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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

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Murder in Hot Sultry Key West

For Whom the Funeral Bell Tolls (A Delilah Dickinson Literary Tour Mystery, #4)For Whom the Funeral Bell Tolls by Livia J. Washburn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This installment of the Literary Tour series was filled with red herrings but I figured out who murdered the obnoxious Walter half way through the book. Didn't know why he was murdered though he surely wasn't terribly likeable. Delilah and Luke had a fun time of it in Key West until the tour was restricted to their resort by the local detective and his police force.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Theophilos and Family Solve the Mystery, Again!

The Parisian ProdigalThe Parisian Prodigal by Alan Gordon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of my favorite series and this may be the last installment--or at least I haven't seen any others listed. Each book is stand alone but it is nice to have read the series from the start to see the progression in the life of Theophilos ( the name of one of my ancestors also and one that my husband nixed if we should have a son, sigh) a fool and spy belonging to the Fool's Guide of the 13th century. In this installment his daughter, Portia, is already 15 months old and quite precocious; his apprentice, Helga, is fast becoming ready to become a full-fledged fool as well as a teen with an eye for the boys; his wife, Claudia, is missing her royal children whom she left behind when her first husband, a duke, died and Theophilos is in the middle of a mystery involving the sudden appearance of a 40 year old Parisian who claims to be the long lost brother of the ruler of Toulouse, where Theo is the Chief Fool.

Seems the prodigal, Baudoin, is found asleep in a brothel, next to the corpse of his companion of the evening, La Rossa. His dagger is in her breast but he claims not to be the murderer, of course. In his usual fashion, Alan Gordon, takes us on a merry but dangerous caper to find the truth. This author is so amazing--whenever I read one of the books I feel as though I am right there alongside the characters and that I could walk the cobbled streets without them and be recognized. It is the most extraordinary sense of immersion I've ever experienced with any author. It all feels so real and the dialog so natural. Just a day's delight. I hope there will be a new installment soon.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Adeline--A Novel of Virginia Woolf

Adeline: A Novel of Virginia WoolfAdeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf by Norah Vincent
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Virginia Woolf's first name was actually Adeline, hence the title of this novel. In the book Adeline is also the teenaged Virginia with whom she holds lengthy conversations throughout--she is the girl Virginia was when her mother died and she had the first of several mental breakdowns that would plague her life. The author has chosen to write the book much in the style of her subject and so there is lots of interior conversations in which stream of consciousness is employed. This can cause a great deal of convolution in run on sentences and an abundance of visual, sometimes auditory, descriptions. Personally, the style gives me a headache. Yet, there are moments, when Virginia is conversing with someone other than herself when the story becomes interesting and animated. Certainly, the novel is populated by many of the Bloomsbury set with whom Virginia, and her sister Vanessa, communed. They are presented primarily through Virginia's mental ramblings during her down times between her productive writing periods, some of which extended for years, resulting in one of her published works.

Though the skeletal framework of her life comes through--her sexual abuse at the hands of her step-brothers, her dependent relationship with her sister, her marriage to a Jewish author, her involvement in romantic affairs with woman, her distain for many whom she considered inferior to her intelligence and her own insecurities in a world controlled by men. Yet, somehow, it is not a satisfying book and led to further exploration on my part. Perhaps, then, that is the strength of the book--it sends the reader who is still interested on a search for more information.

I was given this book by Book Browse to read and take part in a discussion on their website to begin on June 16.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

I Could Do Without the Bugs! No Pun Intended.

At the outset it is important to state that though a retired science teacher ( physics, chemistry, and biology ) and a biology major, chemistry minor in college, I am not an avid reader of science fiction, other than Isaac Asimov. That being said, I did find this book to be a page turner and finished reading in within a day and a half. And yet, though drawn to know what is going on, at the end I was quite disappointed. The first chapter is quite a hook. A man returns from a four day business trip to San Diego. His wife, pulling the house together for his arrival, hears the front door open but he does not call out to her nor does he respond to her greeting. She continues to try to get him to respond as she moves about trying to locate him. As the empty house begins to feel strange to her she starts to waver between suspecting he is pulling a prank on her, which he has done in the past, and feeling threatened by the quiet. As she makes a dash to the front door and escape, phone in hand ready to dial 911, he confronts her with a semi-automatic pistol violently demanding to know what she has done with his wife. By the time the chapter ended my heart was racing and every creak and flutter in my empty house was almost deafening in its clamor. With great anticipation I continued reading as the story shifted and two of the main characters, Reggie and Mike, were introduced at a high school English classroom in Maine, where Mike is the teacher bidding summer farewell to his students. The two men go out to dinner and Reggie, who works for DARPA, a government agency, tries to entice, not for the first time, Mike to work for him. Though Mike has no interest in leaving his teaching or his summer job repairing rides at the fairground he agrees to fly to Washington and hear what this job is about. During the hearing he has been invited to attend in which the agency is trying to decide whether or not to further bankroll a very secret experiment, Reggie claims in an effort to secure the money, that Mike has agreed to go to the site of the experiment and determine what is being done and what, if any, results have been determined. Mike has been blind-sided and cannot easily refute Reggie's claims. Off he goes to the California desert and a team of scientists who, though they seem to work rather efficiently together, don't embrace his presence which they see as attempting to pry out the secrets surrounding their work on a device which by using mathematical equations has created a fold in dimensions of time and space allowing great distances to be covered in seconds. By passing from one point to another through a series of rings they have dubbed the Albuquerque Door, the scientists have simply walked up a ramp, through the rings and down another ramp at the far side all in a space of seconds. The husband of chapter one had passed through the Door in both directions before returning home, where Mike learns, he is said to have suffered a breakdown and is confined to an institution. This team, while as I say works well together, is still strangely uninvolved with each other on a personal level. They, other than their director, Arthur, live on the campus where the Door is located in a series of bare bones trailers surrounded by astroturf. There is none of the comraderie of teams isolated from others that I've experienced--no having drinks together or watching TV or playing games. There's donuts and coffee in the breakfast room but they just seemed disconnected. As a result there wasn't a real development of the characters, other than Mike and Reggie who stayed in touch by tablet and Arthur who insists at all times that the oversight committee that holds the purse strings be given no access to the records of their work. Eventually, it becomes clear that the Door can change the location in time and space of Point B and that what lies in that location can be a threat to our scientists. There is also the possibility of alteration of the team mates when they go through the Door. This last in passing is thrown out to the reader to tie up the loose end of the husband of chapter one--he isn't the same man who left home and therefore does not recognize the woman who is his wife because she isn't--kind of a let down--and oh, by the way, he is released from the institution. By this point the lab is overrun by green cockroaches with an extra leg, who swarm or depart depending on the possible danger to the team. Mike's brain which retains every detail of everything he has ever seen, has red and black ants, figuratively speaking, running like library aides to bring and organize pertinent info as he needs it. The book ends with battles and explosions and the possibility that Mike will now continue working to combat the establishment of any more doors for all time and oh, yes, he will take one of the team with him, a computer geek, Jamie, who with her cat, Glitch and dog, Tramp, has undergone some changes of her own. In the end, it was an okay book--not as exciting as the opening chapter would have you expect, but easy to read and fun in its way. Mutants and Star Trek references abound and fiction it is. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Jolie Blon's Bounce--New Twist on an Old Theme

Jolie Blon's Bounce (Dave Robicheaux, #12)Jolie Blon's Bounce by James Lee Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Possibly one of the more riveting of this series. Dave struggles mightily with his alcoholism in this outing--going so far as stealing Bootsie's diet pills to satisfy his need. He is certainly more on the edge and losing it much more often--how he avoids being sent to Angola himself at times seems perplexing. Clete is his usual crazy drinking, womanizing, watching his buddy's back guy. This episode involves the brutal murders of two women--a young teen blond girl raped and shot and left in a canefield and a white whore tied to a chair on the banks of a bayou and beaten to a pulp. Are the murders related? Will Dave solve the mysteries of a man called Legion--former field manager of the Poinciana Island plantation--Marvin Oates, who wanders town pulling a suitcase of Bibles on a skate. What about the drug addled musician who had a crush on the girl in the cane? Who's his Grand-daddy? And what's up with the lawyer, Perry, whose family owns the plantation and who for some mysterious reason keeps Legion as a client? Then there is the homeless man who claims to be the medic who got Dave out of the Nam jungle and saved his life. Add to that the Italian hood who is uncle to the slain prostitute and wants revenge for her death, the icily perfect DA who finds Clete attractive and Zarenda the girl who can't decide who she wants to be with. Mix them all together in the humid heat of the bayou country and wait for the pieces to shake out. Good reading--surprising ending.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Greatest Inspiration--My Mother

The most inspirational person in my life is no longer physically with me--she would be 114 years old were she alive--my mother. She made all my clothes by hand until we were able to afford a portable Singer sewing machine when I was about 10. I remember going to a friend's birthday party when I was about 6 years old. Mom wasn't there, for some reason, but I was wearing a beautiful tiered dress she'd made for me--I loved it and felt beautiful in it. I still remember that it was a brownish color with Alice in Wonderland at a dressing table looking in a mirror. At each tier, Mom had sewn brown satin ribbon that tied in bows at the back of the skirt. The mothers at the party commented how beautiful it was and I proudly announced my mother had made it by hand. One woman didn't believe me and lifted my skirt to look at the stitching along the seams. I still remember her amazement and my mother's anger when I told her what happened--that they would lift my skirt and embarrass me. Mom also crocheted, knitted, darned socks! and embroidered. She taught me all those things and except for the crocheting, which. I never got, I still do them. But Mom also had imagination and we looked for pictures in the clouds together and, in winter, along the Taconic Parkway, we loved looking at all the beautiful princesses in their white puffy gowns--the pine trees along the side of the road. She loved dance and theatre and we went to the NY ballet every year to see Nutcracker. Radio City Music Hall was another place we frequented and the Capital and Paramount theatres, not just for the movies but for the live performances. Our numerous trips to the Broadway theaters and going back stage to visit friends who performed on stage are some of my favorite memories. I continued that tradition here in Vermont with my own daughter when she was young. Both she and I have an eclectic taste in music and I'd say that comes right from my Mom. I also think that imaginative musing of clouds and snow covered trees developed my eye for my photography and for the layouts I do in my scrapbooks. I also went beyond Mom in that, having more time for hobbies than she, I write and paint with various media. For my own and my family's enjoyment. I miss Mom every day but I'm lucky to still have her youngest sister, who is now 92. Aunt Shirl is so much like her and encourages me, just as Mom did. Every time I sit down to write, draw, or work on my scrapbooks, music playing in the background I feel Mom looking over my shoulder making suggestions or making a positive comment on my choices.