Also: Bad News
Also: Bad News
This post (plus its comments) remind me of right after Obama won, when all the reactionary whiners were declaring they would "go Galt!" and thus shut down the US economy.
So, what if they take out all phone and internet on the 6th, and then claim this was Trump supporters, and that Trump is trying to effect a revolution, and they send out people to arrest all known/prominent Trump supporters (Note this probably won’t get to my level. It MIGHT, but probably won’t.)
And then in three days internet is restored, and the phone, and the story is set of the failed Trump coup. Which, of course, allows them to move on with their political cleansing program “completely justified”?
Of course, here, they're threatening to lynch people and commit acts of terrorism because an old white guy got elected, so, you know, not really the same thing.
Just as filled with rebel posturing, though.
These are photographs taken while walking the little dog by the river:
He's doing better now -- his blood sugar is still high (252 fasting, 345 six hours after his morning shot), but he's high energy again and runs all the way around the walking trail by the river.
Dr. Skull makes pie and bread.
There was another loaf of French bread, but we ate it in about two minutes flat.
The best part of marrying into and adopting Jewish traditions is how much better Hanukkah is than Christmas, at least in terms of celebrations.
Hanukkah is eight very low-stakes nights, and includes allowing small children to light candles and mess about with melting wax. There are latkes on the first night, which is wonderful; and only brief prayers as far as rituals are concerned.
Also it is often over before Christmas, which means while all the world is harried and overwrought, making huge dinners and having crowds and political arguments, I am nestled in my big white chair in peaceful silence, working on my novel and listening to a cat purr in my ear. (Jasper has taken to sleeping on the back of the chair while I work.)
Today we are having Charger, the kid's fictive uncle, down for a dinner which includes mince pie, because he was not able to travel to be with his family; but that is not much trouble, and also he is bringing wine.
The kid remains in Fayetteville, with his sweetie and BFF roommate. They had Chinese food, thus fulfilling the mitzvah.
This is, in fact, the rhetoric -- even the very language -- which I have been hearing from Trump supporters for months.
"Only old people will die."
"Only fat people will die."
"We need to thin the herd."
This is eugenics, and it tells you everything you need to know about the "pro-life" crowd.
None of this was an accident. It is exactly what they wanted.
This is a quiz for all the educators in these trying times.
Situation: a student reaches out to you and says their parent/grandparent/other relative is sick or has died. They say their work and/or paper may be late as a result.
(1) Reply with an agreement to accept late work if the student provides documentation, such as a note from the doctor or a copy of an obituary
(2) Refuse to accept late work. The student will have to work around their personal problems. This is the Real World, after all.
(3) Make a joke about how many grandparents die near finals.
(4) Reply with sympathy to both the student and their family, and tell the student to take as much time as they need. Assure them that you will help in any way you can.
Read the comments on these if you want a glimpse at a truly unhinged community.
Honestly, at this point, they're just embarrassing themselves.
|A common notion|
Technically, my sabbatical is ending this week.
Actually, of course, I have another month before I return to campus, thanks to winter break. Nevertheless, maybe a retrospective is in order.
As I have mentioned to my friends and family, more than once, this was an excellent time to have a sabbatical. I hate online teaching with a fiery passion, so I would have been caught between a high-risk action or having a truly miserable semester. (I've already elected to teach what our university is calling "alt.hybrid" in the spring, which means f2f, but only half of the class meets each time.)
So that part feels lucky.
Beyond that, this sabbatical was wonderful. It is my life's dream, day after day with nothing planned. I sleep enough each night, get up when I liked, drink coffee all morning and write, write, write.
I finished the sequel to Velocity, had it accepted, and have returned the first set of revisions to my (amazing) editor. Now I am writing another novel, though it's not quite the one I meant to write.
I also wrote five or six short stories, and am working on three book reviews.
And I read so many books, took long walks nearly every day, and put all our books in alphabetical order. I also took up crocheting, though I think that was more of a coping mechanism (related to the election) than anything else.
Honestly, if I were suddenly independently wealthy, I would live like this forever.
So two nights ago, my dog started whining and gasping in the middle of the night.
Our town has an emergency animal clinic. At two in the morning on a night with a low of 22 degrees, I took him to the clinic and sat outside in the icy car (because covid) while the vets looked at him. They did bloodwork and other tests, said they couldn't tell what was wrong, started him on fluids and gave him IV antibiotics, and told me to take him to the regular vet when it opened.
I did that, and he spent the next two days there. His blood sugar was high, he had a fever of 104.5, and his liver functions were off.
Two days and nearly a thousand dollars later, they still don't know what's wrong. They said we could take him to a specialist, but good God, we can't even afford this.
I've brought him home and we're keeping him on antibiotics and insulin and taking him back in two weeks to see if anything has changed. His fever is normal now, so that's good, and he seems a little quiet, but he's eating well.
2020 can just stop now, please.
|The Little Dog|
Most people have now accepted that Biden actually won the election.
This is not to say that we don't have some unhinged fringe numpties still pushing truly bizarre nonsense and calling for violence to support their nonsense.
Look, I know you guys think I’m crazy when I say that only 10 to 25% of the democrat votes are REAL votes. But think about it: think about forcing Joe-the-houseplant in, and then giving him one of the least appealing running mates possible. And then running a potemkin campaign mostly from the basement.
...they went so completely out of their minds and really hate us so much [because of Trump’s election], that they’ve been throwing a naked rage-fit for four years, and doing what they can to hurt America and secondarily to drive Orangemanbad off. And 2020 has been like the expression of how much they hate and despise us. Yeah, at the top the lockdowns were driven by Chinese agents (this is not under dispute) but the left loves them, embraces them and keeps resorting to them because it destroys small business owners, families and well…. Americans.
Someone in the comments calls for a "limited nuclear war" on "core cities" to removed these dangerous liberals who hate America. Someone else agrees with him, and says that, after all, nuclear wars are quite survivable.
This is logical progression from Reagan through George W. Bush to Trump. Here, have a look at Stephen Colbert's riff from the 2006 White House Correspondence dinner -- look at how many things he's warning us about that now are just commonplace.
This isn't all down to Fox News and talk radio -- people on the Right have been happily gulping down Kool-Aid since about 300 A.D. -- but yeah, Rupert Murdoch weaponsized that shit.
(Though it is kind of funny that the Far-Right have swirled so far down the hole that they have now turned on Fox News.)
Notice that in the post above, Hoyt explains to us how smart she is -- that's something I see a lot in such garbling nonsense from the unhinged. They're convinced that they are smarter than anyone around them, and therefore they can see the conspirators all the sheep are blind to.
And notice how, having been thwarted by the election of Biden, these unhinged buckets are willing to jump straight to shooting those who dared to oppose them:
So…. are we going to fight for our liberties? Is the fourth box on the program? I’d like to think so. Not because I’m a fan of war and destruction, but because there are worse things than war, and the destruction of the land of liberty from within is one of those
It's the Dunning-Kruger train crossed with the propaganda jet engine, and it takes us directly to MAGA country, where public schools are evil, fact-checks have a liberal bias, and you can't trust science but you can totally trust some slicked-up talk show host who is in this to fill his pockets.
We never shop on Black Friday -- we never leave the house if we can help it -- and especially we wouldn't this year.
Our Thanksgiving was nice. The kid, his sweetie, and his roommate all came down to eat with us. Uncle Charger, who has symptoms of the rona, though he hasn't yet been tested, is self-isolating. This is the first time he's missed Thanksgiving since 2002, when we moved to the Fort.
We had turkey, broccoli casserole, sweet potato casserole (a terrible failure this year due to the non-corn syrup marshmallows not working out), potatoes dauphinoise, and rolls made by Dr. Skull. Dessert was pumpkin pie, ginger cakes, and whipped cream.
Also a choice of white wine, milk, or Dark & Stormies.
The kids stayed over and are now all asleep in my tiny writing nook -- one on the couch, one in my big chair, one on the futon on the floor. I am writing at the dining table, like a pioneer or something. (Usually I write in the big chair, with my laptop on my lap and my feet on the ottoman.)
It's 55 degrees here, and very pretty outside. Last night Canada geese landed in our yard and honked in an idle sort of way, driving the little dog to distraction.
Hope everyone's holiday is going as well as can be expected!
We found out yesterday how much of Dr. Skull's hospital bill is "our responsibility," according to our insurance company.
Just in case you were wondering how the American Health Care system was doing.
The guy brought in a buddy, a heating pump specialist, and not only did they fix our heat pump, they fixed the gas furnace which was our old heating method.
So now we don't just have heat, we have back-up heat. I'll admit, as much as I like the cold, it's nice not to be cold all the time.
The first time the furnace came on, Junti freaked out and rocketed through the house to hide under my big chair (her safe space).
Oh, yeah: also Trump has finally been persuaded to stop acting like such a huge spoiled brat. The transition is under way.
The guy finally got the part to fix our heating system but it didn't fix the problem.
He's got another idea he's trying tomorrow.
Then he's just going to give in and replace the entire system.
This is one of those times I am very glad that we are renters. I can't imagine what this is costing.
So far the weather has continued mild, which makes this more of an interesting event than the horror show it might have been.
The delay in fixing our heating system is that the part must come from China.
So this, as with so much else in the world, is Trump's fault.
Last night the low was 37 degrees.
Fortunately, due to global climate change, it will be in the mid-seventies all week. (Also Trump's fault.)
[this post is 65% sarcasm]
Our heat is still not fixed. It was 38 degrees last night and is only 49 now. Right now I have the fireplace going and three burners on the stove. It is still very brrr in here. I put a message in to the landlord, and he is good about dealing with problems, so.
Here is what, huddled under my big comforter, I am reading lately:
Kira Jane Buxton, Hollow KingdomZombies, but from the point of view of the animals, both those who live with humans (domestics); those who do not, but who live in cities and zoos and on farms and so on; and wild animals. A bit of 'nature is healing' vibe, but still pretty good, mostly because of the voice of the main character, a crow named Shit Turd.
S.T. (as he is mostly called) lived with Big Jim before everything went wrong, and he spends most of the book taking care of Dennis, the bloodhound who also lived with Big Jim, and hunting for non-zombie MoFos, as Big Jim, and thus S.T., calls humans. Eventually he gives up on that (mostly) and sets about freeing animals who are trapped in human houses -- dogs, cats, and birds left locked inside when their humans turned.
Maybe a few too many characters here, and the humans-are-the-real-plague trope made me roll my eyes; but otherwise I enjoyed it. A fun read.
Stephanie Barron, Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor; Jane and the Man of the Cloth
These are mystery novels told in the point of view of Jane Austen, beginning in her 27th year. (I believe Jenny F. Scientist recommended them -- thanks, Jenny!) The mysteries are okay, but the fun part is being immersed in Austen's world. There are some delightful footnotes, explaining details that are left unexplained in Austen's novels; and characters who show up in Austen's novels also show up here -- or I guess the other way around, except the conceit of the novels is that these "real" people are used by Austen to build her characters. There are also bits from Austen's letters, and we visit places that show up in the novels.
I expect if you don't love Austen passionately, you won't like these as much as I do. But if you're a Janeite, these are definitely for you.
Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes in the Museum
This is the only Kate Atkinson novel I had never read. I think I started it once, years back, and wasn't gripped by it. But since I'm a completist if I am anything, and since our library had it, I went ahead and read it.
It's Atkinson's first novel, and not bad. I see a lot of themes and ideas she would develop in later novels -- the fascination with the World Wars, for instance, and with accidental death.
Readable, but probably only for big Atkinson fans.
Emily M. Danforth, Plain Bad Heroines
Danforth is best known for her earlier YA book, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which I started but DNF. It made some minor waves in the writing community, though.
This one, billed as her "first adult novel" I liked better, though it has some of the same faults as MCP -- that is, it's very discursive, without much tension propelling the plot forward, and despite the billing, more YA than adult. There's a lot of overt symbolism which doesn't add up to much in the end.
The writing is better, though, and I was (just barely) interested enough in the characters to keep reading. We have two stories, running in tandem, both queer stories -- one, set in 19th century Rhode Island, is the story of dark events at a girl's boarding school and the even darker fate of the two women who run the school. The other is the story of a movie being made about the school, and the three young women (all in their early 20s) involved with that.
Lots of queer passion, which is nice, and there is a happy ending for the 21st century women, though not for the women in the past.
If this is your thing -- ghost stories, creepiness, LA and rich people, a long leisurely narrative, you might like this better than I did. Good footnotes here too.
Despite Trump's bluster, Covid-19 has still not "disappeared." We're averaging a thousand Americans dead a day, with thousand more contracting the disease, some of whom will suffer serious consequences.
Almost 250,000 dead so far, and 10 million confirmed cases.
Even if the vaccine from Pfizer pans out, it won't be available for the general public until well into 2021. And please don't @ me with your "herd immunity" bullshit.
Wear your masks. Isolate as much as possible. Take this seriously.
If we take these Senate seats on January 5, then we have a (razor-thin) majority in the Senate. We'll control both houses and have the presidency as well.
Nicole & Maggie came through (see my last post): here are some ways to donate.
Fair Fight, which is run by Stacey Abrams, who probably is the single person most responsible for turning Georgia blue.
Donate to Jon Ossoff.
Donate to Raphael Warnock.
It's odd to have no political stress left. My mind keeps hunting around to find something to worry about. Right now I'm worrying about the Georgia run-off. Surely there must be something we need to be doing about that? Somewhere we can donate? (Nicole & Maggie, anything?)
Meanwhile, I have kept this from you because it is so bizarre, but I took up crocheting during the last weeks before the election, as stress-relief tactic. I am crocheting my kid a huge blanket and today I crocheted my first hat. (Photos later!)
This is just not like me. But it's more effective than fidget spinners, at least for me.
I'm also reading less. I don't know if that is good or bad. I was going through a book a day, sometimes more, when things were at their worst. Now I'm back to a book every two days or so.
Trying to stop eating so much sugar, as well. More grapes, fewer chocolate Payday bars.
And Dr. Skull went back to work today -- I'm fretting that he went back too soon, though his foot is nearly healed.
The kid's boyfriend is flying in from PA on Friday. He was supposed to come live with the kid last March, but then Covid hit. As he said today on his twitter feed, ironically it would have been safer to fly then than it is now. 230,000 Americans dead so far.
How's post-election life where you are?
Brooklyn rn. pic.twitter.com/54NC70LPnw— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) November 7, 2020
I'm finding it nearly impossible to work.
It does look (now, on Nov 5 at 11:28 a.m.) like Biden is going to win. All the sources I follow say it's likely. Likely isn't won, though, and I am unable to calm the fuck down.
How are all y'all doing?
We're all very tense here.
Well, not the cats. The cats are fine, and the little dog.
And the kid says he's oddly calm.
Me. I'm tense.
I'm doing my best to stay off social media, since no one knows anything and I don't need any help panicking.
Election days from the past:
The heater guy could not fix the heater. He's sent away for a new motherboard, which he thinks will fix it. Meanwhile the temperature is going to be 34 degrees tonight.
Also we are all very tense here in respect to the election. The polls say Biden will win, but they said Hilary would win in 2016 so we are not comforted.
Have some links:
"Prolife" movement does nothing to stop abortions (because the leaders of the movement aren't actually interested in doing so)
Sculpture of an insufficiently feminine woman triggers conservatives
History that fails to sufficiently lick the boots of rich white people triggers conservatives
It's been raining for three days here now, and is also (finally) cold. And our heating unit has failed.
Luckily we have a fireplace, which is keeping the interior temperature at about 60.
The guy is supposed to come "look at it" today. I hope "look at it" means fix it.
But next week is warm again anyway.
T. Kingfisher, The Hollow Places
I usually don't like horror novels that much, but for Vernon I make an exception. This is because, besides being genuinely horrifying, her novels always have great characters and excellent writing. This one does too. My favorite character is Simon, who subsumed his twin in the womb; one of his eyes is actually his twin's eye, and he sees differently through it.
There's also a portal, but not a C.S. Lewis portal, and extremely scary monsters, and an excellent battle of taxidermied animals.
Victoria Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
This is the first Schwab I've read, though she's been a big deal in the SF community for some time. As it says on the tin, this is about the life of Addie LaRue, who makes a deal with the devil (or a devil) in the 18th century. LaRue does not want to marry, which is essentially the only option for a woman in her small French village; she wants to experience the whole world, not be locked in this one tiny life.
So on her wedding day, she asks a devil/pagan trickster god to help her achieve that wish. He grants her wish: she is immortal, but ensures that no one will remember her, ever. So long as she is in sight, people can remember her. The minute she goes out of sight, even for a second, they forget her and her entire existence. So she can't hold a job, or rent a room, or have a friend or lover -- or rather, she can have these last, but only so long as she stays in sight. Once the lover leaves the room, even for a second, they forget her entirely.
Most of the novel plays out the effects of this curse, and LaRue's experiences as she moves through the centuries; but there is another character who has also made a deal with the devil, and once LaRue meets him, the plot thickens.
I liked this okay. Nice plot, and readable prose.
John Grisham, A Time for Mercy
This one was available through the library and I am desperate for things to read right now, so I ordered it, even though my past experience with Grisham novels has not been great. (Wooden prose, wooden characters, badly edited.) This one was also not so great.
Apparently it's a sequel to some other books he wrote which I have not read. I can live with that, though the constant recaps of the previous books (he doesn't just do it once -- he recaps over and over throughout the text, I guess in case his reader isn't paying attention?) are annoying. There's a lot of over-writing like this, including an entire subplot which never exactly resolves.
The main plot is a sixteen year old kid who kills his stepfather, who just happens to be an excellent and highly loved police officer. (Color me dubious, given that the cop is given to getting knee-walking drunk and starting fights in bars, never mind how he slaps around and rapes his kids.) We are shown the kid killing the cop in the first pages of the book, so there's no mystery. And then the trial plays out pretty much as you would expect -- the lawyer uses the abuse to argue that the kid was justified. Hung jury, they have to retry. That's all, that's the end.
There's also a creepy subplot, in which the lawyer and a preacher at the kid's church gang up on his pregnant 14 year old sister (the one who has been getting raped by the stepfather) and coerce her into continuing a pregnancy against her own wishes and against the wishes of her mother. Then the lawyer and his wife, who have not been able to have the second child they want, adopt the infant. We're told this is the best thing for the 14 year old, since abortion is evil, but if that's not unethical behavior, holy shit, it ought to be.
Grisham also wants us to believe that being forced to carry her rapist's baby to term, give birth to it, and then give it up for adoption is not at all traumatic for our 14 year old high school freshman. She starts high school just as perky as anything! Happy endings all around!
Do not recommend unless you really like courtroom dramas and can wince your way past all the cringe-inducing writing and that subplot.
A conservative "pro-life" science fiction writer makes a modest proposal:
Allow me to suggest that we eliminate the income tax altogether, and that, in order to vote, one must donate their firstborn male-child to the agoge and be raised in boot camp as a janissary or fighting slave for our overseas wars.
This would allow unwed mothers to sell their babies for a signing bonus, rather than aborting the young.
Now, this slavery might strike the modern mind as inhuman, but, on the other hand, would it be better that the child be dead, as opposed to fighting for his country?
Again, it seems inhuman, but on the other hand, had this been the policy since Roe v Wade, we would possess a fifty million man army.
I do not suggest going to the original source -- it is an argument against women having the franchise, and the comment section is filled with typical conservative commentary: eugenics, bigotry, and nonsense. But it is here if you feel up to it.
Readers, I voted.
I even voted for a libertarian this year -- the one that was running against Tom Cotton. I don't think much of the libertarian philosophy, as you all know, but I would vote for a yellow dog over Tom Cotton.
We all got one of these as our voting swag:
The line at my polling place was tiny -- only two people in front of us, and about six poll workers. No waiting.
Tangent Online gave the anthology my new story is in, Retellings of the Inland Seas, a glowing review. Also: very nice review of my story in particular!
It's an excellent anthology, as all of Athena Andreadis's anthologies are. Buy a copy and support a small press!
Everything is terrible and I have lost the ability to sleep.
Also the people down the street not only have a TRUMP/PENCE sign in their yard, they have a TOM COTTON sign in their yard.
Here's my question: when I take my dog for a walk up the street, as I do most evenings, is it political commentary or just funny when I let him pee on these signs?
Here's hoping the world gets better soon,
a beleaguered voter
Good dog. pic.twitter.com/kvQ2OSuZBl— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) October 15, 2020
CW: Blood, surgery, etc
The surgeon did a second operation this morning, clearing out infection and then sealing the wound. He put in a drain, which will be removed tomorrow or the next day, but he says it's good that "all that" (meaning blood) is flowing out in such profusion, since that means there's good blood flow to the damaged area.
He also says he got all the infected bone the first time, so that's a good sign.
But they'll keep him there at least until Friday, so ugh.
Meanwhile my kid's roommate and BFF had to rush to the ER last night, and today is scheduled for surgery to remove their gallbladder.
Life is just one fucking thing after the next, as we often say here at chez delagar.
So as regular readers know, Dr. Skull was hospitalized for an infection in the bone of his foot this past Friday.
Today they did surgery, debriding and removing his toe bone and metatarsal. The infection was worse than they thought, so they cleaned it out and are leaving the wound open until Wednesday, when they will probably close it up.
The surgeon said aside from that, the foot looks good. So we're hopeful.
He's going to be in the hospital for several more days, though, and he hates it.
So this happened:
In the 17th century, when Oliver Cromwell was invading Ireland, everyone in England "knew" that the Irish rebels were cutting open pregnant women, pulling out their unborn babies, and beating the fetuses to death on rocks.
In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin made up stories about the American Indians slaughtering women and children which are still believed today.
During WWI, stories circulated in England and America about German soldiers crucifying people and cutting the hands off babies and the breasts off nuns.
None of this was true. Often -- as with the Iraqi solders -- it was propaganda deliberately created to appall and anger people, in order to increase support for violent and genuinely atrocity-ridden attacks on the "enemy." (See the behavior of Cromwell's forces in Ireland, or of US soldiers against American Indian communities.)
So when "Pro-life" people circulate stories about how "liberals" murder babies, or kidnap children and rape them, or even eat them (stories that have been circulating among MAGA Americans for some time now), that's probably something that should worry us.
When the president of our country repeats this atrocity propaganda, that's definitely something that should concern us.
This isn't just whackiness from those loons on the Right. This is an attempt to demonize their enemy. You demonize the enemy so that you can justify your own vicious and violent attacks on that enemy.
That's what conservatives are doing now. That's what they've been doing for the past decade.
Don't be confused about where this is leading.
See also: Constant propaganda about how trans people are "recruiting" children, or "corrupting" the morals of the country, or destroying the universities, or "chopping the penises" off of "babies" or
Dr. Skull is in the hospital.
He has an infection in a bone in his right foot. They've got him on IV antibiotics, and may do surgery on Monday. I'm hoping they won't have to amputate part of the foot, which is the worst case scenario.
Due to Covid rules, I can only visit for an hour a day.
Trying not to worry about how much this is going to cost -- as y'all know, I'm still paying off the immense medical bills from my illness in December.
UPDATE: They're going to amputate one toe and a metatarsal. :(
This one was good. It's sort of a Harry Potter fanfic -- or anyway it feels like a Harry Potter fanfic -- but the worldbuilding is excellent, and our heroine, along with the other characters, is well-done.
We're in a school for wizards, with some differences: once you go in, at age 11, you don't come out until (if) you graduate. And more than half of each class does not graduate -- sometimes more than that -- because this school is evil and wants to kill wizards. Wizardlings, I guess. It's filled with various monsters (mals) that attack students four or five times a day, trying to eat them. Only the lucky, and those who get help, survive.
Our main character, El (short not for Ellen but for Galadriel), has no luck getting people to help her, because (she explains) no one likes her, no one wants her around, people would be happy to see her die. This isn't anything she's doing, apparently, though she is mordantly snarky. It's something about her aura.
All that changes when the hero of the school, Orion, rescues her from a mal. He hasn't rescued her for any particular reason -- just as her affinity is for being unlikeable, his is for slaughtering mals. And El doesn't need rescuing, since she's a powerful wizard in her own right. She tells him this, never fear. Her lack of gratitude intrigues him, apparently, and he begins hanging around with her.
Meanwhile, something is up at the school -- something worse that mals that try to eat people five times a day.
Lively, compelling prose, and a non-stop plot, this one is very satisfying. It's also set up for a sequel.
Tana French, The Searchernot so good. Her new one, though, is better.
Here in The Searcher we have a Chicago police officer, Cal Hooper, who quits his job after he and his partner nearly shoot an innocent man on the street, and after his wife leaves him. He comes to Ireland, where he is rebuilding an old house, fishing, and tentatively making friends with the locals. This is where the book opens.
A neighbor kid shows up to hang around and help him with the work, and eventually ask a favor: Will Cal find the kid's older brother, who has gone missing?
Filled with local color and great details about life in a small rural town, not to mention compelling characters, this one works well. The "mystery" at the center is maybe not as compelling as some of her earlier novels, but I really like the characters and the language here.
A few grim details, and violence against -- well, everyone. But if you like compelling mystery novels, this is a good one.
Jodi Picoult, The Book of Two Ways
A Jodi Picoult novel. They're like burgers from Five Guys, if you see what I mean. Satisfying, tasty, a bit above your average burger.
This one concerns a graduate student in Egyptology who left off working on her PhD to nurse her mother through her final illness, got pregnant, got married, and never went back to finish her disseratation.
Entering her forties, she has a mid-life crisis, and goes back to the site she was working on when she quit graduate school, and also the guy she was sleeping with at that point.
Will she return to her satisfying if bourgie life, or will she stay with the Egyptologist, do Egyptology, and be a scholar?
I like the kid in this. Neither of the guys are all that interesting or convincing, though, and I'm really bored of books in which characters have to decide to leave their marriages and sleep with some hot new whatever. Picoult, to her credit, puts some new twists in this stale plot, but even so.
The Egyptology stuff was fun.
Maggie O'Farrell, Hamnet
This is an historical novel, about the short life of William Shakespeare's son. The cause of Hamnet's death is, at least here, is the plague.
There's a lot about Anne Hathaway's life and some about Will's boyhood and youg adulthood. Not much about his time in London. I checked this one out of the library mostly because of the plague connection, but it was very readable. Recommended if you like historical fiction / the plague/ Shakespeare.
Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
I forget where I saw this recommended -- probably in the comments over at Jo Walton's column. It's the first in a series of mysteries featuring an eleven-year-old chemist named Flavia de Luce, living in post-war England. Flavia is a bit of a sociopath, and also excellent at deductive reasoning.
That's all my buttons pushed; no surprise I enjoyed this one. (Eleven-year-old sociopaths are my jam, as those who have read my second novel know.) There's a murder, which Flavia solves, but at least for me the pleasure comes from Flavia's voice and the 1950's setting.
There are ten more, so I've got plenty to read before I run dry. My favorite part of finding a new series!