Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Book List: The Boy by Tami Hoag

June 20, 2019

In Book List, ordinary reader Linda McDonald, shares book reviews of her latest reads. She has read her entire life and is a writer, who wishes now she’d kept a list all her life of the books she’s read.

I’ve read Tami Hoag’s books for years, although it had been a while since the last one. As I hurried into the library a week or so ago to pick up a book on hold, The Boy, was marked as a “Lucky Day Book.” Something our library does with newer or popular books. You’re in luck – here’s one you can check out, but you cannot renew it. They still gave me three weeks to ready … which I did not need because this is such a ‘page turner’!

Spoiler alert: Hoag knows how to weave a story, and this one has several subplots. It is fiction but still a sad story because it involves children. The outcomes aren’t good for several of them.

The story is set in a small Louisiana parish and of course she included the requisite corruption. In this story, rather than elected officials, it’s a couple of law enforcement officers who go rogue. The hero and heroine of the book, however, are good, trustworthy law enforcement officers, which pleased me.

Hoag also showcases the impeccable manners of a true Southern belle. Louisiana is as deep south as anywhere, and her depiction is accurate. The only thing missing was the sugar-wrapped, insincere, “Bless her/his little heart.”

One of my favorite parts was the brief glossary of French expressions and words that Cajuns apparently still use down in the bayou. French is a beautiful language that makes even swear words glamorous. Blend it with a good ol’ Louisiana boy’s Cajun dialect and you can feel the Gulf’s humidity as you read.

It’s long, nearly 480 pages, but an easy read. Purely entertainment. If you seek literature, this isn’t the book for you. A good book for a vacation or summer weekend by a lake or pool, this is the one for you.

Book Details

Book: The Boy
Author: Tami Hoag
Published: 2018
Publisher: Dutton, and imprint of Penguin Random House
ISBN: ISBN: 9781101985397
Read: June 2019



Book List: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

June 6, 2019

In Book List, ordinary reader Linda McDonald, shares book reviews of her latest reads. She has read her entire life and is a writer, who wishes now she’d kept a list all her life of the books she’s read.

It may be that I just don’t get this book. I know it’s all the buzz now, thanks in part to the Hulu TV series that I haven’t yet seen. I thought I followed and understood the book’s premise, but the ending threw me. I didn’t care for the ending, which of course then spoiled the entire book for me. I found it a bit slow to get into in the beginning, which may prevent some people from reading on.

Somewhat on the heels of my read of “VOX,” (which I’ll review soon), this one scared me, too. We have heard about the abortion rights protests where women dressed in the Handmaid’s garb. This story, like “VOX,” almost foreshadows today’s political happenings related to women’s rights. The frightening aspect to me of each book was the parallel I saw between these works of fiction and how the fiction could become reality for women in the US if we don’t rein in these moronic men (mostly) who continue to legislate away women’s rights.

Alas, I digress; however, that perspective is what kept me in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” It is told in the voice of one Handmaid, Offred – as in Of Fred, the Commander with whom she’s been paired to produce a baby for him and his wife. As Atwood writes, the Commanders f**k the Handmaids. It is supposed to be mechanical and meant only to procreate after some disastrous acts that aren’t ever outlined, nearly wiped out women. At least as I understood it.

Offred remembers the way it used to be, which other girls soon won’t. She longs for love with her paramour from the past and their daughter. Soon she discovers that these men, the Commanders, who led the way to build this lunacy, miss the old ways, too. They miss the ‘ladies of the night,’ conversations and time with women, women who adorn themselves in alluring attire and make up. All now outlawed, yet, Offred’s Commander shows her – lets her experience – that it all still exists. None of that screams ‘women’s rights’ either.

No spoiler alerts so I won’t opine about what happened in the end. My interpretation could be quite wrong and far from what Atwood intended. Nonetheless, I was disappointed.

She has gained much acclaim and it is not my place to diminish that. According to Wikipedia and Amazon, Atwood’s sequel novel, The Testaments, will be out Sept. 19, 2019. I suppose I will need to read it to see if puzzle pieces fall in place for me.

Not a book club person, nor really interested in one, I believe this would be a stimulating book to read and discuss in a religion/philosophy/literature/all the above class. Both it and “VOX” have clobbered me on the head to turn my attention to what’s happening around me in the US. The two stories are extreme, I hope and pray, yet we must not sit back and let a small group of egotistical, hypocritical prigs send women’s rights backward by a century or more.

Book Details

Book: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Published: 1986
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
ISBN: ISBN-10: 038549081X; ISBN-13: 978-0385490818
Read: June 2019







Book List: A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

May 28, 2019

In Book List, ordinary reader Linda McDonald, shares book reviews of her latest reads. She has read her entire life and is a writer, who wishes now she’d kept a list all her life of the books she’s read.

This is not a book I could read. Full disclosure, I read the first 25 pages and roughly the last 25 pages. While I call this a book review, I did not read the entire book.

I found it difficult to read because of the way it’s written – entirely in the dog’s voice – even though I understand that many loved it. It’s possible, maybe, this is one of those rare exceptions when I would like the movie better than the book.

Unfortunately, with “A Dog’s Purpose,” I had to break my 100-page rule, enacted when I read “Life of Pi” years ago. I struggled with “Life of Pi” until I hit Page 100 and then it took off for me. Since then, I have tried to give most books 100 pages before I give up but I could not imagine 100 pages of “A Dog’s Purpose.”

I have been known to jump to the end of books if the beginning hasn’t grabbed me. If the ending intrigues, I will continue to read the book. That was my hope when I jumped to the end of this one, which grabbed me enough to back up 25 or so pages. While the story then took a sweet turn and did bring to closure the dog’s purpose, it was too little, too late for me.

The purpose, as Cameron described it, I understood as a dog owner (several dogs so far in my life, most of whom have passed) and found to be true.

Page 305 of 306, says:

“The job of a good dog was ultimately to be with them [their people], remaining by their sides no matter what course their lives might take. All I could do now was offer him comfort, the assurance that as he left this life he was not alone but rather was tended by the dog who loved him more than anything in the whole world.”

I’ve been on that side of it just once. I believe my stepdad’s little dog wanted to do just that as he passed. I know our current dogs would want to do that for us.

Still, the story told by the dog struck me as juvenile. I felt like it could have been a children’s book instead, which would have made it much shorter. A plus for this reader.

Overall, the premise of the book is genuine and worthy. It was just painful and impossible for me to read the dog’s voice for 306 pages. Sadly, I bought the book for my husband as a little Christmas stocking gift and he so far has read only 25 pages. I won’t be able to encourage him to read on.

Book Details

Book: A Dog’s Purpose
Author: W. Bruce Cameron
Published: 2010
Publisher: A Forge Book, Macmillan Publishing Group
ISBN: 978-0-7653-8810-0
Read: May 2019

Book List: Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassen

May 13, 2019

In Book List, ordinary reader Linda McDonald, shares book reviews of her latest reads. She has read her entire life and is a writer, who wishes now she’d kept a list all her life of the books she’s read.

During my 16 years in Florida, I discovered journalist Carl Hiaasen, an insightful, practical and skilled writer. I also knew he’d authored books, but I hadn’t read them. Call it coincidence, or fate, I found his book, Skinny Dip, in late 2018.

Skinny Dip is a work of fiction, and outlandish fiction it is. For me, the outlandishness is what makes the book humorous and entertaining, although in a couple instances, Hiassen almost pushes too far. It all takes place in South Florida. If I learned nothing while I was in Florida, I did learn that South Florida is crazy land. Anything goes and people are cutthroat.

Early in Skinny Dip, we learn that a main character, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office detective wants to move home … back to Minneapolis. I recently moved to Minneapolis, which for a North Dakota native was almost like going home. Like Detective Rolvaag, I wanted to be closer to extended family. Hiaasen does an accurate job throughout the book to contrast the two areas of the country that are as different as, well, north and south.

The story is about a schmuck of a husband who takes his wife on a cruise for their two-year wedding anniversary. Sadly for her, he wants it to be their last anniversary and he tosses her overboard.

I’d like to think that what happens to her is pure fiction but knowing Hiaasen’s Florida journalism career and the whole “Florida man” phenomenon, it is possible a real story inspired Hiassen. The wife, Joey, survives because she was a successful college swimmer and she catches a lift on a floating bale of Jamaican pot.

The pot bale carries her to an ex-cop who lives with only his Doberman on an island. He nurses Joey to physical recovery, and then the hilarity and romance ensue. Along with the outlandishness.

For example, the schmuck, Chaz, – who by the way claims to hold a PhD in biology, specifically wetlands ecology – is an idiot. If not for his villainous side, I could see Jerry Lewis playing him in the movie. Chaz can’t seem to get the killing thing right and bumbles as clumsily as Jerry Lewis did in every film.

Naturally, Chaz has some bad friends, one with a lot of money who is used to everything going his way. Chaz believes he is smarter than them and continues his buffoonish struggles amid the spreading web of lies he creates.

The law enforcement side of the book may be a bit farfetched, but for this particular story, it works, I think. It adds another layer of subtle humor that I enjoyed. Detective Rolvaag’s Scandinavian roots show in his quiet, stoic and somewhat skeptical demeanor. Hiaasen also recognizes the ‘only in Florida crazy’ for what it is.

However, it rings true to Florida when the sheriff from the next county calls the Broward County sheriff after Rolvaag interviews Chaz’s rich friend. Friends in high places that help other friends with money out of jams is the norm in Florida.

Despite his ‘bereaved widower’ status, Chaz seeks romantic escapades as consolation. His guilty conscience proves to get the better of him on that front. Back on the island, Joey and her savior, Mick, try to determine Chaz’s motive and plot her revenge. Fortunately for them, Joey has truckloads of money thanks to a family inheritance. Her equally rich brother, joins them and contributes to the fun.

I enjoyed the romance, the silliness of the situations, along with Hiaasen’s rich use of vocabulary. He also shows his journalism roots as he briefly reports on the state of Florida’s Everglades, which has only worsened since 2004, when Skinny Dip published. As summer approaches, this would make a good beach read.

Book Details

  • Book:                    Skinny Dip
  • Author:                Carl Hiaasen
  • Published:           2004
  • Published:           Warner Books
  • ISBN:                     0-446-69556-4
  • Read:                    April 2019

Today is eclipse day!

August 21, 2017

Be careful out there. Today, Aug. 21, 2017, is a big day – the first total solar eclipse visible in the US since 1979.

I’ve heard several say, “It’s a once in a lifetime event.”

Well, not exactly for many of us. For example, on Feb. 26, 1979, when the last one occurred in the US, I was 18 years old. I was probably in class so sadly, I don’t remember that one.

The next one will be April 8, 2024. Now, I realize no one knows what the future holds. My driver license expires in 2025 so I expect I’ll be here for that one, too. At least I hope so …

I heard an ‘eclipse chaser’ over the weekend tell a reporter, “It’s a life-changing event.”

Ummm, I don’t quite get that. Who knows? Maybe it was the eclipse of 1979 that began the trajectory of the next 38 years of my life. Somehow, I doubt that.

All that aside, today is an exciting day. I’ll be in work; however, I do plan to step outside to check on it.

Without looking at the sun. Never look at the sun, especially during an eclipse.

If like me, you don’t have the proper protective glasses, please do not look at the sun. It stinks, I know. I’m annoyed with my lack of planning that’s resulted in no special glasses. Sunglasses don’t cut it.

I plan to use the old school, low tech simple card projector. Ultimately, it is the only approach I feel confident with in lieu of the proper glasses.

All the major networks will track it and NASA offers live streaming, as does the Weather Channel on its mobile app.

Here are a couple of helpful and reliable resources, in case your planning just started.

Finally, just for a quick smile, check out today’s Google doodle in the spirit of eclipse day.

Have fun, stay safe and in awe, admire the grand power of nature in this impressive show.


Happy Mother’s Day 2017

May 14, 2017

Today I wish a lovely Mother’s Day to everyone. Not all are mothers, yet we all have mothers. Some biological, some maybe not. This is a day to celebrate being a woman and girl.

We nurture others in so many ways, whether as mother or not. I became a mother 34 years ago and now, I would say I’m a better mother than daughter. I’m not a very good daughter but I try to be better.

As my mother ages, it is easier to be better … most of the time. I remind myself that the world’s fast pace is difficult for her and she doesn’t like it. She wants to have the world in which she grew up. That’s not wrong or bad. Impossible, but not wrong. Who am I to judge or try to sell her today’s crazy?100_3562

I know that she did not ask for the aging that her body has experienced. Of course, she’d still like to be agile and spry, and especially pain-free. That’s out of her control at this point.

As daughter – and as mother who must model the way for my daughter and in time her children – I must be patient and tolerant. Those are not always my best traits. From this life lesson, I can increase both and be the daughter I should be.

In many ways, it would be a Mother’s Day gift to myself, as well as my mom, my daughter.
Time is precious and limited and I have no excuse to make it anything less than happy for these dear women in my life.


I remember

September 11, 2015

We said we’ll always remember. We still say it and especially today, we say it again. I’m not sure we mean it.

Fourteen years ago today, Americans came together as we had never before done in my life. Shocked and horrified by what most of us saw on TV, we turned to friends, families and strangers in solidarity. We hugged and prayed with each other, strangers and comrades, blacks and whites, heterosexuals and gays, old and young. We were one.
Fourteen years later, we seem to fight with each other at every turn. Blame and pointing the finger of accusation at others is rampant, with few looking at themselves to see they are part of the problem.WTC_Oct2013
I’m confident that the families of the 2,977 people who died in America that day always remember. I believe I remember it more than many, although I am guilty of getting caught up in the minutiae of life that didn’t matter that morning or for months afterward.
Like an enormous ink spot on the fabric of our clear blue sky, black smoke spilled on the New York City sky. That and so many other images are permanently imprinted on my mind. The contradiction of that image, I think, is what made it so powerful for me. A perfect fall day – no clouds, bright sunshine – marred by the literal and figurative blackness of death.
Still, we came together to stand strong in our cry of, “Oh hell no! You don’t get away with doing that in America.”
For some time afterward, we stayed united. In our uniquely human way, as time moved on, we began to forget those feelings. I hope and pray we can come back to that unity soon.
Unity will empower us with strength to address the problems we face today. The attitudes so many display today are not helpful and, by our refusal to work together in peace and compassion, we dishonor each one of the 2,977 who died.
Fourteen years ago we did it. We can do it again.
I believe everyone must look at the video and images of the 9/11/01 attacks every year. Reactivating those memories is a way to bring us back to the resolve we had that day to unite and support each other.
We can do it. We have 2,977 reasons to do it to honor their lives … and their FreedomTower_2_Oct2013deaths.
I remember 9/11.