Coronavirus Diary: February 1, 2022

February 1, 2022

Welcome back to the pandemic that never ends! Ever hopeful, last June I changed the name of this monthly journal from “Coronavirus Diary” to “Cerebration,” meaning to use the mind, to think. Plus it sounds like “celebration” which I thought we could do because, no more Covid. It seemed like the worst of it was over. There were vaccines available everywhere. I was so naïve. Here we are almost two years in and the experts still can’t agree on anything except the novel coronavirus is here to stay, in all its variant glory. I give up; my Coronavirus Diary is also here to stay.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading the “On Parenting” newsletter written by Jessica Grose for the New York Times. I have a grandson now and things have changed a lot since my kids were infants, and I like to keep up on what’s new, so I subscribed. Anyway, Grose mentioned how her 9-year-old daughter was wondering if the pandemic would still be around when she was ready for college, and she goes on to say she wasn’t “quite ready to break down the difference between ‘pandemic’ and ‘endemic.’” That was in the newsletter I received, but she also wrote an op-ed, Your Kid’s Existential Dread Is Normal. that touches on parenting during this pandemic that parents may find helpful.

We keep thinking this will end at some point, this life with masks and vaccines and incredibly selfish people who use neither. But what if we are wrong. What if, without our even realizing it, this pandemic has evolved into an endemic. And why do we never hear “epidemic,” which seems most like what we are experiencing? I looked to the internet and Merriam Webster for answers.

https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/epidemic-endemic-pandemic-what-are-differences

epidemic: an outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time an outbreak of epidemic disease

pandemic: an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population a pandemic outbreak of a disease, i.e. a global pandemic

endemic: 2: restricted or peculiar to a locality or region, i.e. endemic diseases. Used in a sentence:

The reality is that the virus will eventually become endemic, like many other pathogens that humanity lives with.— The Editorial Board, WSJ, 21 Dec. 2021

https://www.merriam-webster.com/

It turns out that a lot of people are talking about an endemic, with the general consensus being the Covid pandemic will evolve into an endemic in 2022. This year. Pretty much any day now. And that is a good thing, believe it or not.

Omicron might mark the end of Covid-19’s pandemic phase — unless a certain scenario happens, Fauci says. “A disease that is endemic has a constant presence in a population but does not affect an alarmingly large number of people or disrupt society, as typically seen in a pandemic.”

Doctor [Amesh Adalja, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health] thinks COVID-19 will transition to endemic status in 2022. “Adalja said COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere but will likely transition this year to endemic status, meaning it’s always around but we have tools to fight it — things like monoclonal antibody treatments, antivirals and most importantly, vaccines.”

We are on track for Covid to evolve and be treated more like the flu. It’s only taken two years since the defeated former president “admitted to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in early February that he knew the coronavirus was “more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” but the [defeated former] president continued to compare Covid-19 to the flu for weeks following his conversation with Woodward, claiming he “wanted to always play it down.” Forbes, All The Times Trump Compared Covid-19 To The Flu, Even After He Knew Covid-19 Was Far More Deadly

Life goes on, with any luck. I am double masking at work. I start every day with a smile, as soon as I look at a picture of my grandson. I further escape into books. And cooking/baking.

What’s Cooking

Here’s the best thing I made in January: Short Rib Onion Soup from Smitten Kitchen.

short rib onion soup – smitten kitchen
https://smittenkitchen.com/2021/12/short-rib-onion-soup/

It is not a last minute dinner decision, a thirty-minute meal, or a sheet pan dinner, but you know what? Not everything has to be! It’s not made from pantry ingredients, either. I had to go shopping and buy short ribs and more onions and fresh thyme (my herb garden is dead) and a leek. On the plus side, I had some beef stock in the freezer that was going on six months old and needed to be used immediately, if not sooner. (Please don’t tell me we are all going to die because it was too old or whatever; I used it, we ate it, it was delicious, we lived.)

It took me a good part of the day to make this, but I didn’t mind a bit. First of all, it smells amazing every step of the way, from heavily browning the short ribs to braising them in the oven to caramelizing the onions to broiling the cheese toasts. You can make the short ribs a day ahead, if that helps. My husband and my daughter kept wandering in to see what was cooking, so that was fun.

By the time it was all ready, the incredible smells that had permeated the house all day had us so crazed and hungry we scarfed it down like we hadn’t eaten in a week. (Seriously, which means I didn’t get a picture, so I borrowed this one from Deb Perelman. Thanks, Deb!) Everyone loved it, and if you enjoy an occasional day of slow cooking, I promise you won’t be sorry you made this. (Other than the expense – short ribs are $$$) But I have enough left over for another dinner, and that will take less than thirty minutes. And something to look forward to – a new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is coming in fall 2022!

Book News

This village was a book capital. What happens when people stop buying so many books?* This is a wonderful article in the Washington Post about Redu, Belgium, and how they saved this small village by opening bookstores. A lot of bookstores. If you’re familiar with Hay-on-Wye, this is the first “copycat” town.

F.B.I. Arrests Man Accused of Stealing Unpublished Book Manuscripts* The New York Times reported that Filippo Bernardini, an Italian citizen who worked in publishing, was charged with wire fraud and identity theft for a scheme that prosecutors said affected hundreds of people over five or more years.

A Library the Internet Can’t Get Enough Of* Why does this image keep resurfacing on social media? The New York Times investigates this viral photo of an incredible home library.

Finally, I can’t not mention Wordle. Back in December, I discovered this game (from my son? from an article? I don’t remember!) and I fell in love. In case you aren’t on social media, don’t listen to podcasts, or read the news, it is the latest fad to hit the pandemic. It’s an old school word game that you play on a bare bones website. No app. No ads. No sucking you in and playing all day because <gasp> there is only one puzzle to solve each day. It takes me anywhere from five to fifteen minutes to play and it is one of the most satisfying five to fifteen minutes of my day. There has only been one puzzle so far that I couldn’t solve (WHACK) and once I had a twofer – solved it in two guesses (MOUNT). If you want to try it, best hurry – the New York Times just bought it and will be (I’m sure) rolling it into their games app. Although they did say it will be free initially, so kudos NYT on that, for however long it lasts. And honestly, kudos to them for buying it, they could have created their own version. There have been several copycat versions with a twist, like Lewdle, Queerdle, and an archived version, and some wiseasses stole the game, turned it into an app, then tweeted about how they were monetizing it. Apple removed those apps from the App Store (and I’m assuming other app providers did as well, but I don’t know for sure.)

I think one of the most fun things about it is how easy it is to share on social media. You can show your score and it doesn’t give anything away. There’s a Facebook group, (probably several by now, but that’s the one I joined back when there were only a few hundred members – today there are 22,000!) It seems to be mostly on Twitter though, or at least it started out that way. It’s just the spot of fun that we all sometimes need in our day. I’ll write about my other word game obsession, the New York Times Spelling Bee, another day!

Play Wordle

The New York Times Buys Wordle

Listen to the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast on Wordle: Wordle is a daily dose of delight, despair, and sometimes smugness

The most common letters in Wordle

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.

*Thanks to The New York Times and The Washington Post for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to these articles, a lovely perk for subscribers.


Cerebration: January 1, 2022

January 1, 2022

I’ve been on vacation. Again. Apparently, I needed it.

I’m thinking about moving to a once weekly blog update. Maybe on Fridays, in time to find a few good reads for the weekend. I’d appreciate your thoughts on that.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve been having eye issues for a few years now. In fact, I’m legally blind in one eye. Fortunately, the vision in my good eye is 20/15. It used to be 20/10 in both eyes. Just like Chuck Yeager:

In addition to his flying skills, Yeager also had “better than perfect” vision: 20/10. He reportedly could see enemy fighters from 50 miles away and ended up fighting in several wars.

https://www.npr.org/2020/12/07/341894780/pilot-chuck-yeager-dies-at-97-had-the-right-stuff-and-then-some

I’m sorry to say that I never did anything the least bit heroic with my superior vision. My husband appreciated it though; he used to say that I could read the signs on I-95 before he even realized there was a sign. It’s really tough going from excellent vision to where I am now. If I bob and weave, I can test out at 20/20 on an eye exam, but the DMV doesn’t let you do that. I couldn’t renew my drivers’ license until I got a note from my eye doctor.

I’m complaining about my vision again because it is taking me a lot longer to read and review than it used to. I’ve been reading Tell the Bees I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon for days and I’m barely half way through. I know her books are dense and not a quick read, and in my best days I never finished one in less than at least two days, sometimes three, but I am not used to having to spend days and days reading the same book. Luckily, I love her characters and the world she created for them so I enjoy spending time there. Good thing, too, since I’m going to be there a while longer.

If you want to make a charitable donation to start the new year, I hope you will consider the Seva Foundation; they are working to restore sight in the Americas. I have a Facebook fundraiser if you ware interested in helping: https://www.facebook.com/stacy.alesi/posts/574264547074800

I would feel remiss if I didn’t say something about this past year. When 2020 ended, I was so hopeful about 2021. I was looking forward to most people being vaccinated and the U.S. achieving that elusive bitch, “herd immunity.” It never happened, thanks to the conspiracy theorists and their moron of a leader, the feckless incompetent who lost the presidential election and built a house of lies upon it. And more Covid. Delta. Omnicron.

Wild fires. Climate change is changing the world in front of our eyes, and again, the conspiracy theorists and those devoid of any kind of common sense are happily ignoring it, leaving the planet a big mess for my children and grandchildren. The insurrection. OMG, the insurrection. People need to be held accountable for their participation. Especially the politicians, including the former president and all his minions.

Betty White dead at 99: Best moments and quotes
Getty images, New York Post

The people we lost this year, especially the authors: Eric Carle; Beverly Cleary; Eric Jerome Dickey; Joan Didion; Lois Ehlert; Lawrence Ferlinghetti; Maria Guarnaschelli; bell hooks; Norton Juster; Larry McMurtry; Gary Paulsen; Sharon Kay Penman; Anne Rice; Wilbur Smith; Andrew Vachss – to name a few. If you’re not sure who these authors are, they are all worth knowing and easy to look up. The last gut punch to the year, (per my daughter, and she’s right,) we lost Betty White* yesterday. 

But I am ever hopeful, however, that 2022 will be a better year. I can’t even fathom of a year that could be worse than the last two we have weathered.

I wish you all a happy, healthy new year, filled with love and joy and lots of good reads!

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.

*Thanks to the New York Times for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to this article, a lovely perk for subscribers.


Cerebration: December 23, 2021

December 23, 2021
Happy Holidays!

I am hard at work putting the finishing touches on my favorite books of the year list. I hope to have it posted in the next couple of days, probably right after Christmas. While I don’t celebrate Christmas, I do love making the Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve, and a nice dinner for Christmas day. My husband is Italian, and while he is not religious at all, he does enjoy the holidays as I do.

Especially the cookies! I’ve been baking a different cookie every day since the library closed for the holidays. So far, Chocolate Babka Rugelach; Apple Cider Rugelach; Eggnog Snickerdoodles; Unfussy Sugar Cookies; Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies From François Payard; and sugar free Iced Oatmeal Cookies – I subbed King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative for the granulated sugar, and Swerve for the brown and confectioner’s sugar. Yum!

My son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were supposed to come down for a few days over the holidays. But I started getting really nervous about it as more news came out about the Omicron variant. They live in Brooklyn, New York, and it’s really bad up there now. I live in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the number of cases has doubled in the past week and we are now considered to be in the “red” danger zone. Plus we have a moron running the state who has outlawed mask mandates and vaccination mandates and anything that might keep people from getting sick and dying.

My son is worried about my husband, he has some health issues and it would not be good if he got Covid. We are worried about our grandson; he’s nine months old and cannot be vaccinated or wear a mask. The science just isn’t there yet on how much immunity a baby gets from its vaccinated mother – they know some is passed along, but not how much. And while most children who get Covid tend to have mild cases, not all do. I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to that sweet baby or anyone in my family, so I told my son I would understand if they wanted to cancel their trip. They thought about it for a few days, and we all kept an eye on the news, and they decided to stay home. I was relieved, yet heartbroken. I miss them so much. We have plans to go to NY for his first birthday in March, and hopefully things will have calmed down again by then. Meanwhile, it’s just my husband, my daughter, and me, alone together again for yet another holiday. To be honest, it sucks.

My all time favorite series is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. These books are massive, well researched, and completely enthralling. They are those rare books that defy genre, encompassing historical, time travel, romance, and best of all, they are beautifully written. They have been turned into an amazing TV series on Starz, and I highly recommend it. It does start deviating from the books a few seasons in, but since it’s been so long since I’ve read the books that diverged in the TV series, I’m fine with it.

I’m rambling about the Gabaldon series because after waiting for seven years, the ninth book in the series, Go Tell the Bees I am Gone, is finally out. The reviews pretty much say it was worth the wait, which doesn’t surprise me at all. I am off from work until Jan. 3, and my plan is to read this behemoth before year end. It clocks in at 928 pages and generally these books are quite dense, not fast reading. By the way, this is not the longest book in the series! But I have loved every page so far, and will undoubtedly love this one as well. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it that quickly, but I’m going to try.

Meanwhile, I only have a couple of reviews in the wings that I’ll be posting next week. And of course, my personal best books of the year list. Please be patient with me. My vision is impaired which has slowed down my reading and reviewing considerably.

I wish all who celebrate a very Merry Christmas! As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.


Cerebration: December 1, 2021

December 1, 2021

For the first time since I started book blogging, I took a vacation. We are talking over 20 years! I was just feeling completely burnt out. I’m still reading, of course, but I just needed some time to not do anything else. Well, I cooked for Thanksgiving, but that was it. But I’m back now, and the reviews will follow. Plus my favorite books of the year list are coming soon!

This is it. The end of the year is fast approaching, and all I can do is hope that next year will be better. Safer. Healthier. Less angry. Less violent. More vaccinated. What can I say, I am still an optimist, despite this pandemic and Trump/Trumpism trying to beat it out of me. I am eternally hopeful!

Something to look forward to – there are lots of great books coming out next year! Not that this year is done yet. I always feel bad for authors whose books come out in December. Especially novelists. They tend to get overlooked, especially by list makers and awards. December is a good month to publish cookbooks and coffee table books and other kinds of gift books.

Speaking of which, Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen) has a new cookbook coming out late next year! I love her. Did you know she started a YouTube channel? You should definitely check it out! So far, my favorites are Salty Brown Butter Crispy Treats (these take Rice Krispies Treats to another level!) the “I Want Chocolate Cake” Cake, and the best Broccoli Slaw ever! I mean, I never even knew broccoli slaw was a thing, or that I needed it in my life. Thanks, Deb! Her videos are as adorable as she is, they’re pretty short, all are under ten minutes, they come out once a week while she’s filming, so just do yourself a favor and subscribe. You’ll thank me! To me, Deb is the next generation Ina Garten. All her recipes work.

The New York Times Book Review has just turned 125 and they are celebrating! This was posted last month – it’s a sort of history of reading in public in NYC with lots of photos. I am someone who reads all the time, even (or maybe especially) on vacation, and most of my vacation time has been spent in NYC since 9/11/2001, when I became quite homesick. I read on the train, I read while waiting for pretty much anything, so I can relate to a lot of these pictures!

Even amid the clamor of a city of millions, New Yorkers have always been able to escape into a good book…These photos — all drawn from The Times’s vast photo archive — show that, in New York, there’s no place too busy for a book.

Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate! My house will smell like latkes for a few more days. Then we head into Christmas! Then Kwanzaa! And New Year’s!

I like to take a minute at this time of year to say thank you. I want you all to know how grateful I am to my readers, my subscribers, and especially to those of you who comment or email. I wish you all a joyous holiday season filled with love, laughter, family, and good books!

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!

*Thanks to the New York Times for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to this article, a lovely perk for subscribers.


Cerebration: November 1, 2021

November 1, 2021

This year is just flying by – maybe because we are not stuck inside anymore??! I’ve been working on campus three days a week and I love seeing the students again!

Today is Founders Day at Lynn University.

Founders Day is the day that the Lynn University community celebrates the founding – and the founders – of the university. The first Founders Day was held on March 29, 2006 to honor Donald and Helen Ross as they retired after 35 years as president and first lady of Lynn University. Every Founders Day since has been held on or around November 1 to mark the date Donald Ross arrived to purchase the library books of the financially troubled Marymount College in 1971.

from Lynn University Archives: https://spiral.lynn.edu/foundersday/

Every year they celebrate with some fun activities – there’s a welcome breakfast, then later in the day a Big Wheels race, food trucks, carnival rides, music, and more. All the students, faculty, and staff get free shirts as well. It’s a lot of fun!

In book-related news, I have slowed down a bit on posting reviews. While I’m still reading a book a day for the most part, I am not always posting a review a day. I try, but sometimes life gets in the way! This week, for instance, I read The first two books in the Bad Bachelors series by Stephanie London. (I had read the third book a while ago, and just stumbled onto the earlier books.) I read The Wedding Crasher and the Cowboy by Robin Bielman; Highland Games by Evie Alexander; Christmas Grace by Mindy Steele; Neanderthal by Avery Flynn; Well Matched by Jen DeLuca.

I’m sorry to say I am struggling through Better Off Dead by Andrew Child & Lee Child, the 26th book in the Jack Reacher series. Reacher is one of my favorite characters, and this is one of my favorite series. But this is the second book by Lee Child’s brother, Andrew Child, AKA Andrew Grant, and I am finding it slow going, to say the least. I read on my Kindle, and I keep checking to see how far along I am, and I’ve been shocked every time to find I’m not nearly as far along as it feels like I should be, if that makes any sense. I’m sure I’ll finish it eventually but I keep putting it down and picking up other books instead. Which makes me sad. Especially since I had a similar issue with the first book authored by Andrew Grant/Child, but I was hopeful he would find his way. Now I’m not so sure he did.

On the other hand, the new TV series, Reacher, is expected to premier on Amazon Prime sometime in the spring of next year. I think the casting looks good – finally! There were two movies made, Jack Reacher and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and while they weren’t terrible, they were completely miscast with the diminutive Tom Cruise playing the 6’5″, 250 lb. Jack Reacher character. Cruise is always good in action films, but there was a real disconnect there. This was one of my favorite headlines: “‘Jack Reacher’ Getting Rebooted as a TV Series; Lee Child Says Tom Cruise Was Too Short.” So the new guy playing Reacher is (drumroll, please!) Alan Ritchson!

At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds (according to Amazon), Ritchson is closer to Child’s description of the physically imposing character (who’s described as standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 250 pounds). Reacher is a military veteran who lives a nomadic life as a freelance investigator and problem solver.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/amazons-jack-reacher-casts-alan-ritchson-in-title-role-4055686/

So, basically he’s a big guy (check!) and not too pretty (check!) The inaugural season is based on the first Reacher book, The Killing Floor, which is excellent, so I’m looking forward to this new series.

Yesterday was Halloween and we had a handful of kids come by. It was my grandson’s first Halloween, and he went out in style! Wish I could have been there, but at least I have pictures!

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!


Cover Reveal! THE HOMEWRECKERS by Mary Kay Andrews

October 14, 2021

PREORDER!

Summer begins with MKA, in this delightful summer read about flipping houses, and finding true love! From the New York Times bestselling author and Queen of the Beach Reads!

Hattie Kavanaugh went to work helping clean up restored homes for Kavanaugh & Son Restorations at eighteen; married the boss’s son at twenty; and was only twenty-five when her husband, Hank, was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Broken hearted, but determined to continue the business of their dreams, she takes the life insurance money, buys a small house in a gentrifying neighborhood, flips it, then puts the money into her next project. But that house is a disaster and a money-loser, which rocks her confidence for years to come. Then, Hattie gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: star in a beach house renovation reality show called “The Homewreckers,” cast against a male lead who may be a love interest, or may be the ultimate antagonist. It’s a question of who will flip, and who will flop, and will Hattie ever get her happily-ever-after.

Filled with Mary Kay Andrews’s trademark wit, warmth, junking trips, and house porn, The Homewreckers is a summer beach delight.

I can’t wait!

Pre-order the hardcover

Pre-order for Kindle

Pre-order on Audible

Me & MKA circa 2016; it’s been way too long!


Cerebration: October 1, 2021

October 1, 2021

I cannot believe it is October already! Autumn is officially here, even in Florida. A few days ago when I left for work at 6:30 A.M., it was cool out, a nice surprise.

October is prime time for all those Christmas romances I love. And a Hanukkah one! So get ready for lots of holiday book reviews. I also just noticed that Hanukkah comes out early again this year. The first night is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is better than when it fell on Thanksgiving -but barely in time for Black Friday. Not to mention there are all sorts of warnings out there: “Logistical issues, including ongoing manufacturing and supply chain disruptions, may make the hottest toys and most popular gifts sell out fast or go on waiting lists. And they might not be available at all in the typical Thanksgiving-to-Christmas Day holiday shopping window this year.” So this is a good year to start your holiday shopping early.

The Time to Start Your Holiday Shopping Is Right Now

Retailers’ Latest Headache: Shutdowns at Their Vietnamese Suppliers: Factories in the country, a major apparel and footwear supplier to the U.S., have been forced by the pandemic to close or operate at reduced capacity, complicating the all-important holiday season.*

My husband and I flew to Chicago last week for a wedding, which was held in the Newberry Library. It was my first library wedding and it was beautiful! The library is old but renovated, and it is gorgeous. They posted a few pictures of the wedding on their Instagram, which I’m borrowing.

I was thrilled to get to hold my beautiful grandson during the ceremony. But when he started getting restless, I handed him off to my husband who took him for a walk around Washington Square Park, a registered historic landmark that is better known by its nickname, Bughouse Square. It was the most celebrated open air free-speech center in the country, and that was where the ceremony was held.

We made sure to have Chicago deep dish “pizza” at Lou Malnati’s, and my husband enjoyed the Italian Beef sub at Portillo’s. Luckily, both places had nice patios outside where we ate. We also hit the Museum of Contemporary Art, and my son brought the baby along. He seemed to enjoy his first museum visit!

Also have to give a shout-out to United Airlines. We had two completely uneventful flights, there and back. Everyone wore their masks. The planes were clean and they handed out wipes as we boarded. I never was much of a fan of flying and it is especially difficult during a pandemic. But we are all fully vaccinated and careful, and I’d lose my mind if I didn’t get to hold that baby now and then! Plus there’s this: United Airlines to Fire Workers Who Refused to Get a Vaccination. On the other hand, my son & his family had their Delta flight delayed and then cancelled, followed by a flight the next morning from NYC to Washington DC, an 8 hour layover, then off to Chicago. With a baby. Delta has done them dirty twice in the past couple of months. Last time was a trip to California (also with the baby) where they got to spend hours and hours sitting on the runway only to be let off late at night and told to come back the next morning. They are so lucky to have such a resilient baby who just goes with the flow.

Covid still in the news. Guess I changed the name of this journal too soon (it started out as the Coronavirus Diary.) I am feeling somewhat safe these days, even though I live in Florida with an anti-science moron running the state (and that’s the nicest thing I can say about him.) I’m fully vaccinated, as are most of my family and friends. I am working remotely two days a week (when possible) but that means three days of exposure to colleagues and college students who may or may not be vaccinated. I hide in my office 90% of the time. I wear a mask 90% of the time and 100% of the time when I’m not in my office. I don’t eat at work, I wait until I get home. I am saddened and confused by the vast numbers of unvaccinated people dying and taking up every hospital bed around here. I am even more confused about the shortage of ivermectin (horse dewormer) for the horses that need it because ignorant Covid patients are taking it. I don’t understand parents who insist on sending their children to school without masks. And worst of all, the unvaccinated health care workers giving their patients Covid. Check out this opinion piece by Christina Baker Kline (author of The Exiles, The Orphan Train, and many other books.)

Opinion: My father should be in surgery rehab. But with beds full of the unvaccinated, he died in covid quarantine*

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!

*Thanks to the New York Times and Washington Post for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to these articles, a lovely perk for subscribers.


Three Months Free of Audible and Amazon Music

September 22, 2021

I am super excited to share a limited-time offer of THREE MONTHS FREE of Audible and Amazon Music—a fantastic deal to kick off the fall entertainment season!

Starting today, free-trial eligible customers can get three months free of Audible Premium Plus (normally $14.95/month), and three months free of Amazon Music Unlimited (normally starts at $7.99/month).

Amazon Music offers unlimited access to 75 million songs | Now in HD + Ultra HD at no extra cost | Podcasts and Livestreams

Audible: Feed a passion for entertainment or new skills with podcasts, audiobooks & Originals, or relax with a mediation or sleep story.

Sign up for both subscriptions: https://www.amazon.com/music/amazon-music-audible-deals.

You can cancel any time; after the three-month free trial periods, you will be billed at full price for each subscription.


Cerebration: September 1, 2021

September 1, 2021

Covid. I thought we were finally beating this thing but nope, that Delta variant is kicking butt. Especially in Florida where our evil Governor DeSatan is working hard to make sure children are hospitalized and uneducated, and that our seniors all die. I am not being hyperbolic here. His largest donor makes tons of money off Regeneron, the monoclonal therapy being used to treat the disease. Then he donates big hunks of it to the governor’s PACs.

DeSantis top donor invests in COVID drug governor promotes

The governor arranged for treatments to be administered in that stronghold of wellness, the Jacksonville Public Library, AKA the Jacksonville Regeneron Clinic.

Viral photo of people on floor at Jacksonville Regeneron clinic ‘doesn’t convey how much pain they were in’

The governor issued an executive order that local school systems are not allowed to mandate masks or vaccines. So when a child gets Covid, his classmates and teacher need to quarantine. The executive order also forbids distance learning, so children don’t even have the Zoom option available. Luckily, some school districts have defied the governor and have mandated masks in school anyway, but the numbers are still bleak. As of 8/26/2021, Palm Beach County School District Reports 2,249 COVID Cases. “Roughly 4000 students are believed to be under a “stay home” order, meaning they are either infected with COVID-19, or may have been exposed.” That’s just one county after 13 days of school, and that’s with a mask mandate.

Then this happened: A Florida dad tried to enter a school maskless. When a student confronted him, he assaulted her, police said. “Tensions are particularly high in Florida, where more than half the state’s students are enrolled in school districts that have defied Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s ban on mask requirements, despite threats of funding cuts. Coronavirus cases continue to surge in Florida as the highly contagious delta variant rapidly spreads. The positivity rate among reported tests is nearly 20 percent, according to The Washington Post’s coronavirus tracker. In the past week, new daily reported deaths rose over 612 percent.”

The New York Times ran this headline: In Florida, the pandemic is worse now than it has ever been before.

This is all stressing me out. Thank goodness I can escape into books! Plus I have my beautiful grandson’s pictures to make me happy.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!

Thanks to the New York Times and the Washington Post for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to these articles, a lovely perk for subscribers.


Paul Lane

August 27, 2021

I was saddened to learn that my friend, Paul Lane, passed away.

I met Paul when he started working at the library with me. It was his second career; he had retired from a job in international sales and was bored. He was fluent in Spanish as his sales job took him to Latin America, and his wife was from Mexico. He worked full time at the library for many years, and finally retired for the second time a few years ago. But never one to sit around and do nothing, he volunteered with the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s department and wrote book reviews for my website.

Paul was an avid reader. We talked books for hours and hours (while working!) For many years, he refused to read any books in a series, but eventually he caved. Some of his favorite authors were Daniel Silva, David Rosenfelt, Steve Berry, Vince Flynn, Jeff Lindsay, Ben Coes, and so many more. He loved mysteries and thrillers and historical fiction, and when those were combined into one book, he was so happy!

Paul loved his wife and his family. While his life was cut short, his memory will live on.

Rest in peace, my friend. And thanks for all the reviews.