If you’ve been thinking about apocalyptic events lately, you’ve had quite a few options to consider: pandemics, invasions, resurging fascism, choking on the smoke from wildfires that have become a normal part of August and September.
One other possibility that has started receiving some attention in the popular consciousness in the last 10 years or so has been the disappearance of a lot of insect species.
“The Insect Crisis” by Oliver Milman joins “Buzz,” “Earth Grief” and numerous others in warning about the global decline of insect populations, especially the pollinators we depend on to produce much of our food supply. The book opens by poignantly imagining what would happen if all the insects suddenly disappeared all at once, followed by interviews with scientists and naturalists acting as tour guides in spots around the world where an eerie silence pervades where once there was buzzing and humming.
Meet me in the Margins is a book lover's dream! A whimsical and delightful tale of how hard and how wonderful it is to work in the world of books. This book has passionate book editors, a heavenly ARC room (advanced reader's copy), book events, a hidden nook... I was sold from the start.
Savanah works at a non-fiction publishing company that pretty much looks down at all fiction books, but especially anything as 'silly' as romance. She is great at her job, but she has a little secret: she wants to write fiction and her first manuscript is ready to go. After having to leave her manuscript behind at work one day she finds out she is not the only one that uses the little hidden nook she found in the building. Someone else must know about it too. Someone that thought it was ok and acceptable to edit her manuscript. She finds comments and observations all over the first few pages of her manuscript. She ignores it and submits it anyway, just to hear back from the other publishing company with comments similar to those the mystery editor added to the margins of her pages.
Kaitlyn Greenidge’s recent historical novel, Libertie, came to mind as we moved from African American History Month to Women’s History. The title character, Libertie Sampson, was named for her late father’s wish that she know true freedom. She is a dark-skinned free Black woman, daughter of a light-skinned mother who became a physician in Brooklyn during the Civil War. In fact, the story is inspired by the life of Susan McKinney Steward, one of the first Black women to earn a medical degree in the U.S. Dr. Sampson’s hope for her daughter is more specific: Libertie should go to medical school to join the practice.
Libertie’s mother enrolls her in a strict college in Ohio where she is the only female medical student. Her own interests and the voices of the Graces call her to music instead. Still, she is lonely and unsure of who she is as both a free woman and as a daughter freeing herself from her mother. Greenidge’s writing is emotive, drawing us with empathy toward our young protagonist. Libertie must navigate her path, not just academically and socially, but wrestling with the realities of racism, colorism, and sexism, as well.
Moving further from her mother, Libertie finds romance with a handsome, light-skinned man from Haiti who convinces her to marry and move to his homeland. The lush, exotic island with its mysterious religion and Emmanuel’s family welcome her at first, but is she any more free than she was in Brooklyn or Ohio?
Are you ever in the mood for a break? Break Books are the best! Often after I finish a book that was meaningful, or important, or a classic ( I call them Thinkers) I like to be entertained with a Break Book. I don’t need to be challenged or instructed; I need some comfort and fun. After finishing my recent Thinker I found the perfect little Break Book. And to learn it’s the first of a series of three was a bonus. Shady Hollow was published in January and number 2 is called Cold Clay; it came out March 1. The third in the series is entitled Mirror Lake and it will be arriving April 26. These three little cozy mysteries are great Break Books.
The author, Juneau Black, is a pseudonym for two friends, Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nagel. The two women work at a bookstore in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One day, their manager handed them a box of children’s finger puppets and asked them to price the woodland creatures for sale. As they went about the task, they found themselves naming the adorable puppets and creating a forest community complete with vivid backstories and adventures. It sounds like they know how to have fun at work! And so Shady Hollow was born.
Review by Marty Miller (guest reviewer for Inklings Bookshop)
I’ve always been a wannabe sailor. A couple years ago I joined the Yakima Makers Space and (over the course of more months than I care to admit) built a small pram which I occasionally sail in nearby lakes. When the opportunity to read some historic, nautical nonfiction came about, my response was a hearty “Aye, matey!”
Before overnight shipping and next-day delivery, international trade was carried out by large ships powered by sail and steam. Voyages lasted months and the crews faced incredible hardships, severe weather, fist fights, injuries and charges of murder!
Forty Years Master by Daniel O. Killman is the story of an expert sailor and his adventures on oceans and in ports around the globe. Our narrator is Master Daniel O. Killman himself, who did us the favor of recording detailed notes of his travels, beginning in the 1870s and continuing well into the 1920s.
Killman begins with some background of his early years, growing up in Maine and finding himself on the crew of a ship at a very young age. He quickly begins traveling further distances, gaining valuable experience and rising the ranks of ships’ crews.
Did you know that in Ireland, every four years, when February 29th comes around ladies can propose to their lovers and the gentlemen must say yes? I had no idea many Americans didn't know that until recently. Well, it is an old Irish tradition that makes for some fun stories to tell and in this case, a very well written romantic comedy.
Lucky Leap Day is the story of Cara, who after one too many whiskeys on Leap Day, proposes to her taxi driver - who also happens to be a musician in the Irish bar she ended up at during her last night in Ireland. She wakes up the morning after with a tin foil ring on her finger, a bad hangover, and a new husband. Because well, it was Leap Day, Finn could not reject such a proposal!
Cara has a flight in just a few hours that she cannot miss. The most important meeting of her career is waiting for her. So they do the most logical thing: Cara, Finn, and his dog, pack their bags and fly to the US. After all, it is much easier to annul a marriage if both parties are in the same country.
This past fall a co-worker of mine met conservation biologist and author, Thor Hanson, at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s trade show. He gave an engaging talk about his new book, Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid: the Fraught and Fascinating Biology of Climate Change and she brought back a signed copy for me.
Hanson looks at how rapidly changing ecosystems are affecting plant and animal species already. However, his examples don’t all lead to extinction and despair. He reminds us that the earth is constantly changing and shows just how in many places, life can quickly adapt to rising temperatures, increasing storms, and drier droughts. The crisis of climate change is acknowledged, but not emphasized. We learn how the biology we already understand points to what we can expect.
The disruptions which a warming planet bring can place species in situations for which they have not evolved. Changing Camas flower bloom times affect pollinators. Fence lizards and other heliotherms, who regulate body temperature by basking in the sun, can lose time for feeding and reproducing when they are more often seeking shade. Brown pelicans, on the move northward for better conditions, create new competition for food sources. These are just a few examples of the complex changes Hanson observes first hand and presents in his clear and enthusiastic writing.
Do you love a good recipe book? If you do, do you have any idea where and how the recipe books we have today came to be?
Miss Eliza's Kitchen is a historical fiction novel based on the life of Miss Elizabeth Acton. Elizabeth Acton produced the very first English cooking book for the everyday housewife that provides a list of measurements and precise instructions for cooking. Though if you do manage to find yourself a copy of Elizabeth's Acton's book somewhere, the list of ingredients will be at the end rather than at the beginning of each recipe. Nevertheless, can you imagine having to make something with no list of ingredients and no measurements? Just 'a bit' of this, and 'a touch' of that?
The story is told alternately by Ann (servant) and Eliza (Miss of the house). We get a good view of the way each of them thinks and how, although their lives are completely different, some of their fears and internal struggles are oh so similar.
When I sit down to write a book review, I feel an obligation to my readers and to myself. I hope to inspire readers to pick up the book that I am reviewing and I try to do a good enough job that I am pleased with my product. This time, however, I experienced a new feeling. When I sat down to write this review, I felt an obligation to the book itself. All That She Carried won the prestigious 2021 nonfiction National Book Award and it’s one that I hope we all read.
Author Tiya Miles is an American historian and a history professor at Harvard and Radcliffe. She’s written 5 books about the Black American experience. Among these were her first book entitled Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom. She also wrote The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. I admit it: I am not generally a nonfiction fan; I much prefer a story. But Miles makes history come alive with her exhaustive research and a writing style that is extremely readable for those of us who aren’t intellectual heavyweights.
All That She Carried follows in the footsteps of her previous histories. I found it intriguing and insightful. At a Tennessee flea market in 2007, an unsuspecting white woman purchased a run-of-the-mill cotton sack, about the size of a standard pillow case. When she got it home she found it had been hand embroidered with these words: “My great grandmother Rose mother of Ashley gave her this sack when she was sold at age 9 in South Carolina it held a tattered dress 3 handfulls of pecans a braid of Roses hair. Told her It be filled with my love always she never saw her again Ashley is my grandmother- Ruth Middleton, 1921”