Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit by Amy Stewart

Dear Fellow Reader,

Another series! I had not read any of the Miss Kopp books but I had heard a lot about them because the author, Amy Stewart came to my town on her book tour for the fourth book in her series, Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit by Amy Stewart. I had received a copy of an advanced reader copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.

As can occasionally happen, I was able to buy a sale copy of the second book in the series, Lady Cop Makes Trouble at about the same time as I received the fourth book. I had them when I was traveling recently. As things go, I found myself with one book downloaded on my phone and the other on my kindle. (and no internet) So, I read both books at the same time. Which was interesting.

The books take place in 1915 and 1916. Having ladies working for the police or sheriff’s office was not usual. In some states, it was legal but not in all states. Constance Kopp lives on a farm with her two sisters. Her parents have died and her brother is married and lives in town. He would like the sisters to sell the farm and move into town but they don’t really want to do that. After they have a problem with some thugs, Constance comes to the attention of Sherriff Heath. Constance is tall and is not afraid to do what needs to be done to apprehend a criminal.

In the fourth book of the series, we find Constance mostly taking care of the woman’s section of the jail. She has also instituted a program to check up on women who have given indications that they could get into trouble. She makes monthly visits to the women in an effort to keep them on the right side of the law. Sheriff Heath asks her to accompany another deputy in transporting two people to the insane asylum. They have to pick up a woman at her home as a judge has ordered that she be returned to the insane asylum. When the woman talks, Constance feels there is something wrong with her story. She doesn’t feel that she can leave it alone without investigating.

But at the same time, it is election time in the town and Sherriff Heath is running for Congressman. The District Attorney is running for sheriff but he seems to be spending all his time just talking about how Sherriff Heath is unfit even though he isn’t running against him. And Constance is one of the things that the District Attorney finds fault with under Sherriff Heath’s direction. Constance has her doubts but Sherriff Heath tells her he is sure that people won’t believe the District Attorney and that he will win. What will happen if he loses?

I found the books very interesting. Probably the most interesting to me was that they are based on a real person and while it is not biographical, many of the characters and actions are based in reality. There is enough background given in the books to understand them without reading the series in order. Although, I think that it is a good idea. I was never really clear as to what happened to start the stories off. I just know there was a problem that Constance and her sisters were having with some thugs but now why they were having the problem or why the sheriff’s office was not paying much attention to it. It didn’t impact the books I read but it was mentioned.

Thanks for reading!

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Hotel Silence by Auour Ava Olafsdottir

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

No, I did not misspell the name of the author of Hotel Silence. The author is Icelandic. Yep, that is a new one for me. I don’t think I have ever read an Icelandic author before.

Did you read A Man Called Ove? That book was written by a Swedish author and I would compare the feel of the book to that one.  Not the plot but the feel when you are reading it.  I don’t know if it is the way the books are translated or if it is a style. It is different from what I normally read.

Hotel Silence is about Jonas Ebeneser.  Jonas is unhappy. His Mother is living in a home and is confused. His wife has left him and has informed him that his daughter, Waterlily, is not really his daughter. He is not seeing anything in the future that holds much interest for him. So, he gets a tattoo of a Waterlily over his heart and contemplates borrowing a rifle from his neighbor/friend Svanur.  He does borrow the rifle but then worries that Waterlily will find his body. He doesn’t want that to happen.

He then decides to go to a place that has been scarred by war. In his mind, he could accidentally step on a landmine or get caught in the crossfire. He decides on a country, books a one-way ticket and makes a reservation at a hotel. He packs his bags although he doesn’t take much as he isn’t planning on living long. At the last minute, he grabs his toolbox and takes it with him.

“As I reflect on this further, I exclude the option of not being found. Waterlily would certainly spend her whole life searching for me and ultimately the pain would be too much of a burden. Instead, I will go on a trip abroad and Waterlily and Mom will get me back in a small tidy box.”

The toolbox is significant in his life as he has always fixed things. He takes it as he never knows if he will have to put up a hook. You might wonder why someone who is going to kill himself would need to put up a hook, but you just never know.

He arrives at the hotel with another guest, a movie star. The hotel is not in good shape, there were no visitors during the war and the hotel needs to be put back together. A brother/sister team are taking care of the hotel for their aunt, the owner.  There is one other guest in the hotel.  The siblings are happy because suddenly having three guests means that perhaps the business will pick up.

Jonas gets to his room and sees somethings that need to be fixed and he fixes them. The sister notices and asks him to fix other things. Through working in the hotel, he finds out more about the sister, the hotel,  and other people in the town.  And the people in town find out that he can fix things.

So this is another book where I think the description of the book falls short of showing the nature of the book. It is the word choice and subtle humor found in the book that make it a worthwhile read.  It is hard to convey that when you are just describing the plot.

It is not a long book. It is a nice little read. I find it refreshing to read this writing style. The characters are drawn differently. I am not sure I could do a steady diet of this style but it is refreshing occasionally.

Thanks for reading!

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It is Banned Books Week!

Dear Fellow Reader,

Banned book week is upon us.  If you are not familiar with it, Banned Book Week is held annually by the American Library Association.  The American Library Association (ALA) asks its members to report on attempts to ban books.

This year from September 23 – 29, there will be activities by the ALA and its member libraries to bring the topic of the censorship of books to the awareness of the public. Each year, the ALA publishes the list of the top ten books that have been challenged during the past year.  These are the books that have been reported to the ALA as books that for one reason or another some group or person has decided the book should not belong on library shelves, in the classroom, or in school libraries.

“Books are still being banned and challenged today. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.

While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.”

“The Top 10 Challenged books for 2017 are as follows:

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
    Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
    Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.
  3. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”
  4. The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
    This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
  5. George written by Alex Gino
    Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
  6. Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
    This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex educationand is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
    This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.
  8. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
    Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug useprofanity, and offensive language.
  9. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
    Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.
  10. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.”

 

One of the books that I have recommended to you during the past year made the list. The Hate U Give is a powerful look at race relations.  I was moved by the book and felt that it was a book that everyone should read.

Surprisingly, The Bible is not on the list this year.  It is frequently on the list.  Which goes to show you that everyone can find something offensive and that to be free, you need speak out against censorship, even if you don’t like the book.  For example, I have never been a fan of The Kite Runner.  But it is a piece of fiction that people have really liked and because of this, they have learned about a world other than their own.  While it wasn’t my cup of tea, I firmly believe that you should be able to read it if you want to. I have never felt that anyone else should dictate what I read and therefore, I cannot object to other’s choices.

The ALA has a video about this year’s Banned Book Week.

 

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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

How are you today? Have you been busy reading? I have been. I am, once again behind. I need to stop looking at bookish things so that new books aren’t added to my reading pile. Do you ever feel that way? I have a list in a drawer of books that sound interesting and I never get to that list. There is always so much in front of me. I had read about this week’s book and then the author came to my local library. It was very interesting to hear the author talk about the book. So between seeing the author and reading the description, I was hooked. To my husband’s surprise, I waited until I got the book from the library to read it.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is (of course) about Lillian Boxfish taking a walk on December 31, 1984. Lillian lives in New York City and is 85 years old. She is quite sharp for 85 and does not actually set out to take a walk. As the book opens she discovers, much to her dismay that while talking to her son, Gian, on the phone, she has consumed a package of Oreos. She isn’t even sure why there were Oreos in her apartment. But she has a dinner reservation and now she isn’t hungry. She sets out to walk to dinner with the hopes of being hungry by the time of her reservation. While walking, she reminisces about her life. Lillian was, in the 1930s, the highest paid woman copywriter in the world. And while she was working for R.H. Macy’s, she was also a published poet. She was a very accomplished woman. She was sure that she would never marry because to marry would mean that she would have to leave work. And why would she want to do that?

Since the book opens with her talking to her son, we know that she must have had to leave at some point. Lillian walks through New York City on the evening of New Year’s Eve and tells the story of her life. She has had a long full life. She was a well-respected author and businesswoman but she had bad times also. Fortunately, she also made friends along the way. So now at 85 …

“No one survives the future, of course. Over the years I have rushed it, run from it, tried to shunt myself from its track. That these efforts did not succeed does not mean the I regret them.

Now? The future and I are just about even, our quarrel all but resolved. I welcome its coming, and I resolve to be attentive to the details of its arrival. I plan to meet it at the station in my best white dress, violet corsage in hand. Waving as it comes into view, borne toward the present on its road of anthracite.”

The story is well paced and keeps your interest. Lillian is a very interesting person. Even more interesting is that the story is inspired by a real person. Margaret Fishback was really the highest paid female advertising copywriter in the world during the 1930s. And she did publish poetry books. Knowing that, makes the book just a little more interesting. Don’t skip reading the Author’s Notes and Sources at the end of the book for more information.

I think you should take the walk with Lillian!

Thanks for reading!

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Second Chance at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Dear Fellow Reader,

Before I forget, which I seem to tend to do with this, I received this book in exchange for my honest review. I guess I am always supposed to tell you that but half the time I don’t remember where I got the book I’m reviewing. Especially if it is an eBook. I don’t pay enough attention when I am reading an eBook as to whether I own it, borrowed it from the library, or received it to review. And yes, there is a big backlog of books on my eReader. I might be embarrassed but no one sees it but me. Okay, my husband sees it but he is generally immune to it by now. (Except he made a comment about the growing stack of actual books.) As they say, so many books, so little time.

Getting back to the book. I just finished Second Chance at Two Love Lane. It is not the first in the series. I didn’t know that before I started reading the book. It did not make any difference. The book tells the story of Ella Mancini who lives in Charleston, SC. She co-owns a business, Two Love Lane, which is a matchmaking business. She also loves to act in community theater.

Ella grew up in New York City. She adored her father and he had completely supported her dream to be an actress. Her father told her many times that she should not let any man get in the way of her dreams. Then she met Hank. They were both struggling actors and she made a mistake. She passed up a movie role to stay in New York with Hank. On her birthday, the night she thought that he would ask her to marry him, he broke up with her instead because he had received a role in a movie and was leaving town.

Ten years have passed and she and her family are settled in Charleston. She suddenly receives flowers from Hank and on the card, he asks her to call him. She doesn’t know what to do. The next day when she is visiting her Mother, Pammy arrives. Pammy is Hank’s cousin, who is new to Charleston. She doesn’t know anyone and wants Ella’s help in meeting people. Ella assumes that helping Pammy is the favor that Hank was looking for and she doesn’t call him back.

In the meantime, Hank is in New York with his family and he is feeling down. He finally starts to admit to himself that he misses Ella and that she is the only one who truly knows him. Then he is offered a role in a movie filming in Charleston. He has turned down the role before even though it is a good role because he doesn’t want to see Ella. When the role is offered again, his father urges him to go to Charleston and find out if the relationship is what he thinks it is.

It wouldn’t be very romantic if Hank didn’t take the role. Does the relationship work? Can Ella forgive Hank for dumping her? Would she even be willing to leave Charleston and her company?

This is a fine book if you need something light to read. Even the title gives the indication that it is a romance and it is light and fluffy. There are no huge surprises but it is pleasant.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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