This is another lovely tribute to our blogging friend, Sue Vincent, this time from Pete.
Our blogging friend, Sue Vincent who touched countless lives with her grace, humor, and beautiful writing passed away yesterday. I have to share this heartfelt tribute from Jim, who perfectly says what I never could have put into words. R.I.P. Sue💔
There are times when a poet must make a stand and say, “This has happened without my cognisance and I will not accept it!” Today has not been the best of days. Today I got a note from a patron. Common enough, especially from her, as she was always quick to praise, swift to encourage. But today the note had a bitter flavour. She was sitting awaiting death. A week? Longer?
And what can a poet do? A poet can protest, a poet can stand tall and say firmly that this will not do. A poet can bang the table with his wine glass obvious of the fact it has shattered and the pieces lie glistening but incoherent, shards of dreams never now to be dreamt.
Others have known Sue for longer than I, others will doubtless feel the grief more keenly, will mourn longer, but my job as a…
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Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
April 20th, 2021
Synopsis: Once a social worker, specializing in kids who were the victims of violent crime, Elle Castillo is now the host of a popular true crime podcast that tackles cold cases of missing children in her hometown of the Twin Cities. After two seasons of successfully solving cases, Elle decides to tackle her white whale—The Countdown Killer. Twenty years ago TCK abruptly stopped after establishing a pattern of taking and ritualistically murdering three girls over seven days, each a year younger than the last. No one’s ever known why, why he stopped with his eleventh victim, a girl of eleven years old, or why he followed the ritual at all.
When a listener phones in with a tip, Elle sets out to interview him, only to discover his dead boy. And within days, a child is abducted following the original TCK MO. Unlike the experts in the media and law enforcement who have always spun theories of a guilty suicide, Elle never believed TCK had died, and her investigation was meant to lay that suspicion to rest. But instead, her podcast seems to be kicking up new victims. (Goodreads)
I need to begin by saying if you choose to pick up Girl, 11, be prepared to leave some expectations of rationality at the door. I also need to tell you that there are some scenes of child abuse which could be difficult for some readers. With those warnings out of the way, you guys—THIS. WAS. PHENOMENONAL! You know, in the way that you’re supposed to be doing laundry, and other real life stuff, but nothing gets done because you can’t put down the book you’re reading! Well, in my defense I did finally get the laundry done albeit much later than I had planned on. Seriously though, Girl, 11 had me from the very first page and it dug its hooks into me even more as I got deeper into the story.
Elle is a flawed and emotionally complicated character who never makes you question her motives, but does make you doubt her methods. She’s stubborn, obsessive and impulsive, which starts out as annoying, but as Amy Suiter Clarke drops little hints to an unknown childhood trauma, it’s obvious why Elle is so determined to do what she thinks is right, even when those around her have doubts. Unfortunately, in her quest for the truth she puts not only herself, but others in danger. But then, in the final chapters, comes the bombshell to end all bombshells regarding Elle’s past, and everything she’s done up until this point makes much more sense.The secondary characters are equally well written, but the standout for me is Martin, Elle’s dishy Mexican husband, whose skills as an ME are quite useful. Their relationship is really sweet, and I loved the dialogue between them.
The story is told mainly from Elle’s perspective and alternate with her podcast transcripts, but there are a few chapters scattered throughout where you hear from someone else which add some interesting layers to the story. The ones from the killer are chilling and made my flesh crawl. Another compelling aspect of this ripped-from-the-headlines plot is the question that’s raised about the positive vs the negative of focusing so much attention on the monsters who commit such evil atrocities. I can honestly say I was kept guessing right up until the end, and I’m glad I finished in the afternoon, because if I had done so right before bed, I never would have gone to sleep.
To sum things up, Girl, 11, is one of the most impressive debuts I’ve had the pleasure of coming across in recent memory. If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts, complex characters, twisty mysteries, and heart-pounding suspense, I highly recommend this. Without being a psychic I can almost guarantee that this will become a series, and if it doesn’t, I’ll be extremely disappointed.
Thanks to NetGalley and HMH Books For Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 25th, 2021
Synopsis: In this irreverent regency romp, by New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan, newly minted sixteen-year-old Primrose Ainsworth finds herself on a wayward birthday adventure through London with a mysterious hero—perfect for fans of “My Lady Jane.”
The youngest of four daughters, Primrose Ainsworth is used to getting lost in the shuffle. But when her parents decide to delay her debut into English society, Prim hatches a plan to go rogue on the night of her sixteenth birthday.
Donning a mask, Primrose escapes into the infamous Vauxhall Gardens for one wild night. When her cover is nearly blown, a mysterious stranger intercedes, and Prim finds an unexpected partner in mischief…and romance. But when it’s revealed her new ally isn’t who he says he is, her one night of fun may last past dawn.
In this frothy regency romp, perfect for fans of Austen-esque flirtation, and Shakespearean hijinks, sometimes a little scandal can be a good thing. (Goodreads)
I went into Sixteen Scandals knowing it wasn’t going to be a life-changing, deeply profound read, but was expecting a cute, frothy little escape. Instead, I found it to be puzzling and somewhat annoying.
I liked Primrose and her mysterious love interest, Jacob, but even though there weren’t any graphically passionate scenes between them, I would have been more comfortable if she had been at least a year older. The secondary characters were either frustratingly underdeveloped or utterly reprehensible, particularly Primrose’s mother, who I kept wishing someone would have the gumption to shove out a window.
There were a couple of scenes I felt were inappropriate for the young teen audience this is geared toward. Both take place during Primrose’s rebellious night at the infamous Vauxhall Gardens. One has an unseen couple having a rather amorous encounter, complete with sound effects. The other involves a bear baiting spectacle that was cruel and graphic enough, I had to skip over it.
The ending was okay, but the book was too short with little character or plot development. I’m quite frustrated to tell the truth, because Sixteen Scandals had a lot of potential, especially in regards to gender roles during this time period, but instead, everything was rushed, including a really annoying hint at a possible same sex romance between one of Primrose’s sisters and her best friend, in the last couple of pages. It was as though the author thought “Oh, this is a YA book and I haven’t included any LGBTQ characters so I’d better throw a couple in!” Was Sixteen Scandals the worst YA book I’ve ever read? No, but there are far better series for teens in this genre, such as The Lady Janies series by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, and Cindy Anstey’s entertaining Regency romances and mysteries. If you have a teen looking for something magical or supernatural mixed in, I recommend the Cecelia and Kate series, by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermere, and the Lady Helen series, by Alison Goodman. And of course, you can’t go wrong with Jane Austen herself.
For all you art lovers out there, who like me, have never had the opportunity to visit The Louvre in person, I have some great news to share with you. They have kindly put their entire collection online! Just click on the link below to start exploring.
Beloved, award-winning children’s author Beverly Cleary has passed away. As with many other readers I suspect, she and her books were an enormous part of my childhood. Here is the New York Times’ obituary.
She was not a slowpoke grownup. She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting, she had to find out what happened next.
~ Beverly Cleary, Ramona the Pest ~
The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden in Portland, Oregon
R.I.P. to Beverly Cleary, who knew what it truly means to be a child.
These are just a few of my favorites.
I have to share this excellent post from In Saner Thought, on the numerous voter suppression bills being pushed by Republicans. The worst is Georgia, whose governor just signed a bill which among other things makes it illegal to give a person waiting in line to vote a bottle of water!
There are at least 43 of the 50 states that are trying to stop people from voting….a right they have under the Constitution (remember that document?)…..
Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Although, of course, the denial of the franchise on the basis of race or color violates the Fifteenth Amendment and a series of implementing statutes enacted by Congress, the administration of election statutes so as to treat white and black…
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