Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy New Year

Just popping in to wish everyone a very happy new year.  I hope 2018 is filled with love, laughter, and good books.  I am off to a surprise birthday party.  I will post a long account of my holidays...which mostly includes lots of reading.  

I am anxiously looking forward to beginning my challenges.  I am making my lists and checking them twice?  oops  a lapse into the holidays.

Be back soon...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

First Paragraph Tuesday


First Chapter Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

"This tale begins, as do many Nantucket tails [sic], with a dog.  A Norwich terrier, the runt of the litter--which made him very small indeed--a stubby, sturdy, tan, pint-sized pup with a face like a fox's, ears like a panda's, and the dark passionate eyes of Antonio Bandaras."


This first paragraph is a little misleading because the story centers on Nicole and her new marriage; however, as the novel progresses the little terrier appears every now and then.  What's up with that? hmm!

From Amazon:Holidays on this Massachusetts island are nothing short of magical, and the season’s wonderful traditions are much loved by Nicole Somerset, new to Nantucket and recently married to a handsome former attorney. Their home is already full of enticing scents of pine, baking spices, and homemade pie.

But the warm, festive mood is soon tempered by Nicole’s chilly stepdaughter, Kennedy, who arrives without a hint of holiday spirit. Determined to keep her stepmother at arm’s length—or, better yet, out of the picture altogether—Kennedy schemes to sabotage Nicole’s holiday preparations. Nicole, however, is not about to let anyone or anything tarnish her first Christmas with her new husband
.

From me, again:
I am not really a fan of romances but lately I have stumbled upon a few that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Maybe it's the holiday!

Monday, December 18, 2017

It's Monday!

Hosted by Book Date.

Just Finished:   

From Amazon:
August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.
But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…
Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?
Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

From Me:
This was a surprise for me.  I stumbled on it by accident while looking for Christmas books.  Written in a series of letters, this is the story of Evie, Thomas, and their friends during World War I.  I highly recommend this.  It is a quick read.  It is funny, sad, romantic and realistic.  Please read it!





Still Reading:

I













Reading:

From Amazon:
In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold.
Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve.
But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

From Me:
I read the first book in the series when Polly buys the bakery and the central characters are introduced.  It's cute.  This contains more adventures of the group centered around the holidays.  It is good so far.  There are some predictable ups and downs.  I definitely will finish and I probably will read more books about Polly, the bakery, and her friends.

Up Next:

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg (a reread)
A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I think I will finish David Copperfield by Christmas!!!





Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Firsts


I have finally found a book by Gregory Maguire that I love.  I just finished Hiddensee: The Once and Future Nutcracker.   What an addition to a Holiday bookshelf!  As I said in an earlier post, I have always wanted to love Maguire's works but I found Wicked so hard to get into, that I never went any further.  I am ready to give other titles a try.    Perhaps it helped that I read E. T. A, Hoffman's book The Nutcracker.  That gave me a fresh foundation for Hiddensee.  I will post a full review soon.  Now for my "firsts" and my second Maguire book.

First - "The Little Match-Girl"

I downloaded A Christmas Greeting: A Series of Stories by Hans Christian Anderson.  I used the Project Gutenberg site to find it.  This volume contains 14 holiday themed stories.  Anderson included a kind of dedication in the form of a letter to Charles Dickens.

"I am again in my quiet Danish home, but my thoughts are daily in dear England, where, a few months ago, my many friends transformed for me reality into a charming story.

Whilst occupied with a greater work, there sprung forth--as the flowers spring forth in the forest seven short stories."  I feel a desire, a longing, to transplant in England the first produce of my poetic garden, as a Christmas greeting: and I send it to you, my dear, noble, Charles Dickens, who by your works had been previously dear to me, and since our meeting have taken root for ever in my heart.

Your hand was the last that pressed mine on England's coast:  it was you who from her shores wafted me the last farewell.  It is therefore natural that I should send to you, from Denmark, my first greeting again, as sincerely as an affectionate heart can convey it.

Hans Christian Anderson

Copenhagen, 6th December, 1847" 

Well, considering my recent attachments to Dickens, I thought that most fitting!

I chose to read "The Little Match-Girl".

"Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening--the last evening of the year."  This is the first sentence of the story.  There is no page 56.

I am pairing this story with Matchless by Gregory Maguire.

"On an island so far north that it snowed from September to April, a boy named Frederik kept himself warm by keeping a secret." (1)

"In a lane off the main square a small girl shivered in her threadbare shawl."  This is not page 56.  I fudged.  This is the first sentence of Part Two.  It makes the connection to "The Little Match-Girl."






Rose City Reader  says "Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name."





She goes on to include the Friday 56 from Freda's Voice"The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice."


Matchless: An Illumination of Hans Christian Andersen's Classic "The Little Match Girl" by Gregory Maguire

From Amazon:

With Matchless, Gregory Maguire has reinvented the Hans Christian Andersen classic The Little Match Girl for a new time and new audiences. Originally asked by National Public Radio to write an original story with a Christmas theme, the New York Times bestselling author of Wicked and A Lion Among Men was once again inspired by the fairy tales we all loved in childhood—and he composed a poignant and enchanting tale of transcendence. ...Matchless places Andersen’s pitiful waif in the august company of Maguire’s previously re-imagined Snow White (Mirror, Mirror), Cinderella (Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), and, of course, the Wicked Witch and other denizens of Oz. 

I'm definitely going to keep reading!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

First Chapter Tuesday


First Chapter Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

"Once there was a boy who lived in a cabin in the deep woods with no one for company but an old woman and an old man.

In the goat shed one day, the old woman said, 'Watch and you'll see where life comes from.' "

Hiddensee:  A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker. Gregory Maguire. 2017


From Amazon:  Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.

I had to include the first two paragraphs because as you can see each is only one sentence.  They give the feel of an old legend and seem to authenticate the connection to the legend of the Nutcracker.

I have tried to read other Maguire books to no avail but I was easily drawn into this one with renewed hopes of finally connecting with the others.

I did some research on the legend and read the book by E. T. A. Hoffman which seems most closely aligned with the ballet.  I also did a quick look at the Brothers Grimm who are alluded to in Hiddensee.  They traveled the country side gathering the legends and fairy tales.

I am enjoying so far!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday - Book Date

Hosted by Book Date.

Just Finished:   

What a sweet book.  I have read recently The Man Who Invented Christmas which is a more historically accurate book that Mr. Dickens and His Carol, but the latter is much more touching and enjoyable.  Both are fantastic reads leading into A Christmas Carol.  I will reread that next week.


Still Reading:

I decided to read David Copperfield in the installments as Dickens released them originally.  That amounts to about three chapters a night.  I should finish by Christmas Eve.  I tried once before to plug through this 700+ page book and that didn't work but these smaller chunks are manageable and much easier to "digest."






Reading:

This is the story on which the Nutcracker Suite Ballet is based (loosely).  I wanted to familiarize myself with the Ballet's story but also I want to read Hiddensee:  A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire.  I am not sure what grabbed me about this book because I had a very difficult time with Wicked. I loved the music but I even had a hard time following the musical.  I want to like Maguire's works so I will give Wicked another try especially if I enjoy Hiddensee.  I will keep you posted!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weekly Wrap-up

Books Read:
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  • The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
  • The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
  • A New York Christmas by Anne Perry
  • The Angel Court Affair by Anne Perry
  • A Christmas Message by Anne Perry
Reading:
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Books To Be Read:
  • Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
  • A Christmas Return by Anne Perry
With the exception of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, it seems my December reading is centered on Dickens and Perry.  For some reason I associate Christmas with Victorian England.

I have chosen to read Copperfield in the original installments from Dickens' magazine.  It will take me until December 24.  In the meantime, I will include other holiday fare.

I hope to post some reviews or reactions to these works.  I owe a decent review of The Old Curiosity Shop.  That is what I am working on now.  I will post it upon its completion.  


Friday, December 8, 2017

Book Beginnings



Rose City Reader  says "Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name."


She goes on to include the Friday 56 from Freda's Voice"The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice."

My Read:    


The Angel Court Affair by Anne Perry published in 2015 is number 30 in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series with a 3.33 star rating on Fictfact.

"Pitt stared at the Home Office minister with disbelief.  He was standing in the quiet, sunlit room in Whitehall, the traffic outside inaudible.   'A Spanish saint?' "  (1)

"It was nothing to do with reconciliation, Ramon agreed quietly."  (56)

Granted neither of these sentences is very "grabbing" but as a fan of the series, I was willing to go a little further.  The Spanish saint is a young woman who ran away from her London home to marry a Spaniard.  Now she returns preaching a new interpretation of Christianity to the consternation of her British family and the Anglican Church.  With treats on her life, Pitt and the Special Branch are called in to provide protection.



Thursday, December 7, 2017

#TBT

It's Thursday and time to look back.  As the year draws to a close, I have been looking at what I have read in 2017 and trying to find a favorite (or two).  

In 2017 I discovered Fredrik Backman.  I don't know much about him except that he is Swedish, a blogger, a columnist, and now a novelist.  For this, I am most grateful.  

A trusted reading friend recommended A Man Called Ove by Backman.  I picked it up several times on my trips through Barnes and Noble and always ended up laying it aside.  When my friend took me on my birthday jaunt to the bookstore, she picked it up and added to the haul her gift card provided.

From Booklist:

At 59, Ove is a grumble Gus of the first degree. Rules are made to be followed, signs are meant to be obeyed, and don’t even get him started about computers and mobile phones. In truth, Ove has been this way his whole life, but he’s gotten worse in the last four years since his wife, Sonia, died, taking with her all the color in a world Ove sees as black-and-white. Ove has decided life without Sonia is not worth living and plans to join her in the next world. But a young couple and their two children (a third is on the way) move in next door, his oldest friend and most feared enemy is about to be forcibly removed to a nursing home, and a street-scarred cat insinuates itself into his life. Suddenly, Ove’s suicide plans get delayed as he helps solve neighborly crises large and small. Though Ove’s dark mission mitigates any treacly upstaging by animals and small children, readers seeking feel-good tales with a message will rave about the rantings of this solitary old man with a singular outlook. . --Carol Haggas


I sat on my balcony with a cup of coffee and the book.  There had been several occasions that caused me to laugh.  Neighbors walking by with their dogs looked up, smiled, and waved.  But by the time they were on the way back home, I was sobbing. (quite loudly).  I called my friend and could barely catch my breath as I begged her to tell me it would end happily ever after.   I had a good deal left to read.  She hung up chuckling.  I will only say "I love that book."  I love Ove.  I want to live in his neighborhood.  I want to share his friends.  I love that book.

I vowed to read all Backman's books.  They are now downloaded on my kindle.  Yesterday as I browsed the "Books Recommended for You" section, I found "The Deal of a Lifetime."  Wow!  A Christmas book.  A mere 96 pages, this is the story of a man who has sacrificed his family for money and success.  Now, he has a chance to make it right, but it is a drastic plan.  The story moves from present to past and back.  This is not a religious Christmas story, nor is it a pop culture look at the holiday, but readers will walk away with a feeling of redemption and the true meaning of love.

Have I told you how much I love Fredrik Backman?


Monday, December 4, 2017


It is Monday and I am still reading The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens.


Amazon says:

"The Old Curiosity Shop is the mesmerizing and heart-breaking tale about Little Nell, who is orphaned and living with her loving Granddad in the shop. In his attempts to secure Nell’s future, Granddad starts gambling. He keeps his nocturnal games a secret, but borrows heavily from the evil Daniel Quilp, a malicious, grotesquely deformed, hunchbacked dwarf moneylender. In the end, he gambles away what little money they have, and Quilp seizes the opportunity to take possession of the shop and evict Nell and her grandfather. Her grandfather suffers a breakdown that leaves him bereft of his wits, and Nell takes him away to the Midlands of England, to live as beggars. The book enjoyed enormous success when it was first published as a serial and has never been out of print since. It is one of the most familiar and well-loved works by Dickens and has been adapted into numerous films, TV-series and plays."

Because this was originally published in installments, I find that Dickens jumps around covering all the main characters which means we go for many chapters without seeing Little Nell and her grandfather.  

Another criticism I have is that rather than seeing Quilp as a malicious villain, I find him farcical, unintentionally humorous.  To make matters worse I see Tyrion Lannister who is anything but malicious and grotesque.  So for me, Quilp is a failed villain.

Finally, I have very little sympathy for the grandfather.  He falls victim to Quilp because of his own weaknesses not because Quilp is so evil. 

If I were writing a final review I would cite evidence to support my issues but for now this is a cursory glance at the book.  I have slightly more that 25% of the book left to read.  I am sure Dickens is prolonging the drama to keep the serial readership up.  I will plug on.

This meme is hosted by Book Date



Friday, December 1, 2017

Shock Wave

From the back cover...

Tasman Sea, 1856.  A British clipper ship bound for Australia's penal colony is crushed in a raging typhoon.  A few pitiful survivors wash up on a deserted island.  Among these are Betsy Fletcher and Jess Dorsett, who discover an immense supply of exquisite diamonds..

Seymour Island, Antarctica 2000.  Dirk Pitt rescues Maeve Fletcher, a descendant of Betsy and Jess, after an unknown cataclysm kills thousands of marine animals plus nearly two hindered people aboard a cruise ship.  Pitt traces the carnage to the global diamond operations of Maeve's father Arthur Dorsett, and her callous sisters.



Dirk Pitt is a member of the NUMA crew a government sponsored team to study marine life.  Perhaps he can be described as a kind of American James Bond or Indiana Jones.  This entry in the Pitt series is a thriller than moves from Antarctica to Canada to DC.  He must fight a ruthless diamond hunter as well as dangerous environmental threats.
I've only read a few Cussler thrillers but so far they are exciting satisfying adventures, so I see no reason not to continue.  I haven't read them in order and don't feel I have missed anything which is unusual for me because I prefer to go in order.

Friday Books



Rose City Reader  says "Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name."





She goes on to include the Friday 56 from Freda's Voice"The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice."


My read:  

"Night is generally my time for walking.  In the summer I often leave home early in the morning, and roam about fields and lanes all day, or even escape for days or weeks together;but, saving in the country, I seldom go out until after dark, though, Heaven be thanked, I love its light and feel the cheerfulness it sheds upon the earth, as much as any living creature.  (1)

"Some people by prudent management and leaving it off piece by piece like a flannel waistcoat in warm weather, even contrive, in time, to dispense with it altogether; but there be others who can assume the garment and throw it off at pleasure; and this, being the greatest and most convenient improvement, is the one most in vogue."  (56)

From The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens.  This novel was published in book format in 1841.  Prior to that it was released in serial form.  Dickens knew how to play an audience!  I was drawn to this novel when I came across a quote by Oscar Wilde 'One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears...of laughter.'  That sucked me in.  Is this going to be the height of Victorian melodrama?  I can't wait to see.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Month in Review - November

The weather is colder (well maybe cooler is better for us in Virginia) and I am snuggling in to read.  There is nothing on television with the exception of the Dancing With the Stars Finals and an occasional football game.  We have spent our evenings heads in books.

My month was highly productive both in quantity and quality.  There were no "losers" and several "winners."  Without question my two favorites were by Truman Capote.  He has a gift for words and his memories are heart tugging.  I feel as if I know the people in his stories because they fit so perfectly with the people in To Kill a Mockingbird.  He is Dill, you know.

I would recommend any one of the titles below and I think December will be just as satisfying.


The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille  ****
Outlander by Diana Gabalon ***
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie ****
Armageddon File by Stephen Coonts ****
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens *****
Red Bones by Ann Cleeves ****
Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell ****
Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler ***
Pacific Vortex by Clive Cussler ***
Iceberg by Clive Cussler ***
Memory Man by David Baldacci ****
The Last Mile by David Baldacci ****
The Fix by David Baldacci ****
The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote *****
A Christmas Journey by Anne Perry  ****
A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry ****
A Christmas Escape by Anne Perry ****
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote *****
Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child ****
Hardcore Twenty Four by Janet Evanovich ****
Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves ****
A Christmas Grace by Anne Perry ***

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

First Chapter, First Paragraph

"Fran sat with her eyes closed. The small plane dropped suddenly, seemed to fall from the sky, then levelled for a moment before tilting like a fairground ride. She opened her eyes to see a grey cliff ahead of them. It was close enough for her to make out the white streaks of bird muck and last season’s nests. Below, the sea was boiling. Spindrift and white froth caught by the gale-force winds spun over the surface of the water.
Why doesn’t the pilot do something? Why is Jimmy just sitting there, waiting for us all to die?"
                                                                                                 Blue Lightning, Ann Cleeves







Every Tuesday, Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.


I shared the first paragraph from Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves.  Published in 2010, Blue Lightning is the fourth book in Cleeves' Shetland Island mystery series.  These books focus on Jimmy Perez policeman from Fair Isle in the Shetlands.  The stories are intense and like the islands they are often bleak and cold.  

There is also a television series currently on Amazon Prime that is based on these books.

Does this intro draw you in?  It is hard to "love" Jimmy, but he is relentless in pursuing the guilty.  


Monday, November 27, 2017

2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge

It is time for the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge.  I've listed the categories on the sidebar.  It's an impressive set of criteria.  Are you up for the dare?  I am going to give it my best shot.




There are 50 suggested topics and that can be pretty scary but as they have said over at PopSugar, the point is to read and broaden our horizons.  50 books includes the advanced section so if that is not doable go for the basic list of 40.

What comes after the reading?  Here is what they suggest at PopSugar.

"So you've decided to take the reading challenge — what now? We'd suggest joining this Goodreads group, which is made up of more than 8,000 readers who participate in the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge every year. In addition to keeping you accountable, the group's impressively well-read and supportive members swap book ideas for the prompts and discuss their favorite (and least favorite) reads throughout the year. You'll also be able to track which books you've read and rate them on the site."





It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


What better way to start a new week than a laugh out loud escapade with Stephanie Plum and her sidekick 'ho turned bounty hunter, Lulu.  

All the regulars are on hand:  Joe, the cop, Grandma Mazur and Stephanie's family, the bail bond staff, and Ranger.  In this installment Diesel returns to upset Stephanie's already shaky love life.

No doubt I will breeze through this but the tbr stack is toppling over.  Next up is Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves one of her Shetland series and several more Chistmas novellas by Anne Perry.

I'm ready to rock and roll.



This meme is hosted by Book Date.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Full House Challenge 2018

I do not need an excuse to read but it makes me feel much more productive if I can claim I am meeting a challenge.  With that said, I am signing up for The Full House Challenge hosted by Book Date.

Here is the description from the Book Date site:



  • Challenge will run from Jan 1st to December 31st 2018
  • Write and publish a post stating your intention to participate. In the post please include the Challenge graphic and a link back to this post. Then link your intention post at the bottom of this post.  Make sure it is the actual post and not just a generic link to your blog.  If you do not have a blog, leave a comment with stating your intention below and how you are going to track.
  • Add your reviews back here on the link in this post. At the end of every three months there will be two prizes of  U.S. $15 prize with a book of your choice from the Book Depository or U.S. Amazon voucher, for the entries. There will be a new linky then for the next quarter and so on to the end of December.
  • Reviews are not mandatory and if you prefer to keep a list of the books read and the category they cross off the card, then you can still enter for the completion of a Full House by linking to that list on the final linky or in a comment. The list could be kept on somewhere like Goodreads or in a Google doc.  If you are on Goodreads but don't have a blog you might like to link your reviews to the linky to be in to win the quarterly prizes.  Or any place where you do reviews on the web.
There is a list of categories as well as this Bingo-like card.  I am going to put the list on the sidebar and as I read a book, I will replace the descriptor with the title.  
Prizes are always nice but the challenge is my reward.  Who am I kidding?  I just want to be able to say "I must finish this one book for my challenge!"
https://bookdate.blogspot.com/2017/11/full-house-reading-challenge-2018.html?showComment=1512400991511#c8332173532757722972

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Anne Perry

Readers are frequently asked to name their favorite authors.  This question always causes me distress.  Asking me to name my favorite authors is akin to asking me to pick a favorite child.  One of the authors I continually turn to for challenge and entertainment is Anne Perry.  Perry is an English author who is primarily known for her two Victorian detective series, one featuring  Thomas and Charlotte Pitt and the other with William Monk and Hester Latterly; however, additionally, she has written an outstanding quartet centering on World War I and a collection of Christmas novellas.

The Christmas stories feature minor characters such as sisters, brothers, grandmothers or bosses from the two detective series.  While these stories contain some elements of mystery, their primary focus is to give a glimpse into these characters' personal  growth or turmoil and to provide more of their back story.

The first in this collection is A Christmas Journey.  This story features Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould an in-law of Charlotte Pitt's sister Emily.  Lady Vespasia is a woman who is still beautiful and influential despite her old age; however, In A Christmas Journey,  she appears as a young woman feeling unsettled with her life after an earlier involvement in an Italian revolutionary attempt.  In the story, a guest at a weekend Christmas house party commits suicide seemingly as a result of a vicious criticism.  The woman who issued the unkind comment is forced to carry the suicide note to the victim's mother and admit her part in the death.  Lady Vespasia volunteers to travel with the woman  hoping to regain some of her lost passions. The journey is full of discomfort and detours before the letter is delivered.

The mystery is secondary to the personal redemption of several of the characters and the spiritual revitalization of Lady Vespasia.  The strength of the novella lies in the development of Cumming-Gould's back story in the Pitt Series.  Reading this provides further dimension to the already well developed character.

Perry has released a Christmas novella every year since 2003.  A Christmas Return is the 2017title.  Although Christmas is not the primary focus of these books, they are a well spent seasonal evening's entertainment.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Let The Holidays Begin

Yesterday with Thanksgiving, the Holiday season began.  In the spirit of the day, I spent time reflecting on the things for which I am thankful.  I have a wonderful husband, a loving family, and without a doubt the very best friends.

I would be disingenuous if I let readers believe I sat in quiet contemplation all day.  No, I ate, read and screamed...(at football).  All this comprised my Thanksgiving traditions and for this too I am thankful.

"Madison Avenue" executives would have us believe today is black Friday; but, not for me.  I stay in.  I continue my own personal read-a-thon and football marathon and I begin the decorating frenzy. My reading consists of Christmas stories.  December is devoted to stories of the season from Thanksgiving Friday until New Year's Day.  I begin listening to holiday music as well.  In that vein, yesterday I read The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote and I began reading A Christmas Journey by Anne Perry.

Now, today, it all begins.  I have a list of books to fill the season, the remote control to switch from game to game, and boxes of decorations close at hand.

To name only three things for which I am thankful seems so limited despite the fact that two are broad categories.  I am thankful for so much more.  In addition to family and friends, I have my faith, my freedom, and the ability to enjoy all.

.....Let the Fun Begin

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Classics Club

I recently discovered "The Classics Club" calling itself "A Community of Classics Lovers" which would include me!  The goal of this group is for each person to make a list of classics to read and set a date to complete the reading.  Sounds simple.

Here are the simple instructions from their site:
  • choose 50+ classics
  • – list them at your blog
  • – choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
  • – e-mail the moderators of this blog (theclassicsclubblog@gmail.com) with your list link and information and it will be posted on the Members Page!
  • – write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list
  • – when you’ve written about every single title, let us know!'''
I am starting my list today and will post it here on my blog.  My goal is to read the 50 chosen books and post a discussion on each by December 31, 2022.  

I already see what my problem will be -  selecting only 50.  

Wordless Wednesday





Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Life Goes On

-  or does it?  I have not been writing for several moths.  It seems as though I have been busy, but not really.  I have been existing.  Life is uncomfortable tor me.  I am happy but not.  I need a change and I know one is coming, but can I wait.

We moved to Chesapeake, Virginia in September of 2015 to be near family.  After two years it is apparent that our move does not make a world of difference to the Navy so family is gone and we are stuck  -  alone.  I feel like I am in prison.  We have no friends here; we didn't bother.  We had family.  Now we have no one

Gloomy?  Sounds like it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  When our lease is up in March of 2018 we will return to Delaware, our home.  This is where all our friends are.  This is where we have family rooted at the beach.  This the where friends from our careers can come to visit.  This is where we belong.  I can't wait.

I am not going to stop living while I wait.  I have let too much time slip by already.  To be clear, Jim and I have fun.  We travel.  We read.  We binge watch TV.  We laugh and we are enjoying our year old German Shepherd, Maggie.  But come spring we are packing up and heading home.

In the meantime, I am here.  I am going to get back to what makes me feel like I have accomplished something - a way to prove that I am living not simply existing.

Join me on this journey from nothing to oh so much something.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bout of Books: Progress Day One

I finished my first book yesterday.  Did Lucrezia Borgia poison her husbands?  Was incest a part of her life?  What was life as a Papal bastard like?  Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant reveals some of the secrets in the life of this historical figure.

Not so long ago, we watched the Showtime series The Borgias.  I didn't know much about this family and after binge watching, I was hooked.  I needed to read more.  Blood and Beauty proved to be a good start.  While the television series concentrated on Roderigo Borgia the Pope, the novel centers on Lucrezia.  I admit the book is not a page turning thriller but it certainly satisfied my curiosity. 

I am taking an entirely different turn for my next choice.  Next Up:  Miss Julia Takes over by Ann B Ross

Monday, May 8, 2017

Day One: Bout of Books



First book of the challenge.

Friday, May 5, 2017

It is time for the Spring edition of Bout of Books.  I participated last year and made a dent in my TBR pile.  What better chance to cross off more titles.   Below is a brief description from the Bout of Books blog.  Visit the site to see all the rules and challenges.  I will list some of the books on my list but as the mood strikes, I may add or delete titles.  I am looking forward to this read-a-thon.




The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

The Great Gatsby

I think I will join the Great Gatsby discussion at The Edge of the Precipice.  The discussions begin June 1 and run through June 30.

Hamelette says  "If you've never participated in one of my read-alongs and are curious about how they work, basically I will write a post for each individual chapter.  Each post will contain my own thoughts on the chapter, some favorite lines, and a discussion question or two that I think people might want to ponder.  All participants are then invited to discuss the chapter in the comments, both with me and with each other.  You don't have to stick to the questions I ask!"

Sounds easy enough.  Gatsby is one of my favorites.  It should be fun to discuss the book in a group.