Monday, March 2, 2020

If I Were Starting a Book Club in 2020

If I were starting a book club in 2020, I would start by collecting some of my very favorite people and we would all be so busy it would be nearly impossible to get together. I would almost give up. Then, I would take a deep breath and JUST DO IT. Of course, if you give a girl a book club, she's going to have to pick a book... and THAT could prove darned near impossible too. The girl might even give up and start a movie club instead. 

But wait, it's me. And I'm a gotta-read-it-before-I see-it kind of girl. So...if I were starting a book club in 2020, I might start with one of these titles. 

NOTE: This is a round-up of reviews from Goodreads except where otherwise cited.

In this Corner: FICTION

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng © 2017

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardsons' friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia's.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

The Gimmicks by Chris McCormick © 2020

“The Gimmicks is a gorgeous epic that astounds with its scope and beauty. With empathy and humor, McCormick unravels the ties between brotherhood and betrayal, love and abandonment, and the fictions we create to live with the pain of the past. This novel will blow you away.”

In Chris McCormick's The Gimmicks, his follow-up to the acclaimed 2017 linked-story collection Desert Boys, the glitz of pro wrestling proves a welcome counterbalance to the otherwise somber story of Avo and Ruben, two Armenian cousins whose involvement with a militant Armenian liberation organization has unsurprisingly tragic results (McCormick is of Armenian descent on his mother's side). Sweet, gigantic Avo provides much of the book's charm, while his conniving cousin keeps the plot moving. The result is engrossing, but McCormick doesn't quite get the ratio right. Fewer gimmicks, ultimately, would have served The Gimmicks well. 

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle © 2018

We’ve been waiting for an hour. That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends within her utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.

When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a romance for our times. Bon appetit.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim  © 2019

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident. 

A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan © 2012

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they "check out" large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele's behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore's secrets extend far beyond its walls.

Select Reviews that Made Me Laugh
-positive and mood-uplifting!
-It all just seemed so...amateur.
-I found this book cover glowing in the dark last night.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms  ©2019

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.
Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.
Smart, savvy writing turns a predictable plot into a humorous and heartwarming read about a single mother’s journey to self-awareness.

Real person's review
This was a fun, quick read. It was sort of generic and predictable, but I still enjoyed it. To be a bookish book, it didn’t have many book references. I wish it would’ve had more.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore © 2020

A remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of order.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order...

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

Real person's review:
Every New Year's Oona is transported to another phase of her life - for instance she jumps in time from an 18 year old to her 50 year old self overnight. She may end of up in the future around people she doesn't know at that point - even a husband - Complicated - I know right? That is the concept of Oona - she's living her life out of order. There were parts of this story I actually found heartbreaking - don't let the cover fool you into thinking this is just a funny contemporary story. Imagine your in the future and know that a loved one is no longer there and then you go back in time and they are - would you try to change things? There are some very thought provoking elements of the story that I am left thinking about and I actually will miss reading about Oona.

…and in This Corner: NON-FICTION

D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose ©2019

The dramatic, untold true story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain's elite spy agency to sabotage the Nazis and pave the way for Allied victory in World War II.

In D-Day Girls, Sarah Rose draws on recently declassified files, diaries, and oral histories to tell the story of three of these women. There's Odette Sansom, a young mother who feels suffocated by domestic life and sees the war as her ticket out; Lise de Baissac, an unflappable aristocrat with the mind of a natural leader; and AndrĂ©e Borrel, the streetwise organizer of the Paris Resistance. Together, they derailed trains, blew up weapons caches, destroyed power and phone lines, and gathered crucial intelligence—laying the groundwork for the D-Day invasion that proved to be the turning point in the war. Stylishly written and rigorously researched, this is an inspiring story for our own moment of resistance, in which women continue to play a vital role.

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know by Malcolm Gladwell © 2019

How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn't true?

While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you'll hear the voices of people he interviewed--scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies.

Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know. And because we don't know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson © 2017

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day. 

And in the Movie Corner? 

It would have to be Emma. I heard it's based on a book. 

Whatever you pick, here's to happy reading in 2020! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Unsheltered and Undone: Barbara Kingsolver novels complete, what to read?

Kudos to me: I really know how to drag something out.

I've been worried about running out of Barbara Kingsolver novels since at least 2007. And now, having finished Unsheltered, here I am.

Packing and Unpacking the Human Condition

I'll spare you my in-depth review of Unsheltered, because for one thing, this isn't really a review site.* Also, The Guardian ran two reviews: one very favorable, the other not-so-much. Both sides of the story, so to speak. For what it's worth, I think the AP's review was better than both of those.

But since this is my blog, I'll admit, I didn't fall head over heels for the book. At first.

As poet/author Kate Clanchy noted in her (not-so-favorable) review in The Guardian, the plot was difficult to follow at times. Actually, "plot" seems too strong; there was very little action. But there were two deaths, a birth, a little bit of sex, and a whole lot of backstory. So let's call this a story.

And in the story, I found characters to love. OK, one character: Mary Treat. AND SHE'S REAL! (I love it when that happens. She studied all sorts of plants and insects, and several species of ants are named after her. Um. Did I mention this isn't really a book review site?) Treat's correspondence with Charles Darwin from the "utopian" society of Vineland, NJ could have stood alone. But it actually worked quite nicely as scaffolding for the story, so I read on. Plus, there is Kingsolver's habit of turning out great - GREAT - sentences.

As The Guardian's Benjamin Evans points out in his (favorable) review, "Kingsolver powerfully evokes the eeriness of living through times of social turmoil."


Somehow in 400-odd pages she manages to weave bits of our modern world (Trump, Education, Corruption, Climate Change) into the broader canvas of life (greed, snobbery, love, kindness, evolution, death) and turn it into a story.

Not bad. Except sometimes it feels like a kick in the head. But, being a good writer that doesn't want to alienate her readers, she includes enough hilarious Greek curses to make us laugh. With apologies to anyone who understands, "Putana thalasa pouse gamoun ta psaria." (Something about the whore ocean where all the fish...never mind, it probably loses a lot in translation.)

She also includes some tantalizing prose to keep us reading. To wit, this nugget that encapsulates that oh-so-funny feeling when realize your tiresome, tyrannical father in law was once just as unbelievably hot as your husband -
"She'd kindly offered no judgment on Willa for failing to see the resemblance, the evergreen human crime of denying the past and seeing oneself as an original." 
 So, even though I'm out of Kingsolver fiction, I'll keep reading. I haven't read picked up Animal Vegetable Mineral yet, and I know its time is coming. But what about novels? Who can recommend some great new fiction?

Please tell me what you're reading and what I should check out at the library!

*What do you mean this isn't a book review site?

Funny you should ask. I started this blog about a hundred years ago because I wanted 1- some blogging practice and 2- a way to keep track of what I read, liked, didn't, wanted to read, would recommend to friends, and why. Also, I was hopeful that my reading friends would chime in and add their own seat-of-the-pants reviews. Or blathering diatribes on what they were reading. And here we are. If you'd like to submit a review, or un-review, please, do!

Get in touch via my Facebook Page or website. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983

In the introduction to her first nonfiction book, Barbara Kingsolver writes "One of the most remarkable facts of the Phelps Dodge strike is that it was carried out mainly by women." That's  understatement in action. That fact is one of far too many in this story that are remarkable - and not in a good way.

Mining = Hard Work, Dirty Business

My roots run through coal country. I thought I knew mining. I was so naive.

Published in 1989, the introduction of Holding the Line offers a better overview of organized labor in modern US history than I learned in school. When the story really begins, it pokes some big holes in what we think we know about our society and fellow travelers.

Spoiler alert: strikers were beaten, arrested, harassed, and shot at. So were their families, including young kids. They stayed on strike, lived on nothing, and the company's profits went down - a little bit. The strike eventually ended (the unions were decertified) and world copper prices started to rise again.

There are a lot of ways to tell a story. In my opinion, Kingsolver did a pretty good job with this one, and regardless of your view of organized labor, I highly recommend the book.

Remember - this is nonfiction. It's a hard-to-believe, but true, story.

Company Towns Still Exist 

In 1983 Phelps Dodge ran the most productive copper mine in North America, in Morenci, Arizona. The mining operation, like the ones in Clifton and Ajo, were physically dangerous, discrimination was overt, and the house always won, in part because the houses were owned by Phelps Dodge.

The (only) local clinics were owned by Phelps Dodge. The police were paid by Phelps Dodge. It was a company town. That meant you got the medical care, protection, justice, food, water, education, and everything else that Phelps Dodge wanted you to have.

And what was it like to work there? I think the examples in my history books of dangerous working conditions and company towns were taken right out of The Jungle, written in 1906, but they could have been taken out of Arizona newspapers in the 1980s.

Unions and the Modern Reality of Discrimination 

If you're a middle-or-better-class white person who grew up in a middle-or-better-class (white) neighborhood in the past 50 or 60 years, you probably have a warm fuzzy feeling when you think about the American Dream.

Lucky you. Lucky me. Let's get a grip.

Living the American Dream was, and is, a dirty, damn hard job for people with dark skin who speak a dialect that doesn't necessarily sound like "American English."

Old habits die hard, they say. What they don't say is that some old habits don't die, they have to be killed - and it gets messy, folks. Organized labor has help some unhelpful old habits die. Before you let that upset your apple cart, please consider both sides of the story.

Well into the 1960s, Kingsolver writes, Anglo and Mexican American men still changed in separate facilities. The company housing for Mexican workers was inferior. The Mexican workers were citizens and employees as much as the Anglos. In Morenci, the Steelworkers Union took on the housing issue in 1967. They were joined by other unions, and some of them brought only whites to the committee meetings. Why? Kingsolver quotes a union rep who was there: "The UTU guys were all Anglos - P.D. didn't let Mexicans on the trains at that time."

To be clear, Phelps-Dodge Corporation was not the only company that actively practiced discrimination in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. I'm making another point, however. Why have I never been taught about the role unions have played in our legislative history? I wrote about employment law for a dozen years and never did I stumble across an article about how much our current "equal" opportunity society owes to unions?

This book, ostensibly about women's roles in the strike and how different individuals came to be union supporters, teaches much more than that.

Journalistic Perspective Remains Relevant Today

In the summer of 1983, Kingsolver was supplementing her day job as a scientific writer by angling for freelance assignments. 

A string of queries landed her a contract to cover the Phelps Dodge mine strike for several news publications. The book grew out of that experience, and Kingsolver notes that she grew from the experience, too, both personally and professionally. The journalism profession can't compare to mining, but I'd argue that like mining, it is harder than most people think, and more important to our daily lives and the strength of this country than most of us want to realize. 

I want to emphasize that only a small portion of the introduction is about the writer. The story rightly belongs to the miners and it is focused on them. But the author's aside about journalism struck me as very relevant in 2019. 

While seven or seven hundred witnesses to an event can come away with seven or seven hundred stories, the "myth" of journalism is that all good reporters will come away with essentially the same story. Psychology says otherwise. 

"Journalists, like other mortals, must sift through the thousands of data points in their field of vision and decide which few among them really matter. That these decisions reflect our personalities is not deliberate malpractice, but a symptom of humanity."

One Little Chapter in Modern US History

I dog-eared a lot of pages of reading this one. Holding the Line is still available online, in many libraries, and it is well cited on JSTOR's primary sources site. I highly recommend it for anyone who reads, works, or lives in the 21st century. 

What has become of Phelps Dodge and the mining industry? That's another story, and it is still being written today. The Tucson, AZ visitors bureau encourages vacationers to tour a copper mine near there. I wonder what Anna Ochoa O'Leary would say about that.

Now an associate professor at Arizona University, during the strike, O'Leary was a student and one of the women who served as president of the Morenci Miner's Women's Auxiliary. O'Leary has also written a book that recalls the strike. I suspect she's still watching, very closely, as the stories there continue to unfold. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Different Playbooks: Then and Now

In Chariot on the Mountain, Jeopardy winner and journalist Jack Ford paints a picture of Kitty Payne, who was a slave and also the daughter of the plantation owner. When the master died, Payne ran away. After being captured, beaten, and returned, instead of further punishing her, the master's owner's widow helped her run away a second time. She also assisted Payne in mounting a precedent-setting legal case in which she was ultimately freed.

Ford does a good job spinning this (fictional) account of actual circumstances leading to the 1946 trial. While some scenes depict very difficult circumstances, the book surely glosses over the pain and depth of hardship both women faced in a country so different from today's United States.

Unfortunately, things haven't changed as much as many (white) people (like me) would like to think.

Jodi Piccoult's Small Great Things tells a different story set in a different time, but it's packed with most of the same problems. I'm not qualified to unpack them, but I can recommend both books.

It's a pretty-well-accepted fact that public school curriculums don't cover a lot of history - and in many cases, one being slavery in the United States and other countries, it's not covered accurately or adequately.

I'm also not qualified to analyze educational curriculums. I think I'm qualified to recommend books, though, in particular, these two. Historical fiction isn't the best way to learn history, but it's not the worst way to start, and starting is a whole lot better than not starting.

About the authors

If you've read many of my reviews, you've probably noticed I prefer books by journalists, doctors and lawyers...not necessarily in that order. Jeopardy winners is a new category for me. Ford's writing, in my opinion, is not entirely up to the story itself. That said, I would read another book by the author if the story appealed to me. Piccoult, the more popular/successful author, is formulaic, but in a good way. That said, having read three of her books, I'm moving on to other authors.

Because both of these books are about race, it's worth noting authors of both books are white, while the main characters are black. In other words, if you read these books, know that they may be a place to start, but understand where you're starting from. And go far from that point, thinking all the way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

AHA! A Short Guide to a Happy Dog

I've owned dogs for more than 2 decades and even written about them. Turns out I have a lot to learn - and this book helped.

A Short Review of Cesar's Short Guide

Cesar Millan's Short Guide to a Happy Dog begins with a little much-needed psychology. Dogs aren't humans, and that is a short lesson that can take a surprisingly long time to sink in. I've read about pack behavior, sure I thought I understood that, la-la-la... now I'm happy to say Millan's clear and simple writing style taught me more than I ever forgot about how to be the leader of my pack.

Also included are a few not-so-subtle lessons about how to be a better leader and human in general.

This is an easy read that is worth the time for most dog owners who don't have a lot of experience with animal training or pack behavior.

A Deeper Dive - Not Just About Canines, and Not a Training Guide

Good news for readers: Millan understands that this book is for humans, and writes from our perspective. He gently reminds us - repeatedly, because it bears repeating - that humans have quirks. Like our love of language. (Guilty!!) Turns out language really skews our view of the world, and time, and power, and a few other important things.
short guide to happy dog

Dogs, see, are always, constantly focused on what is in front of their noses. They live in the present to an extent that Buddha should emulate.
"I'm not sure whether there is any evolutionary advantage to the human tendency to live in the past, present and future simultaneously, but I'm pretty sure we do it because of our highly developed language skills."
In spite of the fact I said there are some "not so subtle" lessons included about being a better (happier?) human, this book isn't preachy in the least - it simply states important facts as they relate to dog behavior. Because, as it turns out, your behavior has a lot to do with how your dog behaves. See Millan's website for an excerpt from the book.

Now notice I refer to this as a good introduction to dog behavior, but haven't used the word training. That's because I recently started a basic training class for my 6 year old dog (who may or may not learn some new tricks). When I told the instructor I was reading this book, it was clear that she wasn't a fan.

She asked me if I ever noticed how often Millan gets bitten by dogs on his shows Dog Whisperer and Leader of the Pack. (I hadn't; but then again, I never watched his shows.)  Her point was well-made, however. Getting bit repeatedly by more than a few dogs either suggests you are very unlucky, hanging around the wrong dogs, or not exactly a great dog expert.

To be fair, in this book Millan clearly states that he does not have formal training in animal behavior or psychology. He certainly has more experience than I do, though - and I think I learned some good and useful lessons. I have learned at least as much, or more, from just a couple of basic training classes with said instructor - who does have a degree in animal training (and is working on a PhD in psychology).

So, live and learn...and try not to get bit.

Bottom Line 

Recommended. If you want to be leader of your pack, don't let it sit on the shelf for a couple of years like I did. If you want your dog to jump (or sit, or stand, or heel) on your command, look into professional training classes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The President is Missing, But Not For Long

Well, I finished The President is Missing, just shy of deadline.

Our local library offers the most popular new titles as "Lucky Day" books, available for a non-renewable 7 day loan.

Have you read it?

James Patterson Book #1

This was the first of James Patterson's books that I've read. Go figure. 

According to the most reliable source I have (the book jacket) Patterson holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 NYT best sellers. 

Clearly, I was feeling optimistic on that trip to the library:  in addition to The President is Missing I snagged 5 other books, including Zoo and The Store, also by Patterson. 

Having digested the very engaging but somewhat formulaic Missing, I'm willing to crack open those other two novels, but I have to admit I'm a bit disappointed. Based on Patterson's reputation and obvious success, I'd hoped to find him a suitable replacement for Michael Creighton. Alas, he is not.

James Patterson Book # 2

Stay tuned... and as always, I welcome guest posts on this blog. If you'd like to review your favorite James Patterson book, or argue that he really is equal to or better than Michael Creighton, reach out here in the comments or connect with me through my Dumb Facebook Page devoted to dogs and books and other things I can't live without. 

Here's to Happy Endings! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Two American Tales: Shoe Dog and Americanah

Shoe Dog, A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (Phil Knight) and Americanah, a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have little in common on the surface of things.

We can assume Shoe Dog is (mostly) non-fiction; Americanah, a work of fiction.

But we know the line is always blurred.


Adichie grew up in Nigeria, and divides her time between the U.S. and her home country; without that background, how could she create main character Ifemelu? Americanah follows Ifemelu though several serious relationships, with other characters, certainly - but Adichie just as carefully develops her relationships with cultures, institutions, and traditions. 

Shoe Dog

Knight's experience in America is wildly different from Adichie's (or Ifemelu's) but to the title's credit, while Shoe Dog documents the-building-of-an-iconic-American-business, it also takes a rather thoughtful look at Asian business practices, world economics, and complicated personal and professional relationships.

Ah, I love reading.

What books have been keeping you awake lately? Please share with your fellow page-turners