Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

You know that if there is a circus in town, I’ll be there and if there is a circus book to be read, then it will be in my pile. Imagine my delight when I discovered this amazingly wonderful book, Circus Mirandus, that is filled from cover to cover with wonder, awe and magic.

Micah’s grandfather has told him tales about Circus Mirandus all of his life. Part of the telling is that eventually the Circus will provide a much needed miracle. When the need and time for that miracle arrives, Micah, a pet parrot and his very pragmatic friend set off on their adventure. Part magical, part realism and all of the beauty of true fantasy that younger readers love so much, the author has provided a perfect balance between the fatastical and the miraculas where love and magic blends and balances together perfectly through this tale. Meant for “middle grades,” I have no idea what that really means since this very mature adult loved the book, a good starting age might be around nine years old. There is a tad bit of darkness in parts of the book but what is a good book without both light and dark? If you don’t select any other book for your tween this year, make sure that the one you do get is Circus Mirandus.

The Lake of Dead Languages by #CarolGoodman #PopSugarReadingChallenge

In 2018, I participated in the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge and was amazed how far and how often it had me reading outside of my comfort zone. For the last year I have been so incredibly bored with the books I’ve been choosing to read that I thought I would give the PSRC a whirl again this year. If The Lake of Dead Languages is any indication, 2021 is going to be a great reading year!

For the prompt “a book about dark academia,” I chose The lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman, a very dark, twisty atmospheric suspense novel set at an all girls boarding school. Honestly, I cannot believe people still send their children to these schools but, obviously, they do. Set in the remote mountains of northern New York, the school – which sits by a lake – often is snowed or iced in. The school is housed in an old mansion that was bequethed to the school after the death of the owner’s daughter. As tales begin to swirl, the child’s death turned into a story of three girls who committed suicide, the lake calling the girls to their death and the calling for more girls over the years. Jane Hudson was one of the girls who survived the deaths of two of her room mates – both who died in the lake. Now, she has returned to the school as a teacher but someone, somewhere blames Jane for the deaths of the girls all those years ago – or is it really the lake rising up to claim the “third girl.”

I readily will admit that this book will not be for every reader of mystery and suspense. It has a gothic feel to it but, more importantly, it relies heavily on Latin and the classics that the students are studying at the school. I loved it. A few good basic Latin lessons, a nice brush up on my Roman classics and it felt as though I was back in school myself. I suspect some may find those passages tedious. I did not. I love the story, felt the characters were well created and the ending was perfection for me. I highly recommend The Lake of Dead Languages especially if you are looking for a book for this particular Pop Sugar prompt.

Please Share this FBI poster

Please share these photos far and wide and if you, or anyone you know, has information about these traitors, insurrectionists, then please alert the FBI. The US is only as strong as the laws by which we abide, as strong as the civility that we strive to create, as strong as the Constitution that we pledge to uphold.

WTF America!?

Since when has it been acceptable for FASCISTS to attempt to overthrow our democracy and since WHEN do reasonable, intelligent Americans sit idly by while this is happening in our country!? As for me, my family and my blog – we will not stand for FASCISM of any type and if you support the anarchists, including Trump and sons, then please remove yourself from my readership and my world. YOU are not acceptable! Ever!

Christmas at Maplemont Manor by Julie Manthey

Christmas at Maplemont Manor is exactly where I want to be every Christmas! Set in a small town, Maplemont Manor is host and donor to many holiday festivities in the town of Maplemont. When its new heir moves to town, he instantly becomes the most eligible bachelor in town. Good thing that bakery owner, Noelle Kringle, doesn’t like or want to be one of his admirers. But this is a holiday romance so, of course, sparks fly when the two of them together and readers will broadly smile as the romance begins to blossom.

Yes, Maplemont Manor is a bit predictable but the characters are wonderful, the story quite magical and the setting is perfection. What more do we really want from a holiday story if not magic?

Thank you to #Netgalley, the #IBPA and #JulieManthey for my copy of #ChristmasatMaplemontManor

Out of Her Mind by T.R.Ragan

T.R. Ragan has officially become my new favorite crime fiction author – I just cannot stop reading her books!

Out of Her Mind is the second book in the Sawyer Brooks series. If you haven’t read the first one, Don’t Make a Sound then stop – drop everything – and go read it right now. It’s fantastic. Sawyer Brooks is a crime beat reporter with a amazingly sordid past. Her past, and that of her sisters, is what drives Brooks to investigate a story without stopping until she discovers the truth. I honestly wish we still had crime reporters like this. The world needs them! When a child’s bones are found and another child goes missing, Brooks begins searching for similarities. With the help of her sister, Aria, they soon discover a string of missing children. Could this be the work of seriel kidnapper/murder? Brooks certainly thinks so.

There is a seperate sub-plot that runs along with this primary one revolving around The Black Wig women. I won’t divulge much about this group but I find their story just as fascinating as Sawyer Brooks.

This series, like others that Ragan writes, is a well done piece of crime fiction. The characters – all of them – are well written and fully fleshed out for the reader. You see their weaknesses as well as their strengths and, beginning in this second book, you also begin to see their growth past their pain and their insecurities. I highly recommend Out of Her Mind as well as the remainder of the series.

Thanks to #Netgalley and #ThomasMercer for my copy of Our of Her Mind.

Caste: The Origins of Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson

Caste, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Isable Wilkerson, is by far one of the most intriguing, well told non-fiction books that I’ve read in ages.

As a member of a group of Americans who supports and and is activist for the Kashmiri people in India, I have long been shocked at the caste system of India. I could not fathom how one group of people could institutionally stigmatize another. Imagine my dismay when I read how engrained America’s own caste system is within nearly every instituion in our society. As Wilkerson examines systemic caste systems here in the US, in India and Nazi Germany, she lays out an argument that castes have always been part of society – but they do not have to be.

The Germans under Hitler studied the caste system in order to learn how to out-cast the Jewish people. From the very inception the founders of the colonies in the “new world” used these same ideas to marginalize the indigenous people as well as the African slaves they brought with them. FROM ITS INCEPTION the US has used this system to denigrate one group or another – from the slaves, to the Irish to the Italians and, today, the Latino immigrants and Muslims. It is through this marginalization that the “middle” and upper class maintain their power and stroke their egos.

Through rigurous documentation and research, as well as personal antedotes, Wilkerson does a marvelous job of stating her case. She then gives us hope for ways to tear down the caste system for a better, more equal future. My one drawback, as I have done in this review, Wilkerson has a tendency to set aside her objectiveness and her personal feeling come through. This made the book more readable, but it also can call into question as person’s facts. The facts in this book can and should stand for themselves.

I highly recommend, and have done so to everyone I know, Caste:The Origins of Our Discontents to all readers particularly those who want to invest in better, fairer future.