Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall, blogging, decisions...

Hello everyone!

I'm back from my travels and so very glad to be home.  I loved our trips, but coming home is the best.

Have had some challenges - allergies (I hate fall and winter allergies - definitely have them) - a computer that bit the dust - a sort of reading slump...you know how it is.

My computer did 'give up the ghost' in between our trips and I've been adjusting to a new normal in that regard.  I've always been a desktop person and now I have a laptop.  I am happy that that I can still use my big monitor and keyboard, but it's still an adjustment.  I lost some things, but not all.  I think I'm really just not a person who responds well to change.  It's that 'control' thing.

My reading has been sporadic.  I hate that too.  I always feel 'out of sync' when I'm not reading much.  However, trying to adjust.  And that brings up the blogging question.  Guys, I am really struggling with social media right now.  For a bunch of reasons.  I want to 'run away, run away' and find my reading 'mojo'.  Blogging seems too much work and I am so uninspired.  Litsy has been fun, but I'm thinking that it might be a little 'too much' for me right now.  A little frantic and 'too many things'.  Don't even get me talking about Facebook.  I do have an account, but I keep it personal and not connected to this blog at all.  It's for family mostly.

So, I am on a 'social media' break of a sort.  Or intend to be.  I am reading your blogs, but don't worry if I don't comment much.  I'm reading those in chunks - like once a week.  I'm going to put this blog to 'bed' until the end of this year and then reconsider.  I may continue in 2017.  I may not.  I know I've said that before, but there it is.  Again.  I promise if it I do close it down for good, I'll do a final post.

Nothing is wrong with me physically - so don't worry about that.  I'm going to leave you with some lovely fall pictures from my travels.  The first 3 are from New Mexico, which does have a bit of fall color.  Mostly not.  Lots of pine trees in the area we visit.  The last 3 are from Kerrville, TX.  Some late flowers, the pears from a prickly pear cactus, and a great saying from the walkway around the Kerrville Library.  I loved it.

Take care and have a great holiday season!!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Weekly-ish Update - 9/29/16 - Back soon...

Hey everyone!

Thought I would tell you that we're going to be out and about for a couple of weeks and so I'm taking a 'fall break'.  My plan is to use the model above for my activities while Hubby is golfing.  We're off to New Mexico and then to the Texas Hill Country.

I'll likely be back on the 25th of October.  Hopefully, I'll have pictures of New Mexico mountain fall.  See you soon!  Don't have too much fun without me!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday - The Trespasser

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I love Tana French's books - all of them.  They are a loosely connected series, set in Ireland.  I'm always very happy to hear about a new one.  Do I have a favorite - well, if I had to pick, I'd probably pick Faithful Place.  I like Frank Mackey and the story revolves around him in that book.  However, again, I like them all.  This week I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  October 4th

Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.

Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.

And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette's road. Aislinn's friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.

Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Saturday Requiem

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of Saturday Requiem by Nicci French.  This is the 6th book in the Frieda Klein mystery series and it's not out in the US as yet.  I couldn't wait and so ordered my copy from 'across the pond'.  Also, you should know that I took a bit of a liberty and am sharing the first part of the first chapter.  There is a prologue, but I'm choosing to skip over that.  See what you think:

     The wind tunnelled down the road towards Frieda Klein and the rain fell steadily.  She walked through the darkness, trying to tire herself out.  This time of night, the small hours when the streets were almost deserted and foxes scavenged in the bins, was when she felt London belonged to her.  She reached the Strand and was about to cross over to get to the Thames when her mobile vibrated in her coat pocket.  Who would ring at this time?  She pulled it out and looked at the screen: Yvette Long.  Detective Constable Yvette Long.
     'It's Karlsson.' Yvette's voice was loud and harsh in her ear.  'He's been hurt.'
     'Karlsson?  What happened to him?'
     'I don't know.'  Yvette sounded as if she was holding back tears.  'I just heard.  It's all a bit confused.  Someone's been arrested, Karlsson's in hospital.  He's being operated on.  It sounds serious.  I don't know any more.  I had to call someone.'
     'Which hospital?'
     'St. Dunstan's.'
     'I'm on my way.'


Thirteen years ago eighteen year old Hannah Docherty was arrested for the brutal murder of her family. It was an open and shut case and Hannah's been incarcerated in a secure hospital ever since.

When psychotherapist Frieda Klein is asked to meet Hannah and give her assessment of her she reluctantly agrees. What she finds horrifies her. Hannah has become a tragic figure, old before her time. And Frieda is haunted by the thought that Hannah might be as much of a victim as her family; that something wasn't right all those years ago.

And as Hannah's case takes hold of her, Frieda soon begins to realize that she's up against someone who'll go to any lengths to protect themselves . . .


I've really enjoyed reading this series, penned by the husband and wife team that write as Nicci French.  They have said that they plan 8 books in the series.  I'm hopeful that is true.  I like the characters a lot.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Banned Books Week 2016 - Celebrating the Freedom To Read

I did a special post last year during 'Banned Books Week' and I'm going to do a rerun of part of it.  Then I'll ask a question at the end of the post and hope you'll share your answer.  First of all, here's what I had to say last year about 'banned books'.


As a former library employee, I certainly have my own opinions about banned books and we always highlighted some of the so-called 'banned' books during my time there.  I used to love doing a big display of some of the books and then watching them be picked up and checked out during that week.  Doing my little part to see that those books or ones like them circulated. 

So, you may be asking - what are banned or challenged books?  They are books or materials that someone wishes to remove from the library shelves or restrict in some manner.  Here's a link to the American Library Association's website.  And here's a link to several lists of frequently challenged books.  In my years of working at a library, I talked about books with patrons all the time.  Sometimes, people would have a question about a certain book - was it appropriate for children or was it shelved in the most appropriate location?  Occasionally, someone would ask how they could get the library to remove a book from the shelf permanently.  I don't think I ever thought that anyone did this with bad intentions.  More often than not, it was about their children and about protecting them from what they perceived as 'bad things'.

One of my first questions was always, 'have you read the book yourself?'.  Sometimes the answer was yes, often it was no.  Sometimes I would have personal knowledge of the book or material mentioned, having read it myself.  Sometimes not.  I was not the manager of my branch and so I would pass along information about how they could pursue their challenge if they wanted to.  However, there were times when I could talk them through their uncertainty and provide information enough to satisfy them.  I always suggested that they read any book that had been assigned to their child or indeed that their child wanted to read, if they had concerns.  I would explain that in my experience, tough topics learned about together with your child could provide much food for discussion.  I would relate my own experience as a parent and try to find common ground.  I would also suggest that if their child had been assigned a book at school and they, as the parent, genuinely felt uncomfortable with it, talk to the teacher and ask for a substitute book.  It would always be given.

Occasionally, a patron would be angry and belligerent regarding some library material.  Usually, these individuals were not interested in discussion - they just wanted their way.  Happily, we didn't have too many of those instances.  The assistant manager of my branch was on a committee that considered challenges that had been bumped up the line to the library director's office and they met monthly, read the books or materials challenged, and then made recommendations to the director for her decision-making process.

Did I ever see a book banned while I was there?  I honestly can't remember one.  I did see a few items removed from the children's section and moved to the adult shelves.  One in particular, and I can't remember the name but it was about women's bodies, I felt was a good decision.  It was still available, but not so easily picked up by a young child. 

So, take a look at the books most frequently challenged in 1990-1999.  And the books most frequently challenged in 2000-2009.  Are you surprised at some of them? 


I encourage you to think about how you might answer this question.  Please feel free to share in a comment if you feel comfortable with that.  We'd all be interested I'm sure.

My answer:  My dear, dear mother.  She taught me to read when I was 4 and before that, she read to me all the time.  We didn't have a lot of money and I didn't grow up owning lots of books, but there were a few.  What she did do was support me in my love of books.  She took me and my siblings to the library often.  She never seemed upset that I read so very much as a kid but she'd get annoyed when others made comments about it.  She was not a big reader herself, but she encouraged me to be one.  I miss her.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday - Her Every Fear

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I really liked Peter Swanson's previous book, The Kind Worth Killing, and reviewed it here.  We discussed it in our mystery book group a few months ago and compared it to Patricia Highsmith's book, Strangers On A Train, and Hitchcock's film adaptation of the tale.  It's quite a twisty story.  Peter Swanson has an interest in Hitchcock and his films.  I was delighted to find that he has penned a new book, which also will have overtones of some Hitchcock films.  This week, I'm waiting for:

Publication Date:  January 10th

The danger isn’t all in your head . . .

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real.

And much, much closer than she thinks.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - A Girl From Yamhill

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary.  I'm sure you know who Beverly Cleary is - the wonderful creator of such characters as Ramona Quimby and her sister, Beezus - of Henry Huggins - of Ralph S. Mouse.  She also wrote several YA books that I loved as a young teen - Fifteen and The Luckiest Girl particularly.  This prolific author turned 100 years old earlier this year.  Amazing!  A Girl From Yamhill is a memoir telling of her early life in Oregon.  See what you think:

Mother and I stand on the weathered and warped back steps looking up at my father, who sits, tall and handsome in work clothes, astride a chestnut horse.  To one side lie the orchard and a path leading under the horse chestnut tree, past a black walnut and a peach-plum tree, to the privy.  On the other side are the woodshed, the icehouse, and the cornfield, and beyond, a field of wheat.  The horse obstructs my vision of the path to the barnyard, the pump house with its creaking windmill, the chicken coop, smokehouse, machine shed, and the big red barn, but I know they are there.

Mother holds a tin box that once contained George Washington tobacco and now holds my father's lunch.  She hands it to him, and as he leans down to take it, she says 'I'll be so glad when this war is over and we can have some decent bread again.'

My father rides off in the sunshine to oversee the Old Place, land once owned by one of my great-grandfathers.  I wave, sad to see my father leave, if only for a day.


Generations of children have read Beverly Cleary’s books. From Ramona Quimby to Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse to Ellen Tebbits, she has created an evergreen body of work based on the humorous tales and heartfelt anxieties of middle graders. But in A Girl from Yamhill, Beverly Cleary tells a more personal story—her story—of what adolescence was like. In warm but honest detail, Beverly describes life in Oregon during the Great Depression, including her difficulties in learning to read, and offers a slew of anecdotes that were, perhaps, the inspiration for some of her beloved stories.

For everyone who has enjoyed the pranks and schemes, embarrassing moments, and all of the other poignant and colorful images of childhood brought to life in Beverly Cleary’s books, here is the fascinating true story of the remarkable woman who created them.


This lovely author has also written a second memoir entitled My Own Two Feet that tells of her life in college to the publication of her first book.  My life was certainly touched by her writing and my daughter's as well.  I tip my hat to Beverly Cleary, the girl from Yamhill, Oregon.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Weekly Update - 9/19/16 - Blind Date With A Book, Semi-annual Library Book Sale, and It's Allergy Time in Texas...

Good morning everyone!  Hope your last week has gone well.  Mine has been pretty busy.

Life in General...

We went to dinner with our daughter and son-in-law on Wednesday - Japanese teppanyaki dining - I love that!  It was fun to catch up with them.  Even though we live in the same area, their jobs and all of our schedules keep us from getting together as often as we would like.  Still, we have plans to get together again next week.  We've got some birthdays this month and that helps give us a nudge to plan to meet up.

It's time for football and so we're watching both the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys.  Plus high school teams have begun their seasons.  I like football, but don't watch it as much as I used to.  I wander through when it's on and watch a bit, but I rarely watch a full game.  Our daughter has joined her husband in full football mode though.  She's always reciting statistics and predicting what will happen at this game or that.

Along with football, fall (what fall we get...which isn't much) means ragweed.  I hate ragweed.  Almost as much as I hate cedar trees.  Allergic to both.  From late August until late February, my eyes are usually watering, itching, and red.  And I do take allergy medicine.  Ah well.  It's my life.  At least I get the other half of the year without the itches.

Life in Book Clubs...

I know I've mentioned many times that I'm involved with a mystery book group.  I also attend another couple of book groups (sporadically) that read more mainstream books.  When we were in New Mexico this summer, I visited the little bookstore in Ruidoso called Books Etcetera.  I did a piece on them last year here.  On this visit I had no particular books in mind to purchase, so I took a chance on their 'Blind Date With A Book' shelf.  This involves books that have been wrapped in paper, clues as to the book title on the front, customer reads clues, picks book, purchases it, and then unwraps to see their 'Blind Date'.  Here a picture of my book wrapped with clues:

Here's the book 'unwrapped':

It was Anne Tyler's A Spool Of Blue Thread.  It also happens to be the October selection for one of my book groups.  Serendipity or what?  I've read a couple of Tyler's books, but it's been a long time.  We'll see how I fare with this one.

The selection for the mystery group for October is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.  I've read that one before and discussed with another group several years ago.  I'm not going to be able to moderate October's meeting, but plan to listen to The Thirteenth Tale on audio soon.  I have a very capable 'sub' for October (thanks Gayle).  The other group that I attend now and then is discussing The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.  Have you read any of these books?  Thoughts?

Life in Book Shopping...

I attended the semi-annual Friends Book Sale at the local library that is closest to my house on Saturday morning.  If you arrive at 8AM and give them a $10 donation, you get to shop early.  The money goes to a good cause and you get 'first pick' on the books available.  Here's a shot of part of the books I picked up:

The 4 top books on the right stack are ones that I read in my youth.  I've been picking up hardcover editions of many of the Gothic suspense books I read long ago and I was delighted to find these two by Victoria Holt.  I remember that Alas Babylon was the first book I read that had a 'end of world' feel.  There is a nuclear disaster in it and it relates the story of a group of people and what happens to them.  Joy In The Morning was written by Betty Smith, who also wrote A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.  I read the Joy book so many, many years ago and look forward to revisiting that one soon.  The others were all books that I've meant to read, so a 'good deal' was fun.  I kept suggesting books to customers around me as we perused the tables and finally I had about 4 women following me around as I said 'pick this one'.  Ha!

Life in Upcoming Reading... 

My own reading has been a little slow this week.  Book hangover from Louise Penny's newest.  I've started an advance copy of Peter Swanson's new book (I loved his The Kind Worth Killing).  It won't be out until spring, but I couldn't wait.  More on that one on Wednesday.

That's about it for this week.  Next week is Banned Books Week and I'll have a post on Sunday about that.  This update won't show up until Friday of next week.  In the meantime, happy reading!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday - The Kept Woman

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I am a big fan of Karin Slaughter's books.  I know she is not to everyone's taste, but I especially love her character of Will Trent.  Love him!  Slaughter's last book, Pretty Girls, was a tough read even for me.  I kept wishing for Will to lighten things up.  I got my wish for the new one.  This week I'm waiting on:

Publication Date: September 20th

With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.

Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn't belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished . . . and who will die soon if she isn’t found.

Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city’s most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world’s most expensive lawyers—a man who’s already gotten away with rape, despite Will’s exhaustive efforts to put him away.

But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will’s troubled past to the case . . . and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends—and even the suspects he pursues.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  I have been meaning to read this book and, indeed, the whole series for quite some time.  Since the movie adaptation comes out later this month, this seems a good time.  Plus, this will fit in the R.I.P. XI venue quite nicely.  See what you think:

I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.  The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After.  Like many of the extraordinary things to come, it involved my grandfather, Abraham Portman.

Growing up, Grandpa Portman was the most fascinating person I knew.  He had lived in an orphanage, fought in wars, crossed oceans by steamship and deserts on horseback, performed in circuses, knew everything about guns and self-defense and surviving in the wilderness, and spoke at least three languages that weren't English.  It all seemed unfathomably exotic to a kid who'd never left Florida, and I begged him to regale me with stories whenever I saw him.  He always obliged, telling them like secrets that could be entrusted only to me.


A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of peculiar photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its decaying bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine’s children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.


Have you read this one?  Planning on seeing the movie?  Think the photos are beyond creepy?  The author says that this book comes out of his love for vintage photography and bizarro stories.  I'll say.