weekly, this rabble-rousing force of nature for social justice and fervent proponent of personal faith and spiritual fulfillment draws on the wisdom of prophets–both ancient and modern–to help us confront the societal forces that oppress and silence the sacred voices among us.

Pairing scriptural insights with stirring narratives of the truth-tellers that came before us, Sister Joan offers a compelling vision for readers to combat complacency and to propel ourselves toward creating a world of justice, freedom, peace, and empowerment.     from Goodreads

My thoughts after I finished last week…

Unless and until we accept the prophet’s call, we may be great caretakers, great scholars, sincere seekers, fine people, but we will never be fully “spiritual.”We will be liked, admired, respected, and – safe.  But truly spiritual?  Not completely.

The question is, Whose respect would we risk to have?  Would we want to be found on the side of the peacemakers, the single women, the discriminated against, the immigrants, the thinkers and the changers of a society whose corporate CEOs get richer every day while the middle class disappears and  the poor get more destitute by the hour?  Chapter 18

I finished The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage bu Joan Chittister this morning and loved how her last chapter really brought the rest of the book into sharper focus by spurring us all into action.  I have been reading this as my morning devotional and the chapters have been longer and packed with so much to think about.  Here is a nun who is calling us all to greatness, to be modern day prophets.  Prophets for climate change, gun control, immigrants, peace and all the disenfranchised.  Pick a cause and get loud. Here are her closing thoughts,

What does a prophet do?  A prophet cries out, cries out, cries out.  Without fear.  Without care for cost.  Without end.  Dear Prophet, for the sake of the children, for the sake of the world, for the sake of the gospel, Cry out.

“Be not a whisper that is lost in the wind’ be a voice that is heard above the storms of life.”  Maimonides

I’m so glad that I read this.  It gives me hope.


Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Title: Winter Garden: A Novel, Author: Kristin Hannah Winter Garden. Finished 10-10-19, 4.5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2010

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time—and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya’s life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother’s life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.    from Goodreads

The story starts with bickering sisters Meredith and Nina, nothing too different than other stories I’ve read, but then their father takes ill and it’s important they’re all together.  This is also when we start hearing about the cold mom, Anya, who seemed to dislike both girls growing up.  As the three women must help each other, the story of Anya’s life in Russia takes center stage.  Her story drew me in and kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.  It was that good.  The sisters faded into the background for me as I read in horror the things that Anya faced.

I loved Anya’s story.  The sisters were a nice sideshow and the end was a bit too much, but the gut punch of war torn Leningrad was the star here.  There will be scenes that will stick with me for quite some time.  I’ve seen that some people who are Hannah fans were disappointed with one after so many great ones.  I can’t speak to that since I’ve only ever read one of her earlier romance books, but I’m guessing this will make my favorite list at the end of the year.



The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

Title: The Crying of Lot 49, Author: Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49. Finished 9-24-19, 3.25/5, classic fiction, 152 pages, pub. 1966

Suffused with rich satire, chaotic brilliance, verbal turbulence and wild humor, The Crying of Lot 49 opens as Oedipa Maas discovers that she has been made executrix of a former lover’s estate. The performance of her duties sets her on a strange trail of detection, in which bizarre characters crowd in to help or confuse her. But gradually, death, drugs, madness and marriage combine to leave Oedipa in isolation on the threshold of revelation, awaiting the Crying of Lot 49.  from Goodreads

Bizarre.  Paranoia and insanity abound in this short novel.  There were many moments, especially at the beginning where I cared and thought I “got it” but no.  Sadly, it turns out I did not “get it” at all. It had some light moments that made me laugh, but once the crazy got on a roll it didn’t really stop.  I am obviously not cool enough to appreciate Pynchon and I’m okay with that.

So, who is a fan of Pynchon?  What attracts you?

This is   my 32nd selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50 (lol).

The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton

Title: The Second Life of Nick Mason, Author: Steve Hamilton The Second Life of Nick Mason. Finished 12-4-19, 4.25/5, thriller, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Ray Porter.

Nick Mason has already spent five years inside a maximum security prison when an offer comes that will grant his release twenty years early.  He accepts — but the deal comes with a terrible price.

Now, back on the streets, Nick Mason has a new house, a new car, money to burn, and a beautiful roommate.  He’s returned to society, but he’s still a prisoner.  Whenever his cell phone rings, day or night, Nick must answer it and follow whatever order he is given.  It’s the deal he made with Darius Cole, a criminal mastermind serving a double-life term who runs an empire from his prison cell.

Forced to commit increasingly more dangerous crimes, hunted by the relentless detective who put him behind bars, and desperate to go straight and rebuild his life with his daughter and ex-wife, Nick will ultimately have to risk everything—his family, his sanity, and even his life—to finally break free.  from Goodreads

When we first meet Nick he’s serving time in Terre Haute, then we get flashbacks to his younger years stealing cars in Chicago, until a deal made with the devil gets him out of prison and back on the streets.  Only this time he’s having to do someone else’s bidding and his daughter and ex-wife are in danger.

I loved the way Nick’s story unfolded.  Low level crimes became bigger ones until finally prison made him into someone he didn’t think he was capable of becoming.  I could feel his reasons and justifications and understood that he was just trying to survive another day, whatever the cost.  The story is fast-paced and had a satifying, but not all-wrapped-up-in-a-bow ending.

Nick has a second book and a third one in the works and I’m excited to see what happens next.


Ohio Presidents: A Whig and Seven Republicans by Dale Thomas

Title: Ohio Presidents: A Whig and Seven Republicans, Author: Dale Thomas Ohio Presidents. Finished 9-17-19. rating 4/5, history, 128 pages, pub. 2019

Eight presidents have roots in Ohio, where today these communities take pride in their heritage. William Henry Harrison, a Whig, served the shortest period of time as any president, but his legacy is the campaign strategy of 1840. Northern Whigs formed the Republican Party in 1854. After the Civil War, Ohio became a swing state for the party in presidential elections.

Ulysses S. Grant’s exceptional leadership in the Civil War contrasted with his problems as president. Rutherford B. Hayes ended Reconstruction policies but could not protect the civil rights of African Americans in the South. James A. Garfield died from a gunshot fired by a disappointed office seeker. His death led to the first civil service laws. Benjamin Harrison’s administration included policies to improve the Navy and economy, but he failed to win re-election. William McKinley won election to the White House, campaigning for conservative policies. He led the nation into the Spanish American War. An anarchist assassinated him, and Theodore Roosevelt became president. Serving two terms, Roosevelt wanted William H. Taft to succeed him as president. He soon criticized Taft for being too conservative. In spite of scandals in his administration, Warren G. Harding had important accomplishments in foreign and domestic affairs.   from Goodreads

Ohio is second only to Virginia with number of Presidents it’s produced.  Interestingly, only eight U.S. Presidents have died in office and four of them were from Ohio.  The shortest tenure of any President was William Henry Harrison who fell ill three weeks after inauguration and was dead by day 32.  He was the oldest person to hold the office at 68 years until Ronald Reagan, 1841-1980 is a pretty big gap.  James A. Garfield was assassinated and died at only 6 1/2 months in office.  William McKinley was shot six months into his second term and is considered Ohio’s most successful President.  Warren G. Harding made it two years before dying of a heart attack.

We live within a hour of three presidential libraries and this year I’ve taken Gage and my mother to two.  We’ve visited the memorial of a third, but not his library yet.  The log house he grew up in is less than 10 minutes down the road from us.  Look at that run of three Ohio Presidents in a row!

9- William Henry Harrison 1841

18- Ulysses S. Grant 1869-1977

19- Rutherford B Hayes 1877-1881

20- James A Garfield 1881

25- William McKinley 1897-1901

27- William H Taft 1908-1913

29- Warren G Harding 1921-1923

This book was full of lots of great photos and relevant information put together in a very visually appealing way.  It’s amazing what he packed into this 128 page book.  I loved it.  I actually picked it up at the McKinley Presidential Library this summer.  Fun for those interested in presidential or Ohio history.

Some photos of our recent trips…

IMG_5563This is a replica of Garfield’s childhood home where it stood in Moreland Hills.  We drive by it all the time, but stopped for a pic in March.

The McKinley Museum in Canton is huge and by far the most kid friendly.  We spent all day there in July.

The Hayes Museum and Home in Fremont was wonderful.  It sits on 25 beautifully planned and maintained acres.  The museum is full of artifacts and the house (where he lived after his term in office) tour is interesting and educational.  I wish we’d had more time during our November visit.


Sundays with Gage – A new Book Advent Tree with a reluctant reader

ODVY2746 Last month I went to parent teacher conferences perplexed and left with the same questions I started with.  In second grade Gage was in a lower reading group (there were four and he was in the third one) and this year he’s in the top reading group and she only wants him reading 4th grade books.  Although she acknowledged that he had no interest in reading chapter books.  How many 4th grade picture books can you find? I guess it’s good she thinks he smart?  Anyhoo, we’re trying, but it’s going so slow.  For years I’ve been worried about a reading disability, but have been assured that isn’t the case, and now I’m wondering if it’s an attention problem.  They call him the wanderer since he likes to walk around the classroom when his work is done (and sometimes when it isn’t!) 🙂

All of this to say that choosing his books for his yearly advent tree took longer than normal as I tried to find the books she wanted him reading with something that might possibly keep him interested.  Also this year, I bought some like new used books as I sorted donations at the library so I was able to do this year way cheaper than in years past.  Today’s book is a Scooby Doo book and we’re halfway through (5 chapters) and he’s liking it better than most.

On the shelf below is the Lego advent calendar that is a treat for all the books he’s going to be reading, lol.