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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring Break...you can find me walking outside...



Here's a lovely picture of a sunrise at my house - that means that I'm probably already off walking - I might be at the rec center on the indoor track or I might be preparing to head outside to walk my neighborhood or I might be on the park trails.  I've been busy indeed.

I'm going to take a pause here on the blog.  I've been busy in several ways and will continue to be for a while.  I'm also really not feeling the 'blog writing' vibe right now.  Will step away here, but will continue to stop by and comment on your blogs as I can.  Not sure how long this will last.  We shall see.  I'll cycle back around I'm sure. 

I have been reading and listening a lot.  Seem to have found my 'movement' mojo again and audiobooks always go along with that.  I'll be updating my 'Books Read' covers on the right side if you'd like to know what I've been reading/listening to.  Otherwise...happy spring! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

kay's week - 3.15.19


Reading this week...

I had a great week in the reading area.  I finally finished Kelley Armstrong's first book in her Rockton series - City of the Lost.  It's not that I wasn't enjoying it or absorbed in the story.  I just kept having to stop and read other things.  In any case, I did like it very much and have begun the second book, A Darkness Absolute.  This series takes place in the wilds of Canada.  Rockton is a small town that people come to when they are escaping from bad things in their regular life.  Casey Duncan was a homicide detective in her former life and she's one of three people who comprise the police in Rockton, a town definitely off the grid.  Interesting concept.

I listened to The Silent Patient, a debut thriller, by Alex Michaelides.  It was narrated very ably by Jack Hawkins and Louise Brealey.  It's about a woman artist who apparently kills her husband and then refuses to speak ever again.  She is placed in a secure unit and a therapist makes it his mission to get her story.  It's told by the therapist and also through the woman's diary.  I especially enjoyed the interview at the end of the book with the author.  He told of his upbringing in Cyprus and how this story is based on a Greek tragedy by Euripides.  I liked the story itself, though I did figure it out. 

The other two books I read were both compilations of short stories by P.D. James.  Both were published after her death, but the stories had been published previously.  They were Sleep No More and The Mistletoe Murder.  I always think that I don't really like short stories all that much.  However, as I was doing a read/listen of these books, I remembered that I've read every single short story written by Agatha Christie.  And liked them.  I have not read any of P.D. James books - and I'm not sure why - however, I'm going to change that.  I'll tell more below as I discussed the first book with a book group.  Both were narrated by Daniel Weyman and the second also included Jenny Agutter. 

Other stuff...

I attended a book group that I rarely go to this week and it was a kind of funny experience.  I saw a former colleague at another local library and she asked if I was coming to book group.  They were reading a short story collection by P.D. James.  She knows about my mystery love.  I've attended her group now and then, but it's hard to keep up with the reading for too many groups.  Anyway, I decided to try the book and go.  I'm good friends with the leader and worked with her in the past.  She does a good job of moderating.  The group is nice and I recognized a few faces.  However, they do not read mysteries very much.  I rather silently giggled as they related their views about British mysteries (don't like them much), about Agatha Christie (she 'tricks' the reader), and about having a hard time keeping up with characters even though these were short stories.  One lady took copious notes of each story and another said she found it completely obvious deciding who committed the crimes because the story was too short.  The people were too 'stiff upper lip' and not emotional enough.  Justice wasn't served.  There were no thrills.  As I said - I giggled inside.  I did share a bit from the beginning of The Mistletoe Murder, which was not the book we were discussing.  In it, Val McDermid writes the forward and tells of her admiration for P.D. James.  The prologue of that book is by James herself and she relates how writing short stories is different and challenging for an author.  Well, different strokes for different folks.  Everyone has their own 'comfort zone' in reading.  Mine usually involve crime and bodies.  Ha!


Wild Horses in New Mexico

I'll share a picture here that I've meant to share since last summer.  The Ruidoso area of New Mexico has some wild horses that live up in the mountains.  These lovely creatures will come down for a bit now and then.  Other creatures come down too - bears, mountain lions, elk - it's hard to catch the horses though and, when my husband and I saw these in someone's yard, we snapped a picture.  Yes, these horses are a wild herd that roam in the Ruidoso/Alto area.  Sometimes, we get lucky and see them.  Cool, right?

Hope you all have a good weekend!  Just keep repeating - spring is coming, spring is coming!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph - '...And Ladies Of The Club'


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 going to share today is one that I read originally in the 1980's soon after it was published.  It's quite long and it has not been available in e-book format until recently.  I was delighted to find that Ohio State University Press has made it available that way.  I bet this is a book that some of you have heard of or read in the past.  The author, Helen Hooven Santmyer, was 86 or 87 when this book originally came out in 1982.  Wow!  Here's a small sample:



by Helen Hooven Santmyer

First Paragraph(s):

*1868*

'The formation of the Waynesboro Woman's Club was first proposed in the early summer of 1868.'

The Waynesboro Female College in the eighteen fifties and sixties was a fitting subject, along with the Court House, the churches, the 'gentlemen's mansions,' for a steel engraving of the sort then fashionable.  The two College buildings were well back from the street behind an iron fence and a wide, deeply shaded campus.  A brick wall led from the gate; it divided midway in its course, one branch leading straight to the dormitory, the other turning right to the classroom building.  From the gate the two looked to be identical: severely rectangular facades, entrance doors deeply recessed above a half-dozen granite steps with iron handrails, the windows of three floors set in exact pairs, one pair above another up to the wooden cornices and the brackets supporting the wide overhang of almost flat roofs.  But one of these College buildings, as an engraving must have shown, was larger than the other: the classroom hall was cubical, with one chimney towering above each corner of the roof; the dormitory had much more depth than width, and along the edge of the roof on both sides, front to back, stood rows of double chimneys, evidence of coal fireplaces in every room.  The house where the owner of the school lived with his family was back and behind and out of sight of any possible engraver, unless he wandered down the side street that it faced.  But it was not worth an artist's pencil--rather small and rather shabby, and fortunately out of sight of the school's front gate.  As a matter of fact, the College buildings themselves clearly to be seen only part of the year, concealed as they were behind low-hanging branches of primeval trees; an artist who wanted a little human life in his picture could have included, in among the tree trunks, the figures of young ladies in hoop skirts playing croquet.

Blurb:

This New York Times best seller by Helen Hooven Santmyer recounts the lives of a group of women who start a study club in a small town in southwestern Ohio in 1868. Over the years, the club evolves into an influential community service organization in the town. Numerous characters are introduced in the course of the novel but primary are Anne Gordon and Sally Rausch who, as the book begins, are new graduates of the Waynesboro Female Seminary. The novel covers decades of their lives—chronicling the two women’s marriages and those of their children and grandchildren. Santmyer focuses not just on the lives of the women in the club, but also their families and friends and the politics and developments in their small town and the larger world.

In this longest and most ambitious of Santmyer’s books, there is—as with all of her previous work—a poignant sense of a past made present again through an acute sensibility, of human life and experience as somehow cumulative, and of lives and events, largely fugitive and forgotten, as captured and transformed as the stuff of her poetry.

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Would you continue reading?  The beginning may not be the most 'interest-grabbing' that I've ever shared.  However, this book is one that certain readers will say is on their 'all time favorite' list or that's how they remember it.  I do know that I plan to try it again and am curious whether I'll love it has much as I did in my late 20's.  Have you read this one and what did you think if you did? 

Friday, March 8, 2019

kay's week - 3.8.19



As I am changing a few things around for a time on this blog, I'm going to return to some weekly updates on my reading and other life events.  Not sure how long this will suit me, but it will be perfect right now.

Reading this week... 

I finished reading The Eating Instinct by Virginia Sole-Smith and liked it very much.  I didn't agree with all her musings, but I did find the whole book very thought-provoking.  Especially about the issues between each of us and our body size and feelings about food.  The author started the book by telling about Violet, her little girl, who stopped eating due to a medical problem when she was a tiny infant.  She had a heart issue and did have surgery, but required a feeding tube for a long time and had to be retrained to eat anything.  Very traumatic also for her parents and scary.  She interviewed a bunch of people and talked with them about various eating behaviors, etc.  As I noted, I was quite interested in what she shared about our current society's food 'rules' and placing guilt on almost all of us for how we eat.

I also read Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr, which was a reread for me.  This is the first book in Carr's Grace Valley Trilogy and I'll probably read the other two books as well in upcoming days.  It was written prior to the Virgin River books, but some of the characters have cameos in those as well.  June Hudson is a small town doctor, like her father, and the trilogy is about their town of Grace Valley and June and her friends.  Robyn Carr is on my comfort list of authors.

I listened to David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon on audio for an upcoming book group discussion.  I'm not going to talk about it right now, but will share more after the meeting in a couple of weeks.  The only thing I'll say is that there were three narrators - two were lovely - one was beyond tiresome.  Ha! 

Other Stuff...

Our mystery book group met Wednesday evening and we discussed The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn (aka Dan Mallory).  I wrote my thoughts on this book last year here.  We talked about the book itself, which most everyone liked or even loved.  I had enjoyed it a lot when I read it.  A couple felt it was a little long and drawn out, but mostly positive responses.  Then we talked about the author and the recent revelations about him and his personality in several articles, primarily one in The New Yorker in February.  Wow.  I won't share much other than to say that it kind of soured all of our feelings about his work.  We did actually talk about whether we could, as readers, separate a 'not very nice' author from their writings - deplore the one and love the other.  Most of us said 'yes'.  There will be a movie in the fall based on The Woman In The Window.  I'll have to consider whether I want to read more of his books when they are published.  Maybe, maybe not.

On the home front, we've had a couple of family gatherings in the last two weeks.  Those are always fun.  We went out with everyone for Mexican food last Saturday and celebrated a family birthday.  Our daughter made some delicious cupcakes to share with all of us - one of them pictured below.  It's red velvet with cream cheese icing.  Yum!  I actually ate and enjoyed most of one and only left a little icing (my tummy doesn't like too much fat in food these days).  It's nice to be able to enjoy some treats without feeling guilty (see why the food book was interesting to me?).
 



That's about it for this week.  Our temperatures have finally warmed up a bit.  As I'm writing this on Thursday afternoon, it's lovely outside and 73 degrees.  It was 25 earlier this week.  Yes, spring comes to Texas!  Bluebonnets have been spotted and I'll maybe have a wildflower picture to share in the next week or two.  Have a good weekend everyone!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph - The Eating Instinct



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 picked up randomly from the new books at a local library.  The title made me curious and I found myself quite interested as I stood there reading.  Finally, I got myself together and went to check it out.  As someone who has been on a 'getting healthier' quest - stepping up my activity and also changing a lot of my eating habits, I'm discovering things about my own 'eating instinct'.  Here's a sample of the book:



by Virginia Sole-Smith

First Paragraph(s):

What does it mean to learn to eat, in a world that's constantly telling us not to eat?  It's a question I started asking five years ago, when my daughter Violet stopped eating as a result of severe medical trauma.  Suddenly, we had to begin again, to forget all the normal rules about breast-feeding and spoon-feeding, and gingerly pick our way through a surreal new world where food was simultaneously the enemy and our salvation.  But in many ways, this is also a question I've been asking my whole life, as a woman who came of age at the intersection of the alternative-food movement and the war on obesity.  As a skinny kid growing up in the 1980s, I thought processed foods were great; I felt sorry for my friends whose moms bought only weird brown bread for their peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.  I'm not saying we never thought about healthy eating--the 1970s and 1980s also saw the birth of modern diet culture, with the rise of aerobics videos and fat-free everything.  And I certainly understood that fat was bad, and that was why we bought skim milk and diet soda.  But this was a more straightforward time for dieting; you joined Weight Watchers and ate SnackWell's if you needed to get thin.  You didn't have to reject an entire food-industrial complex or introduce exotic new ingredients into your diet.  Quinoa was still relegated to the dusty bin in a corner of our town's one hippie-run health food store.  
     But by the time I graduated from high school in 1999, we were buying mesclun greens and whole-grain pasta.  Obesity had become an official public health crisis.  Carbohydrates were the new 'bad food,' though fat was far from vindicated.  We were still a few years away from the landmark publication of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, but the conversation was beginning--on the coasts, at least--about the importance of organic farming and the need to eat 'whole foods' instead of processed ones.  As I'll explore in the chapters ahead, these twin anxieties about obesity and about the eco-health implications of our modern food system have transformed American food and diet culture.  Eating well has become wildly more complicated; it's now about 'eating clean,' it's about being a socially responsible consumer and an accomplished home chef.  Thinness has become our main measure of health, but also of personal virtue, of having the right kind of education, politics, and morality.

Blurb:

Food is supposed to sustain and nourish us. Eating well, any doctor will tell you, is the best way to take care of yourself. Feeding well, any human will tell you, is the most important job a mother has. But for too many of us, food now feels dangerous. We parse every bite we eat as good or bad, and judge our own worth accordingly. When her newborn daughter stopped eating after a medical crisis, Virginia Sole-Smith spent two years teaching her how to feel safe around food again — and in the process, realized just how many of us are struggling to do the same thing.

The Eating Instinct visits kitchen tables around America to tell Sole-Smith’s own story, as well as the stories of women recovering from weight loss surgery, of people who eat only nine foods, of families with unlimited grocery budgets and those on food stamps. Every struggle is unique. But Sole-Smith shows how they’re also all products of our modern food culture. And they’re all asking the same questions: How did we learn to eat this way? Why is it so hard to feel good about food? And how can we make it better?

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Would you continue reading?  I'm finding this book fairly fascinating in many aspects.  

Monday, February 25, 2019

Hitting the pause button for a bit...



I decided over the weekend that I think I will indeed hit the pause button for a few days.  Leaving you with a lovely picture of an Oregon rose.  Back soon!

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.