Confession: I am not a huge Neil Gaiman reader. I respect his reputation, and I have enjoyed the Doctor Who episodes he’s written. But other than Good Omens, the book that he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, I have not read anything by just him. Until now!
I had just started reading James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird when I heard it had won The National Book Award. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this because I had enjoyed the book from the beginning. The story centers on Henry, a child slave who is sort of “abducted” by abolitionist John Brown when Henry’s father is killed in a skirmish between Brown and Henry’s owner. Brown thinks Henry is a girl, partly due to the sackcloth he’s wearing, and nicknames him Onion. The boy pretty much just goes along for the ride, but finds he’s become fond of this incredibly strange man.
I chose this book, Vintage Kansas City Stories, because it looked interesting, and I was right, it is! It’s a collection of news stories, ads, and jokes from the Kansas City Journal 1907-1909. I read with interest one particular story about a statue of Venus brought from Florence, Italy in 1907 that was supposed to be donated to the Kansas City School Board but they rejected it.
The recently released movie, Lone Survivor, is based on the New York Best Sellers, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. It is the true story of four Navy SEAL soldiers on a covert mission who are ambushed by the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan. They are cut off from any support, and they confront unthinkable odds.
The Waldo Story: The Home of the Friendly Merchants by Ladene Morton
When you ask a Kansas City native where they live, their response is the name attached to their neighborhood or housing subdivision. Waldo is the neighborhood bounded by State Line Road to the west, 85th Street to the south, Troost Avenue to the east, and Gregory Boulevard to the north. It was named for one of its original residents, David Waldo, who ran freight on the Santa Fe Trail.
Mirabelle has grown up in what feels like a box. A loving, beautiful box...but a box nonetheless. Her godmothers are so over protective, they won't even let her visit her parents' graves! She can't shave with a razor, or use scissors, or drive a car, or or or... So, for her 16th birthday, she's got a plan. She's going on an adventure, and this time, no one is going to tell her she can't. By the time they figure out where she is, it will be too late to stop her. (Note: Do not try this at home, kids!)
Ishmael Beah was a child soldier in Sierra Leone. He wrote about his experience in his memoir, A Long Way Gone. When I read this work, I was filled with sadness that life could contain the evils he experienced. Now Beah has written a novel.
There are certain rules that characters on television shows must remember. Never say “nothing can go wrong,” because the second that you do, disaster will strike. Never insist that you and your true love are about to have all of your dreams come true, because that is a surefire way to guarantee you both will end up miserable (or one of you will end up dead).
The Uncorrupted Heart: Journal and Letters of Frederick Julius Gustorf, 1800-1845 is a wonderfully written travel journal by an educated German gentleman who came to America in the 1830s. His desire was to investigate the German immigrants who had settled in Illinois and Missouri and to see how they were getting along in America. Gustorf also wanted to compare his experience with those of other German authors.
I recently finished reading Marisha Pessl’s novel, Night Film. This thriller centers on Scott McGrath, an investigative journalist who’s looking into the death of Ashley Cordova. Ashley, the 24-year-old daughter of the mysterious and infamous cult film director Stanislas Cordova, has apparently committed suicide in an abandoned warehouse. McGrath had investigated Cordova about five years before, believing the film director was into something illicit. This proved to be a humiliating mistake for McGrath.