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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, December 29, 2016

A Laborious Slog--The Typewriter's Tale

The Typewriter's TaleThe Typewriter's Tale by Michiel Heyns

It was just too hard to really get the rhythm of this book. Run on sentences almost too hard to follow and characters not at all appealing. After about a week of seriously trying to make progress, it was just not worth the effort. Unless one is an absolute lover of the convoluted writing of the 19th century liberally sprinkled with polysyllabic words, this is not the book for you.
This is a review of an ARC provided by BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Loyalty in Death--Written 16 Years Ago--Could Have Been Yesterday!! :(

Loyalty in Death (In Death, #9)Loyalty in Death by J.D. Robb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Futuristic New York, Detective Dallas and husband, Roarke continue to involve the reader in the grisly crimes of the gritty streets. Peabody's brother comes to town and we learn a bit about her background through his inadvertent involvement in the most recent crime spree. This book hits very close to home with the intentional bombings of New York landmarks . Pthe olice anxiously attempt to identify the bombers through high tech use of computers, especially Roarke's illegal non-traceable ones capable of hacking through any " walls" and passwords to get Dallas and her crew the information she needs to determine the next target before the perps blow it up. The book was written before the Twin Towers were destroyed and so, sadly, they are possible sites to defend. The story keeps your heart racing and the mystery of who is holding the city for ransom is satisfactorily secret practically to the last bloody scene, in which Dallas and Roarke are seconds away from annihilation. One of the best of the series.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

An Irish Country Christmas--Perfect For This or Any Time of Year

An Irish Country ChristmasAn Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is Christmastime in little Ballybucklebo and the doctors, Fingal Flahertie O' Reilly and his young assistant, Barry Laverty find themselves in the thick of things as usual. A former classmate of O'Reilly's has set up a practice in town and employing less than scientifically proven practices causing stress to both of our heroes--first for the possibly harmful but definitely non-helpful methods but also, in Barry's case, worry that the small town cannot support three full time doctors. There are the usual sniffles and coughs of the winter season with which to deal but also a home delivery of a breech birth and the discovery that the local dressmaker is less a heartless employer than she presents herself. Then, too, there is the burning of put away Christmas money of the widow Eileen who struggles to put something by for the three children she wishes Santa to visit.
Other than the professional, we find our men in the throes of romantic quandaries as well. Barry's girl, Patricia, who has embarked on a three year course of study in far off Cambridge, England appears to be quite engrossed in her new studies, her new friends and the offerings of an academic town and its proximity to London, where even more cultural and social opportunities exist. She seems less than Barry would hope in keeping her promise to return to Ireland for Christmas. This worries Barry that there may be another man and he wonders if he should perhaps think about finding a new interest, such as the young teacher in town. He is heart-sore and anguished, believing Patricia is the one and she, perhaps, not feeling the same about him.
Fingal, on the other hand, long a widower, who is still deeply in love with Dierdre, finds himself wondering if he should take up the pretty clear offer of a second chance with Caitlin O'Halloran, the love of his student days. He'd been dating when he met Dierdre and she, Kitty, had never married. Now, she is back in his life and he is enjoying her company. Should he commit more deeply? Is it time to move on?
Lastly, there are all the community dos--the big pageant where the children reenact the Christmas story--I laughed out loud for several minutes as that rolled out before my mind's eye! O' Reilly plays Santa passing out gifts to each of Ballybucklebo's chisellers. ( My Dad used that term for us kids and I never understood it. I couldn't figure out how we had chiselled anything. Through these stories I realize it is an Irish expression for kids! He must have gotten it from his Irish born mother, who died before I was born.) And the marvelous Kinky, Mrs Kinkaid, provides some of the food on the baquet tables.
Not to be forgotten, there are the two more fancy gatherings--party at Ballybucklebo House, home of the local Marquis and the party at the Councillor's, Bertie and Flo Bishops. These on Christmas morning after roast goose and Midnight Mass the night before. All culminates with Christmas dinner at One Main, where Kinky presents a roast turkey, a roast ham and all the fixings. No wonder Fingal needed his Santa pants let out and Kinky tried, to no avail to put him on a diet before all the holiday feast began.
And so, the year of 1964 is coming to an end for our friends. The Canadians have a new flag--the maple leaf--I remember when that happened. Catholic Masses would soon be said in the vernacular--a decision I always hated-loving the elegance of the Latin Mass. What will 1965 bring for them? I cannot wait to see in the next installment of Patrick Taylor's wonderful series.

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Far Beyond Big Brother--Burning Bright

Burning BrightBurning Bright by Nicholas Petrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The prologue of this book is twelve pages long. By the time I finished I knew I liked this girl, June Cassidy. She has grit and intelligence and is an independent competent woman. My kind of girl. Didn't know Peter Ash from Petrie's previous book, the Drifter, but again, as he escaped a bear by climbing a redwood sapling and then encountered June high in the canopy, it was all in for the quest.
Each chapter is written from the perspective of either one or the other of them and, in time, from the perspective of other characters. This is not to say the chapter is narrated by the character but rather that the character's background and action is revealed as the plot develops. It is clever and smooth and keeps widening the story.
Although Peter is suffering from PTSD and gets extremely claustrophobic and panicky when confined, even for a short time and although this condition definitely has an effect on the action, it is not the main theme of the story. The main theme is the development of an algorithm of artificial intelligence which is capable of growing and becoming ever more capable of making decisions and solving problems without any human involvement. Obviously, such a tool is extremely desirable to many entities, government, private entities without a clear description. Its creator is June's mother, who has died in a hit and run and whose home and office have both been cleared out by agents, who have also attempted to kidnap June. So she is on the run and Peter finds her in the redwood canopy after being confronted by a grizzly on a casual hike.
While this plot is engrossing and the pairing of these two in an attempt to sort out who is who and what is what and where is safe, it is the whole concept of such an algorithm that kept me reading. My parents were born in 1901 and 1903--they saw much in technological development in their lives. Except for nuclear power I cannot remember them ever expressing fear about any of the advances and even then they weren't paralyzed with fear and had no problem with nuclear energy. I was born in 1942 and nothing that I've experienced has caused me anything but wonder at the advancements. Taught science, including physics and chemistry for years, and remember the first time we had computers in the school--writing our own programs with flow charts and cassette tapes.
But, what that virtual highway, zoom,zoom ( remember that commercial? I had no idea what it meant at the time--I think it was Cysceo ?) would lead to was so beyond my comprehension, I was fascinated. But now, I feel fearful. I remember the Northeast blackout and understood the part computers played in it but never realized how much more powerful these things could become. That part of the book was like science fiction, only it is science but it isn't fiction! Where will it lead, I wonder?
This is a review of an uncorrected proof, provided me by Goodreads in a giveaway in exchange for a review.

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