Saturday, October 30, 2021

Book groups and author events and reading...lots of fun!

Hey everyone!  Hope you are all well and enjoying fall weather and reading.  R.I.P. XVI is almost at an end and I'll have a final post about that probably Monday or so.  However, today I'm going to share a bit about some book related things that I've been able to happily participate in.  

First of all, I attended the 'Talking Texas' Book Group this last Thursday and enjoyed a nice discussion with several members about Attica Locke's first Highway 59 mystery, Bluebird, Bluebird.  Set in East Texas, this book has an African American Texas Ranger protagonist, Darren Mathews.  There are two murders that Darren investigates and I think you can probably imagine that race relations, rural mindsets, and other complications play a part.  This Ranger is from East Texas and so he understands a lot of things that others might not, but he also learns things that he didn't know.  

The 'Talking Texas' group had an interesting discussion of the book and I enjoyed hearing opinions and thoughts from everyone.  A couple couldn't finish the book because the issues made them so sad or upset, but we all agreed that those feelings were not necessarily a bad thing.  There is a second book featuring Ranger Mathews, also set in East Texas, and including some legends and info regarding the Native American Caddo tribe.  That book is Heaven, My Home, and I read that one as well.  Both books gave me a lot to think about.  Not easy reads.  Good crime novels.  

Next, I attended a Zoom event with an Australian author, Virginia King.  She had been in contact with Gayle from the mystery group I attended while in Austin and they were able to set up a meeting with those of us who wanted to talk about Virginia's newest book, Planting Pearls.  This book is a prequel to Virginia's series featuring Selkie Moon.  It is a mystery, but with some metaphysical things included.  Set in Hawaii, there are legends and lore that come from the South Pacific part of the world.  I liked the book and enjoyed our talk with the author a lot.

I've also gone to several author events at my local library here in Kerrville in the last few weeks.  One I'll mention was with a local author, Joanne Kukanza Easley.  She has written a couple of books, one recently published called Just One Look and another previously published called Sweet Jane.  I got a copy of Sweet Jane and really enjoyed Joanne's talk about writing her books and also writing tips for those in the audience who asked questions.  I spoke with her after her talk and said that I'd love to have her share a guest post here if she'd like to.  We'll see if she and I can arrange that.  

There will be another author event in November that I'll talk about if I'm able to attend.  A mystery author no less!  Yay!  Her name is Skye Alexander and I've met and enjoyed talking with her at the library already.  Her book, which she will be featuring, is Never Try To Catch A Falling Knife.  More about that in a few weeks.

In other reading, I have finished the second book in Anne Perry's Daniel Pitt series, Triple Jeopardy.  I read the first book in the series for the mystery group November meeting.  I'll put together my thoughts on those books to send to the group by email.  I liked both books and enjoyed this 'second generation' Pitt protagonist.  There are a couple more books in this series so far and I suspect I'll be reading those soon.  By the way, Daniel Pitt is the son of Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, protagonists of Perry's long-running series.  Daniel is a lawyer, so comes at things a little differently than his father, a policeman.

I just started Karen Cleveland's latest book, You Can Run.  I've read other books by this author and am hoping this one will be a good one.  And that's about all I have for today.  Have a good weekend and Happy Halloween!!              

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Kerrville Chalk Festival 2021 and a bit of reading...

I was delighted that the Kerrville Chalk Festival was able to be held this year.  It had to be cancelled last year.  I had shared a post with my experience in 2019 here.  My husband and I took a stroll through the downtown square where these artists express themselves through chalk and we had a great time.  A couple of differences - last time I went early on the Sunday of the festival and we attended this time late Saturday afternoon.  More of the artists are in these pictures as they were mostly still in 'creation' mode.  I think it's quite interesting to see how they plan what they will draw - some with grids and some freehand.  The artists are all ages and some come from our area and some are from out of town or even out of state.  Hope you enjoy this look at the chalk art.

This artist was just in the beginning of her creation.  If you enlarge the picture you can see what the final goal is - just to the right of the grid.


It was a bit difficult to determine what this creation would actually look like in the end until one looked over the artist's shoulder and saw the rooster shot in his lap.  One little boy near us kept telling his Dad that this one was too weird.  Ha!  That eye was a bit creepy!

Since we're in October, a little Morticia and Gomez Addams seems appropriate, right?

And a little Ghostbusters as well!

This artist was younger than most though there was a 'kids' area for children to create.  She seemed to be about middle school.  I thought her creation was great - a longhorn, a roadrunner and an armadillo - Texas creatures!


Each festival has one creation that is '3D' and these flowers and butterflies are this year's 3D art.  Can you see the effect?  It was actually better looking at it through the lens of a camera or on your phone.  Very nice!

Hope you had fun seeing the chalk art.  Yes, I'm still reading and my latest reads are listed below.  I enjoyed all and am continuing my R.I.P. reading.  Only a couple of weeks left!

Twenty-one Days by Anne Perry - 1st in her Daniel Pitt series and mystery book group selection for November.

The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman

The Sanitorium by Sarah Pearse

Have a good week and I'll be back soon.  Take care!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

A gorgeous sunrise on my morning walk and more R.I.P. reading...


I'll start this update post by sharing a picture of a sunrise I enjoyed last Wednesday morning.  My walks are starting later because the days are getting shorter, but that means I'm getting to enjoy being out there when these wonderful sunrise colors are right in front of me.  I find that quite, quite pleasant - cool mornings, pretty skies, good audiobooks, enjoyable walks.  It's all good.  Hope life is good in your part of the world.

We took a quick overnight to Austin this week and had a nice birthday dinner with our daughter and son-in-law.  My husband had a couple of appointments the next day and then we headed back to Kerrville.  It's nice to be able to do that and the drive is only a couple of hours.  Otherwise, my reading is still going well as is my volunteering.  We have a new roof on our house and will soon have the trim and fascia painted and then the new gutters will be installed.  Progress!

As to reading, I'll list a bit about 4 books I completed since I last shared here.  All fit in with the R.I.P. theme, but then we all know that almost all of what I read falls in the mystery/crime novel world.

The Sun Down Motel is by Simone St. James and I liked it a lot.  Set in upstate New York and told partly in 1982 and partly in 2017, this is a 'deliciously creepy' (according to Riley Sager) story with many Gothic themes.  It tells of the disappearance of Viv Delaney in 1982 and the very odd happenings at The Sun Down Motel where Viv worked as a night clerk.  Carly Kirk is Viv's niece and she's heard about her mother's sister all her life.  Carly goes to Fell, New York to try to figure out what happened to her Aunt Viv.  I found the book and it's ghostly aspects quite absorbing and I am looking forward to discussing it with a new book group later this week.  This is a book group that I haven't tried yet so we shall see how it works and what the other members think of it.  A good October selection I think.

My next book was Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens.  I liked it a lot too.  I think I've only read one other book by this author, but I do remember seeing her at a mystery conference a few years ago and getting to meet her.  Dark Roads is set in British Columbia and the author grew up on Vancouver Island and still lives on the island.  The story tells of the Cold Creek Highway and the girls that have gone missing there over many, many years.  It's also based in part on actual events and Stevens shares some thoughts on that at the end of the book.  Hailey McBride grew up in Cold Creek and her father taught her how to survive in the woods.  He is killed in an accident and Hailey must live with her aunt and uncle and then Hailey goes missing as does another local woman, Amber.  A year later, Amber's sister comes to find out what happened and things really start heating up.  Lots of twists and turns and secrets here.  Pretty scary stuff, so maybe not a story for those who prefer more gentle tales.  FYI.

The Fiancee' by Kate White was my next selection.  I've read several books by Kate White who used to be the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine.  I liked this one well enough, but not as much as the previous two books.  This was about a family that gets together annually for a week at the parents' house - 4 brothers and their wives.  Well, 3 wives and 1 wife-to-be.  We see things from Summer's perspective.  She's married to Gabe.  When Nick introduces the family to his new 'flame' Hannah, Summer is sure she's met her before, but Hannah says not.  Later there's a death and then maybe another.  Secrets, lies, all the usual.  As I said, I liked it but it didn't break 'new ground' with me.  On to the next.

Lastly, I finished My Sister's Bones yesterday.  This one was written by Nuala Ellwood in 2017 and it was her debut novel.  I 'discovered' it on my Kindle and dove in.  Do you ever have books that you've forgotten you even owned?  I do.  Ha!  Nuala Ellwood is from a family of journalists and her main protagonist here is also a journalist.  Kate is a well-known war reporter and she's spent a lot of time in Syria.  She's witnessed many awful things and then told the stories of the people involved to her readers.  After her mother dies, Kate comes home.  She's not well herself and suffers from PTSD which causes her to have bad dreams and possible hallucinations.  Kate has a sister named Sally, but Sally too is unwell.  They had a tough childhood.  Sally's husband Paul tries to help out, but when Kate becomes convinced that bad things are happening next door it's hard to tell if there is really a problem or if it's all in Kate's mind.  It took me a while to get wholly involved in this story, but I hit a point where I couldn't put it down.  I'll be looking for more books by this author.

That's all I have for this post.  I've started Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry.  It's the first book in her Daniel Pitt series and is the November selection for my former mystery group.  I think this one will suit me very well - not quite as grim.  Take care and I'll be around again soon to let you know what I've been reading.  Happy Fall!!