An eerie ghost story and a murder mystery

 A dilapidated girls boarding school in small-town Vermont called Idlewild is the setting for a truly scary gothic mystery.  The Broken Girls, by Simone St. James, moves between 1950, when we meet four troubled school girls at Idlewild, and the present when Fiona Sheridan is investigating a plan to re-open the school, where Fiona’s sister was […]

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Some favorite ghost movies for Halloween

Some people like to watch scary movies all year-round. Those people must be very brave. I myself think it best to save the frights for the Halloween season, and as a  meek and scare-averse human, I generally need the presence of a sturdy shoulder to cringe against when the going gets too spooky. My best […]

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The Long and Faraway Gone

 The Long and Faraway Gone, by Lou Berney, is one of the best and most memorable crime novels I’ve read, and so well written that I hated to put it down. It tells the story of two traumatic events in Oklahoma City back in the summer of 1986, and the aftermath for two broken people. Ever […]

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The Women in the Castle

A dramatic, engrossing historical novel, set primarily in post-WWII Germany, The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck, tells the intertwined stories of three widows whose husbands were involved in a failed conspiracy to assassinate Adolph Hitler. The aristocratic Marianne promised her husband that she would find and help the other wives of conspirators, so […]

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Read a banned classic

This week is Banned Books Week, and it’s a fine time to explore the classics that have been banned or challenged throughout the decades. Some reasons for banning and challenging books: offensive language and vulgarity sexual content contempt for religion, family, and marriage pro-Communist views morbid and depressing themes criticism of Islam Banned classics include:

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Career help for the quiet person

I am no careerist, but I still have to be a functional human at work, and Hiding in the Bathroom: an introvert’s roadmap to getting out there (when you’d rather stay home), by Morra Aarons-Mele, seems like a great title to help my reluctant introvert nebbish self.  Bathrooms are not my preferred refuge, of course; my cat-furred […]

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The plucky ladies of fiction

As a veritable vanilla pudding of a woman, I am always gladdened by reading about the intrepid exploits of the sturdy and brave. That’s why I love novels about spunky females as they plunge fearlessly into danger, stand up to the wicked, and defeat their oppressors. These novels inspire and remind us of the strength. […]

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A horrid new book list

When you’ve run out of ideas and your to-be-read pile is gone, desperation can set in quickly. That’s uncool.  Book lists are the key to defeating the dreaded slump, and to honor the 200th birthday of the most famous horror novel of all time, Frankenstein, NPR put together a list of 100 favorite horror stories. Frankenstein and Dracula made […]

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annie oakley picture

Happy birthday, Annie Oakley

When I found out Annie Oakley’s birthday day was August 13, 1860, it reminded me of my girlhood enthusiasm for the petite sharpshooter from rural western Ohio. Born Phoebe Ann Mosey, Annie’s early years were marked by poverty and hardship. Her early interest in shooting was forbidden, and she says in her autobiography that “my […]

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