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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

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Crisis Shot--Tess O'Rourke--From Long Beach PD to Rogue's Hollow Oregon

Crisis Shot (The Line of Duty #1)Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tess O' Rourke, a Long Beach, California Police Commander finds herself alone, in an alley, with a fellow policeman down, surrounded by a group of young guys. On of them is reaching into the fallen officers holster and then appears to have the gun pointed at the man's head, ready to shoot. Tess, fires, the boys disperse and a young 14 year old boy lies dead. In the aftermath, Tess and her action is investigated and she is absolved of any wrong doing. There is a blog author who immediately after the event begins posting his opinion of the shooting and the resulting findings in Tess' favor. Needless to say, although she acted without fault, public opinion is split, mostly negatively against her and the police. She is urged by the powers that be to either leave police work or find another job away from Long Beach. Confused, hurt and feeling sorrow over the death of a child, Tess begins to send out resumes. She feels betrayed, as well, being the daughter of a cop who lost his life in the line of duty, the granddaughter of another cop and she, herself a high ranking veteran of the force. She longs to stay in her home and on the force she has known her whole life. She is not getting many bites in her search, either, which is quite demoralizing but finally she is invited to a small town in Southern Oregon for an interview for the Chief's job.
She is hired, barely getting enough votes from the town council. Soon she finds herself investigating the murder of a young man and the disappearance of the wife of the local minister. The author is herself a former policewoman from the Long Beach force. Her abilities to observe the people and places around her are quite evident in her book. What she has in addition is the ability to put those observations in words that give the reader a highly developed mental image of her characters and setting . She also nails the interactions among the diverse people that make up any small town. While the book is considered to be Christian it is not unreasonable heavy handed in that regard. In a small town the church and its pastor are integral parts of the fabric of the community. Not all the community members are part of a church community and they aren't here either but more than in a big city the religious aspects are noticeable.
Perhaps the fact that the attraction between Tess and the sheriff's deputy, Logan is subtle and slow in developing is the result of this Christian bent but again, such a blossoming relationship, especially between two professionals in the same field, is realistic rather than " Christian " It is actually refreshing not to have them falling into bed immediately with hot and heavy sex. Perhaps, they may actually get to know each other as people and friends first.
Also, the action is slow and realistic, too. At first, it isn't clear if the two cases are related. What actually happened is difficult to ascertain, there is so little evidence and so few clues. This is not a TV catch the killer or killers in a great shoot out after a hair-raising chase or bullet ridden entrapment. It is cooperative, literal footwork and interrogation that brings the solution to the crimes. And it is through Tess' dogged determination to solve the cases that she also finds acceptance and more support in a community slow to back this tainted officer in her work.
A fast, satisfying, realistic police story with a dedicated, smart and sensitive female protagonist.
This is a review of and ARC provided me by Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Voyage Long and Strange--On the trail of the discoverers of the New World

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New WorldA Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What does the average American know about the early settlers of North America, other than Columbus in 1492 and Pilgrims at Plimouth in 1602? That is the question Horwitz poses since he felt he knew almost nothing. Though the Spanish explorations of the South and Southwest were very familiar to me, both through my studies and travels, I picked the book up primarily because he chose to follow in the footsteps of some of them, literally and I wanted even more information. What I found was an author with a wonderful sense of humor who decided to predate Columbus in his search for early settlements and then to finish with the major English settlements along the East coast. A lover of McCullough and Larsen, I've now added Horwitz to my favorite authors of historical non-fiction.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

An Irish Country Wedding--Fingal and Mrs Kitty O'Reilly--At Last! Who Will Be Next???

An Irish Country Wedding (Irish Country, #7)An Irish Country Wedding by Patrick Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another installment of this wonderful series set in the fictional country village of Ballybucklebo in the County of Ulster. Life continues for the inhabitants of Number One--Fingal has married the love of his youth and refound flame, Kitty O'Halloran, Barry seems to be recovering from his earlier heartbreak and has begun a relationship with the young teacher, Sue and Kinky, long a widow, after a scary health issue, seems to be encouraging the milkman. So romantically all is well with our family and chief characters. Within the village, life continues with some healing from prior health issues, some encountering new ones and others physically fine but making other decisions about the future. Bertie continues irascible and underhanded. Donal continues malaprop and slightly underhanded, Colin Brown continues impish with a ferret to boot. In other words, it is another happy visit to old friends and places. New faces are entering, too, as Barry prepares to leave after a year under Fingal's mentorship. He thinks he was to specialize and so is moving on for more training--will he return? The villagers, Fingal and Kinkie hope so. A young lady doctor has come to take his place--temporarily or permanently? Don't know but Jennifer seems to be able to handle herself well and is fitting in nicely so only time will tell. Looking forward to checking back in awhile to see how all is going. It is always grand to pour a pint and enjoy the company--or perhaps, a Jamiesons is more in order.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Berlin is Rubble, Hitler is Mad, Stalin Decides to Aid British Intelligence--Call In Pekkala!

Berlin Red (Inspector Pekkala, #7)Berlin Red by Sam Eastland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Berlin is rubble, Hitler is living in an underground bunker and getting more and more deranged and paranoid. For the first time since trying to develop a controlled rocket launching system, it appears success has come. A rocket at its launch leaves a trail of vapor that looks like shimmering diamond dust and one of its designers becomes hopeful that perhaps the tide of defeat may yet be turned.
At the same time that word is being passed through the upper echelons of Nazi command, a British intelligence agent arrives at Stalin's office asking for assistance in locating and removing a British agent from Berlin. Stalin has just the man-Pekkala, The Emerald Eye. He is sure the Inspector will be willing to take on the task, since the agent in question is the long lost love of his life, Lilya. Stalin sends Kirov as well since Lilya has the plans for the rocket system and he would like them, too.
While Kirov and Pekkala are largely absent from the narrative, the tension and anxiety of Hitler's underlings, the Allied bombings and imminent invasion of Berlin and the shadowy activities of the various agents trying to make the best of a losing proposition are enough to keep the reader glued to the pages until the last --Kirov's report to Stalin.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Who Killed the Normal School Language Teacher in Morningside Heights AND Why??

Murder in Morningside Heights (Gaslight Mystery, #19)Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Learning the tricks of the trade--I knew who the murderer was within the first two chapters and saw all the clues as the book went on. Must admit, I wasn't sure just why it was done, especially the second time a lady was murdered, but, as usual the characters and the story based in turn of the century New York is so well written that there are enough questions to keep the reader engaged. I'm glad it looks like Sarah may be getting back to work with the delivery of babies. And even though some of the old characters, such as Mrs Ellsworth and Catherine do not appear as often, they aren't completely gone. Gino and Maeve's flirtation is a delight and makes up for the romantic tension between Malloy and Sarah that is now gone since they have married. All in all, life is moving on nicely in the Gaslight mysteries and the detecting of the bad guys or gals is just as delightful and interesting. As long as Miss Thompson stays with the Malloys etal, so will I!

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Wild Mountain--Interesting but Definitely Fiction

Wild MountainWild Mountain by Nancy Hayes Kilgore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Although Vermont is, comparatively, a small State it is quite different geographically and, in light of this book more importantly, very different demographically. While it is impossible to say that people like these don't exist in Vermont, the Subaru van drivers, BMW and Mini Cooper drivers, tend to be in various pockets throughout the State, primarily in the more affluent places. This story takes place in such an area--somewhere on the west side of the State, slightly slightly east of Route 100, which runs up the valley that includes Waitsfield, Warren and starts in Killington. It terminates up toward Montpelier, well described here, and Stowe. Lots of different types throughout this quadrant. So, if you don't know much about Vermont or have never been here, you can accept this story taking place in this small area.
There are some issues however when it comes to describing the " locals" Not all the men have raggedy beards to their belts, nor do they have hair to their waists. They do not all yell at their children or throw their phones against the wall. The women are not all either Earth mothers or women carrying squalling babies, each of them with straggly greasy unkempt hair. And, while Sarducci's is indeed a lovely Italian restaurant in Montpelier, it is a tradition only to non-locals, who are far more likely to be at the Wayside or even the old Justin Morgan Room on State Street.
There are the leftover commune dwellers, most of whom were not from Vermont, and back to nature types and they have become part of the tapestry that is modern Vermont. This book is more about them--though a couple of the main characters are purported to be old family residents. As to the covered bridge--they have a new bridge but it is not the original. True locals would have accepted nature having removed the old bridge and kept its memories and not have spent an outrageous amount of money to " replace " something that is irreplaceable. Sort of like the efforts, that quickly died, in New Hampshire when the " Old Man" rock formation finally fell to expanding ice and gravity and some folks wanted to create a " replacement". Some things just change with time, just like Vermont has done and though sometimes it doesn't seem like a good thing, it is also not something that can be stopped.
I received an ARC of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. It is an interesting book but don't take it as a definitive description of all of Vermont and its people.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession (Six Tudor Queens #2)Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession by Alison Weir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Considering the lack of sources for writing a novel about Anne Boleyn, the author has filled in the historical gaps with an interesting and fully developed character to follow. The earlier part of the book, Anne's youth in France and the later part of the book, once she and Henry are married were the most interesting. The interminable seven or so years that it took for Henry and his advisors to get to the point where he put Katherine aside and married Anne were just as interminable to read. That portion of the book became terribly repetitious, though it did serve to develop the feelings of frustration, hope followed by despair, followed by more frustration in the reader as it must have in the two main characters.
The moral quandary of replacing Katherine, a queen of over 20 years, with a younger, hopefully more fertile queen must have been difficult for many of the people involved. The attempts by Henry to overthrow all of the Church's precepts in an effort to secure a wife who would presumably be able to give him sons are thoroughly explored. The political, social and religious ramifications of his actions were very serious and the manipulations and behind the scenes scheming to prevent war or worse were intense. The book brings all of these things to light.
The years after the marriage of Anne and Henry which should finally have been a fulfilled love match with many children were anything but happy. The further complications of this ill-fated are laid out in great detail. At times, one could almost feel sorry for them but at others the selfishness on both their parts made them anything but sympathetic. Still, the death of Anne and the men accused with her, as well as the death of those who'd been sacrificed for not supporting Henry's union with her was nothing short of tragedy. All of this certainly changed the course of history and the changes reverberated for many, many years throughout the Western world.
If there is one criticism of this advance uncorrected proof from GoodReads on which I've based this review, it is that it was much too long and moved too slowly in many parts.

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