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Friday, September 24, 2021
Uncharted Waters and Where Cowards Tread by Sabrina Flynn, Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave, Tahoe ice Grave by Todd Borg
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Looking at a list of Perry's books, I noticed the Jane Whitefield series. Jane is a Native American, and I like books that feature indigenous characters. I also liked the description of Jane being a "guide" who helps people in serious trouble disappear. Many books in this category are about women and children escaping abusive situations, but Jane's clients vary. They aren't always innocent, but they aren't deserving of being murdered. (Think Kelley Armstrong's Rockton series in which not all of the community are upstanding citizens.)
from description: Thanks to her membership in the Wolf Clan of the Seneca tribe, she can fool any pursuer, cover any trail, and then provide her clients with new identities, complete with authentic paperwork. Jane knows all the tricks, ancient and modern; in fact, she has invented several of them herself.
In that lovely way of synchronicity, Jane's Seneca background is important and there are digressions that tell some of the same myths that Robin Wall Kimmerer relates in Braiding Sweetgrass. Deganawida the Peacemaker features in Kimmerer's discussion of the legends of the Iroquois. Born in Tonawanda, NY, Thomas Perry is well versed in the local indigenous legends and culture. Many things that Kimmerer mentions in her nonfiction Braiding Sweetgrass appear in The Vanishing Act. from legends to environmental and cultural practices of the indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes region.
The plot begins with Jane finishing getting one client to safety and finding another prospective client waiting for her in her home. Jane's professional skills are impressive and the plot has plenty of close calls and one sinister surprise. As skilled as Jane is at making people disappear, she is also capable of making mistakes--and just when it seems her skills are incomparable, Jane finds herself confronting unanticipated problems.
Suspenseful and entertaining! I was glued to this one, and since this is the first in Perry's Jane Whitefield series, I have more to look forward to reading.
Ballantine Books (purchased)
Thriller. 1996, 2007. Print length: 368 pages.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
In 1885 in Paris, Eugenie, a young woman in a controlling, patriarchal household, reveals to her grandmother that she "sees dead people." As a result, she ends up in the Salpetriere Asylum. Eugenie was already problematic for occasionally taunting her father, and he takes the opportunity to relieve himself of her presence.
The asylum under Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot was in much better shape than it had been previously, and Charcot made many advancements in science, but "Charcot had come to believe that susceptibility to hypnosis was an indicator of latent hysteria. He based this belief on the fact that hysterical symptoms could be reproduced by hypnotic suggestions (Fancher, 1985, p. 54)." (source)
Women in the Salpetriere Asylum range from those who suffer from epilepsy, dementia, "hysteria", sexual trauma, and in Eugenie's case the insanity of seeing spirits. But Eugenie is not insane, and soon enough, Genevieve, the head nurse has to deal with this particular problem.
The book is short and well-researched, and I found it intriguing in its rather unusual approach. The inclusion of spiritualism, family dynamics, and the names of Charcot's famous students were sometimes at odds. Medical science, especially in the area of mental health, has undergone remarkable and often cruel trends and so have cultural norms. Women are much better off today--they can vote, get divorced, retain custody of their children, work outside the home, etc. And yet...women are still expected to meet some of the social norms of a century ago, don't trust that reporting abuse will be taken seriously, and are called hysterical if they respond in a manner accepted as OK for men.
It was difficult to find accounts of the Le Bal des Folles at the Salpetriere Asylum because almost everything led back to the novel and the upcoming film, but I finally found this.
Historical fiction. Sept. 7, 2021. Print length: 224 pages.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
While I enjoyed some essays more than others and each essay has a strong personal involvement and bias, each one gave me a something to consider about the ecology of this land and the abuses we have inflicted upon it. Unintended and unexpected consequences, as well as "who cares" consequences. Even attempts to correct the mistakes often had other harmful consequences.
First published in 2013, Kimmerer and most scientists were fully aware of the ramifications of global warming/climate change on both flora and fauna. Eight years later, here we are experiencing the cumulative effects that scientists have been warning about since the climate models of the 1970s. The changes may have been gradual for years, but the effects have intensified and can no longer be ignored.
Kimmerer had not despaired in 2013, and her work continues to offer ways of reclaiming damaged environments, but I have to wonder how hopeful she continues to be. The catastrophic fires, floods, hurricanes, and droughts have, for the last few years, forced us to look at what we have wrought and yet, we continue to do the very things that have contributed to the mess we've created.
Do I agree with Kimmerer's basic philosophy? Yes. It is beautiful, scientifically sound, and logical: reciprocate--take care of what feeds and supports you, don't take more than you need, insure that the plants, trees, and animals that help humans survive can also survive and thrive.
I wish I could have read this book decades before it was written. Braiding Sweetgrass may be idealized at times, but it touches people in ways that statistical models cannot. Perhaps it could have helped curtail the some of the practices that have led us to this point. Perhaps it would have encouraged a more open-minded outlook and offered a better horizon.
The Wendigo metaphor of insatiable greed and hunger is an affliction we can all recognize: we want more, faster, easier, more convenient. We never have enough. Instead of recognizing this always wanting more as a flaw, societies have seen it as not only acceptable, but aspirational.
The book is long and the audio version is exceedingly long, but I want to believe that we will, not only this country, but the world, realize the damage we continue to inflict, and think about healing this planet.
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Gated Prey is the third entry in Lee Goldberg's Detective Eve Ronin series. In order to have a better understanding of the background, it is better to begin with the first and second books that explain how rookie Eve Ronin ends up in the homicide squad and the resentment the Sheriff's department expresses toward for her high profile appointment and for her role in exposing the corruption in the department.
Two plot threads are included in this third book. One has to do with a Eve and partner Duncan Pavone pretending to be a wealthy couple in order to catch the home invaders who have been hitting very wealthy homes in an exclusive and gated community. The second has to with Eve's questions about a still birth that has serious implications.
From the first book, Duncan Pavone's imminent retirement has been discussed. If Duncan retires, I'm not sure the series will succeed. His mentorship and support help keep Eve balanced. He is the perfect experienced foil to Eve's impulsiveness.
Read in May.
NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer
Police Procedural. Oct. 26, 2021. Print length: 268 pages
A man, his wife, and his daughter are murdered in an isolated farmhouse. The murders are similar to murders that occurred in the same farmhouse twenty years earlier. Too similar to ignore.
This is the second book in this series, and I didn't read the first one.
There are some twists, but an important plot thread seemed obvious from early on. I didn't find the main character Detective James Walker particularly appealing and the references to a couple of previous cases felt more digressive than important.
Alex Pine has written a series of books on true crime, but I believe this is only his second novel.
read in August
Mystery/Thriller. Oct. 28, 2021. Print length: 400 pages
Tuesday, September 07, 2021
Sendler's courage, initiative, and ingenuity intrigued me, and I wanted to try this fictional account based on Sendler's activities.
Friday, September 03, 2021
When Carl, began the first R.I.P. Challenge in 2006, I was all in. I think the last time I formally joined was in 2016 or 2017, but I continued to read spooky books during the fall. If you are looking for some suggestions, here are some that I looked back and found.
A list of some of the books that I'd read for the challenge posted in 2011
Almost anything by John Connolly or Sharon Bolton
I wish I'd kept better track of R.I.P. books, because it is such a fun challenge. At first, I concentrated on classics, then I moved on to some more contemporary books that fit the parameters of the challenge. I also read some middle school or YA that were good, too.
Now, I just look for what others are reading and add some to my list.
My favorite holiday is Halloween and spooky/supernatural books fit the season. I'm not quite ready to get the Halloween decorations out, but I'm certainly thinking about it. I just ignore the Heat Advisories and think pumpkins.
Anyway, I'm checking your R.I.P. book lists and stealing your suggestions. :)
Wednesday, September 01, 2021
September has finally arrived, although it will be a while before it feels like fall. I still have a lot of books to review from August, and I'll have to make myself get some of them scheduled. Procrastination. Instead of reviewing, I often just start another book. Do you do that?
It is 88 this morning with a heat index of 97 degrees; the high today will be 99--so the heat index will be at least 108. Combined with the onset of allergy season and the itchy eyes, sneezing, and overall tiredness, I'm not feeling any incentive to do much today. Weeds, be damned.
I slowed down on my Nightmare Catchers in August, and have only three in progress. Almost done, but they've been waiting on completion for a while.SOE in Denmark is an overview of SOE operations in Denmark written shortly after the war. (Special Operations Executive)
"SOE in Denmark was written at a time when SOE was still largely unknown to the general public and its operations a closely guarded secret. It was expected that its activities would never be officially acknowledged and the study of its actions in Denmark was compiled with the aim of provide a lasting record of its achievement."
While the book offers an account of the SOE's operations and collaboration with the Danish agents, it is an official report and lacks personal information about the agents who risked their lives. The Appendices offer more information and reference material. I was a little startled to find that approximately 2/3 of the book was the reference material, important and informative.
Having read Between Silk and Cyanide by Leo Marks (son of Benjamin Marks, antiquarian bookseller of Marks & Co and 84, Charing Cross Road fame), I mistakenly thought SOE in Denmark would be similar.
It isn't. It is, nevertheless, important. I wish someone had recorded a more detailed account of the individuals involved in the resistance to the Nazi Occupation of Denmark. Although SOE in Denmark lacks the human aspect, it is historically interesting.
(Some of the most famous female SOE agents were in France and included Nancy Wake, Violette Szabo, Odette Sansom, and Noor Inayat Khan--they have been written about many times. I wish we knew more about the Danish agents.)
WWII History. Sept. 21, 2021. Print length: 208 pages.
Desolation Canyon is the second book in this new series by P.J. Tracy.
Jan. 18, 2022. Print length: 320 pages
Friday, August 27, 2021
For the last ten days or so, I've been listening to Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by written and narrated by Robin Wall Kimmerer. A series of essays that combine scientific knowledge with indigenous myth and culture and examine our relationship with the earth.
I've been enjoying the essays and the soothing voice of the author/narrator. It isn't the kind of book that you read (or listen to) straight through. You listen and pause and return again later that day or the next. I've listened to about half now, an essay or two at a time as I do chores or sit and sew on the Nightmare Catchers.
Kimmerer is a scientist, but she is strongly influenced by her indigenous heritage, and the essays make me ponder the way the two, science and culture, differ. They may come to the same conclusions, but by very different paths.
In a letter from our thirteen-year-old granddaughter, she mentioned that of her summer reading, I Will Always Write Back was the book that made an impression on her. As both a reader and a letter writer, I figured this was a book I needed to read.
Saturday, August 21, 2021
Which was fine and still promising. Brom and Katrina have married, had a son, lost both their son Bendix and their daughter-in-law, and have been raising their grandchild, Bende, usually shortened to Ben.
As a coming-of-age or self-actualization story, Horseman does have some merit, but in the end, the impact is lost. The first person narration tends more to "telling" than showing and feels clumsy--like explanations of what is happening.
I looked at some reviews and there are plenty of positive reviews, so the fact that I was disappointed, doesn't mean that you will be. And no one can fault the cover!
Fantasy. Sept. 28, 2021. Print length: 320 pages
In early August, I read Tahoe Death Fall by Todd Borg and felt glad to be at the beginning of a long series which will be there when I need something to read in those periods when the pickings are poor or when a book I thought I'd enjoy ends up being abandoned.
Of particular interest is the plot. Owen McKenna is alerted by Spot, his Great Dane, and realizes that a fire is rapidly moving up the mountain toward his cabin. The speed of a forest fire depends on fuel, weather, and terrain and can move as fast as 10 mph. All conditions are present when McKenna registers the danger, and the fire is quickly moving up the slope at frightening speed. He notifies his closest neighbor and picks her up as quickly as possible to escape being trapped by the fire.
With all the fires currently burning across the West, the book felt even more relevant Aside from the search for the arsonist, the information about forest fires was educational. Blow ups, sudden increases in intensity that risk fire fighters losing control; trees that are more flammable and those that have greater resistance; methods and equipment used in fighting forest fires are all included as McKenna, the fire department, and the forest service deal with the fires.
I like the characters and, although the arsonist is not too difficult to spot, I enjoyed the way the plot played out.
Thriller Press/Kindle Unlimited
Suspense. 2001. Print length: 320 pages.
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
From the beginning of this series, it was clear that India was approaching the precipice of a divided nation. Britain had promised self-rule if India would help during WWI, but reneged, offering some reforms, but not self-rule.
When Edward, the Prince of Wales, made his royal tour in 1921, tempers were high and the divisions between sects were a roiling undercurrent. Indians were divided into those who wanted self-government and those who supported the British-- and then into various sects, the largest majorities of which were Muslim and Hindus.
A supporter of independence, Perveen Mistry did not intend to join the parade crowds welcoming the Prince of Wales, but changes her mind and joins her friend Alice and the Woodburn College assembly.
A student protester rushes toward the prince's carriage, unruly crowds that turn into riots, a young girl who had visited Perveen for advice is found murdered on campus grounds.
Another excellent glimpse of the various cultures, beliefs, and political turmoil of an India seeking change. The redoubtable Perveen and her family and friends give a personal insight to different views, religions, and nationalities. For many of us, the best way to develop an interest in other cultures and in history is often the result of reading fiction and then becoming interested in finding out more.
I highly recommend this series by Suhata Massey.
The audiobook was skillfully narrated by Snethan Mahan.
-----I read some Jeffrey Archer books years ago, so when NetGalley offered this one, I was interested.
In Geneva, millionaire art collector Miles Faulkner—convicted of forgery and theft—was pronounced dead two months ago. So why is his unscrupulous lawyer still representing a dead client?
On a luxury liner en route to New York, the battle for power at the heart of a wealthy dynasty is about to turn to murder.
And at the heart of all three investigations are Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick, rising star of the department, and ex-undercover agent Ross Hogan, brought in from the cold.
Sunday, August 15, 2021
I read The Last Watch in October of 2020 and posted the review in March. I'm glad to have been able to continue this adventure with The Exiled Fleet, but now I'm waiting for book 3.
My main complaint is that I wish there had been a little reminder of some of the events in the first book. The Exiled Fleet begins in medias res, and as I've read over a hundred of books since last October, it took me a chapter or so to reorient myself. A minor complaint.
Thursday, August 12, 2021
Gideon Fitzroy never reported his daughter Blake as missing, instead, he encouraged the rumor that Blake was a runaway. Ten years later, shortly after Fitzroy's death in an auto accident, Blake Fitzroy shows up at his funeral.
Unsurprisingly, his second wife as well as several others are shocked and dismayed at the arrival of a calm, cool twenty-five-year-old on the scene claiming to be Blake.
The Blake who shows up is not the shy fifteen-year-old who went missing a decade ago, but a composed, self-possessed young woman. A con artist, hoping to gain control of the estate through the will?
Detective John Byron, on medical leave from the Met, has also shown up for the funeral. He has no official authority, but it appears that he does have a purpose.
Byron is a shrewd and competent detective, but he is on medical leave, not at all certain he should be back at work, and a little curious about this assignment. His boss, however, wants Byron back in the game unofficially in order to motivate his interest in returning to work full time.
Unsure what to think about the young woman claiming to be Blake Fitzroy, Byron is intrigued. His initial assignment changes with Blake's unexpected arrival throwing everything up in the air.
Blake has an agenda, but her goal seems less to do with gaining an inheritance and more to do with the events that caused her to runaway ten years ago...and to stay away until Gideon Fitzroy was dead. If she is, indeed, Blake Fitzroy. And whether or not she is, Blake certainly has some skills in housebreaking.
Both characters and plot kept me involved and eager to know what happened next! Enough information to make you eager to keep track of details, but not enough to feel confident who is responsible. Exactly the way I like it. :)
An absorbing and entertaining mystery with characters I'm eager to read more about!
Mystery/thriller. Oct. 20, 2021.
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Although sucked into the town of Burning Lake and its ability to accommodate both Wicca and Christian inhabitants, the need for the first two books didn't manifest.
Sunday, August 08, 2021
Whew, I've been abandoning a lot of books lately. Some I know pretty quickly that they aren't what I want to read; I've read over 50% of others (hoping that somehow the experience will be salvaged) before giving up. Sometimes it's the book and sometimes it's me--for whatever reason.
Wednesday, August 04, 2021
Constance is a strange book, a mix of intriguing ethical questions to ponder and some over-the-top events that take it from future possibility to B movie horror.
from description: In the near future, advances in medicine and quantum computing make human cloning a reality. For the wealthy, cheating death is the ultimate luxury. To anticloning militants, it’s an abomination against nature. For young Constance “Con” D’Arcy, who was gifted her own clone by her late aunt, it’s terrifying.
Constance has not recovered from the accident that put her boyfriend into a permanent vegetative state and left her with severe damage to one of her knees.
Con's Aunt Abigail, with whom Constance has had only one brief encounter as a child, is a brilliant scientist whose work has made cloning a possibility.
When Abigail's work is successful and her company Paragenesis is worth millions, Abigail gives her family the opportunity to have a clone--sort of giving them all her middle finger because she knows they won't accept. Con, who also left her dysfunctional home, accepts the opportunity for a clone --mostly for the same reason, to thumb her nose at her family. But after a scheduled update or "refresh" to put Con's most recent memories into the clone, something goes wrong.
Slow beginning, then suddenly intense and fast-paced, when Con's clone is activated. When Con2 is activated, she is missing memories of the last 18 months and has no idea what happened to her "original."
On the run, Con2's compulsion to find out what happened during the 18 missing months, while trying to evade those who have been sent to recover her, leads her into dangerous situations. Unable to trust those who tell her they are trying to help her, Con2 pursues her quest to fill in the memory blanks and to find out how and why her "original" died. There are plenty of twists.
I raced through this one. The middle is satisfying and suspenseful, but the conclusion feels like the author lost track of his purpose or self-control and let his over-heated imagination have free rein. :)
"No hint that, deep in the bowels of the building, the laws of nature were being systematically rewritten." (about the Paragenesis building and labs where the cloning takes place)
"Humans are very good at inventing solutions and very, very bad at anticipating consequences."
"In this country, power doesn't derive from defeating a threat; true power comes from the fear of the threat. And maintaining power requires a continuing threat."
Science Fiction. Sept. 1, 2021. Print length: 352 pages.
Sunday, August 01, 2021
Twenty years have passed since the Lovelorn Killer murders, and now Annalisa Vega is wondering why the murders have started again. She has a personal connection to the last of killer's victims.
The most interesting part to me was the online "detective" group called the Grave Diggers, who investigate cold cases.
I didn't want to put it down, but I still had a lot of quibbles. The reviews are extremely positive, and although I'll certainly need the next Annalisa Vega book, this one wasn't a stand-out for me.
I'm looking forward to the next Ellery Hathaway/Reed Markham book, though.
Read in February; blog review scheduled for Aug. 1.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Mystery/Thriller. Aug. 10, 2021. Print length: 304 pages.
The Dread Penny Society series is light fun with interesting characters. I like the concept, but it must be hard-going to keep it fresh.
Friday, July 23, 2021
Science fiction is one of my favorite genres, and David Weber has long been one of my favorite authors. His books are long (often 800+ pages) and full of characters, and yet I never have a problem with the number of characters and always hate to finish his books. I think I've read every book in the Honor Harrington series--unless I've somehow missed a newer publication since 2018.. The Safehold series is where I began reading Weber years ago, and I've read at least 4 in that series--but somehow lost track of it. Not for lack of interest, however.
I actually read In Fury Born in 2008, but then I saw an audio book that has the addition of Alicia Devries' backstory. Nearly 32 hours of audiobook! To say it took a long time to finish is an understatement, but I never lost interest, and I did a lot more walking, weeding, stitching, laundry, and other chores done during those days than would otherwise have happened.
The narrator Vivienne Leheny was exceptional.
from description: Imperial Intelligence couldn't find them, the Imperial Fleet couldn't catch them, and local defenses couldn't stop them. It seemed the planet-wrecking pirates were invincible. But they made a big mistake when they raided ex-commando leader Alicia DeVries' quiet home/work, tortured and murdered her family, and then left her for dead.
Alicia decided to turn "pirate" herself, and stole a cutting-edge AI ship from the empire to start her vendetta. Her fellow veterans think she's gone crazy, the Imperial Fleet has shoot-on-sight orders. And, of course, the pirates want her dead, too. But Alicia DeVries has two allies nobody knows about, allies as implacable as she is: a self-aware computer and a creature from the mists of Old Earth's most ancient legends. And this trio of furies won't rest until vengeance is served.
In Fury Born is a greatly expanded new version of David Weber's popular novel Path of the Fury, which has gone through six large printings in its original mass market edition. David Weber has added considerable new material, revealing the earlier life of Alicia DeVries before she embarked on her mission of vengeance, and illuminating the universe of the original story. The result is a novel with almost twice the wordage of the original, and a must-buy for all David Weber fans.
I didn't even realize it was the same book I read years ago because this version begins with Alicia Devries' background, acceptance into the cadre, and first adventures--a prequel, of sorts. Even when it came to the familiar parts, I'd forgotten so much even that it was as good as new.
Not for everyone, but military science fiction and space opera fans should give David Weber a try. I'll be getting back on board with books I've missed. :)
Military Science Fiction. Narrator Vivienne Leheny.