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Friday, May 28, 2021

The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves, The Child in the Photo by Kerry Wilkinson, Art Matters by Neil Gaiman and A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier


I read this in April, but it won't be published until Sept. 7.  I intended to schedule it, but I'm tired of waiting that long to review a book.  I will mention it again closer to publication.

from description:North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder--Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter's broken vases.

Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He's a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved, though, to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

I enjoyed the first of Cleeves' new series featuring Matthew Venn, but not as much as her Vera series.  However, I'm liking it better as I grow familiar with the characters in the Two Rivers series.   The Long Call introduced her new characters and The Heron's Cry continues their development.   So...a nifty police procedural as well-written as is typical of Cleeves, and characters who are evolving make The Heron's Cry another great addition to the Cleeves' body of work.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Police Procedural.  Sept. 7, 2021.  Print length:  400 pages.

from description:  I stare at the newspaper article about a baby snatched from the back of a car thirty years ago, and wonder why someone would post it through my door. Looking closer, my blood freezes. The little girl in the photo has an unusual scar – just like mine.  

Kerry Wilkinson is another of my go-to mystery and police procedural authors.  The Child in the Photo is a stand-alone and a compelling read as I became engaged with Hope's search for the truth.  

It isn't my favorite from this author, but I enjoyed the relationship between Hope and her best friend Stephen and the twists as Hope begins to realize that the family she has known and loved is not her biological family.  Her feelings of frustrations, confusion, and anger, as she delves into the past and several deceptions by people she meets.  

Mystery.  June 14, 2021.  Print length:  318 pages.

I listened to this as an audio book and thoroughly enjoyed Neil Gaiman's very English voice;  the only drawback was that since it was an audio book, I didn't get to see Chris Riddell's drawings.

My favorite was Gaiman's talk "On Libraries, "  which emphasizes the importance of libraries and fostering young readers.  Of course, you would all agree with his opinions, as you are readers, too, but it was a pleasure to listen to.

from description:   

Art Matters bring together four of Gaiman’s most beloved writings on creativity and artistry: 

  • “Credo”, his remarkably concise and relevant manifesto on free expression, first delivered in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings
  • “Make Good Art”, his famous 2012 commencement address delivered at the Philadelphia University of the Arts
  • “Making a Chair”, a poem about the joys of creating something, even when words won’t come 
  • “On Libraries”, an impassioned argument for libraries that illuminates their importance to our future and celebrates how they foster readers and daydreamers.
I listened to this as I was working on some small Nightmare Catcher dolls.  I was watching a K drama when the main character gave the love interest, who was troubled by night terrors, a Nightmare Catcher doll.  It was very similar to Junker Jane's monster dolls, and I went upstairs and immediate began gathering scraps to make some of my own.  (Melanie, have you watched It's OK Not to Be OK?)  Audio books are wonderful to listen to while working on these eccentric little creatures.    

The next audio book I listened to was A Borrowing of Bones (which I downloaded some time ago on Lark's recommendation, but had not listened to.)

from description:  First in a gripping new mystery series about a retired MP and her bomb-sniffing dog who become embroiled in an investigation in the beautiful Vermont wilderness
It may be the Fourth of July weekend, but for retired soldiers Mercy Carr and Belgian Malinois Elvis, it’s just another walk in the remote Lye Brook Wilderness—until the former bomb-sniffing dog alerts to explosives and they find a squalling baby abandoned near a shallow grave filled with what appear to be human bones. U.S. Game Warden Troy Warner and his search-and rescue Newfoundland Susie Bear respond to Mercy’s 911 call, and the four must work together to track down a missing mother, solve a cold-case murder, and keep the citizens of Vermont safe on potentially the most incendiary Independence Day since the American Revolution.

 Yes, I'm still a sucker for working dogs, and Mercy, Elvis, Troy, and Susie Bear kept me interested the entire time.  Amy and Helena and Patience were also great characters.   A Borrowing of Bones was a suspenseful mystery and a new series to follow.

Thanks, Lark! 

I was still making dolls, but in addition, I was also managing some household chores like dusting, mopping floors, etc.   Now, I have a cleaner house, four completed dolls and two more in progress all while being entertained .  

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder

from description:  From the beet fields of North Dakota to the campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older adults. These invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in RVs and modified vans, forming a growing community of nomads.

While I enjoyed the film based on the book, I found the book more interesting and informative.  The stories of the folks who lost their homes through a variety of setbacks and the devastating 2008 financial collapse was an eye-opening and disturbing experience.  Across the spectrum of education and previous income, the loss of jobs and homes wreaked havoc on thousands of people, but the effect of those who have "aged out of the job market" was particularly brutal.  

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect is that large corporations-- that make billions and pay little or no taxes--use these elderly workers (from 60-80 years old) as low-paid, temporary labor for 12 hour labor-intensive shifts.  Although most of the nomads interviewed kept an upbeat attitude in public, the consequences of the callous treatment by companies that use this disposable labor is disturbing, and regardless of trying to keep a positive spin on the situation, the nomads are not unaware of the precariousness of their lives.  They have lost homes, savings, pensions, healthcare, and security.  

It is disconcerting to learn of this subculture of people who have fallen from middle-class to "houseless" travelers.   

Perhaps it is time for Jessica Bruder, to revisit this phenomenon in the wake of the pandemic.


Nonfiction.  Purchased.

After another week of rain, this morning is clear!  

I also want pockets deep enough to put my hands in and to hold things, not those shallow pockets most often found on women's clothing.  Maybe we should all follow Kamryn's example and write companies about what we want in the clothing department!


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Emerging from Malaise

 I've been reading, even if I haven't been keeping up with reviews.  For about 6 weeks, I was in an apathetic phase.  One of those "do the least possible and know that the doldrums/indifference will end eventually."  This May has been the rainiest I can remember, and that probably had some impact on my attitude.  There have been so  many garden chores that needed to be done before the summer heat, and my frustration would mount when it was too wet and rainy to get them done.   

The Mother's Day Weekend in New Orleans with Amelia, Bryce Eleanor, and Suzie (a wonderful girls' weekend) brought me out of that funk, and when I got back home, Fee had raised the fountain and moved the Happy Buddha in front, and I can't look at it without smiling.  

Cosmos, Homestead Purple verbena,diplodenia, and golden stonecrop 



Then we had several days without rain, and I could weed and transplant and garden at will.  It rained last night and the prospect is for more today and for the next several days, but that's OK now.  I've finished the bigger chores, and Fee has done the even bigger ones.  

Some of the books I've recently enjoyed. 

A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey was recommended by Ruthiella at Booked for Life.  One of my favorite books from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is Tey's The Daughter of Time, so it is not surprise that I enjoyed this one.  I agree with Ruthiella that this not one of Tey's best, but it was only her second book.

from description:  When a woman's body washes up on an isolated stretch of beach on the southern coast of England, Scotland Yard's Inspector Alan Grant is on the case. But the inquiry into her death turns into a nightmare of false leads and baffling clues. Was there anyone who didn't want lovely screen actress Christine Clay dead?  

Initially, I wasn't to taken with this one, but it turned into one of those books that I enjoyed more as I continued reading.

First published in 1936.  

Detective Fiction from the Golden Age.

Mark de Castrique was recommended by Cathy at Kittling Books.  I was looking for the character Virgil she described, but she also mentioned that readers should begin with the first in the series. 

Blackman's Coffin (Sam Blackman #1) didn't have Virgil, but it was the beginning of a new-to-me series. 

from description:  Sam Blackman is an angry man. A Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment of the U.S. military, he lost a leg in Iraq. His outspoken criticism of his medical treatment resulted in his transfer to the Veteran’s Hospital in Asheville, NC. Then an ex-marine and fellow amputee named Tikima Robertson walks into his hospital room.

Tikima hints that she has an opportunity for Sam to use his investigative skills--if he can stop feeling sorry for himself. But before she can return, Tikima is murdered, her body found floating in the river.

When Tikima's sister comes to Sam with an old journal from 1919, things get really interesting.  The Biltmore Estate figures largely in the mystery and Thomas Wolfe also figures into the old case.  

I'm definitely in for more in this series!  

Kindle Unlimited/ Poisoned Pen Press

Mystery.  2003; 2008.  Print length:  256 pages. 

A couple of weeks ago I started J.M. Dalgliesh's new series Hidden Norfolk.  Then I decided to go back to his earlier series Dark Yorkshire with detective Nate Caslin I'd read three books in that series several years ago and decided to move on to the fourth, Blood Money.

from description:  As the extremes of nationalist hate descend upon York, a refugee is tortured to death while a straightforward case of a bankrupt’s suicide proves to be anything but simple. How does an enigmatic campaigner with a secret to keep link these two disparate worlds? Shining a light onto corporate finance draws Caslin to those who prefer to live in the shadows.

Detective Nate Caslin's latest case is filled with twists and turns, a number of deaths that seemed either suicides or accidental may have a more sinister connection; Russians, oligarchs, and a "follow the money" theme with a surprise at the end.

Kindle Unlimited.
British Detective.  2018.  Print length:  251 pages.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

The Adventure of the Deceased Scholar by Liese Sherwood-Fabre and One Lost Soul by J M Dalgliesh

Having enjoyed the two previous books in this series about a young Sherlock Holmes, I wouldn't have wanted to miss this one.  

The Oxford-Cambridge annual boat race turn into a tragedy as a young man is found drowned.  

The Holmes family is drawn into the investigation because he is one of Mycroft's fellow students and because Mrs. Holmes is present.  Even if Mycroft and Sherlock could avoid a mystery, Mrs. Holmes certainly can't.

Mycroft is reluctantly involved because his reputation is threatened.  If the young man who drowned is designated a suicide, the Crown can take his estate and leave his family destitute.  His sister decides to blackmail Mycroft into helping prove that the death was not a suicide.

The threat of blackmail certainly gets the family's attention and even Mycroft, the reluctant investigator, knows what is at stake and does his best.  

NetGalley/Little Elm Press

Historical mystery.  May 15, 2021.  Print length:  314 pages.

I've read several books in the Dark Yorkshire series featuring DI Nathaniel Caslin by J M Dalgliesh and decided to try the Hidden Norfolk series featuring DI Tom Jansen.  

One Lost Soul is the first in the Hidden Norfolk series and introduces DI Tom Janssen, whose character is without some of the problems Nate Caslin has in Divided House, the first in the Dark Yorkshire series.  I like that the author has created a very different MC in Tom Janssen, that and the settings help keep the two series easily separated.

One Lost Soul does have that "first book in a series" feeling as the characters and setting are introduced.  It also has a much less complex investigation than those in the Dark Yorkshire series.  

Briefly, a young girl has been found murdered and there appears to be an attempt to cast blame on one suspect, but there are several other possibilities.  DI Tom Janssen, DCI Tamara work together with the youngest member of the team to determine who is responsible.  I will probably read the next one to see if I'll continue with the series, and I know I will get back to Nate Caslin in the Dark Yorkshire series, now that I've been reminded.  :0

Kindle Unlimited

Police Procedural.  2019.  Print length:  294 pages.


Garden:  I took some garden pics early this morning.  My thanks were 3 mosquito bites along my cheek bone from ear almost to my eye.  Huh?  That had to have happened when I was putting one of those mosquito donuts in a puddle  where the water hadn't drained from the storm the other day.  I didn't even realize those nasty little buggers had found their target until the itching started. 

And so it begins:  the annual war between human and mosquito.  It is a no-win situation, just damage to both sides.

Need to refill the birdbath


The February snow was so unusual that it never occurred to me that throwing bird seed on the snow would be a problem.  I've been pulling sunflowers ever since.  Some I've left, obviously--because it is so fascinating to see how quickly they grow!  

The Homestead Purple Verbena didn't do much last year, but this year it is trying to take over.  

Edgrrr prowls/patrols his patch 

Now to finish enjoying my coffee and Fee's blueberry bread.  Yum.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

One, Two, Three by Laurie Frankel

 This is the first book I've read by Laurie Frankel, but now I'll be looking for more.

Seventeen years ago, the small town of Bourn welcomed a new chemical factory that promised a better economy for residents and delivered poisoned water, death, and birth defects before closing down.

Norah Mitchell has headed up a class action suit that never goes anywhere, but she continues looking for the smoking gun, undeterred by setbacks.

Her daughters, triplets, are the voices in the story.  Mab (One), Monday (Two), and Mirabel (Three) have grown up in the damaged town and provide the narration.  Mab is "normal" in appearance and behavior; Monday is on the high end of the spectrum--bright, but obsessive about being touched and extremely literal; and Mirabel is a genius, but wheelchair bound and unable to speak without the aid a vocalizer.  

Sounds depressing, doesn't it?  And yet as we meet each girl, we are immediately and irrevocably drawn into their relationships with each other and with other members of the town.  The writing is neither sentimental nor maudlin, and the girls, each in her own right, are forces to be reckoned with.  I was immediately captivated with One, Two, and Three and engaged with each one in their struggles to prevent a repeat of the previous disaster...because the chemical plant wants to re-open--promising that all the problems have been rectified and offering much needed well-paying jobs.  Who will trust them this time?

Poignant and funny and suspenseful.  

Highly Recommended.  Loved it.

NetGalley/Henry Holt

Coming of Age/Topical.  June 8, 2021.  Print length:  416 pages.