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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

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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Friday, October 27, 2017

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom became Mosher's Kingdom County

Points NorthPoints North by Howard Frank Mosher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Living in Vermont just outside its Northeast Kingdom is what led me to Mosher's books. Having taught for almost 30 years in Vermont and knowing folks and scenes exactly like those he described kept me reading his books. Now, it is with sadness, that his last book has been read. Sadness because there will be no more but real joy because this one brought the same shakes of the head, knowing nods, laughter and sighs as all those that came before. If you haven't read him, start at the beginning and try, if possible, to make at least one trip to the Northeast Kingdom to see the place and talk with its people.
Once, looking for Lewis Pond, having driven over from Burlington, I stopped for gas in the Kingdom. The old bird who pumped the gas saw the car dealer's plaque and said, oh, a city girl! I laughed, inside thinking you don't know the half of it--grew up in NYC--Burlington, a city? Yeah! But smiling I asked --do you know how to get to Lewis Pond? Answer--Yup. After a few seconds I said, would you mind sharing? Nope, soon as I finish pumping this here gas. That's the Northeast Kingdom--head on up--or read Mosher--or both!

This is a review of an Advanced Uncorrected Proof, provided by Goodreads for a fair review.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

To Capture What We Cannot Keep--But Worth the Try

To Capture What We Cannot KeepTo Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Played out against the background of the building of the Eiffel Tower this is the story of a Scottish woman, widowed, impoverished and fallen out of society, who rather than accept the proposal of a man she cannot love accepts a job as chaperone for a well to do man's young nephew and young niece. He sends them off from Glasgow to Paris where he hopes that the young Alice will find an appropriate man to marry and young Jamie will find direction by observing the engineering feat that is the great lacy tower designed by the noted engineer Eiffel.
Things do not work out smoothly for Beatrice as she tries to keep the two youngsters corralled and reputable. Jamie is more interested in the delights of all sorts of gay Paree and Alice is entranced by the bohemian freedom of the place as she yet attempts to climb in society and maintain the necessary propriety. Cait becomes attracted to the engineer in charge of the construction, Emile, as he is attracted to her. Yet, they are not of the same class and since reputation is all in Parisian society he is unable to pursue the widow, his inferior, as she is unable to allow herself, as a widow to succumb to her attraction.
As the lives of these characters revolve around each other and the conventions of the times, the Tower rises bit by bit to its ultimate glorious completion. There are those who are fascinated and attracted by the erector set creation but there are those, too, who find it hideous to behold. As a matter of fact, on my visit 20 years ago, my hosts referred to it as the Awful Tower.
Colin clearly illustrates the double standard of the day in her characterization of the men and their sexual escapades as well as the resulting impact on the women with whom they are involved. She smoothly incorporates the innovations taking place in the arts as the Tower grows and the reaction of society to these as well.
The most moving section of the book for me, who is terrified of heights, was the description of Cait's climbing the stairs of the completed Tower, especially the last 1000+ steps to the highest platform. Colin, too, must fear heights to have so totally and accurately captured the terror and frozen panic experienced when one realizes just how high one is in the ascent. She's not too bad at capturing the almost exact feelings as Cait realizes how high she has risen in her feelings for Emile and just how dangerous that would be for her.
Not going to ruin the ending but it is worth the read. For such a short book, much has been explored.
This is a review of the copy I received from Book Browse in exchange for my participation in a book discussion on their website.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Blood Orange--A Deadly Weapon on Four Wheels

Blood Orange (China Bayles, #24)Blood Orange by Susan Wittig Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I cannot believe this is the 24th installment of China Bayles and I've read every one of them. I did sort of binge read three a few years ago and realized that isn't the way to go --at least for me. I got really tired of the character and her ditzy friend, Ruby. I let the series go for a year and now read the books several months apart. It makes it more like revisiting with friends who live a bit distant and not seen very often. Much more interesting that way--sort of catching up. This episode was particularly interesting--maybe because I'm an older citizen--really, older not like poor Mrs Mueller, who is described as an old woman because she is in her late 60's--REALLY???? Here we have Medicare fraud, hospice and some shady medical professionals. Also, though I've been to Texas many, many times I have not noticed a proliferation of orange vehicles. Will have to keep my eyes peeled this winter while visiting. Understand the connection to Long Horns but maybe the vehicles only come out for homecoming in the Fall. Anyway, the story, the recipes and blood oranges are all very delicious this time around. I'll be checking out #25 for my Texas travel.

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