February 27, 2015
February 20, 2015
Description: The New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter imagines the inspiration for Goodnight Moon.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Songs) is an adored childhood classic but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June, Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the "great green room" might have come to be.
June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature.
My Thoughts on Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
Where to begin? First, I loved The Violets of March, my first Sarah Jio book and I looked forward to Goodnight June based on that fact alone. Second, having the book take place primarily in an independently owned bookstore made my heart sing and the rest of me green with envy. (If you don't already know my fantasy career would be a writer owning a little bookshop. Sigh.) But I digress . . .
I liked the character of June and I appreciated how she was presented to the readers and how the bookstore was introduced into the narrative. As a hardworking New Yorker, she had no intent or interest in staying more than a few days in Seattle and quickly handling her great-aunt's estate . . . until the Wise Brown mystery surfaced.
Rather than telling the story in flashbacks, Ms. Jio spins it through the letters between Ruby and Margaret Wise-Brown and these letters make for fascinating reading. I could so easily envision both characters in my mind, as well as other supporting characters mentioned, and the wonderful little Bluebird Books. Can I please have a Bluebird Books with cozy little loft apartment upstairs? Please?
We do get June's backstory told with flashbacks but they are fairly short and to the point. Her mother and sister are supporting characters but the majority of the book deals with the letters and with June's present day situation of how to handle the estate, what to do with the bookstore and if she should share the story of Goodnight Moon.
The plot is fairly standard - - can June save Bluebird Books? What about that handsome chef/restaurant owner next door? Will June deal with her own inner demons and realize that returning home might be the best tonic? Even with a standard plot, Goodnight June excels and surpasses my expectations (which were high, given my love for The Violets of March) and Sarah Jio soundly delivers.
With a few cameos by famous Seattle residents, Goodnight June is sure to satisfy.
Goodnight June is a must-read for any book lover. If you're partial to Margaret Wise Brown and her library of children's books, including Goodnight Moon, it's a perfect fit. Goodnight June will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside and wishing for a Bluebird Books of your own.
Highly, highly recommended.
Goodnight June is available at major booksellers and retailers.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. The provision of this book did not affect the outcome of my review. I was neither paid nor compensated (ha ha) for this review.
February 19, 2015
Audiobook Review: TED AND ANN: THE MYSTERY OF A MISSING CHILD AND HER NEIGHBOR TED BUNDY by Rebecca Morris
Description: At age three he was using knives to frighten his teenage aunt. By 14 he was a thief, animal abuser, and peeping tom who liked to pull little girls into the woods to scare them.
Ted Bundy killed at least 35 girls and women, and possibly hundreds. Was his first victim eight-year-old Ann Marie Burr who disappeared from their Tacoma, Washington neighborhood in 1961? Her body was never found and there were no clues, just two tenacious detectives who spent the rest of their lives trying to solve the case. Was Bundy telling the truth when he told a hypothetical story about killing Ann and dumping her into a muddy pit?
With new information about Ted Bundy's childhood, interviews with those who knew him best, and the memories of the Burr family, Ted and Ann is the story of one the 20th century's most fascinating cold cases. Rebecca Morris is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio and television news in New York City; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington. A native Oregonian, her reporting has appeared in The Seattle Times, The Oregonian, People, Entertainment Weekly, New York Newsday, American Theatre, and many other publications. She lives in Seattle.
My Thoughts on Ted and Ann: The Story of a Missing Child and Her Neighbor Ted Bundy by Rebecca Morris
As a reader of true crime, I am in that rarefied (and often misunderstood) group of individuals who not only read about the worst of humankind but have certain cases that I will always follow and seek out. Ted Bundy is one of those for me.
Mention Ted Bundy and invariably you will be met with something along the lines of "worst serial killer ever", a sentiment which is arguably true, or even "most infamous serial killer." The true number of Bundy's victims will likely never be known, as well as his first true victim but this book attempts to decipher whether or not young Ann Marie Burr was indeed a then teenage Bundy's first victim.
Ted and Ann, despite the title, isn't so much about Bundy and his horrible trail of murder. Any listener expecting to get a rundown on Bundy's biography and his crimes will be disappointed. Instead, this book is about what the disappearance of a child does to a family and a community.
Author Rebecca Morris, with help from Ann Marie's mother, takes the listener to Tacoma, circa 1961, and into the aftermath of the inexplicable tragedy of a missing child. We hear of the fear, the confusion, the denial and the pain of not knowing where your child is or what happened to her.
Other than Ann, Beverly Burr is the strongest character depicted in the book. Not surprising, given that Ms. Morris spoke with her. I had mixed feelings about Beverly. Immense sympathy for her, obviously over the loss of her eldest child as well as the marriage that was less than fulfilling for her even before Ann disappeared, but also frustration over events after Ann's disappearance. The Burrs' daughter Mary, only three or four years old when her older sister vanished, grew up to have a myriad of problems. While I think the recounting of Mary's problems highlighted how every member of a family blighted by a disappearance or murder is affected - - some very severely - - I found the actions of Beverly and Donald Burr puzzling and even infuriating. One particular case in point was leaving daughter Julie's young children in the care of Mary when she was clearly unreliable and unfit, as well as taking those children - - without Julie's consent - - to visit Mary while she was in jail.
This was a difficult conundrum for me to find myself in because I normally relate to the victims and their families in most true crime books. That said, both Beverly Burr and Donald Burr were complex individuals who were less than perfect and reacted in different ways to the loss of their daughter. Ultimately I cannot judge how they dealt with such a horrific blow to their family. It certainly didn't spoil the book for me.
The author also presented a few new facts about the young Theodore Bundy, claiming that he not only was killing animals before his adolescence (something not claimed or verified in any other books to my knowledge) but also that he was taking little girls into the woods to urinate on them. These actions, combined with his prowling, window peeping and nocturnal activities, show that the young Bundy was displaying antisocial behavior from a very early age and even provide us with a glimpse of the sociopathic, efficient predator he would grow into.
|Ann Burr, close to the time of |
The largest detriment of the book, in my opinion, was information that was repeated more than once that didn't need to be. Whether it be an editing mistake or simply filler, it took a bit away from the substance of the book.
Knowing the Bundy story, as well as the general facts on the Burr disappearance, I knew the book would end without a conclusive and definitive answer as to what happened to Ann. For some listeners, this may be a huge drawback . . . and an understandable one. I felt the "behind the scenes" information on both the Burr and Bundy families offset the lack of answers.
Narrator Lee Ann Howlett does a commendable job with a difficult story. Her delivery is pitch perfect and she adds a special nuance to the tale rather than taking away from it. I would not hesitate to listen to other books by this narrator.
In the end, I would recommend Ted and Ann: The Mystery of a Missing Child and Her Neighbor Ted Bundy to those readers/listeners who include true crime in their library and/or are interested in the infamous Ted Bundy. While there is no ready conclusion as to the fate of Ann Burr or Ted Bundy's potential role in her disappearance, I do believe, based on the information provided in these pages, that he was responsible for her disappearance and probable death.
|Teenage Ted Bundy|
Ted and Ann: The Mystery of a Missing Child and Her Neighbor Ted Bundy by Rebecca Morris is available for purchase at major retailers.
FTC Disclosure: This audiobook was provided by the narrator, Lee Ann Howlett, in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of this audiobook affect the outcome of my review. I was neither paid nor compensated for this review.
February 17, 2015