Book Review: Death Over Easy

I’ve reviewed Maddie Day before. I still love her Country Store Mystery series. In the latest installment Robbie is up to her ears in murder suspects, some of whom are staying at her freshly opened B&B.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

June’s annual Brown County Bluegrass Festival at the Bill Monroe Music Park in neighboring Beanblossom is always a hit for Robbie’s country store and café, Pans ‘N Pancakes. This year, Robbie is even more excited, because she’s launching a new bed and breakfast above her shop. A few festival musicians will be among Robbie’s first guests, along with her father, Roberto, and his wife, Maria. But the celebration is cut short when a performer is found choked to death by a banjo string. Now all the banjo players are featured in a different kind of lineup. To clear their names, Robbie must pair up with an unexpected partner to pick at the clues and find the plucky killer before he can conduct an encore performance . . .


My thoughts:

I like Robbie. She is such a fun, yet capable woman. She doesn’t bumble all over place. She handles her shit, effectively.

And she takes responsibility when she screws up. Asking for help. Researching solutions. I might want to be friends with her. Maybe. People die around her a lot. LOL

She tries to stay out of crime but people tell her things. I can relate to that. People tell me things, too. Luckily I have managed to avoid any murders.

The entire series has been a solid cozy read. (this is book four maybe?)

I’ve been thinking Thursday: Hedging my Bets

I teach. This is not new news to you, I am sure.

I teach at a weird cooperative school where 75% of the students are non neuro typical. Lots of ADHD. Lots of ASD. Anxiety. Dyslexia. Dysgraphia.

And most of those are 2E.

Add in hormones and it’s a mad, mad zoo. But I love it.

Our current lease is likely not going to be renewed next year. Changes at our venue. They took two classrooms away this year, one literally the day school started. (Yes, we have a signed contract, no, they do not honor it.) Anyway…. If they do renew our lease they are taking another classroom next year. Shrinking our offered classes by 40% in one year essentially.

I got super nervous about this. And I started the process of getting another teaching job at another small school where a number of our coop students take classes.

They offered me an array of classes.

And then I realized, I didn’t actually want to teach there. I was hedging my bets. Insulation against the huge, grieving loss I would feel if the coop closed.

I turned down the classes at the new school, proposed 3 more classes for the coop for next year, and threw myself into the search for a new location that will allow us to grow rather than slowly choking us to death.

I may end up with no where to teach next year and that will break my heart a little, maybe a lot. For me though, it’s so much better to throw myself 100% into something that is a passion even if I lose in the end, than to tepidly hedge my bets and feel nothing.

I’ve Been Thinking Thursday: Big Corps

A lot of folk I know have been up in arms about the young woman, 19, who died because her asthma medication was too expensive. It is a tragedy. No one should die for lack of medication that is readily available. (Side note, I read she had meds but chose not to take it because she wanted to save it for when she really needed it and died before she got to the hospital.)

But all of the commentary is aimed at CEOs of big corporations who are only after money. They charge exorbitant rates because people will try to find a way to pay it. Lots of people calling for big corporations to be responsible and reasonable with their actions.

Sounds good to me. Sounds downright perfect.

Except, at the same time, we aren’t holding the average man/woman responsible for their choices.

Take this young woman, from what I read, she lived in the UK, where asthma medication can cost between 100-500 dollars a year. (yes, I know they have pounds there, monetary conversion done for you.) That’s between 8.35 and 41.47 a month for inhalers, I assume the variation is based on how many you go through.

So if you need an inhaler to live, that puts it in the category of housing and food, right?

If you can’t afford your meds, you must not have any disposable income, everything must be going to higher priority needs like roof and food?

But she clearly had disposable income. Dyed hair. Eyelash extensions. All lovely things that are not NEEDS. At some point she chose to spend her disposable money on those things rather than her medication.

How can we demand boards of directors and CEOs act reasonably and responsibly, dare we say with civic interest at heart, when we don’t hold people accountable for their choices. Big corps are run by people. People with money, but people none the less.

I can’t help but feel as a society we need to look at the choices we make and take responsibility for them, or we have no chance at getting people who are more interested in profit than people, to do the same.

Book Review: Lies My Teacher Told Me

The hubs and I had dropped the kiddo at his D&D game and snuck out(approved by the host) to get a little alone time. We hiked for a while, having all those conversations that build up between dates because you can’t get through three sentences at home without the kiddo interrupting…and then we went to the library. I’ll be honest all our dates end the evening at the library. The ability to search shelves without the kiddo tugging at your arm saying he wants to go now, his stack of books is heavy, etc…oh mama. Anyway, I came across a copy of Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen. I had heard really good things about it.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Since its first publication in 1995, Lies My Teacher Told Me has become one of the most important—and successful—history books of our time. Having sold nearly two million copies, the book also won an American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship and was heralded on the front page of the New York Times.

For this new edition, Loewen has added a new preface that shows how inadequate history courses in high school help produce adult Americans who think Donald Trump can solve their problems, and calls out academic historians for abandoning the concept of truth in a misguided effort to be “objective.”

What started out as a survey of the twelve leading American history textbooks has ended up being what the San Francisco Chronicle calls “an extremely convincing plea for truth in education.” In Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen brings history alive in all its complexity and ambiguity. Beginning with pre-Columbian history and ranging over characters and events as diverse as Reconstruction, Helen Keller, the first Thanksgiving, the My Lai massacre, 9/11, and the Iraq War, Loewen offers an eye-opening critique of existing textbooks, and a wonderful retelling of American history as it should—and could—be taught to American students.

My thoughts:

I expected more or less or something different anyway from this book. I guess I hoped for more discussion of the lies and what is really true. I like that kind of thing. While there is a good measure of that, it felt like more than half of every chapter was reviews of textbooks. Textbooks that were heinously boring when I didn’t actually read it in high school. And now I have to read excerpts of it while this guy explains why they’re boring and bad.

Maybe the problem is I already teach all the sides of every story in my history classes and encourage a healthy debate, so he was preaching to the choir?

It’s a good read if you don’t mind skimming a bit.

What’s Next? #AuthorLifeMonth

If you’re still reading me after four plus years, you probably think I’m pretty funny. You’d be right, I am.

I’m also quite a good line editor.

And it is entirely possible I am a talented writer. Though I refuse to make a call on that one.

What I am not, is emotionally secure enough to survive the daily small rejections that come with writing for an audience.

I know that as an indie writer, little rejection is a way of life; it needs to roll off my back like a duck with water.

It doesn’t though.

Badly doesn’t.

It soaks in.

Permeates everything.

I’ve been miserable for a good 18 months now, a bad 18 months now?

Terribly depressed.

Yes, down to the question would the world be better without me?

I chose therapy, you can stop dialing the cops for a welfare check.

But 8 months of therapy later what I have come to realize is this:

Writing no longer makes me happy.

It is a heavy weight that makes me sad even on my best days.

I cannot handle the rejection that comes with the job.

I’d rather be happy than be publishing.

You may have noticed on the cover for The Body in the Pool, my name in the pool. There was a little symbolism there. That was my last planned book.

I’ll still be here, reviewing books and doing what I can for other indie authors, spotlight interviews and good news. I hope you will be too. I may and I stress MAY come back to writing, when it no longer feels a burden and but a happy choice.



Book Review: Word by Word

I get it, I have an odd reading penchant. Word by Word, the Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper is an excellent example of my need to know something about everything. Oooh a book on lexicography, I know jack all about lexicography, I should read that.

Basic Summary(Courtesy of Amazon):

Many of us take dictionaries for granted, and few may realize that the process of writing dictionaries is, in fact, as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. And along the way, she reveals little-known surprises—for example, the fact that “OMG” was first used in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917.

Word by Word brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a startlingly rich world inhabited by quirky and erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. Certain to be a delight for all lovers of words, Stamper’s debut will make you laugh as much as it makes you appreciate the wonderful complexities and eccentricities of the English language.

My thoughts:

It’s been a while since I read a book that had me laughing so hard I cried, gasping for breath. I’m being totally serious here. This book was hysterical.

It’s a lot of detail about words and how they come to be defined. Some of that is more interesting than other parts, but you can skim pretty easy over the too much sections and still laugh your a** off in the funny parts, which are numerous.

This is a great book if you like to learn about new things in a way that won’t make you want to gouge your own eyes out.

Side note to help the lexicographers out: Dictionaries to do not make words, they are not the arbiters of how words should be used, they record how a word is already used in written context. As Stamper points out, removing or adding a word does not actually change society. If it did, don’t you think they would have removed the word murder years ago?


And a choir sings because research is my jam. I cannot go anywhere without researching something. Just got back from Hawaii, where did I go on vaca? The US Army at Hawaii historical museum. LOL

What did I read while on vacation?

Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lincoln and the Abolitionists.

What souvenir did I buy myself? LOL. A Documentary on Pearl Harbor.

I actually have webpages for each of my books that list the research I did for them.

I know so many people who say I over research. Readers don’t care. They’re probably right…

It’s almost a compulsion for me. All I know is if I sit down to write a scene in which my heroine pulls a gun, it HAS to be the gun she would legit pull in the real world. Otherwise, I can’t write the scene.

I think the craziest I’ve ever been is when I wanted to have a baptismal party for a baby in a house in London in an expensive area. I spent hours pulling blue prints, til I found a house with the design that suited me, so I could specify the address. That’s it. An address. But I guarantee if you pull the prints for the address I give, you’ll see it’s laid out as I describe in the chapter. LOL.