Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A true southern classic, Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is the story of a black woman in 1930s Florida who tries to find her way in the world after her mother abandons her and her grandmother dies. Janie Crawford marries a man she didn't care for, to keep peace with her grandmother, but leaves him when he begins to abuse her. She is swept off her feet by a well off man who promises to devote his life to her, but he too abuses her emotionally and physically. She eventually finds the love of her life, a man named Tea Cake. Their life together weathers many storms.

I didn't love this book, but it was worth the read as it is a classic. It is a story about the search for self and racism in the 30s that still resonate today.


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Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Mother's Little Helper

Mother's Little Helper Mother's Little Helper by Karen MacInerney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third installment of Karen MacInerney's mystery series centered around full-time mom and part-time private investigator Margie Peterson. Margie is a mother of two who is barely keeping it together. Her marriage is ending, her daughter pretends to be a dog, and there's a pig problem for her to deal with. In this book, Margie is hired by the PTA President to find out the source of missing funds and ends up investigating the death of a fitness trainer who is also an up and coming LifeBoost energy drink entrepreneur. The trainer had some mighty private sessions with half the PTA moms so there are a few who could have done him in. There's also a case of an anonymous streaker that bares all but a sock to the local garden club. It is never a dull moment when you're hanging out with Margie.

Karen MacInerney has a great sense of humor and it really comes out in this book. It's full of quirky characters and improbable situations. What will Margie get herself into next?

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is a tough but important story of poverty stricken Americans barely living in the slums of Milwaukee, WI. Pulitzer winner Matthew Desmond follows the lives of eight families renting "homes" in the slums of Milwaukee and the landlords they rent from. These people face rent fees that are often more than their income and their homes are in some of the worse conditions that anyone could imagine. When unable to come up with the needed funds for another month, many find themselves trying to decide between rent, food, or utilities. They are eventually evicted and added to eviction records that follow them to their next destination. Many times, the rent costs are the same or just below what one would find in a middle class area of town. The difference? Finding the landlord that will rent to someone with a past, with an eviction record, and without verifiable income. These landlords rarely keep up repairs and necessary work on their properties unless they know they have a decent tenant that will pay on time and consistently. It is a game that landlords and renters play. Many find themselves in holes that they can never climb out of but a few are able to persevere and beat the odds.

If nothing else, this book will bring to light an area of American life that is often ignored and make the case for affordable housing in the United States. The current programs to help the homeless and near homeless do not work well. Reform is desperately needed. Desmond does offer his idea of expanding the current voucher system that would eradicate the slums and put slum lords out of business. His idea would offer hope for many and give these people a chance to change their circumstances.

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