.

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

This and that...thoughts turn to spring and new activities...


No, this isn't a picture from this year - a previous year's bluebonnet.  However, our area is getting closer and closer to spring and the wildflowers.  The allergy wheel has turned and cedar pollen is gone for this year.  Now we have oak and elm and ash and the ever-present mold spores - the first three are in 'high' amounts and the mold is 'medium'.  Yes, I live in the land of 50 million allergists - because they are needed.  I have sensitivity to ragweed and cedar and not the spring pollen and that means that walking outside can be back on my calendar. 

As I've been listening the last week or so to the last two books in J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas series, it has reminded me of my time of building up my walking strength a couple of years ago.  I listened to the whole series as a treat to myself to keep myself 'in the game' and 'on target'.  I walked and walked and walked and definitely got stronger.  It helped with my weight loss.  I've hit a bit of a plateau in that regard - well, more than a bit.  I still have goals for movement and weight loss - I'm not quite to the end.  Or rather the 'maintenance' spot.  I've seen great improvements in health, but I want a bit more.  Therefore, I've been looking around for new ways to challenge myself in gaining strength and fitness.  I've found some things I want to try and I also intend to refocus like I did in the beginning.  Spring is coming and we have a few trips planned for this year.  Many of them will be to places that I'll hike and walk trails and I want to be ready and comfortable. 

So, I'll be scaling back a little in the blog and reading side of things.  Not stopping or even taking an official break right now, though I have a few breaks planned for later in the year.  However, don't worry if you don't see as many posts or comments from me.  As one of my WW friends puts it - 'I'll see you outside!'.

Take care and hope your spring is soon on the way too!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday - The Night Visitors



I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to Tressa's blog at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

I've enjoyed several books by the author of this week's book.  The ones I've read are usually set in a wooded region (like upstate New York) and usually have a Gothic type feel.  I like that.  This week I can't wait for:




Publication Date:  March 26th

ALICE gets off a bus in the middle of a snowstorm in Delphi, NY. She is fleeing an abusive relationship and desperate to protect...

OREN, ten years old, a major Star Wars fan and wise beyond his years. Though Alice is wary, Oren bonds nearly instantly with...

MATTIE, a social worker in her fifties who lives in an enormous run-down house in the middle of the woods. Mattie lives alone and is always available, and so she is the person the hotline always calls when they need a late-night pickup. And although according to protocol Mattie should take Alice and Oren to a local shelter, instead she brings them home for the night. She has plenty of room, she says. What she doesn't say is that Oren reminds her of her little brother, who died thirty years ago at the age of ten.

But Mattie isn't the only one withholding elements of the truth. Alice is keeping her own secrets. And as the snowstorm worsens around them, each woman's past will prove itself unburied, stirring up threats both within and without.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph - News Of The World



I am linking up with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter First Paragraph or two of the book you are currently reading or plan to read soon.

The book I'm sharing this week is one that I actually finished reading last week.  I'm discussing it with our afternoon book group today and I'm looking forward to talking about it and hearing what others in the group thought.  It's set in Texas in 1870 and includes a lot of places and descriptions that are very familiar to me.  If you look to the end of this post, there is a picture of the Kerrville area of the Texas Hill Country.  Captain Kidd and Johanna traveled through a similar setting.  Here's a bit about:



First Paragraph(s):

Wichita Falls, Texas Winter 1870

Captain Kidd laid out the Boston Morning Journal on the lectern and began to read from the article on the Fifteenth Amendment.  He had been born in 1798 and the third war of his lifetime had ended five years ago and he hoped never to see another but now the news of the world aged him more than time itself.  Still he stayed his rounds, even during the cold spring rains.  He had been at one time a printer but the war had taken his press and everything else, the economy of the Confederacy had fallen apart even before the surrender and so he now made his living in this drifting from one town to another in North Texas with his newspapers and journals in a waterproof portfolio and his coat collar turned up against the weather.  He rode a very good horse and was concerned that someone might try to take the horse from him but so far so good.  So he had arrived in Wichita Falls on February 26 and tacked up his posters and put on his reading clothes in the stable.  There was a hard rain outside and it was noisy but he had a good strong voice.

Blurb:

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

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News Of The World was a National Book Award Finalist a couple of years ago.  It's a spare story, but an absorbing one.  Have you read this book?  Have you visited the Texas Hill Country and towns west of Austin and San Antonio?  Towns like Fredericksburg and Kerrville and Llano and Lampasas?  Would you keep reading?  In case you can't tell, I liked this book very much and it is recommended!



Friday, February 15, 2019

The Murder Book - Lissa Marie Redmond

The Murder Book by Lissa Marie Redmond

First Paragraph(s):

'Homicide is killing me,' Shane Reese complained, slinging his duffel bag over his shoulder.  'We've been here for almost twelve hours.  You almost done?'  He was standing in the main office of the Buffalo Police Cold Case Homicide unit, his tie hanging loose, his hand on the door knob.  It was Friday night, and he was ready to get out of there.
     'Not yet.' Lauren Riley smoothed some papers flat across her desk.  They had been in the office for almost twelve hours for two days in a row, so she understood his eagerness to go.  And was slightly jealous because her touch of OCD wouldn't allow her to leave until she was finished.  'You can kill that light, though.  I'm only going to be a few more minutes.'
     The second floor of police headquarters was already empty, the rest of the detectives from the other squads had gone out to start their weekends.  The 'regular' Homicide guys had caught a particularly nasty murder first thing that day and were out canvassing in the Black Rock neighborhood.  They had needed Reese and Riley to help out in the morning but had everything under control by the late afternoon.  Then she and Reese split off to do follow-up on their own cold cases.

My Thoughts:

When I talked about this author's first book earlier this week here, I said I'd be reading her newly published second book soon.  Well, this is soon - ha!  I very quickly made my way through The Murder Book from start to finish.  And it was quite the ride.  The story begins with Lauren Riley working late to finish up a report.  Her partner, Shane Reese, goes home and then someone comes into their office and attacks Lauren, leaving her bleeding on the floor.  The next thing she remembers is waking in the hospital a few days later.  Who attacked her and why?  Lauren doesn't recall much, but she does know that her attacker was wearing 'cop' boots and took The Murder Book.

As I said in my review of Lissa Marie Redmond's debut book, A Cold Day In Hell, this author knows her stuff - the town, what it's like to be a cop, and also the Cold Case squad.  Though the focus was a little different in The Murder Book, I enjoyed knowing more about Lauren's extended family (who rushed to her side after her attack) and also more about the Homicide unit.  Lauren herself still does not take quite good enough care of her person as she resists the therapy and restrictions her department places on her before she can return to work.  We'll see if her working outside the rules continues.  She does have a fierce sense of justice for the families of crime victims and for the victims themselves.

I've found that there will be a third book in the series, A Means To An End, to be published in early fall.  Midnight Ink, the publisher of this series, is sadly closing in upcoming months.  They have introduced readers to so many wonderful authors.  Here's hoping they can all find other means of getting their stories out to the world.  Do I recommend these books?  Yes, I do.  I liked The Murder Book very much and that ending...well, once again, you'll have to read the next to see what comes.  I know I will.       

Blurb:

Cold case detective Lauren Riley wakes up in the hospital certain of two things: she was stabbed and left for dead...and the person who did it was a cop.

After being brutally stabbed at her desk late one night, Lauren Riley works her way backwards through the haze to piece together who attacked her and why. A mysterious phone message forces her to enlist the help of a retired lieutenant to track down a witness who is desperate not to be found. As she digs into the Buffalo Police Department's hidden past she uncovers a terrible secret, one a fellow officer would kill to protect.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!! Your favorite 'romantic' movie?



Wishing everyone a very Happy Valentine's Day!

I was at a meeting earlier this week and was talking with a friend there who revealed that she'd never seen the movie of The Princess Bride!  I said - oh, you must see it - it's very romantic.  Another friend added - no, it's very funny.  The first friend then asked 'what's it about?'.  Well, we told her, it's the story of Buttercup and her Westley, but they are not the only romantic ones.  There's also Miracle Max and his Valerie.  I said there are swords and adventures and pirates and giants and death (or maybe only 'mostly dead') and love of a grandfather for his grandson.  There is 'twue wuv'!  So, my answer to the 'favorite romantic movie' question, at least for today, The Princess Bride!  

Tell me some of your favorite romantic movies for Valentine's Day!  



Miracle Max and Valerie

Westley and Buttercup

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday - Cemetery Road



I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to Tressa's blog at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

The author of this week's book is a definite favorite of mine.  He tells stories from the South so very well.  He should.  He's a Mississippi guy and he reveals stories about the Southern way of life, the good ones and the definitely the bad ones.  This week I'm waiting on:




Publication Date:  March 5th

When Marshall McEwan left his hometown at age eighteen, he vowed never to return. The trauma that drove him away ultimately spurred him to become one of the most successful journalists in Washington D.C. But just as the political chaos in the nation’s capital lifts him to new heights, Marshall is forced to return home in spite of his boyhood vow.

His father is dying, his mother is struggling to keep the family newspaper from failing, and the town is in the midst of an economic rebirth that might be built upon crimes that reach into the state capitol—and perhaps even to Washington. More disturbing still, Marshall’s high school sweetheart, Jet, has married into the family of Max Matheson, patriarch of one of the families that rule Bienville through a shadow organization called the Bienville Poker Club.

When archeologist Buck McKibben is murdered at a construction site, Bienville is thrown into chaos. The ensuing homicide investigation is soon derailed by a second crime that rocks the community to its core. Power broker Max Matheson’s wife has been shot dead in her own bed, and the only other person in it at the time was her husband, Max. Stranger still, Max demands that his daughter-on-law, Jet, defend him in court.

As a journalist, Marshall knows all too well how the corrosive power of money and politics can sabotage investigations. Without telling a soul, he joins forces with Jet, who has lived for fifteen years at the heart of Max Matheson’s family, and begins digging into both murders. With Jet walking the dangerous road of an inside informer, they soon uncover a web of criminal schemes that undergird the town’s recent success. But these crimes pale in comparison to the secret at the heart of the Matheson family. When those who have remained silent for years dare to speak to Marshall, pressure begins to build like water against a crumbling dam.

Marshall loses friends, family members, and finally even Jet, for no one in Bienville seems willing to endure the reckoning that the Poker Club has long deserved. And by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth, he would give almost anything not to have to face it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph - The Lost Man



I am linking up with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter First Paragraph or two of the book you are currently reading or plan to read soon.

I have really enjoyed the books that Jane Harper has written so far.  Both were set in Australia and both featured Aaron Falk, an Australian with the Federal Police.  The book I'm talking about today is a standalone, but I understand that a few characters might be familiar.  Here's a bit about...

 

First Paragraph(s):

From above, from a distance, the marks in the dust formed a tight circle.  The circle was far from perfect, with a distorted edge that grew thick, then thin, and broke completely in places.  It also wasn't empty.
     In the center was a headstone, blasted smooth by a hundred-year assault from sand, wind, and sun.  The headstone stood a meter tall and was still perfectly straight.  It faced west, toward the desert, which was unusual out there.  West was rarely anyone's first choice.
     The name of the man buried beneath had long since vanished, and the landmark was known to locals--all sixty-five of them, plus one hundred thousand head of cattle--simple as the stockman's grave.  That piece of land had never been a cemetery; the stockman had been put into the ground where he had died, and in more than a century, no one had joined him.
     If a visitor were to run their hands over the worn stone, a partial date could be detected in the indentations.  A 'one' and an 'eight' and a 'nine', maybe--1890-something.  Only three words were still visible.  They had been carved lower down, where they had better shelter from the elements.
     Or perhaps they had been chiseled more deeply to start with, the message deemed more important than the man.  They read:
     who went astray

Blurb:

Brothers Nathan and Bub Bright meet for the first time in months at the remote fence line separating their cattle ranches in the lonely outback.

Their third brother, Cameron, lies dead at their feet.

In an isolated belt of Australia, their homes a three-hour drive apart, the brothers were one another’s nearest neighbors. Cameron was the middle child, the one who ran the family homestead. But something made him head out alone under the unrelenting sun.

Nathan, Bub and Nathan’s son return to Cameron’s ranch and to those left behind by his passing: his wife, his daughters, and his mother, as well as their long-time employee and two recently hired seasonal workers.

While they grieve Cameron’s loss, suspicion starts to take hold, and Nathan is forced to examine secrets the family would rather leave in the past. Because if someone forced Cameron to his death, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects.

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I'm beginning to hear some very positive things about this book, most notably this review by my friend Cathy at Kittling: Books.  I have this one on audio and will listen to it at 'just the right time'.

Monday, February 11, 2019

A Cold Day In Hell - Lissa Marie Redmond

A Cold Day In Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond

First Paragraph(s):

'You got a man here to see you, Lauren.'
     Detective Lauren Riley put her coffee cup down on top of a mound of paperwork that was inching its way toward the ceiling.  It swayed there perilously for a second as she juggled the receiver, then settled.  'Did he ask for me?  By name, specifically?'
     Linda, the round little secretary who manned the front desk, handled the walk-ins, but she never called upstairs unless she absolutely had to.  'Yes, you.  By name.'
     'Who is it?'
     She could hear Linda covering the mouth piece with her hand, and then, 'He says if I tell you who he is, you won't see him.'
     Lauren frowned into the phone.  'That's odd.  Hold on. I'm coming down.'

My Thoughts:

A Cold Day In Hell is Lissa Marie Redmond's debut crime novel and it's a good one.  Really good, in my opinion.  First of all, I'll tell you that Lissa is from Buffalo, New York.  She's a retired Cold Case Homicide Detective with the Buffalo Police Department.  She's married to a fellow detective and they have two kids.  After retiring, she decided to become a writer.  Now I'll tell you about her protagonist, Lauren Riley.  Lauren is a Cold Case Homicide Detective with the Buffalo Police Department and she has two daughters that are in college.  What I'm saying is that Lissa knows her subject matter.  So, what about the story?

Lauren Riley is an interesting and complicated detective.  She's very gifted in police work, maybe not so much in decisions for her personal life.  She raised her two daughters as a single mother and has been married a couple of times and had relationships that were less than ideal.  In this debut book, Lauren is asked by a defense attorney she's dealt with before to investigate his client's case, privately.  Lauren does have her private investigator's license as well and the crime is from another city.  Frank Violanti has sparred with Lauren over cases, but he respects her skills.  He wants and needs her help.

I was quickly drawn into the story and found it very hard to put down.  Though Lauren annoyed me and made me shake my head at times over her personal decisions, I sympathized with her life and the fact that she was quite lonely.  Her Cold Case partner, Reese, is great, but he has his own life.  Her daughters are now gone.  As she delves into the private investigation, she discovers some ties that she didn't expect.  Things might be one way, but they might not.  Did Violanti's client murder a woman or is he being framed?  Meanwhile, Lauren is getting pressure from the DA's office about this case and also some push back on her own cold cases.  Oh, and there is someone watching her house, someone that is taking a little bit too much interest in what Lauren is doing.

The last few chapters of the book relate the trial of the young man accused of murder.  They are very compelling.  And then there's the ending.  That's all I'll say.  Lissa Marie Redmond's second book in the series, The Murder Book, came out last week.  Will I be reading it?  Oh, yes.  I definitely will. 
 
Blurb:
   
Lauren Riley is an accomplished detective who has always been on the opposite side of the courtroom from slick defense attorney Frank Violanti. But now he's begging to hire her as a private investigator to help clear his client of murder. At first Lauren refuses, wanting nothing to do with the media circus surrounding the case—until she meets the eighteen-year-old suspect.

To keep an innocent teen from life in prison, Lauren must unravel the conflicting evidence and changing stories to get at the buried facts. But the more she digs, the more she discovers that nothing is what it first appears to be. As Lauren puts her career and life in danger, doubt lurks on every corner . . . and so does her stalker.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Farewell, Rosamunde Pilcher...

Yesterday, Robin of A Fondness For Reading shared a very sweet post about the passing of author Rosamunde Pilcher.  I told her that I was so sad to hear this too.  Robin and I both loved her writing.  I had a special 'favorites' post about Rosamunde Pilcher a couple of years ago here and I decided to include part of it below.  Farewell to a lovely author.  She was 94.

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Rosamunde Scott Pilcher was born on September 22, 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall.  She grew up in Cornwall and attended a secretarial college.  Ms. Pilcher served in the Women's Royal Navy Service during the years 1943-1946.  She married Graham Hope Pilcher in 1946 and they moved to Dundee, Scotland, where she still lives.  They had 4 children, 2 daughters and 2 sons.  Author Robin Pilcher is her eldest son.

Rosamunde's first book was published in 1949 under the pseudonym, Jane Fraser.  It was called Half-Way To The Moon.  Ten books were published under the Jane Fraser name, but in 1955, the first Rosamunde Pilcher book came out.  It was titled A Secret To Tell and Ms. Pilcher wrote another 17 books with her own name as author in upcoming years.  Probably the most famous of her novels is The Shell Seekers, written in 1987.  And that's where I come in... 

The first Rosamunde Pilcher book that I devoured was indeed The Shell Seekers.  It was extremely popular and I can remember hearing a lot of talk about it at the library, which is where I got my books at that time.  All my books.  I was a young mother, working full time, with a 5-year-old and little time to read longer novels.  However, I just hadn't yet met Penelope Keeling and heard about the beautiful painting that her father had created - The Shell Seekers.  This is a family story that tells of Penelope's life, her parents, her children, and what will happen to her most prized possession, the painting.  Set in Cornwall, it was filmed for TV and Angela Lansbury played the part of Penelope.


Another book that I loved so much was Coming Home, written in 1995, and an even longer tale, something like 1,000 pages or so.  Just a wonderful story of a young girl named Judith Dunbar, who is left behind by her family at boarding school, again in Cornwall, during the years before WWII.  Her family is stationed in Singapore and Judith stays for school.  She meets another girl, Loveday Carey-Lewis, and becomes involved with Loveday's family, joining them at their home filled with aristocracy.  The war comes and Judith and Loveday are caught up in the events and the novel turns into quite a saga.  It was great!  This book was written in a time period (80's, 90's) when many long, long books were so popular and I loved stories that went on and on and on.  Coming Home was also made into a TV movie.

I have two more favorites that I won't say too much about, but both are very good.  September is a sort of sequel to The Shell Seekers.  One of the characters carries over, Penelope's son, Noel.  This book is set in Scotland in the fall.  And the last book written by Ms. Pilcher in 2000, Winter Solstice, is another favorite.  Also, set in Scotland in the winter this time, it tells a story from the viewpoints of 5 characters when their lives cross in a big old house in the fishing town of Creagan.  It may be chilly outside, but it's homey inside. 

So, if you like family sagas or wonderful books with lovely Cornish or Scottish settings, if you like Maeve Binchy's books, you might try a tale by Rosamunde Pilcher.  She has many other shorter books that I have not sampled as yet.  Maybe one day. 

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Have you read any of Rosamunde Pilcher's books?  Do you have favorites?  I'd love to hear.  

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Comforts of Home - Susan Hill

The Comforts of Home by Susan Hill

First Paragraph(s):

For a long time, there had been blackness and the blackness had no form or shape.  But then a soft and cloudy greyness had seeped in around the edges of the black, and soon, the images had come and these had moved forward very fast, like the pages of a child's flip book.  At first he could not catch any, or distinguish between them, but gradually their movement had slowed and he had made out faces, and parts of bodies--a hand, a thumb, the back of a neck.  Hair.  The images had begun to pulse, and balloon in and out, like a beating heart, the faces had swirled together, mingled then separated, and once or twice they had leered at him, or laughed silently out of mouths full of broken teeth.  he had tried to back away from them or lift his arm to shield his eyes, but he was stiff, his arm heavy and cold, like a joint of meat taken out of the freezer.  He did not know how to move it.
     The faces had split into fragments and begun to spin uncontrollably, and he had been looking down into a vortex.
     A flash of light.  Inside the light, millions of glittering, sharp pinpoints.  Another flash.  The pinpoints had dissolved.
     Simon Serrailler opened his eyes.

My Thoughts:

It's been a long time since Susan Hill added to her DCI Simon Serrailler mystery series.  I read the last book, The Soul of Discretion, in mid-2015 and wrote about it here.  I wasn't sure that there would be any more visits with Serrailler, his sister Cat and her family, and crime-solving in Lafferton.  I'm glad that we weren't quite through.

Simon had been asked to go undercover in prison in the previous book and things had gone very wrong.  Most of The Comforts of Home relates his recovery and he spends much of the book on Taransay, an island in the Outer Hebrides.  Those islands are a favorite location of mine to read about.  In actuality, Taransay is uninhabited for the most part since 1974 except for people on holiday.  Simon is asked to help the Scottish Police with an investigation on the island, he's visited by his nephew Sam, and then his new brother-in-law (and boss) Kieran Bright also wants him to look into a cold case.  Cat has changed jobs, is considering a new venture and she is getting used to her new husband.  Their father, Richard, is a big pain, as usual.

I liked this book and it suited my mood very well.  However, it was not particularly suspenseful.  Most of the story was about the Serrailler family and two cases that were not all that complicated to solve.  As I said, it suited me, but it might not others.  I was glad to catch up with the characters.  In previous books, this author spent a lot of time relating her opinions of current medical ethics and care in the story, probably too much.  She included an update on her medical care opinions here, but didn't beat the reader over the head with it quite as much.  I can see where there might be more books, but maybe not.  I'll continue to try them as long as she wants to write them.         

Blurb:

DCI Simon Serrailler's last, devastating case was nearly the death of him and left him confronting a new reality

Recovering on a remote Scottish island, his peace doesn’t last long. He is pulled in to a murder inquiry by the overstretched local police. A newcomer, popular with the islanders, has died in perplexing circumstances. The community's reactions are complicated and fragile.

It’s good to be back on the job. And when Simon returns to Lafferton, an arsonist is on the rampage and a woman whose daughter disappeared some years before is haunting the police station seeking closure. She will not let it rest, and Simon is called in to do a cold-case review.

At home, Simon is starting to get used to having a new brother-in-law – in the form of his Chief Constable Kieron Bright. His sister Cat has embarked on a new way of practising medicine, and his nephew Sam is trying to work out what to do with his life. And then their tricky father, Richard, turns up again like a bad penny.