Tag Archive for: recommendations

Summer Reading

by Sparkle Abbey

Though we know it’s not quite summer, here in the midwest it’s been feeling a lot like summer lately.

And after a particularly cold and awful winter, we are more than ready to break out the lawn chairs, lemonade, and, sandals.

As the longer days of summer approach, we’ve also been looking forward to some time to sit in the shade and read.

We’re seeing summer reading recommendations pop up in our social media feeds and emails. Harper’s Bazaar has a list of the 17 Best Summer Reads 2019 and Publisher’s Weekly offers the Best Books of Summer 2019 list. And the lists go on from Barnes and Noble’s Summer Reading List to the independent bookstore’s Indie Next Summer 2019 Reading Group Recommendations.

And while many of those books sound like great reads, we know with everything else going on that we’re not going to get to as many books as we’d like this summer, so we’re going to have to prioritize. Maybe you can help us with that. We’d love to hear your recommendations.

What’s on the top of your reading list for this summer?

Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Woods aka Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the neighbors.) They love to hear from readers and can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, their favorite social media sites. 

Their most recent book is The Dogfather, the tenth book in the Pampered Pets series.

Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the SparkleAbbey.com website.

Literary Genome Project?

by Bethany Maines         

As I was furiously hitting the “thumbs down” on Pandora this
morning, I wondered just how their stupid blankity, blank, blank, algorithms
could get my musical tastes so wrong. Pandora, for those unaware, is a free
music service that plays “stations” based on songs you select or “like.” I
doubt that I have ever “liked” an Audio Slave song, and even if I have, at no
point in my entire life, will I ever feel like Audio Slave at eight in the
An internet search reveals that Pandora algorithms ignore
such things as genre, artist, or what other members also like those songs.
Instead, they run of Music Genome technology that analyzes each song and
suggests songs that have similar characteristics. Which, in theory, is awesome.  At eight in the morning, it sucks major
hind tit.
But isn’t that the problem with algorithms? There is always
one more factor you wish the algorithm had been programmed to consider.
I used to read the newspaper movie reviews and I became
attuned to interpreting the reviewers taste to mine. A one star comedy was
really a two star comedy. A two star action movie was really four star
awesomeness. And a three star drama was a three star drama. The man really did
not fully embrace the action movie ethos. 
Finding a book to read is another exercise in mental
jujitsu. We all do it – weighing what we know about the author, the person
recommending the book, the book blurb, and any reviews, all before buying or
borrowing. All I really want is a book with minimal plot holes that makes me
laugh, fall in love, and thrill to moments of action. We need a Literature
Genome project! Something who can tell us all about the tone, the writing
quality and the basic je ne sais quoi of a book. Although, now that I think
about it – that may just be currently known as “a Librarian.”

The Stiletto Gang is now on Facebook!  Please come join us!
Bethany Maines is the author of
the Carrie Mae Mystery series and 
Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube
video or catch up with her on