Friday, September 25, 2020

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Reviewed by Jeanne

This is one of those books that you hear about, someone commenting they loved it, best seller list, that sort of thing.  What is missing is, “What is the book about?”   After reading it, I can see why that part is missing, because it’s not really a book one can pigeonhole.  Described by the author as being for anyone “from eighty to eight—I feel like both sometimes,” it consists of a series of ink and watercolor drawings of the titular creatures with bits of dialog between them.

It’s a calming sort of book; the mole asks the boy what he wants to be when he grows up and the boy responds, “Kind.”  At another drawing, the mole says, “Most of the old moles I know wish they had listened less to their fears and more to their dreams.”

At one point they meet a fox caught in a snare, and though the fox tells the mole if he weren’t trapped, he would eat him, the mole frees the fox. The fox remains with the others, and (spoiler alert) does not eat the mole. That is about as much of a plot as there is, but then this book isn't about plot.

At the publisher’s site, the book is promoted as offering empathy and self-care.  That’s what this book is all about.  It’s a moment to pause and ponder, and for that reason, I think it’s best read a few pages at a time rather than all at once. 

The illustrations are charming, like those from a beloved childhood book.  Some of the illustrations put me very much in mind of Ernest Shepard’s drawings for the Winnie the Pooh books.  The text is done in a handwritten format which I confess I found a little difficult to read at times but which does add to the intimate feel of the book and complements the artwork.

So if you feel the need for a few minutes of peace during a stressful time, this is an ideal book to turn to.  It is thoughtful but not demanding and I found it soothing, encouraging, and comforting. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Nevermore: Kendi, Thibodeau, Troost, Murakami, Hannah, Jackson

Reported by Kristin

Nevermore began with a highly recommended narrative, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times bestseller and winner of the National Book Award. Historian Kendi examines how racist thoughts and actions exist today, whether overtly or subconsciously. Our reader insisted that this volume is an extremely important book to have on an anti-racism reading list.

Another book club member picked up A Place Called Waco: A Survivor’s Story by David Thibodeau, a book which has been making the rounds. This reader found it very interesting that there were so many Branch Davidians who were connected to the Seventh Day Adventists, and remarked upon the great charisma had by David Koresh. She was still reading, but was getting a very different view than what was portrayed in the media at the time of the siege on the Waco compound.

Our next reader proclaimed, “Well, I read funny books!” The first was The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost. At age twenty-six, Troost changed his life from academic pursuits to move to Tarawa, a tiny island in the South Pacific. What could go wrong, right? (Cue the Gilligan’s Island music.) Deadly fish, all kinds of diseases, incompetent government, terrible food, the only music playing was The Macarena…that last alone should have been a clue. Troost and his girlfriend had the adventure of a lifetime and shared it with others through his funny travelogue. Our reader said this was an awesome and most interesting book and she cannot recommend it enough.

Another off-the-wall and enjoyable book was After Dark by Haruki Murakami. When a young woman has a chance encounter in a Tokyo Denny’s restaurant with a musician, she finds that he knows her sister. The characters are beautifully drawn, with a touch of the surrealism for which Murakami is known.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah made another appearance, as our reader thoroughly enjoyed the tale of two very different sisters who came back to their mother’s bedside to hear the story of her long life, from Soviet Russia to the wilds of Alaska. Nina and Meredith learn more than they ever knew about their mother as she tells a fairytale-like story of the girl she used to be.

A Shirley Jackson short story, “The Possibility of Evil,” entertained another reader within the volume Dark Tales which she downloaded from READs. Miss Strangeworth is well known in town for her beautiful rose garden. However, she has a secret. She writes letters, and not very nice letters at that. Our reader claimed this was very good writing, and in fact reminded her of the more recent An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten. The story is included in other Jackson collections, such as Just an Ordinary Day.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Outsider: A Novel of Suspense by Linda Castillo

 Once again we are delighted to have Kevin Tipple back with a review.  Please check out his own blog, Kevin's Corner,  for more reviews, recommendations, and news for both readers and writers.  



She was lucky to have escaped with her life when the intruders came for her that cold and snowy night. She had been ready and had a plan, but as often happens with plans, things went sideways from the point her door crashed inward. She fled into the night and by sheer luck survived and got to the vicinity of Painter’s Mill, Ohio. There is one person there she knew long ago that might help her now: Kate Burkholder.


That one person is Chief of Police Kate Burkholder. Many years ago, Kate Burkholder and Gina Colorosa were friends. Good friends who first met by happenstance, bonded, and soon went through the academy and joined the force together. Once employed as police officers, their inner natures took over, and what had been a close friendship frayed and then broke irretrievably.


All these years later, Gina Colorosa is a wanted fugitive and in a world of trouble. She desperately needs Kate Burkholder’s help. Can Gina be trusted?


Outsider: A Novel Of Suspense by Linda Castillo is the latest in her long running series featuring Kate Burkholder. It is also a heck of a good read with a lot going on at different levels. Part mystery, part police procedural, and with a lot of reflection about how our inner nature as well as our experiences shape us to be the people we are now, the read powers along at a steady pace to the inevitable violent conclusion deep on a snowy winter night.


Even when you see it coming one hundred pages out, that final confrontation is very intense. Outsider: A Novel Of Suspense by Linda Castillo is an intense very good read and is strongly recommended.  Unlike earlier books in the series where it was best to have read the preceding books, this one can be read and enjoyed by readers new to the series.


Outsider: A Novel Of Suspense

Linda Castillo

Minotaur Books (Macmillan Publishers)

ISBN#: 978-1-250-14289-4

ARC (available in hardback, eBook, and audio)

320 Pages





I received an ARC of this book by way of winning one in a Goodreads contest.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2020