Stuff and Nonsense

Monday, July 1, 2024

2024 Favorites (so far)

Since we're now officially halfway through the year, I'm sharing my favorites of the books I've read so far. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

(Books are listed alphabetically by author.  Most of them are e-books from the library, Kindle Unlimited.)

The Body in the Bookstore (A Secret Bookcase Mystery #1) by Ellie Alexander. Storm Publishing, 19 June, 2024. (Kindle Unlimited)

The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown.  Harper Collins, 13 February 2024.

Death Through a Dark Green Glass (A Writer's Apprentice Mystery) by Julia Buckley.  Merrill Books, 20 April 2024).

The Fellowship of Puzzle-makers by Samuel  Burr.  Doubleday Books, 9 April 2024.

Emily Wilde's Map of the Otherlands (Emily Wilde #2) by Heather Fawcett.  Del Rey Books, 16 January 2024.

The Night in Question (An Agathas Mystery #2) by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson.  Ember, 21 May 2024.  

Stay Dead by April Henry.  Christy Ottaviano Books, 28 May 2024.

The Lost Book of Bonn by Brianna Labuskes.  William Morrow, 19 March 2024.

Recipe for a Charmed Life by Rachel Linden.  Berkley Books, 9 January 2024.  

The Last Hope (Maggie Hope #11) by Susan Elia MacNeal.  Bantam Publishing, 21 May 2024. 

Fatal First Edition (Library Lovers' Mystery #14) by Jenn McKinlay. Berkley Books, 13 February 2024.

Lula Dean's Little Library of Banned Books by Kirsten Miller.  William Morrow, 18 June, 2024.

Holmes, Marple, and Poe by James Patterson.  Little, Brown Books, 8 January 2024.

Mind Games by Nora Roberts.  St. Martin's Press, 21 May 2024.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Teen Tuesday

Stay Dead by April Henry (Christy Ottaviano Books, 28 May 2024).

Sixteen-year-old Milan Mayhew has just been kicked out of another private school. 

The headmistress is understanding:  Milan’s had a tough year.  Her father Jack, a U.S. senator, was killed in a car accident. Milan, in the car with him, survived, but blames herself for distracting him by being a brat.  Her mother ran for his seat and won, then sent Milan off to boarding school.

This one is the third in six months.  Despite being understanding of the teen’s emotional state, she takes Milan to the small local airport where she’ll be picked up by her mom’s plane, on the way back to her home in Portland.

But somewhere over the Cascade Mountains, the plane blows up.  When Milan wakes up, she’s trapped in her seat, but manages to free herself.  Everyone else appears to have been killed, but she finds her mom, Heather, a short distance from the wreckage. 

Knowing she’s going to die, Heather explains to Milan that her father’s death wasn’t an accident, and neither was the plane crash.  Jack was killed because of evidence he found against a fracking company, and when Heather won his seat, they targeted her, too.

Milan’s assignment is to go home, find the flash drive containing the evidence, and deliver it to Jack’s mentor. 

Of course, it’s a big task for a teenage girl, but Milan is determined that the people who killed her parents will pay. 

An avid hiker, Milan is proficient in wilderness survival skills, all of which she is forced to use as she struggles against nature (and a human who has realized that Milan survived the crash) to reach civilization and find the evidence.

Stay Dead, like all of April Henry’s novels, is well-researched.  Henry is also a proficient storyteller, and like most of her novels, is difficult to put down once begun.

April Henry is the New York Times-bestselling author of 29 mysteries and thrillers for teens and adults. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family. Her 2023 novel Girl Forgotten won the Edgar Award for Young Adult Novel.

Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for providing me with the egalley to review.

Friday, May 10, 2024

In which I observe World Lupus Day

 (Adapted from an essay I wrote 13 March 2021.)

I don’t often write about my health here, mainly because I’m afraid of being too maudlin, but since today is World Lupus Awareness Day, I thought I’d give it a shot.

Just (or at least mostly)the facts, ma’am…

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, and it’s an “invisible illness”, which means that people with lupus typically don’t look sick. 

I was sixteen when I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). 

I don’t remember a lot of the details. What I do remember is being too ill to do a lot of the stuff a 16-year-old girl wants to do.  I remember taking high doses of prednisone, my face swelling up like a chipmunk, and gaining a lot of weight. 

I’d started taking piano lessons when I was eight.  Ten tears later, the joints in my hands were red and swollen, and it was painful for me to play.

Over the following years, the lupus also affected my kidneys, my lungs, my neurological system, and my circulatory system. 

My only attempt at having a child ended when, at 29 weeks, my daughter Holly was stillborn.

I developed high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, though my physicians couldn’t be certain if they resulted from the lupus or the prednisone I’d been taking for so many years.

At the age of 31, I was walking to work when I felt a twinge in my chest.  “All I need now is bronchitis,” I remember thinking.  Throughout the day the pain came and went, until finally a co-worker persuaded my to call my doctor, who urged me to come to the ER as soon as possible.  It turned out I was having a mild heart attack. 

It was eventually determined that I had four blocked arteries, and bypass surgery was recommended.  Due to my other health problems, I was kept under observation while the tests and prep were done, a very long three weeks. 

The surgery was the impetus I needed to make a change in my life.  The following September I returned to school to get a graduate degree in librarianship.  

Jobs in my field were scarce in the mid-1990s, and my search for a professional position led me to northern Saskatchewan.  Dissatisfaction with small town life took me to Boston.  A vacation in Los Angeles lured me to Southern California, where I met the love of my life.

I haven’t had a flare for several years now, though I still have to be very careful not to get too stressed or tired.  I’m still on multiple medications, but (thankfully) managed to kick the prednisone habit a few years ago. 

I was told a few years ago that two of the bypasses are now blocked. 

I had an ischemic heart attack two years ago, and retired a few months later.

There are still days when it’s really hard to get out of bed in the morning because I’m so fatigued, or because my joints hurt so badly.

I feel very fortunate that my husband, family, and friends are so understanding.

Please feel free to post questions and comments below. I promise I'll respond.