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Thursday, June 30, 2016

How's your summer going? And Litsy...



Just a quick check in to say that I'm still around - still reading books - still reading blogs.  Not commenting, but definitely keeping up with things.  I will say that I did cut back a bit on the number of blogs that I read.  Had to delete some because I just had way, way too many to keep up with.  There's only so much time, right?  And one would like to have some time to actually read - not just read about reading.

Beth Fish Reads had a great interview today with the guys who started Litsy - an app that I've been hearing about for quite some time.  I had considered trying it, but when I cut back on my online presence decided not to join in.  Well, Candace convinced me.  I joined Litsy and you can find me here - @kaysreadinglife.  It's a place to do short little updates, reviews, blurbs and such on books and reading.

I do want to say that I'm planning on being back with posts on this blog by the end of the summer.  I've missed it, but we'll be out of town quite a bit in upcoming weeks and I don't like doing posts from my iPad.  Look for me to be back with some regularity by the latter part of August or early September.

My life is going pretty well.  I did have a bad ear infection a few weeks ago that messed up my inner ear a bunch.  Caused vertigo and that was no fun at all.  I had a really hard time sitting at my computer without feeling like I was tipping over or getting a bit queasy.  It has resolved itself though and for that I am so grateful.  You know, I was a kid with motion sickness and am also an adult with a tendency toward it.  I don't want to spend my life loopy on Dramamine, but I also hate that slightly nauseous feeling.




I'm currently reading Monday, Monday by Elizabeth Crook for a book group meeting in couple of weeks.  It's a reread and I'm enjoying it again.  Lots of local color from my part of the world, which is fun.  The story is good enough, but I'm really in it for the Austin and Texas stuff.  Am listening to The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey - another reread.  Loving this series again, but in audio format.

Take care everyone.  If you are in the US, enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend.  I'll see you in a few weeks!!

Monday, May 30, 2016

My break continues....



I'm going to continue my blogging break for now.  Possibly through the summer.  Am I saying I'm finished with blogging? - well, maybe.  We'll see.  Will leave this blog up  - just in case.  You never know.  I may get the blogging 'bug' again, but I'm content for now.

Life is fine.  We've had a few bumps with family health (mostly my mother-in-law).  We've been out of town and will be gone again off and on during the summer.  I'm reading and enjoying my book groups.  I am reading blogs, but not commenting much.  However, the blog reading has slowed to a couple of times a week.  For now, less time staring at a screen seems to be better for me.

Hope everyone has a fun summer!  Take care and keep on reading!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Kay's spring break....back in a few weeks...



It's that time again.  Time for me to take a break from blogging and concentrate on some other things for a few weeks.  Just life stuff and family needs.  I may be back by the end of May.  Take care and enjoy your April showers and May flowers.  I know I will!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Bookish Nostalgia - April 2016



Yes, yes, we are doing Bookish Nostalgia for April on the very first day of the month!!  So, Happy April and no, I have no April Fool's Day tricks for you.  Honestly, I've never really liked those that much.  Always just seems like a chance to be mean with impunity.  How do you feel about it?  Although I do remember my mother telling me that she and my father had their first date as teens on April 1st.  She said she thought that he was just teasing her.  Not so much though as they were married for 62 years!  Let's see what I've read in April over the years:


 
April 1996 - Montana Sky by Nora Roberts - I have read a lot of Nora Roberts' books over the years, but I must admit that I am much more a fan of her trilogies than her stand alone novels.  Or I really, really like her J. D. Robb persona.  However, Montana Sky might have been the first of her books that I read.  It's set in - wait for it - Montana, and is the story of a rancher named Jack Mercy who dies and leaves his vast holdings to his 3 daughters.  Each daughter was the product of one of Jack's marriages and his will gives specifics for sharing in the inheritance - like coming to live on the ranch for a year.  In the course of the year, they get to know each other and also are placed in danger.  Someone doesn't want the Mercy sisters to have that ranch.  Of course, there's romance - it's Nora Roberts after all - and the mystery is a pretty good one.  This book was made into a TV movie that was decent as I recall.



April 2001 - The Red Tent by Anita Diamant - I bet I'm not the only one who has read Anita Diamant's story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob of Israel.  It was very popular with readers for quite some time.  Yes, this is the Jacob of the Bible and Dinah was the only daughter mentioned in the Biblical story.  Of course, there were 12 sons as well.  The red tent referred to the place that the women retreated to when they were considered 'unclean' - during births, monthly cycles, that sort of thing.  Dinah comes to know more about her mother and her father's other wives as the women share their stories and their religious practices.  An interesting fictional look at the culture of Biblical times.  I was fascinated.


 
April 2006 - Our Lady of Pain by Marion Chesney - If you've ever read any of M. C. Beaton's mystery series - Hamish Macbeth or Agatha Raisin - you probably don't realize that her 'real' name is Marion Chesney and that she wrote a short series set in Edwardian times.  I read that 4-book series and really enjoyed it a lot.  It was quite funny, as I recall.  It told about Lady Rose Summer, a debutante of the time, who kept getting into 'situations' and not doing as her father would wish.  Also starring Captain Harry Cathcart, a sort of 'fixer' for wealthy gentlemen.  Their paths cross and obviously, they clash.  With romantic implications.  Anyway, Our Lady of Pain was the last book in the series.  I really don't remember much about it except that Lady Rose has become engaged to Harry, but it's really just to keep her father from making her marry someone else of his choosing.  Harry squires another woman around London and then the woman ends up dead, with Rose standing over the body.  I can see that I need to go back and reread this short series.  If you like Daisy Dalrymple, you might like Rose Summers.



April 2011 - Night Road by Kristin Hannah - I remember Night Road as being a really emotional book.  Lexi is a teenage girl that has been raised mostly in foster care because of her drug-addicted mother.  She comes to Seattle to stay with a great-aunt and slowly tries to fit in to the local high school.  On her first day, she meets Mia, quiet and shy, and the two girls become very close.  Mia has a twin brother, Zach, who is much more outgoing, but who also becomes friends with Lexi.  Their mother, Jude, is so pleased that Mia has a friend, she includes Lexi into their lives.  And then the dynamic changes.  I won't say any more, but I just remember this being a book that I couldn't put down.  Teenagers bring all kinds of drama to many stories don't they?  I know many have read Kristin Hannah's recent book The Nightingale and really loved it.  Well, this is an earlier work, but I think it shows her talent for keeping the reader interested.  It certainly did me.

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That's it for the April offerings.  Maybe you've read one of these.  Maybe this will make you investigate to see if you want to read one.  I hope so.  See you next month for May's Bookish Nostalgia.  No foolin'!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Flame Out by M. P. Cooley

Flame Out is M. P. (Martha) Cooley's second book in her June Lyons mystery series.  I recently enjoyed reacquainting myself with June and her upstate New York home town of Hopewell Falls.  I read and reviewed the first book in the series, Ice Shear, last year and noted that this author had been nominated for several 'Best First Book' awards in the mystery community.  I was also happy to get to meet Martha and listen to her speak about her writing and characters at the recent Left Coast Crime convention.  The panel she was on was discussing big crime in small towns and placing the authors' protagonist in that type of situation.  It was quite interesting to me.

June Lyons (or Juniper, but don't call her that) came home to New York when her husband Kevin was very ill with cancer.  Both June and Kevin were FBI agents and they had one little girl together.  As Kevin's condition worsened, June needed help, so she resigned as a FBI agent, and took a job with the local police department - a beat cop essentially.  Her father is the retired police chief.

June is still working for the local police and she has certain things that she looks for on her patrol route.  Hopewell Falls is a town that has lost most of the industry that kept the townfolk employed for so many years.  There are abandoned warehouses and factories all around, perfect spots for nefarious activity.  June notices a problem in the parking lot of one of them - a gasoline slick - and calls for backup and the fire department.  She quickly checks out the building and is horrified to find an unconscious woman inside.  June rescues the woman, but the building burns quickly.  The woman remains in a coma and the authorities can't determine her identity.  Another discovery is made while clearing the burned structure - a false wall with barrels stored, most containing chemicals that should have been disposed of properly.  One barrel, however, holds the body of a dead woman.

The factory was owned by someone very familiar to June's father.  Thirty years before, the factory owner, Bernie Lawler, was convicted of killing his wife and son.  June's father was the police officer in charge of the case.  Evidence was strong enough to put Mr. Lawler in jail, even though the bodies were never found.  Have they just discovered Luisa Lawler?  The answer to this ends up being very personal to June's partner, Dave Batko.  His mother disappeared around the same time, never to return.

Once again, June's former colleague at the FBI, Special Agent Hale Bascom, is called in to assist.  June is asked to work with Hale since Dave's personal connection to the case makes his involvement problematic.  June and Hale delve into the doings of the town 30 years ago and find some very complicated issues.  Some relate to Dave's extended family, some to the Lawler crime, and some trace back to June's father and his police work.

I like June and her friends and family.  I'm even beginning to like Hale Bascom a bit.  The setting of upstate New York is pretty unfamiliar to me, so the inclusion of local culture was very interesting.  Dave's family is Ukranian and there were stories of their escape from Russia after World War II and the trials they had both in their home country and in the US after they arrived.  The crime and investigation kept my interest and further info about June's family, her mother especially, was welcomed.  Hale would like to talk June into coming back to work for the FBI, at least as a consultant, but she is very torn in her duty as a single mother and also as a new-ish member of the local police force.

So, was I pleased with the book?  Yes, I was and I'll continue to read Martha Cooley's books, hoping that the next in the series will be published before long.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday - Boar Island



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've read Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series for many years, but I skipped a few of the books when other series caught my attention.  Last year, my mystery group read Destroyer Angel and enjoyed it very much.  I'm excited this week to feature the next book in this series and love that it includes some of the same characters.  This week I'm waiting on:




Publication Date:  May 17th

Anna Pigeon, in her career as a National Park Service Ranger, has had to deal with all manner of crimes and misdemeanors, but cyber-bullying and stalking is a new one.  The target is Elizabeth, the adopted teenage daughter of her friend Heath Jarrod.  Elizabeth is driven to despair by the disgusting rumors spreading online and bullying texts.  Until, one day, Heath finds her daughter Elizabeth in the midst of an unsuccessful suicide attempt.  And then she calls in the cavalry---her aunt Gwen and her friend Anna Pigeon.

While they try to deal with the fragile state of affairs---and find the person behind the harassment---the three adults decide the best thing to do is to remove Elizabeth from the situation.  Since Anna is about to start her new post as Acting Chief Ranger at Acadia National Park in Maine, the three will join her and stay at a house on the cliff of a small island near the park, Boar Island.

But the move east doesn't solve the problem.  The stalker has followed them east.  And Heath (a paraplegic) and Elizabeth aren't alone on the otherwise deserted island.  At the same time, Anna has barely arrived at Acadia before a brutal murder is committed by a killer uncomfortably close to her.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Booked For Trouble



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 Booked For Trouble by Eva Gates.  This is the second book in the Lighthouse Library series and Eva Gates also writes under the name Vicki Delany (one of my favorite authors).  She began writing some cozies a couple of years ago and I've had this series on my radar since that time.  Doesn't a library in a lighthouse sound fun, if maybe a little cramped?  See what you think:



     I love my mother.  Truly, I do.  She's never shown me anything but love, although she's tempered it by criticism perhaps once too often.  She believe in me, I think, although she's not exactly averse to pointing out that I'd be better off if I did things her way.  She's a kind, generous person.  At least, that is, to those she doesn't consider to be in competition with her for some vaguely defined goal, or else watch out--she'll carry a grudge to the grave.  She may be stiff and formal and sometimes overly concerned with the observance of proper behavior, but she's also adventurous and well traveled.  And above all, her love of her children knows no bounds.
     I do love my mother.
     I just wish she weren't bearing down on me at this moment, face beaming, arms outstretched.
     'Surprise, darling!' she cried.


Blurb:

Lucy has finally found her bliss as a librarian and resident of the Bodie Island Lighthouse.  She loves walking on the beach, passing her evenings with the local book club, bonding with the library cat, Charles, and enjoying the attention of not one, but TWO eligible men.  But then her socialite mother, Suzanne, unexpectedly drops in, determined to move Lucy back to Boston—and reunite her with her ex-fiancĂ©.

To make matters worse, Suzanne picks a very public fight at the local hotel with her former classmate Karen Kivas.  So, when Karen turns up dead outside the library the next morning, Suzanne is immediately at the top of the suspect list.  Now Lucy must hunt down a dangerous killer—before the authorities throw the book at her poor mother…

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I won this book at a panel that Eva Gates/Vicki Delany appeared on at Left Coast Crime.  I told her that I was going to pass it along to a member of my mystery group - which I will do.  Just as soon as I finish it.  If lighthouses or cozies aren't your preference, try Vicki Delany's Constable Molly Smith series, set in British Columbia.  It's great!  The first book is In the Shadow of the Glacier.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Pane and Suffering by Cheryl Hollon

Pane and Suffering is Cheryl Hollon's first book in the Webb's Glass Shop mystery series and I enjoyed it very much!  First of all, I had the pleasure of meeting Cheryl at the Poisoned Pen Breakfast at Left Coast Crime.  She and I were both seated at Mary Anna Evans' table and I enjoyed visiting with Cheryl about her books and writing.  Secondly, I've always been fascinated with stained glass and glass blowing.  Once upon a time, in my former life as a tax auditor, I visited a local shop that created all kinds of lovely glass treasures.  And I got to take a tour and see how things were done.  Since that time, I've been attracted to glass shops of all kinds.  So, this book and series were perfect for me to sample.

In Pane and Suffering, Savannah Webb has come home to St. Petersburg, Florida, for her father's funeral and also to decide what's to be done about Webb's Glass Shop, her dad's store.  Savannah herself is a talented glass artist, but she lives in Seattle and doesn't plan to move across the country.  She wants to pass the shop along to her father's good friend, Hugh.  Unfortunately, Hugh is also found dead of a heart attack.  Both gentlemen that work in the shop gone within the space of a few days?  Fishy.  Definitely fishy.  As it becomes clear that there's more going on, Savannah dives into an investigation, using notes and clues that her father has left.  Yes, Savannah's father had a former career as a cryptographer and he wanted his daughter to understand what could possibly happen to him.  Now Savannah must fend off two unpleasant men who want to buy her shop, teach a beginner's class in creating a stained glass window hanging, and unravel clues.  The police are slow to help, but they finally get on board.

Filled with info about stained glass creation, cryptography, geocaching, and even beer and ale selections, this first book in the series has lots going on.  I did enjoy meeting Savannah and the people who come to be on her 'team' of sleuths.  I'm hoping that some of them will appear again and that we will learn more about methods of creating glass treasures.  I guessed the solution to the mystery, but I often do that.  It did seem that Savannah was on the fence a little long regarding her ultimate decision to stay in St. Petersburg, but again, first book.  I make allowances.  I look forward to reading the 2nd book, Shards of Murder, which was recently released.  The 3rd book, Cracked to Death, will come out in the summer.  I can't wait!

Cheryl Hollon lives in St. Petersburg and is a full time writer and delighted with that fact.  She and her husband have a glass studio behind their home, where they create all kind of wonderful glass treasures.  If you like watching glass artists create, you just might like this fun cozy.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

As I've been casting about for books to add to my Gothic Fiction challenge, I decided to try listening to one of Kate Morton's books on audio.  I have loved Caroline Lee's narration of favorites by Liane Moriarty and found that she also narrates Kate Morton's books.  I had read The Distant Hours in the past, enjoyed it, but hit upon The Forgotten Garden as a place to start listening.  And I am so glad that I did!  If you love tales of windswept houses on Cornish cliffs or lost children or fairy tales with wicked queens or if you loved The Secret Garden, you should definitely try The Forgotten Garden.  Let me start with a quote:

     Cassandra couldn't help herself.  She curled up on her side in the center of the camp bed.  It was the perfect place for reading, cool and quiet and secret.  Cassandra always hid when she read, though she never quite knew why.  it was as if she couldn't shake the guilty suspicion that she was being lazy, that surrendering herself so completely to something so enjoyable must surely be wrong.
     But surrender she did.  Let herself drop through the rabbit hole and into a tale of magic and mystery, about a princess who lived with a blind crone in a cottage on the edge of a dark wood.  A brave princess, far braver than Cassandra would ever be.

I loved this passage and thought about how like my young self it was.  I used to curl up in corners and beneath covers and behind chairs to read as kid.  And read and read and read.  So what happens in The Forgotten Garden?  Well, it begins with a little girl who is discovered all alone on the wharf in Brisbane, Australia.  The year is 1913 and she's sitting there with her small suitcase as if she's waiting for just the right family to come along.  In fact, the wharf master discovers the small child and takes her home, hoping to find the people who belong to her.  It never happens though and he and his wife raise the little girl, who they name Nell, as one of their own.

When Nell is 21, her father tells her how she came to be part of their family.  And this changes Nell's life forever.  The little suitcase contains few items, but most importantly, it contains a book of fairy tales, and the connections of these stories and Nell and a large and desolate house on the Cornish coast make up The Forgotten Garden.  The book is told with chapters alternating between various important dates from the early 1900's to 2005, when Nell's granddaughter, Cassandra, finally discovers all the secrets that have been hidden for so many years.  Some might find the shifting time and location device to be hard to follow, but I loved it.  So many characters, all connected, and how did the pieces fit together?  I puzzled and puzzled and still didn't figure out everything.

There are fairy tales, written by The Authoress, Eliza Makepeace, included.  There is indeed a lovely garden, hidden behind walls and set on a windswept coast.  There is a cottage and there are wicked characters and good and true characters as well.  The author of The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, even makes a small appearance.  And there are Gothic overtones galore.  Perfect!

Again, I'll highlight the really excellent narration performed by Caroline Lee.  She does a great job with all the accents and I look forward to listening to more of Kate Morton's books read by Ms. Lee.  The audio runs just over 20 hours, so be prepared for a longer listen.  I can't wait to move on to Morton's other 4 books.  Have you read any of Kate Morton's books?  Which is your favorite?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Day in the Life 2 - Blogger Event - Kay's day...same place...another year...


Welcome to the 2nd annual (hope it's annual!) 'A Day In The Life' event, hosted by the extremely lovely, busy, fabulous Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity!  Do you read Trish's blog?  If you don't, you totally should.  Get on that, please!  This is just a simple, ordinary day for many of us and we're choosing to share it with all of you - with pictures.  I participated in this last year here (you can take a look if you like, but no worries if you don't like) and had a great time checking the other 'day in the life' posts.  When Trish announced it again this year, I was so excited!   So here we go!

I'm Kay and I am a blogger of a 'certain age' - between 55 and 60.  I live with my wonderful husband of 35 years in Central Texas, just north of Austin.  Our house sits in the country and so it's about 15-20 minutes to anywhere.  We have one lovely daughter and one great son-in-law.  They also live in Austin.  I used to work at the Austin Public Library, among other careers, but now I volunteer there and moderate a Mystery Book Group at the branch where I formerly worked.  This was my ordinary day on Friday, March 11th.



5:00 AM - Yes, we get up early here.  Sadly, no coffee when I got up this morning.  Hubby had to stop at Starbucks and I'm headed to get some blood work done for a doctor appointment next week (had to be fasting).  I can't tell you how sad I am to see my coffee pot empty.  Sigh.  Later.



7:20 AM - Blood work is finished and as you can see, I got to sport a vivid blue bandage thing - at least for a few minutes.  Where am I going now?  Coffee....I need coffee....home or coffee shop - that is the question.



8:00 AM - Yay for coffee!!  I know - I'm going on and on about it, but it's my favorite thing about the morning.  I decided to head home and not be tempted to grab a scone for breakfast.  Instead, I had some very healthy cereal.  And coffee.  Plus reading blogs.  That's my early morning routine.



10:00 AM - It's raining outside this morning in Central Texas.  In fact, it's been raining a bunch this week - which we need - but that doesn't work out well for my morning walk.  I'm heading to the rec center to walk on the indoor track.  What you see above are my wireless headphones.  I love them so much!  I listen to a lot of audio books.  Last year, almost 50% of my reading was in audio format.  A very good thing as that meant that I was up and about more.  I listen in my car and while I'm doing chores around the house and while I'm walking and exercising.  I use Audible and my phone and my really cool lime green wireless headphones.





10:30 AM - I really had to work at it to catch these photos without other people in them!  I didn't want to have to explain that they might appear on my 'day in the life' blog post.  Ha!  I did want to show a couple of shots of the indoor walking/running track that my local rec center has.  Isn't it great?  I live in Central Texas, which is very hot in the summer.  And that time for us runs from about April (or even March) through mid-November usually.  Me, I have to talk myself into exercise each and every time.  Truly.  This climate-controlled walking track is perfect.  I toodle along at a fairly fast pace for a couple of miles, listening to my audio book, and honestly not noticing that I'm actually doing something good for my body.  It's very popular at certain times of day.  It's on the second floor and down below is the room with the exercise machines/equipment (1st picture) and basketball court (2nd picture).  Cool huh?



1:30 PM - I've been home, doing some chores and eating lunch.  Now, I'm going to sit down for few minutes and read Scene of Climb on my Kindle.  I really enjoyed this first book in Kate Dyer-Seeley's mystery series that's set in the Pacific Northwest.  Can't wait to get back to it!  I usually read for a while in the afternoons - well, let's face it - I read whenever, but after lunch is a good time for me to take a break for a bit.



3:00 PM - Can you see what's on top of my front porch light?  Yes, it's a bird nest.  I love the birds singing and flying around my house.  Truly, I love them.  I do not love them building this nest on my front porch light.  This is the 3rd year in a row and we have tried to discourage them, but we haven't hit on the right plan yet.  And now it's built.  With eggs inside no doubt.  The issue is that my front porch is a mess with bird poop everywhere for months on end.  I've even been hit in the head with falling 'mess' .  Sigh.




3:20 PM - These are bluebonnets, the Texas state flower.  We have a few each year in our yard, not from planting them, but from seeds blowing in and taking root.  The highways are covered with these blooms in late March and April and I look forward to them every single year.  If we get a decent amount of rain, they are glorious.  If not, well, they are a little sparse.



6:00 PM - It's Friday night and for us that almost always means Mexican food.  I usually meet my husband for dinner on Friday's at one of several favorite restaurants.  Chips and salsa, what can be better?  We share chicken fajitas and maybe some queso.  A perfect end to the week.  

Well, that's all I've got for this 'Day in the Life'.  We came home after the Mexican food and watched a little TV and then it was time to head to bed.  Thanks for joining me on what was a fairly typical day for me.  I listened to 3 hours and 47 minutes of my audio book.  I read 25% of my e-book.  I walked 2.25 miles.

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Oh and, as an update, since I'm writing this on Friday, March 18th, a week after these pictures were taken, I got a good report from my doctor about the blood work I had done and I'm so happy for that.  Eating better, losing almost 30 pounds (so far) and including almost daily walking has made my numbers so much better - my 'almost diabetes' is definitely 'no diabetes'!!!  Yay for me!!!