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Month in review

The ABCs of Fruits and Vegetables and Beyond by Steven Charney and David Goldbeck
At Her Majesty's Request by Walter Dean Myers
Bleach Volume 14 by Tite Kubo
Blind Side by Penny Warner
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
Castrato by Michael Collins
Character Flu by Robert Reed
Chronicle of the City of Havana by Eduardo Galeano
Color for Thought by the 5th grade class of Coast Episcopal School
Crescent Moon Volume 1 by Haruko Iida
The Cuba Journal by Sophia Peabody Hawthorne
Cuba Revisited by Martha Gellhorn
Cuban Childhood by Fidel Castro and Frei Betto
Diary of the Boy King Tutankhamen by June Reig
The Dive from Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer
Dora's Backpack by Sarah Willson
Dreaming in Cuban (excerpt) by Cristina Garcia
Dreamland by Clarence Budington Kelland
Fables from the Mud by Erik Quisling
Fergus by Mary Patterson Thornburg
The Ghost of Lizard Light by Elvira Woodruff
The Girl Genius Omnibus by Kaja and Phil Foglio
Go Green by Nancy H. Taylor
Image of Josephine by Booth Tarkington
Jewel in the Skull by Michael Moorcock
The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
Litany by Rand B Lee
Local Rites by Paul Daffey
Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann
Monkey See... by P. E. Cunningham
Nature's Children: Ostriches by Merebeth Switzer
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda
No More Monsters for Me by Peggy Parish
OPEN Brand by Kelly Mooney and Nita Rollins
Operation Ghost by Jacques Duquennoy
Ophie Out of Oz by Kathleen O'Dell
Our Man in Havana (Excerpt) by Graham Greene
Peacocks by Ruth Berman
Picture Purrfect Kittens by Erika Tatihara and Masaru Mizobuti
The Pigeon Loves Things That Go by Mo Willems
The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl
The Salting and Canning of Benevolence D. by Al Michaud
The Sea Shack by Mark McNulty
She Who Hears the Sun by Pamela Jekel
Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter
Shoes by Debbie Bailey and Susan Huszar
Show Me Your Smile by Christine Ricci
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
State Birds by Arthur and Alan Singer
Still Hot by Sue Mittenthal and Linda Reing
A Superior Death by Nevada Barr
Tundra Swans by Bianca Lavies
The War with Spain (excerpt) by Henry Cabot Lodge
Where's the Big Red Doggie? by Norman Bridwell
What to Wear by Consuelo Hermer and Marjorie May
Wheels, Wheels and More Wheels by Ed and Ruth Radlauer
Wild Turkeys by Julian May

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5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

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Blind Side: 06/02/08

Blind Side

Blind Side by Penny Warner is a perfect example why I love BookCrossing. I snatched up the book based on the ties to the frog jumping contest and the fact that Penny Warner is a local author. What I hadn't expected, was that I'd end up finding a new favorite mystery author in the process. But that's exactly what happened!

Blind Side takes place in Flat Skunk, a fictional California town in Calaveras county with a name typical of the old mining sites. This little town, though, survived boom and bust of the gold rush era and is clunking along like so many of the small mountain towns. In the days before the annual frog jumping contest inspired by Mark Twain's Story, frogs and then a frog trainer are found dead.

Connor Westphal's friend and coworker Miah is accused of the murder. Refusing to believe that he'd be capable of killing a rival and to seek out a story for the Eureka! paper, Westphal sets out to find the true killer.

Blind Side could easily have been like any of a number of cozy mysteries. It has all the usual trappings: a small town, a civilian sleuth, quirky characters and a relatively short page count. The book though, goes beyond the cozy subgenre at the strength of its lead character. Connor Westphal is deaf and her deafness tosses out many of the typical mystery conventions (like the overheard conversation). Instead, the cliches are replaced interesting details about deafness: nuances of ASL, TTY etiquette, misunderstanding spoken slang, and the pitfalls of lip reading.

As this book is the fifth in the series, Warner mixes things up a bit by introducing a blind character, Del Oro, who forces Connor to rethink her own preconceptions of the world. The two women, though, hit it off and end up making a good sleuthing team.

I've actually purposely skipped over the secondary mystery. I want to save some of the mystery for anyone who hasn't read the book yet. If you're looking for a new mystery series to try, I highly recommend Blind Side. I will be looking for earlier books in the series to read.

The Connor Westphal series so far is as follows:


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