In the beginning...

...there were The Flyaways, a family who traveled in their miraculous flying machine having daring adventures with Goldilocks and Cinderella. The first in the 3-book series by Alice Dale Hardy was published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1925 and copies are almost extinct. Few people remember Ma and Pa, Tommy and Susie Flyaway now.

I became acquainted with them on my grandfather's lap, my dear Grandpa Baker who read and read and read to me every evening for as many years as I can remember. I would hold my breath as each chapter ending neared, hoping he would not stop. I would keep begging for "just one more" chapter until his voice got so hoarse I would have to run to his room to get his throat lozenges.

Over the years we covered all of Uncle Wiggly and Honey Bunch, the Bobbsey Twins, the Five Little Peppers, the Wind in the Willow series, some of them more than once. He read to me until long after I could read everything for myself, until I was into Beverly Gray, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I was safe and happy snuggled up on the couch with him and that feeling has never left me. I still read and read and read, and it still makes me feel safe and happy.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Boys of the Dark

Unbelievable true story of the Florida School for Boys in Marianna, FL - a house of horrors where children from 6 - 17 were hogtied, handcuffed, flogged, raped and murdered from its inception in 1900 through the 2000's. Many people were aware of what was happening there and no one cared enough to expose it and put a stop to it. Eventually the hidden graves of over 30 nameless boys were discovered in a nearby woods. This book was the collaboration of Robin Gaby Fisher and two of the survivors who were finally able to confront the impact their incarceration there as children had on their lives. A group of these men became known as the White House Boys, finally met, and were acknowledged as the victims of terrible atrocities for which no one was ever prosecuted.

See also my review of The Bone Yard, the fiction account which started me researching this story. (April 11 post)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


This is a really weird story by Karen Russell. I got halfway through it, decided to abandon, then kept reading. Swamplandia is an alligator wrestling park owned by the Bigtree family who are not real Seminoles, but talked themselves into believing they are. Grandpa is in a home, mom who swims with alligators dies young, the tourists stop coming, son Kiwi runs off to the mainland, as does the Chief who just leaves his two girls alone on this creepy island in the Everglades where the 16 year old falls in love with a ghost and the younger one traipses off with a Bird Man to the underworld to look for her sister. Strangely engaging.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fourth Day

Charlie Fox' love life is beginning to resemble that of Meredith and Derek on Grey's Anatomy and it is annoying me. If she and Sean don't stop this on again/off again business, I'm going to stop reading. Charlie is too riddled with issues. Zoe Sharp produces a very readable story, but there was something amiss in it for me that I can't quite put my finger on. It was refreshing that the "cult" leader Bane was not portrayed as a total wacko, but the character was not totally believable; the same could be said for truly heartless government agent, not that I have a problem believing in government evil. I always get confused with complicated double agents/double talk/double plots and this was like that.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mystery - not

Jonathan Kellerman has made a little too much "mystery" out of this mystery. The plot turns out to be a little far-fetched and not that interesting. Starts off nicely with Alex and Robin on a date night at an old hotel/nightclub and is very readable until the end disappoints. Milo reigns.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Smith's Tavern Contest

Florida Catch Up

Did a lot of Florida reading on vacation, all on my Kindle, which proved a trusty traveling companion. I finished Unbroken (see separate post),The 7th Victim by Alan Jacobson, and Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman. Jacobson was a new author for me and one I would read again. Lippman came through with a very good Tess Monoghan story.

Castle and Cannell

I expressed my deep sorrow over the death of Stephen Cannell last fall and was delighted this week to hear him mentioned on the TV show Castle. Cannell made regular cameos on the show at Castle's Thursday night writer's poker game, whose players were Michael Connolly, James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, Cannell and Richard Castle. When a new writer attempted to take the empty seat at the game, Connolly informed him that was Cannell's chair and no one could sit in it (for at least one year). Made me smile.

Night Vision - Randy Wayne White

Doc Ford is not normally a really exciting type of guy. This episode in his laid back Sanibel life proves to be loaded with extreme characters, and reveals more of the marine biologist's tough-guy background than ever before. Much of the book is about the "bad" guy Harris Squires, a 'roid rage bodybuilder who cooks meth and feeds dead bodies to his pet alligator. When Harris disappears with a twelve-year-old Guatemalan refugee who channels Joan of Arc, Ford's hippie friend Tomlinson urges their involvement in finding the girl. But...does she need rescueing?

Monday, April 11, 2011


Totally mindblowing non-fiction by Laura Hillenbrand. See Best Books entry.

The FIfth Witness

I waited a long time for my name to come up on the list for this Michael Conolly courtroom drama starring Mickey Haller, Bosch's half brother.. Enjoyed every minute of it.

The Bone Yard

It is amazing the amount of stuff I've learned from fiction books. This one by Jefferson Bass led me investigate the Florida Home for Boys, which was a real facility on the FL panhandle with a long history of abuse and murder of the young men in it's charge. I visited the webpage and found it crammed with accounts of this notorious institution. The book itself is a total page-turner.