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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Dead Stop by Barbara Nickless; Snail Mail

In the second book featuring railway cop Sydney Rose Parnell and her Belgian Malinois K-9 partner Clyde, the two again face a tricky investigation.  When Sydney gets to the site of an assumed suicide, she quickly sees problems with a suicide scenario and things become more complicated.  A woman has been murdered and her young daughter kidnapped.

The plot grows even more tragic and perplexing as more brutal murders are discovered at the woman's home. 

 Sydney is a fascinating protagonist, tough, complex, compassionate...and still haunted by her service in Iraq.  
An old rivalry may have had something to do with the murders and kidnapping and the investigation leads to decades old crimes and a twist.

I started this series with the 4th book in the series from NetGalley and that review is scheduled.  Now, I've read the first two books in the series and can't wait to start the third book!  Except that then I will be caught up and have to wait for book #5.

Book 1:  Blood on the Tracks
Book 2:  Dead Stop
Book 3:  Ambush
Book 4:  Gone to Darkness (scheduled for May 10)

Sydney and Clyde are now part of my favorite partners list.

Kindle Unlimited

Police Procedural.  2017.  Print length:  400 pages.


----Snail Mail for the Lonely-----
During lock downs across the U.S., folks who are already isolated in hospitals and nursing homes can no longer have visits even from family members for safety reasons.  

I wrote a little about this on my other blog, along with a list of several places that have requested  cards and letters for their residents.  Not only adults, but children can participate in writing letters to people who are lonely or feeling cut off from society right now.  You may even know someone who lives alone and would appreciate a handwritten communication.

Here is another article about the importance of mail for those who need to connect with the outside world:  Become a Penpal to Seniors.

And Hallmark offers free greeting cards to overcome social distancing.






Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Split by Sharon Bolton and other stuff

I'm sorry to say that I found this latest book...a bit meh.  I've been reading and enjoying Sharon Bolton since her first books--remember Sacrifice, Awakening, and Blood Harvest, those horror books that began her career?  Then I enjoyed the Lacey Flint series.  I especially liked her stand-alone Little Black Lies.

The Split, however, was a disappointment.  After checking Goodreads, I realize that I'm one of the few who felt let down by this one.

And so it goes, as Billy Pilgrim frequently stated.  It didn't work for me, but others loved it.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Psychological.  April 28, 2020.  Print length:  400 pages.

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Daily schedule:  feed cats, feed birds, garden, read, do laundry, read, wonder what life will be like in a month or a year, read, skim the news, escape into a book.

A Good Thing:  Since I've begun receiving personal mail again lately (which makes me very happy), I've begun to write letters again.  It is comforting to sit and write letters to friends and family, and I love decorating my stationery and envelopes, which occupies some of my time.   

I am all for saving the USPS and enjoying one of my favorite hobbies!

Funny, but True:


 

My wife and I play this fun game during quarantine, it's called "Why Are You Doing It That Way?" and there are no winners



Saturday, April 18, 2020

Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless

Blood on the Tracks is the first book in the Sydney Rose Parnell series.  I actually started with the 4th book (Gone to Darkness--which will be published in August), but since I like the characters--and loved Clyde, Sydney's K-9 partner--I wanted more.  So...I found the first book in the series.

One of the most interesting aspects of the series is Sydney's experience as an Iraq war veteran and Marine, and both Sydney and Clyde have some unresolved issues from the war. 

Blood on the Tracks gives a great deal of background that I didn't have when I read Gone to Darkness.  I read fine as a stand alone,  but learning more about the background was intriguing.  The chapter epigraphs are particularly thought-provoking. 

Who is Sydney Rose Parnell?  She is a Marine war veteran who still struggles with PTSD and currently, a railroad police special agent.

Who is Clyde?  Clyde is also a Marine veteran, a Belgian Malinois, and Sydney's best friend and companion.  The background information explains their connection through Doug Ayer's, Clyde's handler in Iraq.

Plot?  A young woman is brutally murdered and the suspect is the Burned Man, an Iraq war veteran with gruesome facial scars.  This creates a personal dilemma for Sydney in two separate ways--she has a connection to Elise through Nik, who has been a father figure for both Sydney and Elise and through the Burned Man, whom she recognizes from an event in Iraq.

There are two parallel plot lines, one of which peters out when when evidence points in a specific direction.  The other plot line, however, I suspect will be amplified in another book.

Some misdirection and a twist that was not exactly what I expected.  The characters are well drawn and complex; the weight of grief, death, and war is evident in Sydney's responses and in the epigraphs to each chapter; the research into the effects of war gave a sense of realism and depth.  

I found myself unable to put this down as I cheered on Sydney and Clyde, enjoyed reading about the trains and hobo population, watched Sydney deal with her mixed emotions about the Burned Man--her belief in his innocence and her fears of the event in the past becoming public knowledge.  

Kindle Unlimited.  I've already gotten the next book and started it!

Police Procedural/Suspense.  2016.  Print length:  386 pages.


Friday, April 10, 2020

The Book of Koli (Rampart Trilogy 1) by M.R. Carey

The Girl With All the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge were books that I loved and that have stayed with me.  Now, Carey has a new trilogy, the first of which is The Book of Koli.

Koli begins by telling us that he has to start at the beginning to tell his tale.  He then recounts his life in Mythen Rood, a small village that struggles to keep safe in a post-apocalyptic world.  

At first, he is Koli Woodsmith, and describes his family, friendships, and much about how the village operates.  Then, at fifteen young people take a new name, and he becomes Koli Waiting.  Those who turn fifteen take the name Waiting as they are housed together waiting for the test that will determine whether of not they become Rampart.  Most young people desperately want to become Rampart because a Rampart can "awaken" the few pieces of tech that have survived.  The Ramparts have a rarefied place in society and are charged with the protection of the village in several ways because certain tech weapons have "wakened" to them.

The beginning is a little slow, but as Koli reveals information in his own particular order, mentioning characters and events, then saying he will get to them later, as he attempts to tell his story in a chronological frame.  Gradually the narrative picks up speed and interest until the reader is immersed in Koli's world and events.

Koli suffers a disappointment at the Testing and realizes he is not able to become a Rampart, and when this is followed by another disappointment, circumstances combine to reveal a shocking truth:  the Testing is not fair and has never been.  Koli, frustrated and angry, makes some choices that will have consequences and long-term effects.

There is an honesty to Koli's account of events.  He includes his mistakes and his shame for some of his behavior, even though he acknowledges his youth, his immaturity, and his lack of knowledge (a result of the isolation of the village).  He gives accurate descriptions of his friends and fellow villagers instead of vilifying them.  The coming-of-age element is an important part of the narrative, especially as Koli meets Ursula and Monomo, and begins what Joseph Campbell refers to as the hero's journey.

OK.  The Book of Koli was a fascinating beginning to the Rampart Trilogy, and if you have enjoyed M.R. Carey's previous books, you may find this one as intriguing and thought-provoking as The Girl With All the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge.   I can't wait for the next one.  Recommended!

NetGalley/Orbit Books
Dystopian/Science Fiction.  April 14, 2020.  Print length:  416 pages.



Monday, April 06, 2020

Hunting November by Adriana Mather and Starting Over at Acorn Cottage by Kate Forster

Hunting November by Adriana Mather.

from description: After surviving a crash course in espionage at the mysterious Academy Absconditi, November has only one purpose: finding her missing father. Along with fellow student (and heartthrob) Ash, November follows the clues that her father left, embarking on the deadliest treasure hunt of her life.

 I hoped the second book would provide a little more depth, but it stayed surface and action oriented.  The clues and their locations were amazingly difficult and dangerous, and I found it difficult to believe a loving father would put his daughter in such situations.  My ability to suspend belief in the first book was difficult, but in this one...impossible.  Not that I was tempted to abandon it--I wanted to know what happened.

That said, the reviews on Goodreads are extremely high.

NetGalley/Random House Children's
YA/Suspense.  May 5, 2020.  Print length:  368 pages.


Oops!  Clara Maxwell discovers her boyfriend and her best friend are actually a couple.  They weren't quite ready to own up to this when Clara finds out.

In the midst of her shock, anger, and sadness, Clara buys a cottage in a remote village.  Sight unseen.  There you have it. One emotional upset followed by a financial one when Clara actually sees the cottage for the first time.

Some interesting characters, several characters with problems that need solving, and the happy ending you would expect.   

Kindle Unlimited
English Village Cozy.  March 28.   



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An interesting article on The Bystander Effect by Catherine Sanderson.

According to Catherine A Sanderson, a psychology professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts and the author of The Bystander Effect, myriad complex factors make some of us bystanders and some of us heroes. These range from our self-identity to the pressure of social norms. 
Sanderson says she was inspired to write the book by both “personal and global” events: Harvey Weinstein’s sex offences, the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, and the fact that a student at her son’s college died just two weeks into his very first semester. The student had been drinking heavily and had fallen and hit his head. Although fellow students watched over him, they didn’t call emergency services for nearly 20 hours. By which time it was too late to save him. Her book answers the question at the heart of this incident: why?

 The article encouraged my interest in the book.  It doesn't mention in the article about what happened in Germany during the rise of Hitler, but I'm sure the book covers that situation which led to normal people accepting evil behavior.

I checked with Amazon, but the book was "not available." ??? That only piqued my interest.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Killing November by Adriana Mathers and Other Stuff

I received Hunting November, a YA novel, from NetGalley.  Since it was the second novel in a series, I decided to get the first one and read it before beginning Hunting November.


Adriana Mather's Killing November is the first in the series.  When November Adley's aunt's house is broken into, her father sends her to a boarding school to keep her safe while he deals with the situation.

Academy Abscondititi is an eye-opening experience for November, not least because it appears that someone wants her dead.  It is also off the grid in what appears to be a medieval castle that has no electricity and a curriculum that focuses on physical skills like archery, poisons, knife throwing.

We all know the boarding school trope, and watching November trying to navigate this unusual and dangerous academy kept me reasonably entertained.  November needs to avoid being killed, avoid being held responsible for the murder of one of the students, and she needs to find out who she really is and why someone wants to kill her.

Now, I will proceed to Hunting November, my download from NetGalley to find out what happens next.  Right now, I'm not up to much other than a lot of  escapism.












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These were the last postcards and letters I sent in early March, before we all got worried about mail transmitting the virus.









Now, it has been weeks since I've mailed anything other than a bill or two.  I miss letters--both the sending and the receiving (which has also become very occasional).   All mail entering the house receives the same treatment as packages or groceries.  I'm cautious, but grateful for those who deliver the mail, the medicines, the online necessities.  How are you feeling about mail?


Remember the Plague Doctors?

and a more DIY version

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

In the Barren Ground


In the Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White takes place in a Canadian wilderness bordering the Arctic Circle.  Tana Larson, young and pregnant, becomes the sole law enforcement for an area that covers 17,500 miles when her superior has some issues with the cold, isolation, and prolonged darkness of the area.

Two young researchers are savaged by wolves, and Tana, after viewing the scene begins to have some doubts about whether the wolves killed the two young people--or arrived after they were dead.

A mixture of legend, madness, and a determined young Mountie who has a surfeit of suspects.

I liked it.  White's writing evokes the atmosphere of the far north.      

Kindle Unlimited.  Read in March.   

The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey was my favorite book in March, but it won't be published until August, so I'm holding the review.

My husband didn't get this,
but anyone who has grown an avocado tree from an avocado pit will.