Category: In The Library

The Day It Finally Happens Book Review

Book Cover of The Day it Finally Happens

Intriguing is the best way to describe The Day It Finally Happens by Mike Pearl. This well researched and annotated book combines fact with fictional what if questions. Or maybe, just maybe, not so fictional. In fact each and every chapter seems impossible until Pearl explains how entirely possible each scenario is. Be prepared to be scared-or at least unsettled.

Topics Covered

Pearl covers a wide arrange of topics. There is literally a subject to peak anyone’s interest. He opens with a discussion of abolishing British Monarchy and ends with The Last Cemetery running out of space. I read the first two chapters in order before cheating the rest of the way through the book.

In this day of pandemic, the chapter on antibiotics no longer working drew my eye. (Much like the blue cousins to the coronavirus dancing across the cover.) Then I was off to coverage of super volcanoes and Internet outages. Perhaps Pearl had a purpose for his content order, but I quite enjoyed skipping from topic to topic. And I learned a lot.

Chapter Set-Up

Each of the chapters in The Day It Finally Happens begins with a set of scaled questions. The four queries are the perfect way to set the stage. First is “Likely in this century?” with a yay or nay answer. Then Pearl has a plausibility rating on a scale of 1 to 5. The last two questions are more open ended and entice the reader to delve into the scenario. From this point, the chapters were introduced in a variety of ways. But after each opening, Pearl explained how each “impossible phenomena” could become possible.

Interviews with experts in the field anchor the author’s arguments for each chapter. Plus, Pearl discusses a variety of technologies that currently exist. These revelations (at least for me) are of the shock and awe variety. The chapter on The Day Anyone Can Imitate Anyone Else Perfectly is downright eye-opening. Current technology far exceeds that imagined by George Orwell of Aldous Huxley.

The Day It Finally Happens Hooks and Keeps

The best part of The Day It Finally Happens is the wide variety of topics covered. There literally is something for everyone. This book has made my list of books to give at Christmas. In fact multiple copies may be given. Mike Pearl is a writer to keep an eye on.

Chapters on Saudi Arabian oil, slaughterhouses and the last human driven car will appeal to multiple family members. The research in each chapter will keep the reader hooked. If you are in search of an informative well written book that applies facts to the implausible, buy a copy of The Day It Finally Happens.

Open pages illustrating end of oil
Illustrated page showing fish

The Woman in Red Book Review

The Women in Red is the debut novel from Diana Giovinazzo. This book is historical fiction but the author remains true to the historical facts in the life of Anita Garibaldi. Well researched, The Women in Red weaves a tale of adventure, independence and hardship into the love story of Anita and Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The author concentrates on Anita. Thus, The Women in Red first depicts Anita in childhood. Then the reader follows the story across the South American continent to Europe during the early to mid-1800s. Anita is a feminist before there were feminists. But such is the life of a woman in a land of conflict.

Brazil

Anita’s story begins in Brazil. She rides as a gaucho alongside her father. Then the first tragedy of her life strikes and she must move with her mother to the coastal city of Laguna. Away from her beloved horses. On the cusp of womanhood.

In Laguna she is forced to marry a lazy, drunken cobbler. The marriage is a disaster. Eventually, her husband joins the Imperial cavalry. Anita refuses to follow him into battle as was traditional. She sees freedom in his absence.

The Ragamuffin war in Brazil is a major theme in The Woman in Red. Because of her upbringing, Anita sides with the rebelling gauchos. She lives independently, working in a hospital and protected by her marital status. Then fate intervenes.

Giuseppe “Jose” Garibaldi

The exiled Italian, Giuseppe Garibaldi is that fate. Garibaldi is a mercenary. He has been recruited to battle the Brazilian monarchy. His fleet of ships command attention in the Laguna harbor. Garibaldi himself looms large over the populace of the coastal city.

Even though Anita is technically still married, she falls in love. So does Garibaldi. Their life together and their love for each other fills the remaining pages of the novel.

The Woman in Red

Anita Garibaldi is a critical part of the general’s success. Her accomplishments vary from her skilled horsemanship to that of a persuasive orator recruiting troops for her husband once they reach Italy. According to the novel, she is responsible for the red shirts of the Uruguay “redshirts.”

Most of The Woman in Red follows General Garibaldi’s feats and defeats as seen through Anita’s eyes. But she is a crucial part of the action. The author portrays Anita as an equal, not subservient. This is a key component of the novel.

Diana Giovinazzo

The Woman in Red is an outstanding debut novel. Giovinazzo shares in her author’s note where she has condensed the timeline in Anita’s life. The historical facts are accurate. Anyone whose interest of Garibaldi is piqued by the story will find collaboration in the historical accounts. But, this story focuses on the love between Anita and Jose.

In addition to her writing, Giovinazzo hosts the weekly podcast ‘Wine, Woman and Words’ which can be accessed by clicking here. Those of you searching for additional reading material may want to tune in. I look forward to more historical fiction from Diana Giovinazzo.

Wizard’s Daughter Book Review

Wizard’s Daughter combines magic with witches, wizards, ghosts and unearthly realms with Regency England. Catherine Coulter is a masterful writer regardless of which genre she chooses. Her tales are part romance and part adventure.

Sherbrooke Series

Even though Coulter is one of my favorite authors and the Sherbrooke Series is also much loved, Wizard’s Daughter escaped my attention when it was released over ten years ago. However, a positive side to the pandemic is discovering many books I previously missed upon publication. Wizard’s Daughter is quite the mystical escape. Perfect for a lazy afternoon.

Nicholas Vail

The young Lord Mountjoy has returned to England after learning of his father’s death. He is the oldest and inherits what is tied up through primogeniture…and nothing else. All monies were passed onto three half-brothers.

But that is not the only thing that draws him back from foreign shores. He knows it is time to find the girl who has haunted his dreams since he was a small boy. She is now a grown woman, and a ward to Ryder Sherbrooke.

Wizard’s Daughter

Found near death as a small urchin Rosalind has no memory before her rescue. Not even of her identity. Yet, as soon as she spies Nicholas across the room at a ball she knows he is the one for her.

Their whirlwind romance takes on an unearthly mystery. Clues to the hidden secret swirling around Nicholas and Rosalind appear through coded passages in a book and strange visions to both Nicholas, Rosalind, and Richard, the oldest half-brother.

Paying a Debt

Behind the many secrets surrounding the young couple is a generational debt to be paid. Both must travel beyond the pale to rescue a young boy from an evil witch. Along the way they must navigate along a path filled with flying dragons, wizards and mythical beasts.

The many visions delivered in England come to pass. And yet the outcome is twisted. For in the realm beyond the pale things are not as they seem.

Catherine Coulter

Ms. Coulter is a prolific writer. Earlier reviews include Paradox, The Last Second and The Devil’s Triangle. She covers many genres and each story is a treat to behold. Wizard’s Daughter is an excellent example. Coulter combines regency romance with mysticism and the end result is an entertaining tale for fans of both genres. I enjoyed both the romance of Rosalind and Nicholas along with their adventure in a mythical realm.

About A Rogue Book Review

About a Rogue by Caroline Linden is one of the most satisfying regency romances I have read in a very long time. Even though the novel is not a sweet romance, and the spice is red hot, the characters are heartwarming. The romance is real. Those who prefer chaste passages of lovemaking should skip those passages, but not the book.

All About a Rogue

The story centers on a rogue. A distant heir to the dukedom of Carlyle, Max St. James seizes his chance to turn his lifelong misfortune into fortune. A small stipend offered in exchange for cleaning up his act allows him to search for a long lost and hidden relative and to create a better future for himself.

Max is all business as he pursues his fortune through a partnership in Tate & Sons. Since the last of the Tate’s only has two daughters, Max’s offer as a business partner and as a son-in-law is accepted. Sort of.

An Exchange of Sisters

Max offers marriage to the oldest daughter. Unbeknownst to him she is already in love with the vicar. She elopes and he is presented with the younger daughter. He gambles and he wins. But not without a lot of patience and fortitude. The willingness to earn his bride’s love by waiting for a wedding night is refreshing to a reader in this modern time of instant gratification.

Bianca Tate is married to the business. She works developing glazes for the pottery. And she does not want the handsome rogue taking any part of the business away from her. Vowing to hate the scoundrel for eternity, she too acquiesces to the marriage. But, she is willing to sacrifice to keep control of the family industry.

Patience Outlasts Disdain

Both characters are quite like-able and the attraction between them is not forced. Linden’s writing flows as does the plot. The rogue is truly one of the good guys and Bianca is a strong, intelligent woman. And very forgiving.

Readers who love regency romances will fancy About a Rogue. This is the first of Caroline Linden’s books I have read. But it will not be the last. I just hope Libby has more available by Caroline Linden.

Sisters by Choice Book Review

Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery is the perfect book to chase away the blahs brought on by this pandemic. Mallory combines relatable characters with realistic story lines and satisfactory conclusions. The themes of finding oneself and inner peace are just what one needs to counter these stressful times.

Cousins are Sisters by Choice

A trio of cousins are the heart of the novel Sisters by Choice. The reader quickly learns how closely tied the relationships are. Sophie, the driven CEO reaches out to Kristine when her business literally goes up in smoke. The latter is on the next plane rushing in for support.

The remainder of the novel focuses on individual growth for the two cousins along with that of their “niece” Heather, daughter of the third cousin-Amber. If one were playing which one is not like the other, Amber would be the answer. An unlikeable character, yet she is pivotal to the third story line.

Romantic but not a Romance

The main thread revolves around Sophie. Mallery’s choice of an ambitious, forceful female executive for a protagonist is by design. The author’s goal is to develop her main character beyond the stereotypical hard-nosed, autocrat characterized by many when describing a successful woman. She succeeds on many levels.

Sophie develops a relationship with yoga instructor Dugan. The initial attraction is physical, but Dugan’s insight into the business world forces Sophie to evolve as a manager and as a person. There is just a touch of romance in the story line, but the focus remains on personal development.

Amber and Heather

The mother-daughter relationship between Amber and Heather is ripe for psychoanalysis. Amber, the oldest of the three cousins, is an unappealing character. Perhaps this is intentional. Her flaws remain throughout the story and serve as a backdrop. By contrast, twenty year old Heather is a charming foil character.

Heather is torn between loyalty to family and her own ambitions. Furthermore, her friends are on two differing paths of growth. But she feels stuck as in a time warp. Her story line has a satisfactory conclusion.

No more Stay-at-home Mom

Kristine is on year sixteen of being a stay-at-home Mom. But she wants more. She has a dream of owning a bakery. Now that she has a chance of chasing that dream she encounters push back from male family members. Especially, husband Jaxsen.

I quite enjoyed this thread. Kristine is a strong woman. Her goals threaten her marriage and her comfort zone. But what I like most about this plot is the support she receives from her mother-in-law. No stereotype from Mallery!

Additionally, character development is seen in Jaxsen. Unlike the other two threads, he is not portrayed as the omnipotent male. Jaxsen has his faults and his vulnerabilities. He truly does not understand his wife’s need to call something her own.

Categorizing Sisters by Choice

Sisters by Choice is hard to characterize by genre. Romantic relationships are present, but it does not belong to the romance genre. Since Heather is the only character on the cusp of adulthood, the book doesn’t quite fit the coming of age category.

Yet most of the characters show personal and emotional growth.

Susan Mallery

Even though Susan Mallery has written one hundred fifty books and counting, this is the first novel I have read from her pen. (Or perhaps word processor/laptop. Time is fleeting.)  It won’t be the last. Stories with warmth and positivity are a great antidote to these troubling times. If you are unfamiliar with Mallery, click here for her website. Put this author on your TBR list as well. Life is a roller coaster. Outstanding fiction enhances the ride.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Girls of Paris Book Review

Pam Jenoff masterfully blends history and fiction with The Lost Girls of Paris. Background for the story is the recruitment of young British women as agents for Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II. Jenoff’s characters are all fictional as is the plot. The story is spellbinding.

Two Protagonists

The storyline alternates between Marie Roux and Grace Healey. As does the time period. Marie’s story takes place during World War II. The plot revolving around Grace occurs  shortly after the war is over.

Marie is a single mom, half-French, recruited by the SOE. Much of The Lost Girls of Paris revolves around her recruitment and service during the war. She is a compelling character. Fluent in French, she is perfect to place as a radio transmitter into Occupied France. But she is not a natural spy.

On the other hand, Grace is hiding from her family in New York City. A “war” widow she is trying to come to terms with life and its’ cruel twists.

Eleanor Trigg

The only connection between the two is Eleanor Trigg. She recruited Marie and ran the section in SOE that oversaw the female recruits. Trigg is killed in an auto accident in NYC and Grace stumbles upon her belongings. There are twelve photos, including one of Marie, of the SOE agents that went missing during the war. These pictures of the Lost Girls of Paris, act as a catalyst. They motivate Grace to seek out the story of both Eleanor and the lost agents.

The Lost Girls of Paris

The thread involving Marie was captivating from the start. On the other hand, it was harder to engage with Grace’s story at first. This most likely arises from the intrigue and danger faced by the operatives. In comparison, the background story of Grace is sad, but not extraordinary.

Yet, Grace clearly grows the most. She is determined to discover the mystery behind the disappearance of the Lost Girls. And Grace finds herself in the process. Even though a romance is hinted at, she opts for independence.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Girls of Paris. Pam Jenoff creates a wonderful piece of historical fiction. Buy a copy or find one at your local library. I checked mine out on Libby. This novel would be a great gift for those interested in World War II or with a likeness for this genre.

 

 

The Quiche and the Dead Book Review

Kirsten Weiss is the author of multiple series, including the Pie Town mysteries of which The Quiche and the Dead is the first publication. Valentine (Val) Harris is the owner of Pie Town. She is a recent transplant to San Nicholas. She followed her fiancé to the small town; only to be jilted once her life savings were invested.

Val is barely making ends meet and sleeping in a closet at the restaurant when tragedy strikes. One of her best customers, Joe, owner of the nearby comic store drops dead after eating a breakfast quiche. An interesting cast of characters, including employees Charlene and Petronella, along with a handful of leading citizens, among them Val’s ex-fiancé, make solving the death tricky.

Quiche and the Dead Flouting the Law

As is often the case with cozy mysteries, Val and her cohort Charlene don’t necessarily operate within the legal boundaries. The two do a little “entering” of Joe’s house seeking clues. Joe himself was a bit of an armchair Sherlock Holmes. So the two believe his sudden death is linked with one of his cases.

Their madcap antics solve Joe’s “cases” one by one. Along the way they have more than one run-in with local authorities Officer Carmichael and Detective Shaw. Weiss has developed her characters well. I will be interested to see how relationships develop in subsequent books from this cozy mystery series.

Kirsten Weiss

Weiss is a prolific writer. She has numerous books across several genres. Additionally, she is a blogger with a user friendly website.

Her writing encompasses mystery, magic, and both urban and historical fantasy. Individuals may wish to become members of the Raven(ous) Society via her website and receive free content. She also has courses in various types of witchcraft (including kitchen) which you must be 18 to access. Click here for Ms. Weiss’ website.

Ms. Weiss’ The Quiche and the Dead is my first experience with the writer. Since I like cozy mysteries I will look for successive stories in the Pie Town series. I checked this book out on Libby.

 

 

Girl Out of Water Book Review

Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman is a YA (Young Adult) with some depth. Anise Sawyer is a seventeen year old surfer girl looking View of Pacific Ocean from atop a cliff.forward to a summer on the waves before starting her last year of high school. Life is good—or at least as much as it can be for a teenager with a Mom who floats in an out of life with years between visits.

But Anise arrives home after a wonder filled day of possible summer love and friendship to news that her last summer of high school will be spent in land locked Nebraska. Her Aunt Jackie-her mother’s sister- has been severely injured. Both Anise and her Dad fly out to help with the three cousins.

Coming of Age

Girl Out of Water is definitely a coming of age story. Anise changes from a carefree teenager to one with responsibilities. She must face her own disappointments while caring for her young cousins, twin boys and their sister who is embarking on the teen years herself.

But author Laura Silverman throws extra wave curls at Anise. As her young protagonist becomes more involved in her cousin’s lives, Silverman introduces a solid thread of diversity to the story. Anise meets single-armed adoptee Lincoln. And starts to lose touch with her surfer buddies back home.

Girl Out of Water Themes

There are several themes running through Girl Out of Water. First is one of non-traditional families. Anise has a mom who floats in and out of life. So, Anise hopes to find some understanding while staying at the home her mom grew up in. Her cousins, having a father who had passed away, now worry about losing their Mom. Finally, Lincoln is an adoptee who has moved many times in his young life. His roots are not tied to a geographical location.

Another theme is meeting new challenges. Surfer girl endeavors to learn skateboarding. This is a greater challenge than Anise first thought, but she wants to best Lincoln. Yet in the end Anise falls for Lincoln even though he is always eager to find new places. Her complete opposite. Of course Anise just yearns for the ocean.

Lastly, Silverman writes of introspection. Anise realizes at the end of summer that she did not keep in touch with her surfer friends back home. She becomes fearful that she may be her mother’s child after all.

Recommended Readers

While Girl Out of Water would fit the definition of a sweet romance-no sexual scenes, I still hesitate recommending for very young teens. There are scenes involving heavy drinking and allusions to drug use.

But, Silverman does a nice job of illustrating the strength of diversity. Furthermore, her message on the importance of family and not necessarily the traditional family unit is solid. These messages are a positive. So, I believe Girl Out of Water is appropriate for mid-teens and up.

However, I found a few circumstances hard to believe. As a parent, I would not readily allow a seventeen year old daughter travel by car from Nebraska to California with an eighteen year old male. Sex talk or not.

Nor did I understand the self-doubt of Anise. But perhaps it has been too many years since I was a teenager. Friends are important. But as so wonderfully illustrated by the character of Lincoln, self-worth is key.

The Girl He Left Behind Book Review

I have been looking for a true romance for several months and The Girl He Left Behind fits the bill. Beatrice MacNeil writes a heart tugging story of love lost and once again found. Far from being formulaic, the story is complex yet enjoyable and rewarding in the end.

Willow Alexander

The protagonist is only child Willow Alexander. Willow is sharp. And she is loyal. She also carries her burdens internally with nary a word to others. The book reveals the story line through her flashbacks.

Marjorie MacInnis and Graham Currie are her closest friends from kindergarten forward. The three grow up along the coast. One moneyed and doted upon.  Another surrounded by familial love. The third finds solace in the other two. Many of the flashbacks focus on pivotal events as they reach maturity.

Over time, Willow and Graham grow beyond friends. They become betrothed lovers. Then the day of their wedding, Graham fails to show up. Life then takes a turn for the worse for Willow. First, she suffers an irreplaceable loss. Then her father dies, followed by her mother.

But life goes on. Since this is a tale woven around the past, the protagonist is shown in a different phase of life. She has endured many losses. Willow is a solid citizen. Yet she doubts her own innocence.

The Girl He Left Behind Timeline

The beginning of the novel starts with yet another tragedy for Willow. She thinks she has accidently poisoned her employer and his invalid wife. And she is ready to face the consequences. From this point on is the rewind of Willow’s life. Her positive childhood becomes full of woe once left standing at the altar. The question for the readers is one of absolution and reclamation.

Did she poison the couple? Can she remain in the same small hamlet with the return of Graham? Can she find love again?

True Romance

The Girl He Left Behind is a rich romance. The machinations of others tear the young lovers apart. Denied true love they make their way in the world.

MacNeil tugs the heart strings as her heroine faces one tragedy after another and the years roll by. Now forty, Willow is faced with the return of Graham to their small hamlet. He too has suffered over the years. Their reunion is not smooth.

This reader appreciated the elements of forgiveness and empathy weaved into the story. The Girl He Left Behind is very fulfilling. I highly recommend this novel for all lovers of romance. The Girl He Left Behind is a recent release, so it may not be in your local library yet. This book is a keeper and well worth buying. Find a copy and enjoy!

 

 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek Book Review

Kim Michele Richardson brings the proud and impoverished inhabitants of Eastern Kentucky to life in her latest work, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. Even though a few liberties are taken with historical events, Richardson accurately portrays the bigotry towards the Blue people of Kentucky.

The Book Woman

Cussy Mary is the Book Woman. She has blue skin due to the genetics of methemoglobinemia. As part of the plot, her condition is discovered by researchers in Lexington and is tied to similar findings among Alaskan and American Natives. However, the reader needs to overlook the fact that the book has the scientific research done during the Great Depression. In actuality the work was not completed until the 1960s.

A nickname for Cussy Mary is Bluet. Her employer is the WPA as a Kentucky Pack Horse librarian. She faces danger in her work from both man and nature. The patrons along her route receive nourishment for their minds even as they face starvation. Cussy Mary is devoted to her work.

Racism and Poverty

Two key themes in The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek are racism and poverty. The term coloreds in 1930s Kentucky lumped African-Americans and the Blues of Eastern Kentucky together. In the story. Cussy Mary and fellow book woman Queenie, who is African-American, look out for each other. Both characters manage to overcome the burden of racism. And both women also escape the abject poverty of the times.

Poverty is color blind. The fate of the Appalachian families during The Great Depression is sobering. Richardson is a master at pulling the heart strings while describing the starvation of the times. But she also has the reader cheering as her characters unite against the immoral legalities of the time.

A key outcome has the townspeople acting against injustice through the ballot box.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek was released in May of 2019. Before the protests turned riots of 2020. Yet, the timeliness is incredible. I hope those that have protested lawfully read this book. Kim Michele Richardson speaks to social injustice eloquently. A cross section of society supports Cussy Mary. Furthermore, justice is meted through the ballot box. Something to keep in mind this election year.

So, I highly recommend The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. The writing is excellent. And the characters are compelling. This is a book worth reading and giving.

 

The Blue Moon Book Review

If you like good old fashioned mysteries without the mayhem of murder, you will love The Blue Moon by Lorena McCourtney. This entertaining tale revolves around the mystery of a necklace which may or may not be known as the Blue Moon.

The Blue Moon Plot

The novel opens with the discovery of a beautiful necklace by protagonist Abby Stanton. Apparently, the jewelry had been taped to the underneath of a desk drawer. Thus, the mystery begins. Abby wants to track down the rightful owner.

This proves difficult. Multiple people step forward once a value is attached to the necklace. Apparently, an appraisal of three million brings out many. Even rumors of a curse do not slow the number of presumptive owners.

Among the many claimants are a couple of dangerous types. They are not working together, but as rivals. One even dognaps Mary Stanton’s service dog.

Characters in The Blue Moon

Abby and her sister Mary figure prominently as independent women. Both also have a romantic interest featured in the story. But as this is a work of Christian fiction, the relationships are earnest not steamy.

The two sisters face danger head on. Finnegan the service dog aids in his own rescue. But the theme is one of intellectual feats versus action packed adventure.

Pacific Northwest

The setting for the novel is the Pacific Northwest. Travel is just as likely by boat as by car. This factors into the story line on several fronts. McCourtney brings the area to life through her descriptions of the climate and topography.

Christian Fiction

The Blue Moon is a bit more scriptural than other books by Lorena McCourtney. As this is the first book featuring the Stanton sisters’ that I have read, I do not know if this is the norm. Passages of scripture are weaved throughout the novel in addition to the lead characters’ upstanding moral characteristics.

Overall, The Blue Moon reminded me a bit of the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries I read as a child. The two men who died prior to the start of the story were NOT murdered. Truly, the plot revolves around the mysterious appearance of the Blue Moon necklace and its ownership.

Christian fiction may not be for everyone, but it has been soothing to my soul during these stressful times of uncertainty and unrest. I read this book through the Libby App. The book is enjoyable and an easy read.

 

Under Currents Book Review

Under Currents by Nora Roberts is a romance with a heavy theme of surviving abuse. Both spousal abuse and parental abuse as well as bullying are covered by the author. The first quarter of the book is quite brutal. So this book will not be for everyone.

The hero of the story, Zane, and his younger sister Britt, suffer years of emotional and physical abuse and neglect from their parents. Like many children trapped in this situation, Zane counts the days until he can escape by going to college. He also records everything.

Eventually the two kids fight their way out of the abusive home and the story fast forwards until they are adults. Britt has remained in their home town and is happily married with a child of her own. Zane is returning to the small town he grew up in, hoping to bury the bad memories.

Love Under Currents

Darby sweeps into town hoping she can start life anew. She recently lost her mother, her anchor in life. The two had worked together as landscape designers, a career Darby can transplant if the right circumstances are available. She rents a lakeside cabin for a month intending to investigate for at least two weeks before moving on to the second possibility on her list.

Darby and Zane connect instantly. On the surface they have many similar interests. Underneath they have even more similarities. Because Darby is also a survivor of domestic abuse. In her case, a former husband. Both possess the ability to defend themselves and both want a relationship without violence.

Threats from the Past

Before Zane and Darby can unite for the long term, they must deal with their pasts. Both emotionally and physically. Nora Roberts throws several dangers at the young couple and they meet each head on. This gives the author a chance to show victims can survive and even thrive after overcoming an abusive relationship. Even though the plot is straightforward to the reader, the twists thrown at the protagonists are plausible. Plus, the tension puts the reader on edge.

Under Currents is well written. This is a very good book and I recommend it with a caveat. I think there are many who will have a hard time reading Under Currents. The first chapters are especially brutal in the description of the child abuse. So, I would not recommend this novel as a gift. As Roberts so deftly portrays, many families have under currents of abuse. Many remain hidden from view.

 

The River Book Review

The River is reminiscent of the Jack London books I read growing up. The author, Peter Heller weaves a spellbinding story of the harshness of nature and of life. Best friends Jack and Wynn set off paddling north towards the Hudson Bay. They face danger from Nature and Man.

Adventure on the River

The plot seems simple enough. Two young men out for adventure. Skipping the first quarter at Dartmouth to paddle north. Dreaming of days spent communing with nature. Fishing to supplement their packed provisions. And gorging off the ripe berries found everywhere along the river bank.

But then nature intervenes in the form of a far off wildfire. Albeit a giant one. So, as they come across two drunk Texans they warn them. Further down river they hear a couple arguing and paddle past. Only to turn back to warn them of the impending fire. No one is around.

Complex Personalities

Heller brilliantly unravels his characters’ personalities as he spins the prose. Both Jack and Wynn are able-bodied young men. Yet they also are kindred spirits with a shared love of words. Books of all kinds, poetry, and western ballads. However, their life experiences prove the difference.

Wynn sees the good in all. He is optimistic and altruistic. He wants to go back and warn the couple of the approaching fire. Jack is the opposite. He has first-hand knowledge of nature’s cruelty in general and specifically with regards to out of control fires. Furthermore, Jack is resigned to his belief that nature and mankind can be cruel. But Wynn is his best friend and he is persuaded.

Masterful Writing from Peter Heller

The River is classic literature in so many ways. Heller’s writing brings the sights, sounds and smells of the river into the reader’s brain. His foreshadowing keeps the reader on edge worried about the characters. Wondering about the race to safety.

I recommend this novel for high school and above because of the intense drama. Any contemporary literature class would benefit by including The River. Symbolism, foreshadowing and character depth are ripe for discovery. Book clubs will also find the novel excellent material for discussion.

 

Big Lies in a Small Town Book Review

Diane Chamberlain’s Big Lies in a Small Town should be on every one’s to be read list for two reasons. First and foremost it is a beautiful story. Actually, two stories in one. Big Lies in a Small Town reverts between a story line in 1940 and one in 2018. Both feature young women struggling with the reality of making their way in the world.

Secondly, the story will remind all of us angered and frustrated by the events unfolding in the United States that progress has been made in society. Injustice still occurs. But progress with respect to racism and race relations has been made. We just need to keep moving forward.

Anna Dale

The protagonist for the 1940s half of the story is Anna Dale. She is an artist of 22 and has just won the task of designing and painting a 12 foot by 6 foot mural. Instead of working in her home state of New Jersey, she is commissioned to create the work for the Edenton, North Carolina post office.

Anna faces many obstacles in Edenton. Mostly from the white male movers and shakers of the small town. But she also inspires two youths. Both are high school students. One is white and the other black. The two are loyal to Anna and to each other.

The story follows the efforts of Anna as she works to complete this major commission. But then an incident occurs and she becomes unhinged. This is reflected in the mural.

Morgan Christopher

In the contemporary plot of Big Lies in a Small Town, Morgan Christopher is the center character. Unlike Anna who had close ties to her mother, Morgan is all alone after a tragic accident alters her life. A good part of the novel is Morgan accepting her past while working as a restorer on a huge and badly damaged Anna Dale mural. The challenging restoration serves as a catharsis.

Timeliness of Big Lies in a Small Town

Chamberlain’s writing is moving and uplifting. Yes, there is ugliness in both stories. Cruelty and injustice leave marks on both women. However, the two move on with their lives. The message is one of looking forward.

I read Big Lies in a Small Town on Libby. Somehow the book came available to me weeks ahead of schedule. Definitely a higher being at work. The riots occurring across the country will affect people in different ways. Personally, I saw hopelessness. Now I again have hope.

Diane Chamberlain reminded me of the progress that has been made. The world is not perfect. Utopia cannot exist. But, each generation can improve on the last. Each person has the ability to hold themselves accountable. This message rings loudly through Chamberlain’s writing. Yet the loudest missive of all from Big Lies in a Small Town is the capacity of individuals to tear down racial divide. Peacefully.

 

 

 

What Rose Forgot Book Review

Books in a book case

Nevada Barr has serious skills. Many may know her writing from the Anna Pigeon/National Park series. The stand-alone novel, What Rose Forgot enjoys the same excellent writing. Yet, the tone is new and fresh. This ability to excel outside of the writer’s and loyal readers’ comfort zone is rare.

Even though there is mystery and mayhem from beginning to end. There is also humor. The laugh out loud kind. I love the characters as well as the commentary. Rose Dennis escapes from a lock-down facility for severe dementia sufferers. And yet returns again and again. Each time more comedic. Much like Lucille Ball.

Plot and Characters of What Rose Forgot

A simplistic and straight-forward plot of drugging, committing and then killing the patients is wholly entertaining due to the scenes that move the plot along. The setting is suburban Charlotte, North Carolina. Think large back yards backing onto a Greenbelt. And Teepees and playhouses holding fort and providing sanctuary.

As Rose pushes past the drug-induced fog, her mind begins to follow the money trail. She is aided by a couple of young teenagers, attached to cell phones and their ubiquitous apps. How did we survive without Uber and Lyft?

Through a series of slapstick terrors, Rose survives various attempts on her life. Then she convinces the flunkies to turn on the money and work with her, not off her. Of course her plotting goes awry.

Karma

Perhaps what I liked best about the character of Rose Dennis is her concern about Karma. She truly embodies the philosophy. Rose tries to mitigate the wrong she is committing. Sometimes she succeeds.

Karma occurs throughout What Rose Forgot. Good intentions can mitigate bad deeds. But malevolence is punished to the fullest. What goes around comes around. So be kind to others.

What Rose Forgot

In this humorous and sometimes scary novel, the murder victims are only names in the pages. Rose is quirky but the dementia is drug-induced. She uncovers the nefarious scheme only because she is a victim. Obviously Rose did not forget enough in What Rose Forgot.

I have read many if not all of Barr’s Anna Pigeon books as well as one or two of the others. Truly I enjoyed this one the most. Maybe it was the humor. Maybe the suspense was good without sending me over the edge. Definitely, it was the character of Rose. I would love to see more. Perhaps Rose can really hook up with Lyft driver Brian….

The waiting list to check out What Rose Forgot on Libby is over six months long. Fortunately I had picked up a copy at the Barnes and Noble on my last trip to the nearest city before the lockdown. This book is a keeper and the money well spent. Buy a copy soon!

 

 

Review of Herb Books

Three Herb Books Reviewed

I love cooking with herbs. But I do not own a single culinary herb book. Most of my gardening books have a section on herbs or information on individual herbs. Additionally, I have four herb books mostly based on medicinal uses. They are all quite interesting to read but I have yet to fully utilize their information. I am going to talk about three of the herb books today.

Ortho’s All About Herbs

Maggie Oster is the author of Ortho’s All About Herbs. I own the 1999 edition and find it a compact reference guide. Even though it is condensed, only six pages devoted to culinary use of herbs and a similar number for medicinal use, the guide is chalk full of information. Not much white space is left on the page.

What I like best about this herb book is the table of Common Herbs and Their Uses on pages 8-11. A close second is the detailed index. Since it is a how-to book there are plenty of pages devoted to educating a novice. About half the book is devoted to individual plants. While Basil earns an entire page, most of the described herbs share space. Much like in a garden.

National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs

National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants was co-authored by Rebecca L. Johnson, Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. and David Kiefer, M.D. This book is impressive. Gorgeous photography and beautiful illustrations accompany eight chapters of herbal information.

Since this herb book focuses on medicinal use, the plants are grouped by which part of the body they aid. For example, Chapter Four covers herbs useful for digestive ailments. However, each herb is only covered under one section. But the authors do indicate alternative therapeutic uses.

Readers may find it interesting to discover the inclusion of plants not considered herbs. Perhaps the inclusion of edibles such as tomatoes and various berries is the reasoning behind the long title. Whether herb or non-herb, the information contained is extensive.

Medicinal Plants At Home

The third book I want to share comes to us via Spain. Marìa Trànsito Lòpez Luengo and Carlota Màñez Arisò are the co-authors of the informative herb book Medicinal Plants at Home. I like how the authors organized the book.

First, there is an overall introduction. Then, the herbs are broken into groupings for subgroups of individuals, travelers, children, the elderly, etc. There is a short section on using herbs throughout the house and then the herbs are typed by how they affect the body. The authors discuss if the herbs are used for relaxation, anti-inflammatory purposes or as an immuno-stimulant.

Each herb is discussed and photographed. The authors indicate uses and include precautions and if/when the herb is contraindicated. Further, the plant is described and natural habitat disclosed. A recipe for each is included under the remedies section.

Herb Books for the Herb Garden

I am still expanding my herb garden. Currently, my herbs have more culinary applications than medicinal. While I have added both rose hips and lavender to my bath water, I have yet to make any teas or poultices. My horehound is a wonderful ground cover but I do not know how to turn it into a cough drop.

A fourth herb book is quite different and I am still reading it. Therefore The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies will be reviewed at a later date.

Modern medicine has replaced herbal medicine at the household level. I truly do not personally know anyone who mixes their own concoctions. My comfort level at this point in time is quite low with respect to preparing my own medicinal therapies. But, I am interested in adding herbal teas to my repertoire.

Enjoy the slide show.

 

 

 

 

 

Long Road to Mercy Book Review

I recently read Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci. He is a veteran author known for his thrillers. The publishing date for Long Road to Mercy is 2018. But I did not buy/see it at the time. However, I enjoyed checking it out through my Libby App.

New Series, New Characters

Baldacci introduces a new series with Long Road to Mercy. The protagonist, Atlee Pine is a FBI agent based in the rural American town of Shattered Rock, Arizona. Pine is a loner in her mid-thirties with quite a back story. Her twin was kidnapped and never found at the age of six. While Long Road to Mercy begins and ends with this back story, the main plot revolves around government intrigue. The setting is split between the Grand Canyon and Washington, D.C.

Pine’s office consists of one staff member, Carol Blum. Blum is a key character in the book. Older than Agent Pine by about twenty years, Blum can recognize dedication when she sees it. She knows Pine is dedicated. So, Blum mentors FBI Agent Pine and serves as an admirable backup.

Sam Kettler is a National Service Park Ranger. He served in the Mid-east and has razor sharp skills. Kettler and Pine connect. Both are in top physical condition and both carry scars. Quite possibly the relationship will continue in future stories.

Long Road to Mercy Plot

Intrigue, espionage, and treason are at the heart of the novel. Primary action takes place deep in the Grand Canyon with Agent Pine and her assistant, Blum making a sneak trip to Washington D.C. in between. The storyline keeps the reader hooked. The protagonist digs deep to reach the bottom of the mystery.

There is a thinly veiled link to recent historical events in the United States, but the story is pure fiction. And that is a good thing. Because a similar scenario in true life would be devastating.

Novel Strengths

Baldacci has created complex and compelling characters. Both Pine and Blum are strong women and I like that. Sam Kettler is macho without the attitude. I also like that. The sequel to Long Road to Mercy is A Minute to Midnight. I have placed that novel on my To Be Read List.

Readers who enjoy action and don’t mind some violence will enjoy this novel. The main character is a strong female. David Baldacci is an expert at weaving stories of intrigue interspersed with moral conflict. I think the Atlee Pine series will develop quite a following. I know I enjoyed it.

 

 

Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It Book Review

Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It by Gina Kolata  is a well- researched tome. I spent about a week reading through the historical information in order to better understand the response to the Covid-19 pandemic we are currently facing.

Historical Account of Flu Through The Ages

Kolata begins with a prologue well worth reading. She follows this with an opening chapter on the Spanish Flu of 1918. The information presented is a basis for the main thread of virology research which takes place decades later and is the impetus of Kolata’s writing. This historical approach carries throughout Flu.

In order to give the reader perspective on pandemics, Kolata digs deep into history. An early (perhaps the earliest) record of epidemic exists through the writings of Thucydides from 431 B.C. in Athens, Greece. In addition to describing the illness, Thucydides comments on the reaction of the populace to the disease. The Greeks experienced medical doctors falling prey to the epidemic, people turning to religion for salvation and finally isolating themselves in their homes to avoid the illness.

This pattern repeats itself throughout the centuries. Kolata reports on the various pandemics including the Black Death and the flu of 1918. An eerily similar response occurs time and again. The population divides into two groups of thought. (Much like we are experiencing in 2020.)

Cross Species Flu

After providing an historical basis, Kolata switches to some of the unknowns of viral spread. Through the years, scientists tried to link all types of flu outbreaks to bacterium. Perhaps the presence of bacteria provided the quick spread. Others linked viruses to co-existing in animals. Pigs, ferrets and birds are just some examples.

The 1918 pandemic is often linked to swine and the author ties this strain to a chapter on the Swine Flu vaccine of 1976. Again, the comparison to the politics and scientific disagreements to current events is relevant for the reader.

Advances in Science

Much of Flu focuses on the work of scientists to determine the cause of the 1918 pandemic. I found the information interesting. But, to be honest I struggled to a certain extent with the jargon as well as the concepts presented. But biology was not my strong suit.

Kolata discusses multiple attempts to isolate the 1918 Influenza virus. As early as the 1950s, scientists attempted to retrieve the virus from frozen bodies. This effort was unsuccessful. However, the 1990s brought about additional attempts.

This portion of the text interested me the most from an economic standpoint. In the 1990s, multiple researchers again attempted to isolate the origins of the 1918 virus. Kolata relates several different approaches. One expedition took five years at a cost of half a million. It did not succeed. However, other sources had more success.

Flu was written prior to the reconstruction of the 1918 virus. Those of you interested in what has happened with this particular strain can click here for a CDC report.

Non-Fiction

Gina Kolata presents in Flu an excellent example of a well-researched non-fiction account of scientists searching to unravel the source of a pandemic.

Those of you who follow me know that I have been struggling of late to finish a variety of non-fiction books. Kolata’s book was the longest at almost 400 pages of text. Perhaps what sets Flu apart was the thorough research. Another possibility is the blend of science and history. Regardless, I read Flu in its entirety.

Although Flu was published in 2001, copies are still available to purchase. The book is also on Kindle and through the Libby app. I highly recommend this book for anyone with a science or history background. Furthermore, I think those with an interest in political science, economics, and anthropology will also find the subject matter of interest. Flu is not a quick read. The time spent is worthwhile. Someone on my Christmas list will get a copy in December of 2020.

 

Contagion Book Review

I am not sure how to characterize Contagion by Robin Cook. Certainly there is murder involved and quite a bit of mystery but it is not really a whodunit. Furthermore, there is suspense and action but Contagion is not quite a thriller either. Whatever the category, I found the novel quite entertaining. Cook achieved the pinnacle-he surprised me toward the end.

Contagion Protagonist

Dr. John Stapleton is the protagonist in Contagion. He is a New York City medical examiner and his life is devoted to his job. A private man, Stapleton begins to open up to Terese Hagen, who is on the fast track at an advertising agency. The two are drawn together as Stapleton investigates the sudden appearance of exotic viral deaths at a NYC hospital.

Stapleton is a compelling character. The reader emphasizes with the tragedy of his past. His present life is of interest as well. Few white doctors choose to live in Harlem.

Furthermore, the virulent cases are bringing Stapleton back to life. Hagen is not the only woman to stir his interest. The re-awakening to life continuing after the death of a loved one is uplifting.

Gang Interaction

A significant thread in the story revolves around Stapleton and two rival gangs in New York City. A hit is placed on the good doctor as he comes closer and closer to discovering the truth of the numerous deadly contagions. The interaction of the two gangs and how they solve their own dispute is both interesting as a social commentary as well as vital to the plot.

Cook’s exploration of racial interaction adds to the story. The complexity of personalities as well as repercussions from gang violence provide a juxtaposition to the other running themes in the plot. Inclusion of this sub-theme is pertinent and moves the story forward.

Cut-throat Competition

The storyline of Terese Hagen provides an interesting commentary on the cut-throat nature of advertising. She faces threats from within her company as well as from other organizations. The author certainly points out the conflict between genders re: promotion and advancement.

Hagen’s concern for the dangers facing Stapleton were, at times, mothering in nature. The way the two characters reluctantly opened up to each other seemed to foreshadow the future. But something lurking in the background is insidious.

Surprise Ending in Contagion

Robin Cook creates a final twist to throw the reader off kilter. The ending certainly showed just how warped people can become from life’s tragedies. However, Cook also weaves redemption into the tale.

I found Contagion interesting on many levels. The medical analyses certainly play a large part. But what made the story so fascinating and even rewarding were the actions in the many sub-plots. And of course, I always love surprises. I highly recommend Contagion to ease the stay-at-home blahs.

48 Hours Book Review

Solar picture

 

48 Hours by William R. Forstchen was another can’t put it down until finished book. Forstchen’s writing is compelling. He makes the reader think about the moral issues while weaving a fascinating tale. Furthermore, political nuances are incorporated throughout the novel.

The premise of 48 Hours is that the Earth is in line for an ELE (extinction level event) from a powerful solar flare. For those readers who have not tuned into the many Discovery Channel shows explaining CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) and other solar disturbances, Forstchen does an outstanding job weaving the science into his fictional story. He strikes a balance between education and entertainment.

48 Hours Settings

The author uses a dual setting in 48 Hours. The story opens up in Southwest Missouri. But an equally important thread takes place in Washington, D.C. with a second storyline. The two plots are stand alone, with a thin tie at the end.

Springfield, Mo.

The lead characters in Missouri are Darren and Darla Brooks. Both are in their second marriage with grown children. The blended family includes a sprinkling of grandchildren. They have ties to military. Darren served in the Mideast and Darla had recently sold a company supplying the military.

A previous CME from a few weeks ago is the current reality. A second hit is the basis of the plot. Darren is head of security for a cavernous underground site with sections either owned or leased by both governmental and private entities. This factor puts him at the center of the story.

Washington, D.C.

Dr. Richard Carrington V is the central character of the 48 Hours storyline based in the United States capitol. His interest in solar flares came naturally as the descendant of the first Richard Carrington. Both the solar event of 1859 and Carrington V are namesakes.

Moral Issue

Key to the novel is the various characters’ moral struggles brought on by the ELE. In a scenario where only one percent survive, who belongs in the continuity of mankind? Forstchen explores this concept, balancing altruistic efforts with the need to plan for future existence.

48 Hours contains individuals within the government and other positions of authority that “do the right thing.” But alas, they are more the exception than the rule. William R. Forstchen has once again written a fictional novel based in science that will give the reader pause. If there truly are a number of these underground facilities, how do we select in advance the survivors?

 

 

Hide Away Book Review

Book Cover of Hide AwayHide Away by Iris Johansen is a fast paced thriller. The author excels at hooking the reader. Hide Away is a page turner. And then before you know it you are in the middle of the next chapter. And the next. Johansen fulfills the need of an addictive reader. The stories carry from one story to the next. The biggest trial is waiting for the next publication.

Eve Duncan

Hide Away is part of the Eve Duncan series. Duncan, the protagonist, faces new challenges in this installment of her saga. She needs to hide a child from a multitude of criminals. All while coming to terms with a major twist in her personal life.

The Eve Duncan series of books are entwined. There is a bit of a blur between beginnings and endings. Hide Away is directly linked to the precursor, Shadow Play. While reading the books in order is not a requirement, it may be helpful. Fortunately, the publication date is 2016 so once you finish Hide Away you can follow up with Night and Day. I say fortunately because Johansen not only has hooks between chapters, but cliffhangers to end books.

Hide Away Plot

From the opening scene in California to the Scotland Highlands, Eve and her young rescue Cara are on the run. The bad guys are tied to cartels. But the greatest villain of all is female with marital ties to a ruthless cartel leader and blood ties to the Russian Mob. Thus the plot has suspense, deceit and a thirst for blood pitted against empathy and courage.

A major sub-plot involves Eve’s adopted daughter Jane. The author weaves heartbreak and recovery into the story line with Jane’s back story. The setting, harsh, remote and mystical also gives substance to the plot.

My suggestion for readers interested in this fast paced novel is to first read Shadow Play. Like Eve and Jane I believe you will find the ending just like a beginning and be eager to follow Hide Away with Night and Day. The Eve Duncan series is captivating and just a bit addictive. Happy Reading!

March 2020 Wrap-Up

Flowering Pear Tree March 2020 has been a long month. Covid-19 is a pandemic and has caused widespread damage. Both lives and economies will be impacted in the near future. I cannot foresee the long term consequences, but there will naturally be repercussions. So, I spend a small amount of time daily looking to the future.

Socio-economic Impact of Black Swan Events

If you have not read The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I highly recommend finding a copy. Even though the book was published over a decade ago, I think you will find it relevant. In simple terms a Black Swan event is one that is highly improbable.

Back in January, I took notice when the city of Wuhan was placed on lock-down. Even though the mortality numbers were not necessarily statistically significant, the sheer fact that a city of millions lost the freedom to move about created a concern in my mind. The few I discussed this with did not see such an event happening in a democratic country. New York City was often cited as a comparison. Even I had trouble picturing a quarantine covering the five boroughs. But, I did not rule it out. Unfortunately that has come to pass not only in New York City but in other cities I love such as Milan, Italy. Or in cities and countries I yearn to visit.

Now I have two immediate goals. The first is to stay healthy. Since I no longer work outside the home, I am somewhat hopeful. However, I live with someone working in an essential business. We are mitigating danger as much as possible.

Online Learning

The second goal is to analyze how society will change in response to Covid-19. Across the world students spent much if not all of March 2020 away from campuses and schoolrooms. I know this will have a long-term impact.  But I am not sure what that effect will be. So here are some possibilities.

I think at the college level and possibly at the high school level there will be a trend toward hybrid and online courses. Personally, I find hybrid learning an excellent method for adult learning. I have taught and taken courses using a hybrid method and find it preferable to a course totally online. However, I think a case for the merits of online learning will be presented by the educational response to Covid-19.

It is unknown how younger students will respond and that response is one I intend to study. One of my offspring works for Denver Public Schools (DPS) and has shared how they are handling the stay at home order. With a great effort, the school district scrambled and procured a Chrome book for each student.

Lesson plans revolve around established content. Classroom teachers have regular “office hours” so that students (and parents) can reach out to them. The individual teachers have leeway to expand on existing lessons. In addition to DPS curriculum, information on supplementary online learning resources is provided. I hope this is a success.

Self-regulating and Sick days

I am also interested in how sick days are handled going forward. Not all workers get sick days. I know as an adjunct instructor I had to make up any days missed due to illness. Most of the time the make-up days were poorly attended by the students. And students often came to class sick worried about getting behind. I taught adults. Sick kids are even more complex because of sick care issues.

In the case of Covid-19, there is a possibility that individuals may be asymptomatic and still spread the disease. Perhaps this is in part why voluntary social distancing is a failure in my part of the world. But there is danger in the inability to self-regulate. I fear the lack of self-control will increase big government. I prefer local control.

March 2020 Mental Relief

I found relief from the mental stresses of March 2020 in a number of ways. Since I am a reader I spent a lot of time with cozy mysteries and romances. I thoroughly enjoyed all five books in the Ivy Malone series by Lorena McCourtney. Other books enjoyed were penned by Nora Roberts, Iris Johansen and Janet Evanovich.

On the most depressing of days I turned to sitcom and old reruns. The Big Bang Theory almost always makes me laugh out loud. My husband and I also enjoy watching Magnum P.I., both the old and the new versions. So, even if Covid-19 continues a filming hiatus, I will have ample options.

March 2020 In the Garden

From time to time we have a very warm March followed by colder temperatures in April and May. This is one of those years. Both the pear and peach trees are already blooming. We will still have below freezing temperature nights and so the fruit production will be impacted.

Early season greens have made an appearance in the garden. We have enjoyed Swiss chard in our lunchtime smoothies. The lettuces are not far behind nor are the radishes and spinach. Additionally, I have started a variety of seeds indoors. Everything from artichokes to tomatoes are growing in pots throughout the house. I am still concerned that the pandemic will affect supply chains on a variety of levels. Starting the plants by seed will act as a back-up if I cannot buy bedding plants next month.

Quilting in March 2020

I am working on the final border of a Train Quilt. To be honest I am stuck. The current train cars will vary from the original pattern. I plan to make the train a circus train. However, I am having trouble blending the fabrics. Specifically, the clowns. They are primary colors and the overall design is more pastel. Also, the elephant and giraffe come from a baby fabric with a blue background versus the mauves and greens I am using. It will be interesting to see how I tie everything together.

Covid-19 Reports

I have readers across the globe. Please share any experiences you may have with this pandemic in the comment section. While I have personally met individuals battling this novel corona virus, no close friends or relatives have contracted Covid-19 so far. I sincerely hope this continues. Take care everyone and pay attention to your health!

Finally, those with interest in economics may find the following interesting:

https://www.permanentequity.com/writings/viral-prohibition-eminent-domain-and-the-path-ahead?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=prohibition_eminentd

The Rise of Magicks Book Review

The third segment in the Chronicles of The One series by Nora Roberts is The Rise of Magicks. I was looking forward to reading it as I discussed in the review Of Blood and Bone because I thought more of Roberts traditional romance writing would be evident. Even though the story contained a romantic thread between two main characters, the romance is secondary to the story.

The Rise of Magicks Characters

This third story refocuses on a group approach albeit the center character remains Fallon Smith. But much like the first novel, Year One, The Rise of Magicks contains multiple characters and is sometimes a bit hard to follow the large cast. Much like the original offering, the story line in The Rise of Magicks concentrates on battles between the good and evil forces.

On top of the large number of characters from the original book and the second generation born to those individuals, additional characters are introduced in supporting roles. Keeping the story lines straight is easy if you have read all the books. Roberts also does a nice job of providing closure for the cast in Year One who were run out of New York City.

Romance

As stated above, romance develops between Fallon and Duncan. To be honest, I found the interaction to just be satisfactory. It was like an aside to the story. I am not sure the book was enriched by the interaction.

The young couple had a few ups and downs, but the emotional struggle was lacking. They seemed more like a couple of old marrieds versus two young adults falling in love for the first time.

Good Overcoming Evil

In the end, good triumphs over evil but not before loss of innocent lives. One of my favorite characters is lost in a battle. So, Roberts does tug at the heartstrings a bit.

But truth be told, I consider the middle book in the trilogy to be the best. I certainly encourage those who have begun the trilogy to finish with The Rise of Magicks. The tale is quite satisfactory. But I was not left wishing for another installment. All loose ends have been tied back together.

I was hoping for a good Nora Roberts romance. Not a book with romance on the side. Additionally, I really think the real life pandemic of Covid-19 has dampened the enjoyment of reading about fantasy pandemics. Perhaps reading The Rise of Magicks a year from now will be much more entertaining for you.

 

The Third to Die Book Review

The Third to Die is the first in a new series by Allison Brennan. This thriller revolves around a newly created Mobile Response Team of the FBI. The premise is the group will travel across the United States aiding in high profile cases.

MRT for the Third to Die

The first assignment begins March 3. Every three years a psychopath begins a series of three murders on the third day of the third month. One death at a time. Three days a part. Thus the Mobile Response Team (MRT) has time to react.

FBI profiler Dr. Catherine Jones is a reluctant aid to SAC Matt Costa. But he persuades her to help from home since she originally identified the pattern. Matt Costa is a loner. He expects the best and wants to fill the team with the best, so the MRT is not fully staffed. Lucky for him, Kara Quinn, a L.A.P.D. undercover agent on vacation discovers the first of the victims. She too, is a loner.

The team works well with local agencies. Surprisingly, the multiple lone wolf personalities function well together. The goal is to catch the killer before he reaches his target of the third to die. Unfortunately the killer strikes again, and again. Brennan’s writing has you on the edge of your seat rooting for the Mobile Response Team.

Serial Killer

The most compelling part of the book was the back story of the villain. Over the course of the novel, the reader gets a glimpse of the killer’s mind. What makes him tick? Brennan creates an understanding of the motivation.

But understanding does not equate sympathy-at least for this reader. I wanted the good guys to catch the bad guy. It took some doing.

Allison Brennan

The Third to Die is the first book I have read that was written by Brennan. I like her style. She creates just enough back story to pique the mind. The secondary characters all have promise for greater roles in future stories. I can’t wait for the next one.

I highly recommend The Third to Die. The plot line is thrilling and the characters are compelling. If you like murder mysteries or agency thrillers, I think you should find a copy of The Third To Die. Fair warning: you might feel the need to have someone nearby during the scary parts!

 

 

In Plain Sight Book Review

Sometimes the answer is in plain sight. Such is the case of the second Ivy Malone mystery novel of the same title. Lorena McCourtney follows her successful Invisible with this delightful sequel. Retiree Aunt Ivy goes into hiding in neighboring Arkansas to let the heat die down from her first caper.

In Plain Sight

McCourtney continues the theme of invisibility. For those who have not read Invisible, it is not invisibility such as a cloaking device, but more of a gray man-or woman in this case. The lead character is an innocuous little old lady that society looks right through. Instead of taking offense by this status, Ivy Malone uses it to her advantage as she follows her curiosity. Straight into trouble.

Once again, Ivy finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. But, unlike her first foray, she does not meet up with friendly law enforcement. Indeed, Ivy is a bit intimidated. But she handles interrogation with aplomp.

Supporting Characters

Two teenagers, a great-niece and her friend, lend interest to the story. McCourtney is outstanding with her characterizations. Both girls end up as key players in the plot. They are neither identical nor opposites. Instead the girls’ personalities lead realism to the fiction. The adult characters are also believable. And so are their actions. Thus Ivy is faced with multiple suspects.

Christian Fiction

The local library has an extensive Christian fiction section. But for some reason these books are filed in the regular mystery fiction section. Perhaps the deft writing of McCourtney keeps the Ivy Malone series in the mainstream category. The underlying subject matter may also play a determination.

In Plain Sight delves into both infidelity and parental abandonment. But also, forgiveness and God’s nurturing. Ivy Malone is a Christian both in word and deed. The series is uplifting without being too preachy. This is a good series for older teens as well as adult fans of mystery.