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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Hiro Brings Father Mateo Home to Iga Just In Time for Murder at Dinner

Betrayal at Iga (Shinobi Mystery #5)Betrayal at Iga by Susan Spann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When last we left Hiro and Fr Mateo the Shogan has died and various factions are trying to take over. For the safety of the Portuguese Jesuit the two men have taken refuge in the mountainous home of Hiro--his ninja clan in Iga Province. On the day of their arrival a contingent from a neighboring province has also arrived. Although it is not the ideal situation since each new arrival by tradition receives their own welcome dinner, Hartori Hanzo, Hiro's cousin and commander, has no choice but to welcome both parties at the same meal. It would appear that the other guests are four emissaries from Koga Province. Hanzo would like to convince Koga to unite with Iga to show strength in numbers as the Shoganate is settled. Naturally, as often happens to our heros, one of the Koga emissaries dies violently vomiting and struggling to breath during the second course of the dinner!

The remaining Koga immediately accuse the Iga of murdering him and declare it an act of war. Hanzo calms them enough to get their agreement to remain three days while Fr Mateo, not of Iga Province and not Japanese, and therefore neutral, investigates to determine the murderer. So many possible culprits, most of them assassins by training, all of them with either motive or the duty to obey the orders of one with a motive. Hiro's grandmother, mother, former childhood sweetheart, the three remaining Koga, Hanzo himself, any of them capable of the act.

I love the fact that Susan Spann writes so well that the solution is as perplexing for the reader as for the characters. But, in the end, after another two deaths and threats of more, the murderer is indeed identified. A resolution is reached in the negotiations for a pact between neighbors. And, Hanzo with great humor sends Hiro, Fr Mateo, Ana the housekeeper and Gato, the cat on to their next adventure. What he doesn't know is that he is sending the reader along, too--at least this one.

The hardest part is having to wait a year to catch up with them at the sacred Mount Koya.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lisbeth and Blonkquist After Larssen

The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium, #4)The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story is interesting is a bit too techie technical for me. The characters are interesting but Lagercrantz doesn't seem to sure about the characterization so he doesn't have too much interaction between Salander and Michal except by text. The description of an autistic savant is compelling and interesting. The further explanation of Lisbeth's relationship to her sister is illuminating. All in all, if you don't think about Larssen to much while reading this book, it is satisfying. Don't compare it to the first three and it is a good read, if you compare too much you will be disappointed.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Once the Holidays are Over it is back to trying to eat sensibly--I hope!

The Healthy Smoothie Bible: Lose Weight, Detoxify, Fight Disease, and Live LongThe Healthy Smoothie Bible: Lose Weight, Detoxify, Fight Disease, and Live Long by Farnoosh Brock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hard to review a self-help book about healthy eating but this is a good one. I'm already a smoothie lover but wanted the extra tips this book provides. Have not been disappointed--as a matter of fact, purchased her Healthy Juicer's Bible and a juicer, which has been on my wishlist for awhile. It, too, is an excellent book. Hopefully, I will be a good learner and benefit from my reading and purchases.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Souls of Air--Nursing Home Neglect/Abuse is Universal

Souls of AirSouls of Air by Mons Kallentoft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two weeks ago today my 95 year old aunt who spent the last two years in a nursing home passed away. I had no idea what the subject of this latest Kallentoft installment of the Malin Fors series was, but the opening chapters were almost exactly the conversations I had with my aunt only a month ago. Her nursing home purchased by a new company, the staff reductions, the loss of long-time staff to other jobs that paid more, the degradation of care and the horror of unappetizing, cold or lukewarm meals slapped down on the pull over table. After hearing of these changes in a nursing home that had been warm and caring and cheerful filled my heart with grief. In retrospect, if her remaining time on this earth was to be in a warehouse situation, in a cheerless God's waiting room, then perhaps there is truth in things happen for a reason. Kind of eye opening to hear of these things in Sweden, one of the Scandinavian systems held up to us by some politicians as the epitome of perfect health care for all.
But, of course, this being a Malin Fors mystery there is a suspicious death in Linkoping's Cherub Nursing Home. Though it appears Konrad Karlsson committed suicide no one seems to believe he was unhappy or despondent nor that he had the strength to hang himself. Malin's daughter, Tove has been working the day shift at Cherub as a summer job and was particularly close to Konrad. She is therefore quite shaken by his death and seems to be showing early stages of following her Mother into alcoholism. Malin is at a loss how to deal with this since she feels 19 year old Tove will see any attempt at guidance as the pot calling the kettle black.
In addition, struggling with her own alcoholism, though on the wagon for a year , Malin is emotionally frozen. Her break-up with Peter, the doctor whom she thought would be her life partner, has left her numb and strangely devoid of any type of feeling for anything including her job, her life, her co-workers, her brother.....
Kallentoft continues keeping her co-workers as well as characters new to this case as well developed as real people. Their lives and relationships are described with depth and sensitivity, making the story engrossing and interesting. And as usual, Tove, Malin and others who appear in each of the stories, have made decisions and choices that leave the reader waiting for the next installment to see the consequences of these developments. Definitely, addictive this Swede and his books!

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

UP,UP and Away with the Wright Brothers

The Wright BrothersThe Wright Brothers by David McCullough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is there another author of historic biography who writes so smoothly and interestingly as McCullough. His books read as though he is sitting with you, sharing coffee and chatting away about these historical figures. This book is the same. Not only is the wonder of beginnings of aviation brought to life but so, too, are these two men, brothers, Orville and Wilbur. Right alongside them their sister, Katherine and their father, the Bishop Wright. Amazingly, their achievement--human flight --begins and is fulfilled over the course of only ten or so years!!!! They traveled to Europe as well as the East Coast of the United States, learning from others and experimenting with their ideas. Over time, once they proved that man could fly, others followed in their footsteps and competitions of elevation, speed and distance evolved. But, as the field became crowded, Wilbur found himself grounded, his time needed to run the business and fight lawsuits against fellow aviators who infringed on their patents. So stressful was this aspect of their work, he wore himself out and died in his 40's. Orville continued, with the help of Katherine, with the business and with the work. He attended memorials and awards that he would have liked to have avoided but felt he owed it to the memory of his brother. When Katherine, finally in her 50's decided to marry--he ended all involvement with her. Neither he nor Wilbur married.
The story is detailed in the great excitement of the times as people became enamored with the idea of flight--all over the world. The excitement is contagious and jumps off the page despite the readers' present day experience of same day flight to almost any part of the world at thousands of feet in the air and speeds exceeding hundreds of miles. A 22 minute flight of 20 or so miles up the Hudson at about 36 miles an hour, buffeted by the winds bouncing off the skyscrapers of 1908! is as exhilarating in its telling as it must have been to the spectators and the pilot who looped the loops and swung the turns at the time.
The book got misplaced and so it appears to have taken an awful long time to read it. In actuality, when found there were only 24 pages left to read!

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The Fifth Season--Swedish Forests Hold Deadly Secrets

The fifth season (Malin Fors, #5)The fifth season by Mons Kallentoft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Powerful men, susceptible women, evil incarnate, horrific mutilation. Malin Fors and her team find themselves investigating the murder of several young women found in various locations in the forests of Sweden. Several other young women are in mental wards unable to communicate, attacked and mutilated in the same way. Are the cases connected? What, other than the form the attacks have taken and the discovery of these women alone in the forest, have the cases have in common, if anything. Initially, every lead ends in a dead end. Even when the team thinks they have found men who seem to have been involved, finding hard evidence is seemingly impossible. Cases have been closed without adequate investigation, expert testimony claims that, at least in one instance, the wounds could have been self-inflicted.
As Malin finally seems to be closing in on the murderers, key players turn up dead, too. Frustration and fatigue dog the police but in the end the case is solved and the pure evil involved leaves the reader as speechless as the surviving victims!

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Water Angels--Malin Falls off the Wagon, Again!

Water AngelsWater Angels by Mons Kallentoft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the sixth installment of the Malin Fors mysteries by Swedish author,Mons Kallentoft. As usual it is a page turner but with less violence than usual. Still, the story is as gripping and horrifying as the earlier stories, since the violence against Vietnamese adoptees is implied rather than described in detail. The story revolves around the violent murder of an affluent married couple in their hot tub and the kidnap of their adopted five year old Vietnamese daughter. There are no leads, no prints, no cartridges, nothing to give even a hint of who killed them or why. Yet, as the investigation unfolds the nefarious activities surrounding a very lucrative adoption racket are revealed. The more digging Malin and her fellow investigators do, the more it becomes evident that the root of the crime lies in Saigon.
As usual, Kallentoft also includes what is happening in the private lives of the police officers. This aspect of the book truly requires that the reader have followed them since the first book. It is not so integral that this book cannot stand alone but if one becomes interested in these people as men and women with more to their lives than the police work that takes up so much of each day, then to know them is to have read of them earlier.
Also, for the first time reader, it may be a bit disconcerting to find themselves privy to the thoughts of the dead and of the victim but it soon becomes a natural part of the story and actually, for me, and interesting aspect of the action.

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