Hog Wild
May 19th, 2018 by diane92345

Well-researched story of the fight for union representation in Smithfield’s North Carolina hog slaughterhouse.

All the players in the union vs. Smithfield fight are examined in Hog Wild. The book also describes how modern vertical integration moved from chicken to hog slaughtering. It includes cringeworthy details of what the hogs endure during the birth to bacon process. Hog Wild has much to say about the use of right-to-work rural states and non-white and/or illegal workforce to lower costs. Smithfield is shown using violence, threats, intimidation and ultimately lawsuits to avoid unionization.

Union membership dropped by more than two thirds since the 1950s. Hog Wild postulates that the drop is correlated with stagnant wages and a similar drop in the size of America’s middle class. The book is clearly on the union’s side and anti-Republican. However, that is not my biggest issue with the book. The author is constantly caught up in seemingly extraneous details. Worse, there are large swaths of Hog Wild that were just boring. It reads like a Master’s thesis trying to reach a particular length. Indeed in the preface, the author states that was the genesis of the book.

Clearly, Hog Wild includes a tale that needs to be told. But it is a hard slog through so many facts. Consequently, the book receives only 2 stars from me.

Thanks to the publisher, University of Iowa, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Chickens in Your Backyard
May 17th, 2018 by diane92345

Chickens in Your Backyard is all anyone needs to know to raise chickens!

Chickens in Your Backyard is newly revised and updated. It includes how to set up a coop, a run and a home for your new chickens. There are chapters on feed, eggs, water, cleaning, disease, breeding and incubation. Showing and butchering chickens are also covered. The book concludes with the pros and cons of starting your flock with eggs, chicks, young or mature chickens. Along the way, the author provides lists of breeds for different goals (friendliest, best layers, biggest breasts).

I love the tips in Chickens in Your Backyard. They obviously come from a someone with a true love of all things chicken. Here are some examples:

  • Spring is the best time to purchase chicks and begin your chicken experience. However, young and mature chicken prices are much lower in the fall.
  • Chicken cannibalism is catching!
  • Egg sexing is a myth.
  • Butchering chickens one day can lead to becoming vegetarian the next.

As a city girl, raising chickens seems like a good way to go back to my family’s midwestern roots. Chickens are allowed where I live. I hear a rooster or two each morning. I didn’t think about how hard it would be to protect them from hawks and heat where I live in the High Desert. Maybe when I retire and have more free time, I’ll get a few bantams. When I do, I’ll be sure to have this book by my side. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Rodale Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Charmed Bones
May 15th, 2018 by diane92345

Southern paranormal cozy mystery with ghosts, witches and a murder or two.

Hope, Faith and Charity plan to open a Wiccan school and white witches’ potion shop in rural Sunflower County Mississippi. Sarah Booth Delaney and her partner in the Delaney Detective Agency, Tinkie Richmond, are paid to dig up some dirt on the three newcomers. The witches cast a spell to make Tinkie pregnant and Sarah Booth hook up with the hunky Sheriff Coleman. Soon, someone is killed. Was the victim scared to death by the mysterious force in the apple orchard?

Charmed Bones is #18 in the series but it reads fine as a standalone. Reading the synopsis above, the plot sounds overblown but it is totally believable while immersed in the book. I found the quirky Southern characters were the best part of Charmed Bones. By the end of the book, all seemed like genuine friends that I wanted to spend more time with. Now I just have to decide to continue the series from here or start at #1. This entry deserves 4 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Romance Tagged with: ,

All the Answers
May 15th, 2018 by diane92345

Families are messed up. Even, maybe especially, famous ones.

The author of All the Answers is Michael Kupperman. He is a famous, Eisner Award-winning artist and writer. However, he continues to be haunted by his father’s aloof attitude toward him throughout his childhood and adolescence. The author believes that his father’s famous background as the longest running quiz kid may have mentally harmed his father from a young age.

Quiz Kids was a radio show during WWII and continued as a television show in the fifties. Joel Kupperman was the youngest quiz kid. He was a math wizard with a professed IQ of 200+. His mother was the stereotypical stage mother. She took him to nightclubs and together they hobnobbed with all the famous stars of the day (Milton Berle, Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Jack Benny, etc.).

All the Answers depicts the author’s perception of what happened to his father when suddenly thrust into fame. Unfortunately, his father never wanted to talk about his childhood and now cannot due to dementia. His grandmother’s scrapbooks provide some answers. But much of the book seems based more on speculation rather than fact. However, that is missing the point. The setting is Joel’s childhood but the mystery is how Michael will deal with his own unusual childhood. Will he become aloof with his own son or will he break the family dynamic?

All the Answers has a great plot that veers into many areas. It’s about families, fame’s costs, dementia, and child actor mental abuse. It is an extremely compelling read. I downloaded it and read it in one sitting. The art is fabulous.

I liked it more than Fun Home and could see other fans of that graphic novel also enjoying this one. Highly recommended. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Gallery 13, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Graphic Novel, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Favorite Sister
May 14th, 2018 by diane92345

Great finish almost makes it worth reading the rest of The Favorite Sister.

Brett, Stephanie and Jen are the sole remaining season 1 cast members on the new season 4 of the Real Housewives-esque reality show, Goal Diggers. The show ostensibly empowers women, while provoking as many fights among them as possible. Brett is the “thick” lesbian African-American CEO of SPOKE. The company is a spin class empire that donates electric bikes to Morocco girls so they can avoid being raped while hauling water daily from their towns’ well. Stephanie is an author and married to Vince, a wannabe actor. Jen is a vegan CEO. Lauren, who arrived season 2 as Jen’s friend is CEO of Sadie, a dating app where women chose the men first.

The Favorite Sister is full of lying, conniving and cheating. There is murder and attempted murder in here too but not until late in the book. My problem is that the characters are not sympathetic at all. After some foreshadowing, I spent the first half of the book waiting for the murder to occur. I didn’t even care who was the victim. I just wanted something to shake the self-centered complacency out of one of these b*tches. There is a q&a with the author at the end of the book explaining how she loves the housewives shows but dislikes how they turn women against each other. But she wrote a book about the exact same process. Maybe it was sarcastic farce that I just didn’t get. Once the thriller part of the book started, well past halfway, I enjoyed the twists. I’m just not sure I would have read that far if I hadn’t received this book from NetGalley. The last half of the book gets 4 stars and the first gets 2 making an average of 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Romance Tagged with: ,

Manga Classics Romeo and Juliet
May 11th, 2018 by diane92345

“For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Shakespeare’s words are the best part of his plays.  However, I look to Manga Classics to shorten classic literature to manageable lengths. By including the entire play using Shakespeare’s original words, this book is just as difficult to read as the original.

Recommended for students who have to read the original anyway and would prefer to do it with really beautiful pictures. If you are a cheater like me, look to the Cliff Notes version. 3 stars!

Thanks to Udon Entertainment and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Literary Fiction Tagged with: , ,