Tag: domestic violence

The Cereal Murders Book Review

Favorite Mystery Series

The Cereal Murders is one of Diane Mott Davidson’s best from her Goldy catering series. Davidson began the series in 1990 with Catering to Nobody and released the finale, The Whole Enchilada in 2013. This superb series is worth revisiting which is exactly what we are doing this summer.

The Cereal Murders-Third Installment

The first two books in the series introduce the main characters. So, the third installment begins to flesh out the relationships. This is accomplished along with some key thoughts on the competitive college admission process.

The writing is not preachy and the main character, Goldy, is philosophical as she slowly accepts not all men are Jerk(s). There is great character development in The Cereal Murders as well as a good whodunit.

Misdirection and Unusual Motive

Successful mystery writers are good at providing multiple suspects and lots of misdirection. Diane Mott Davidson goes one better as she throws in an unusual motive- high school class ranking. The Cereal Murders examines the stress and competition of seniors and their parents traversing the college admissions roller coaster. (Remember this was published in the early 1990s long before the 2019 college admission bribery scandal.)

Protagonist Goldy

Goldy is no stranger to murder but finding valedictorian- to- be Keith Andrews face down in the snow shakes her from the beginning of the story. Then son Arch is targeted, and her stress levels climb. Meanwhile Investigator Schulz continues to woo her.

As a survivor of spousal abuse, Goldy is hesitant to commit. But she can’t deny the attraction, both physical and mental. Tom Schulz is the opposite of the Jerk.

The Cereal Murders Recipes

One of the highlights of Diane Mott Davidson’s writing are the wonderful recipes. An acquaintance of mine (and a friend of Davidson’s) suggested this series in the early 90s knowing I was working on specialty high calorie recipes. The early recipes in the Goldy series mirror this before becoming more healthy but just as tasty. An additional change mid-series was moving all the recipes to the back of the book instead of integrating them into the story.

The Irish Soda Bread recipe from The Cereal Murders is one of our favorites. My husband made it just last week. And all the dessert recipes are tempting. Best of all, from my experience these recipes all work. The Cereal Murders recipes are keepers. If you are interested in the recipes more than the wonderful stories themselves, look for Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook from Harper Collins.

Praise for Series

I own most of the books in this series. The debut, Catering To Nobody, can be hard to find. My copy is paperback. The finale, The Whole Enchilada may be the best. Although the Cereal Murders ranks up there.

If you are a mystery fan and have not read any of this series, I encourage you to search for these books. Quite a few of the later novels can be considered stand alone and do not necessarily need to be read in order. Copies can be found in bookstores, on Amazon and on the Libby App.

I have much respect for this writer. Davidson could have continued churning out books either alone or with a secondary author, but she chose to end the series while on top. Goldy and her family are characters to treasure. And the many topics highlighted in the books reverberate across society. Indeed, many societies.



Educated: a memoir Book Review

Book Cover of Educated: a memoirEducated is the autobiography of Tara Westover. She is the youngest child of seven. Tara grew up in Idaho and her upbringing is a major part of Educated. One could say Tara was home-schooled, but she would probably not agree. By the time Tara was born, the Westover family no longer even registered births. Schooling was haphazard at best.

Most of the names used in the book are pseudonyms. But the people are real. This true story of a dysfunctional family is riveting. Tara manages to survive both physically and mentally. Indeed, one could say she now thrives, even if only looking at her educational accomplishments. But she writes with a sense of peace in the latter chapters giving hope to a thriving psyche as well.

While the Westover family is Mormon, this is not a book per say about the religion. This particular family held themselves apart. Indeed the father felt most Mormons were sinners because they did not adhere to his beliefs of the teachings. Thus, the family remained isolated even from church members, community, and other family members.

In some ways, other religions come to mind. The Westover’s did not seek any medical treatment regardless the seriousness of injury or illness. Many injuries occur throughout the book. Indeed, Tara did not receive any immunizations until at college. An integral part of Educated ties into the fact that only herbal treatments were allowed.

Domestic Violence

Unfortunately for Tara, the women in the family were physically abused. Anytime she pushed the envelope pain would be inflicted. Most often by one of her brothers. This type of control was hard to fight. Her Mother does gain some strengths over the course of time, but never to the extent that she provides a haven for Tara.

Fortunately an older brother Tyler, breaks away and pursues a degree at Brigham Young University. He has formed a new life and later she realizes she can too. Much of Educated revolves around the desire to escape. But there is always a part of Tara that fears losing family.

Educated equals Escape

This conflict makes up a great portion of the memoir. Tara wants to be educated. She wants to learn, but she also wants to be loved. In the end, the thirst for knowledge wins out. The family is divided for the most part between those who are educated and those who are not. For Tara, this division of family is painful and she feels guilt. Getting beyond the blame game finally frees Tara Westover.

Tara Westover does an amazing job of sharing her upbringing. She is matter of fact. The hardscrabble life remains vivid as if I experienced growing up on Buck’s Peak myself. Westover is inspiring. Educated is inspiring. This is one of the best autobiographies I have ever read. Find a copy, read it, and share with anyone who needs some inspiration.