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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, October 29, 2016

Thanks for the Memories--Carol Burnett

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the SandboxIn Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a delightful book--no scandal, no smut, no personal revelations or attacks--just what the title states " Such Good Company"! A small quick read that reviews skits and production numbers, guests and regulars, crew and directors, music and laughs that made up eleven years of Carol Burnett's weekly show. Scattered pictures throughout that helped to bring the show back to mind and in many cases to make the reader laugh again. And you do, even just the written word, brings a laugh out loud several times.

Anyone who loved her show will enjoy reliving it with her down to earth presentation--anyone too young to have seen the show will be drawn to YouTube to see what she is talking about or to the DVD sets available. Though some things are dated for the most part the fun and laughter and music and dance of the time still more than entertain. You'll be glad you've spent your time together with Carol and her friends.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ruso and Tilla Are Back From Gaul and Find Unrest Among the New Briton Recruits

Semper Fidelis: A Novel of the Roman EmpireSemper Fidelis: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gaius Ruso, Medicus to the Twentieth Legion, and his wife, Briton barbarian, Tilla are once more in Britannia. Though Ruso's commission had expired while he was on sick leave at home in Gaul, his friend and fellow Medicus, Valens, pulled some strings and got him reinstated. The two find themselves in Eboracum ( modern day York ) awaiting a visit from Emperor Hadrian and his Empress, Sabrina. The Legion has had its ranks increased by the recent recruitment of young Britons but there seems to be something strange happening among them. One recruit has died mysteriously, another jumps from a roof in front of Ruso for no apparent reason and yet another is in the sick bay with a very serious self-inflicted wound to one of his arms.
Ruso's suspicions are aroused by his subordinate's attributing the death of the first recruit as accidental despite bodily injuries that point to a serious beating. When he finds the written report supporting his suspicions he begins to ask questions.
He is thwarted at every turn in his investigation and when the commanding officer of the recruits is found murdered he finds himself the accused murderer. Stripped of his commission once more he is told that Tilla is to be returned to her family since they are now divorced. How the two of them manage to solve the mystery and make a choice where they will be stationed next is an exciting tale of whitewash and scapegoat tactics to keep the peace in the Legion and protect its officers. All is resolved in the end but not without Tilla's headstrong disobedience to her husband and the Tribune who is his superior, which, as always, adds to the confusion before the solution.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Savage Spring--a Malin Fors Mystery

Savage SpringSavage Spring by Mons Kallentoft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth in Kallentoft's Malin Fors series. This is one series that should be read from the first book forward, since Malin's life and her involvement with her estranged husband, Janne, her teen-aged daughter, Tove, as well as her parents all evolve and develop during the course of the series.

Each book, however, involves a new murder. In this one, a bomb is detonated in one of the squares of Linkopping, Sweden, where Malin is a police detective. A widow and her twin six year old daughters are killed in the explosion and the force is thrown into chaos in the immediacy of the event. Who or what group is responsible? Are there other bombs waiting to be detonated? What or whom was the target?

As the investigation gets under way, Malin must deal with the death of her mother and a family revelation that stuns her. The mystery is at the heart of the story but heavily interwoven is the story of various parents, choices they've made as parents and the impact those choices have had on their offspring. As usual, Kallentoft ties the clues together to solve the mystery but leaves the reader with many things to ponder after the fact. Also, he continues to use the voices of the deceased to drive the action, though in this case there is less use of the perpetrators voice than in the three cases preceding this one.

Having read the four seasons of the year, I'm now on to the fifth season, the name of Malin Fors number four.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Natasha Lost in Natalie

Natasha: The Biography of Natalie WoodNatasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood by Suzanne Finstad
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting but more repetitive than necessary. The circumstances surrounding her death in 1981 were reexamined in 2011 and no new conclusions were reached. Obviously, there was alcohol involved but the level of intoxication seems to have been high enough that the facts of the evening's events were too blurred. Her life with a mother who lived through her achievements, a father who was a violent, if sensitive at times, drunk and a parade of lovers of different ages and backgrounds was certainly unique. She left several indelible movies behind and a number of less than stellar performances. It is hard to know just how real her storybook romance with Robert Wagner was and how much was fantasy to both of them as well as their audience. What does seem real is their love of and care for their three daughters--Kate,his from another marriage, Natasha, hers from another marriage and Courtney, theirs together. It is truly sad, how it all ended.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Very Disappointing Book From James Lee Burke

The Jealous Kind (Holland Family Saga, #2)The Jealous Kind by James Lee Burke
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

There is nothing about this book to which I could relate. The characters were unsympathetic and boring. JLB is one of my favorite authors and his David Robicheaux novels fill my bookshelves. For those reasons I kept pushing on, telling myself the book would get better but finally, after seven chapters and even jumping to the end of the book, I could not go on and just gave up.

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Delightful Read:Alexander Hamilton's Guide to Life

Not an in depth biography of the Father of our Treasury but it was not intended to be. Using the many highly thought of biographies of the man as well as his letters and interviews with descendants and members of various Hamiltonian groups, Jeff Wilser has compiled snippets of Hamilton's life and his attitudes on various subjects. He has also added some asides that are both humorous and timely. Just a most enjoyable little book about a truly amazing man--never a President but one who battled them with his words and bested them every time. As Wilser puts it: " Hamilton 4 Presidents 0 " And in the words of George Will--" Jefferson got a monument--America lives in the world Hamilton created." As a child I remember driving by the monument on the cliffs overlooking the Hudson River and my Dad saying " That is where Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton." I knew both names and a little about them but I always felt so sad because I liked what I knew about Hamilton and really didn't know much about Burr. I learned to dislike him then and nothing I've learned since has redeemed him in my eyes. I wonder if the cliffs in Weehauken are so built up now that it would be difficult to find that little monument, marking a very important spot for both men--early leaders of our Nation. I received this review copy from Blogging for Books.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Poor Jeremy--His Engagement Party is Kind of a Bummer

The Adventuress: A Lady Emily MysteryThe Adventuress: A Lady Emily Mystery by Tasha Alexander
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tenth installment of the Lady Emily mystery series. While enjoyable it lacks the sparkle of the earlier stories involving Emily and her dashing husband, Colin. Jeremy, Emily's childhood friend and as close as a brother, who is usually so amusing and charming is sadly subdued and lackluster. He is engaged to an American heiress, Amity Wells, who is insufferable---so pouty, spoiled and immature. It is because of this engagement that Jeremy is so subdued, for, of course, Amity has heard of his broken " engagement" to Emily, prior to her marriage to Colin. Needless to say, Amity is made by the author to feel threatened by any familiarity between Jeremy and Emily. I found this totally hard to swallow considering the obvious deep love and devotion between Emily and Colin.

As a matter of fact, having read all of the previous books, there was much in this one that seemed unrealistic. For example, having known Emily for years, her friends don't have any problem believing that she has made up a story of having been frightfully imprisoned in the cell of the Man with the Iron Mask. They accept the impression of Amity's mother that Emily sought the attention being shown her daughter. What? They also accept that Colin and Emily, as polite and polished as they are would deliberately show up an hour late for a dinner given by Mrs Wells for the betrothed couple.

There were added characters, who I suppose were to mislead the reader. Did Jeremy have a little flirtation with a dancer at the stag party who disappears and is then found dead? What is the problem with the strange Wells son, Augustus? Is he a murderer or just a sadist who likes killing and torturing insects? Oh, and did the sweet but quiet Mr Neville commit suicide or not? All of these mysteries kept me reading but in the end, even their solutions were not very satisfying, nor was the romantic development for Jack. Jack is Jeremy's younger brother and I assume he and is new girl will be at the center of the next book.

There was a bit of history thrown in about the area around Cannes and, as usual, given Emily and Colin's interest in the ancients and history in general, this part of the book was enlightening.

I do look forward to the next story of Lady Emily and Colin. Hopefully, it will return to the fun of the earlier episodes. Especially since Jeremy is once more available to flirt with Emily!

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