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A Slow Cold Death by Susy Gage

Slow Cold Death

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Lori Barrow, the youngest graduate from Superior Technical Institute (STI) returns to her alma mater in hopes of securing tenure.  Soon after her arrival a suspicious death of a disliked student triggers a series of cover-ups, competition and sabotage.  The refusal between departments to assist each other results in constant bickering and secret missions. 

The  science university setting foreshadowed what was hopefully going to be a geeky and quirky mystery, but some of the story's structural problems interfered with a smooth reading. The scrambled flow can  probably be attributed to author, Susy Gage's genius brain.  As a physics professor, her knowledge of the academic protocols and jargon can be assumed to be massive.  However, an average reader needs to have more simplified descriptions.  

The exact conflict or problem is not clearly stated.  Is Lori trying to figure out who the killer is or publish a proposal? A more thorough account of the chain of command or checklist the protagonist is trying to complete needs to be given.  The money and proposals for the different departments are not tied together, making it impossible to keep score. 

The dialogue is great with lots of gossip and witty remarks, but the jargon gets too thick in sections.  A reader understands that they may not know what some of the scientific references mean, but the inclusion of the phrases supports the setting or the character.  Parts began to read like a thesis paper, making it difficult to hold this non-science majored reader's attention.  

The biggest problem I had throughout this novel was the cast of characters.  So many were introduced but not rounded enough to differentiate them from each other.  They were also referenced throughout the text by any combination of their first, last or nicknames.  Only when I came to the end of the e-book version did I realize there was a corresponding cast of characters including job titles.  I desperately needed this as well as the glossary with the French phrase translations.  This is definitely not the author's problem that I did not find this until I completed my reading, but a suggestion may be to put these in the front or possibly reference their location before the reader begins. 

This version needs another round of revisions to tighten up the storyline and delete unnecessary characters.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Calling Me Home
Women tell their hairdressers some things that they don't even tell their best friends. Hairdressers claim that nothing their clients say shocks them.  Whatever relationships exist between client and hairdresser, they rarely extend beyond scheduled salon appointments. Dorrie  Curtis and Isabelle McAllister, however, develop an unconventional friendship exceeding age and race. 

In a novel spanning 70 years, "Calling Me Home" gives intimate insights into multiple interracial relationships.  On a road trip from Arlington to Cincinnati in order to attend a funeral,  Isabelle and Dorrie reveal more of their pasts to each other.  As time on the road progresses, both women's stories come to light.  While Dorrie is worried about her new beau being "too good to be true," we see firsthand her daily encounters and dismissals based on her skin color.  We learn that Isabelle grew up the daughter of a doctor in a home where the color of your skin determined if you were able to be in town after sundown. Rather than these being divisive issues, they draw the two women together.  Isabelle divulges to Dorrie  her struggles from falling in love with a young man that was not considered an appropriate match for her and the myriad of problems that ensued from following her heart.  In a time and society that was even less colorblind than today, we are shown that while we may have made great strides, we are most definitely not living in a post racial world. 

In a style both wistful and sharp, Julie Kibler's "Calling Me Home" will make you sigh with beauty and cry in response to the darknesses of humanity. 

Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray

Calling Invisible Women
"A mom in her early fifties, Clover knows she no longer turns heads the way she used to, and she's only really missed when dinner isn't on the table on time.  Then Clover wakes up one morning to discover she's invisible-truly invisible."

"Calling Invisible Women" is a hilarious take on the plight of the metaphorically and physically invisible woman. Clover is leading a common suburban life.  Her son,Nick, has graduated college but moved back home. His daily struggle with his unemployment status prevents him from noticing that anything is amiss with his mother.  Clover's daughter, Evie, is a stereotypical, cheerleader at Ohio State. Young, blond and attached to her cellphone as well as her boyfriend, Vlad, Evie is too self-absorbed to notice her mother's invisibility. Clover's hard-working pediatrician husband collapses from exhaustion upon returning home each evening as only a man who has been vomited on daily can.
Dismissed by her husband, son, and daughter as depressed, Clover discovers other invisible women and joins a support group.  After discovering a common formula unites them, they band together to make their voices heard.
This story will strike a chord with any mother who feels like she is just "going through the motions" of another day.  So, your family didn't notice your new haircut? That's nothing! Clover's family doesn't notice that she has disappeared!  Jeanne Ray has taken a depressingly relatable emotion and spun it into comic genius.