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Lacy’s End, Victoria Schwimley

Lacy’s End, Victoria Schwimley

Lacy’s End

Lacy’s End, by Victoria Schwimley, paints a graphic picture of domestic abuse from the point of view of Lacy, the teenage daughter of the town sheriff. Her frequent injuries have been ignored for years by Lacy’s school and the town at large alike, underpinned by the small-town belief that it’s a man’s right to rape his wife and discipline his daughter with his fists, and it takes a visit too many to the local hospital to tip one out-of-town doctor past the point of being able to overlook the situation. Allen Petoro involves social services, and stirs up more fuss than even the sheriff’s office can ignore, but Sheriff Waldrip has a badge, and a gun, and isn’t about to let some upstart doctor stand between him and his rights.

Lacy’s End is a compelling book, well-written and offering a glimpse into the psychology of the abused and the abuser, as well as the all-too-common bystander effect. Victoria Schwimley creates a realistic setting for her story, including a neat contrast between Lacy’s existence and the world of Allen Petoro, and the characters are well-developed and gripping. The touches of romance are well-done, and don’t detract from the main message of the plot. This book has much to offer to all ages of readers – definitely a worth-while read.

Thanks, PG!, John Isaac Jones

Thanks, PG!, John Isaac Jones

Thanks, PG!: Memoirs of a Tabloid Reporter

In Thanks, PG!, John Isaac Jones takes us on an in-depth exploration of the world of tabloids through the eyes of Billy Don Johnson, a pharmacist turned reporter from Alabama whose ideals of reporting are not matching up to the realities of the traditional press. Driven to seek out something new and different, he tries out for the National Insider, a tabloid headquartered in Florida. Once there, Billy Don is immediately enthralled by the complete contrast of the Insider’s style with the papers he’s worked for previously, and awed by the mythos of PG, the owner and editor in chief. Billy Don goes on to cover everything from the history of the ascension of Mao Zedong to the many affairs of Marlon Brando.

John Isaac Jones’s protagonist is an Alabama boy with a yearning to break away from the expectations set on him, willing to take some risks to make his dream for his life come true. As a character, he is eminently relatable, and that underlies and links the cameo stories of events and people that comprise much of the book. Written in a quirky first person, this book will draw you into Billy Don’s life and offer a fascinating, insider view of the world of tabloid reporting. Thanks, PG! showcases the proverb that the truth is stranger than fiction. Definitely a recommended read.

Burn Slowly, Fabio Casto

Burn Slowly, Fabio Casto

Burn Slowly (Original: Bruciate Lentamente, translated Sarah Jane Webb)

I really hate having to quit on a review read. Unfortunately, Burn Slowly was one of the ones I had to give up on. Part of the trouble I had with the story was the use of language. While it was fluently translated from the original, the narrative style was so densely-worded that the pace of the story was almost brought to a halt, and even deciphering what the story was, was challenging. For the record, my first language is English, but when I’d got a third of the way into the book, and still hadn’t come across enough to indicate whether I was reading a science-fiction tale, or a thriller, or the hallucinations of an unhealthy man on drugs, or even where any of the three options might be eventually headed, I’m afraid I stopped trying. To my regret, there is only so much time I can spend on forcing myself to read something I’m not enjoying.

From what I was able to gather, the book may have had some strong points if my stamina hadn’t given out at the pacing. Among other things, the author had clearly done some research into ancient legends to support his book; the characters were definitely well-fleshed out. It just wasn’t enough to persuade me to keep pounding my head on the prose.

Life Without Ceilings, Mary L Gorden

Life Without Ceilings, Mary L Gorden

Life Without Ceilings: A Woman’s Career in Computers

Life Without Ceilings is the memoir of Mary L. Gorden, describing her early life as a Navy child in the years following World War II, and the fascinating and unique story of her path to a career in the emerging field of computer programming in the 1960s.

In a twist that many of us may be familiar with, being told what she couldn’t or shouldn’t do from an early age proved to be a catalyst rather than a hindrance, and Mary’s interest in science, mathematics, and engineering survived through multiple moves and a series of religious schools that either didn’t offer those subjects, or didn’t understand why a girl would want to study them. Mary graduated straight into a computer programming position with Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and found herself in a niche perfectly suited to allow her to make use of her strengths.

I’ll be up-front and admit I don’t read a lot of memoirs. When I do, I’m often pleasantly surprised by how engrossed I can get in someone else’s life. Life Without Ceilings definitely fell into that category. I found myself grinning in sympathy over the ‘girls don’t’ sections, and drawn in by interests touching my own career as Mary described her time working with Visa in the early days of chip encoding. Above and beyond the fact that Mary’s story is well-worth the read, the book is very well-written and full of insights that take it far beyond a bare recital of facts.

Life without ceilings cover

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