My Mother Was Nuts

My Mother Was NutsMy Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall

I have rarely enjoyed a biography as much as I enjoyed this one. Penny Marshall is so accomplished both as an actor and director, but most importantly, she is funny, really, really funny. The story of her life while at times poignant was mostly really funny. She reads the books herself and I highly recommend listening to the audiobook. It really added something to the experience to have her telling the stories to you in her own voice. She’s very straightforward in her accounting. She doesn’t shrink away from her flaws and she doesn’t shrink away from her triumphs. It seems like she knows just about everyone in the entertainment business in both Hollywood and New York and most of them have stayed at her house. The part about lots of people living in her house really resonated with me. It was also really fun to hear her talk about her friendship with Carrie Fisher, whose books and career I also really enjoyed. Not knowing Penny Marshall personally, there is no way to tell the accuracy of her recounting of her life, but it sure was entertaining.

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Blood Will Tell

Blood Will Tell (Kate Shugak, #6)Blood Will Tell by Dana Stabenow

Book 6 of the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow is different from the other books I’ve read in the series. It’s much more political and much less about murder and mayhem, but it’s still good. Although Kate is out of The Park again, at least this time she has Mutt as she attends the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage. She is, of course, only there at the insistence of her formidable grandmother. It’s an opportunity to spend time with Jack and his son Johnny and for the reader to see some of the issues facing Alaska natives. In general, I enjoyed this book a lot and once again, Marguerite Gavin does an excellent job on the performance. I really love listening to her.

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Notes From a Small Island

Notes from a Small IslandNotes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

I want to like Bill Bryson, he can be quite funny at times, and I really enjoyed his audio tour of the Roman Baths in Bath England, but sometimes he can be so insufferable. I find his frustrations with regular people trying to do their jobs while he willy-nilly wanders around without a plan or a schedule very irritating. You know how to avoid that sort of frustration? Have a plan and a schedule. If you’re not going to have a plan or a schedule then it’s rude to be angry at someone because their day doesn’t suit what you want. If you’re going to wander around unscheduled it seems to me you’d need to be a lot more chill than Bryson apparently is. He seems to feel that because he thinks something should be a certain way that he has the right to be angry when it isn’t. In addition to those times in the text when I just wanted to smack him, there is his unbounded love for the English language. Look I was an English major, I appreciate the language, but don’t use twenty words when two will suffice especially when it’s not funny to do so. Okay, so I wanted to like this book more than I did. I did appreciate some of the places he went and his descriptions when they weren’t ridiculous. In short, I found this book very uneven. I have a copy of The Road to Little Dribbling, but I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll read it. Perhaps next year.

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Dead in the Water

Dead In The Water (Kate Shugak, #3)Dead In The Water by Dana Stabenow

I love this series, but unfortunately, I’ve read many of them out of order, so this is going backwards for me and it’s nice to meet characters I’ve only heard about in future stories. My only complaint about this book is that Mutt is not in it, because Kate takes a job aboard a crab boat to help the DA’s office figure out what happened to two crewmen who were lost at sea. With the exception of no Mutt, this book has everything I love about this series: amazing descriptions of Alaska, fully written characters with appealing connections to each other, an interesting plot, and plenty of action. My kind of story. I listened to this on audio and Margueritte Gavin does a wonderful job of voicing Kate. Her performance really brings the book alive.

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Unbound: How Eight Technologies Made Us Human, Transformed Society, and Brought Our World to the Brink

Unbound: How Eight Technologies Made Us Human, Transformed Society, and Brought Our World to the BrinkUnbound: How Eight Technologies Made Us Human, Transformed Society, and Brought Our World to the Brink by Richard L. Currier

I enjoyed this book despite the fact that it could be a little dry in sections. For the most part, I agree with the author’s take on what transformed us into what we are and where we are likely headed. The fact is that as a species we’ve developed rapidly and that change is now accelerating even faster because of technology. I think Currier gives a good overview of human development and then raises some interesting questions about our future. I enjoy this kind of broad thinking in a book. If you do too, you should check it out.

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Coming Clean

Coming CleanComing Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first and only time I ever saw Hoarders on TV, I was at the beach with my husband and some friends. After the show, I went downstairs to our room and began cleaning. My husband, who was reading in bed, asked what I was doing. I told him what I’d seen and that I needed to clean the room. My husband is a firefighter so he is very familiar with hoarder houses. “But we’re at the beach,” he said. “We hardly have any stuff here.” That didn’t matter to me. I cleaned the room anyway, hanging all the clothes, emptying the bathroom trash. I even did a load of laundry. When Kimberly Rae Miller’s book popped up on BookBub yesterday I almost didn’t get it, but then I opted for the look inside option and I’m glad I did. I bought the book and read the whole thing yesterday. It’s different from what I expected. Despite all the difficulties of living with her parents’ hoarding and growing up in that kind of atmosphere, Miller loves her parents. In many ways, they were great parents and in many ways they were horrifying. This book does a good job of opening a window on that dichotomy. It’s an incredibly quick read and I’m glad I finished it, because frankly parts of it are difficult to get through. It’s enlightening though and worth the read, especially if you know of anyone in that situation and have not been able to fathom how they got there and why they haven’t fixed it.

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A Deeper Sleep

A Deeper Sleep (Kate Shugak, #15)A Deeper Sleep by Dana Stabenow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the things I love about Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series is the ambiguity some of the characters occasionally feel about their jobs. In A Deeper Sleep, this ambiguity is on full display and Stabenow is at her best writing about the murder of a known bad guy and how the community as well ask Kate and Trooper Jim Chopin react. This is so well done and Bernadette Dunne reads it so compellingly that I listened to the whole thing in just a couple of days. I had the book on Overdrive on my phone while I ran errands and did chores around the house. Such a good book. If you haven’t ever read this series, I highly recommend you give it a try.

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