Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Tell Me No Secrets

I've decided that on the weeks that I don't participate in Top Ten Tuesday, I'll try to join in on Diane's weekly event and share the first part of a book that I'm reading.  The host of First Chapter - First Paragraph is the lovely blogger behind Bibliophile by the Sea.  Here's an intro to my current book, Tell Me No Secrets by Julie Corbin:

     They say that everybody has a secret.  For some, it's a stolen extramarital kiss on a balmy evening after two or three glasses of wine.  For others it's that girl, teased mercilessly about the shape of her nose or the whine in her voice until she has to move school. 
     Some of us, though, keep secrets that make liars of our lives.  Take me, for example.  The skeleton I fear isn't hiding in my closet.  The one I fear lies underground.  Her name was Rose and she was nine years old when she died.
     I'm not going to make excuses for what I did.  I'm going to tell my story as it is and as it was.
     This isn't the beginning but it's a good place to start...

So what do you think?  Would you keep reading?  Or is this one too intense?  I found Tell Me No Secrets on my shelf - had forgotten about it - picked it up and have been totally absorbed.

Monday, March 30, 2015

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None is one of my favorite Agatha Christie books.  It's certainly one of her better known books.  I have read it multiple times and listened to it as well.  When I heard that Dan Stevens (yes, that Dan Stevens - Matthew from Downton Abbey) was narrating a new version of this book, I decided it was time to give it another listen.  And I totally enjoyed it.  Dan Stevens has a lovely voice, by the way, and he did a good job with multiple characters.

In case you don't know the story, And Then There Were None tells of 10 people who come to an island off the coast of Cornwall, I think.  Anyway, they had all been invited as a guest or hired by a couple, the Owens.  When it becomes clear the first evening that their host and hostess are delayed, the guests begin asking questions and it turns out that none of them have ever met the Owens, even the staff.  Later in the evening, everyone is startled to hear a voice, a recording, that accuses each person in the room of murder.  Naturally, everyone denies the charges, but before the evening is out, at least one person will die.  And there are more deaths to come.  Are the accusations true?  How does the rhyme framed above each of their bedroom fireplaces relate?  And how will they all get off the island when an awful storm comes up?  A lovely locked room mystery.  Such fun.

Ten little soldiers went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine....

This version has been updated a bit to be more suitable for today's audiences.  In this one, the island is known as Soldier Island and the rhyme references and little figurines that keep going missing are also soldiers.  I can go along with that.  The previous versions had words that were in the vernacular at that time, but not so much now.

And in case you're not familiar with a "locked room" mystery, it is one where the crime seems to have been impossible for someone to commit and get away or the pool of suspects is completely limited, like on an island or in a locked room.  Therefore, the murderer has to be among the characters...or does he or she?  That's the puzzle.

There have been at least two film adaptations of this book, one in 1945 called And Then There Were None, and one in 1965, entitled Ten Little Indians.  Each may or may not have changed the ending of the story.  I'm not telling.  I liked both films.  The second one was set in the winter in a mansion in the Alps and the characters had to get to the house by a sort of ski lift thing instead of by boat.

I also have read at least two books that are homages to Agatha Christie's tale.  One was a Young Adult book entitled Ten by Gretchen McNeil.  Teens at an island house party with a DVD that has a message:  vengeance is mine.  Also, Katherine Hall Page sets her 16th Faith Fairchild book, The Body in the Ivy, on an island with a college reunion.  Faith is catering and she finds her job is more dangerous than she thought since the guests are dying one by one.

One last movie I'll mention that isn't exactly like And Then There Were None, but it does include a group of famous literary sleuths who are invited to a mansion to solve a very strange mystery.  One of them will be murdered by midnight.  It's a comedy and one of my favorites - Murder By Death - featuring a much younger Maggie Smith as half of a detective couple, Dick and Dora Charleston.  See, another Downton Abbey connection.  If you've never seen this movie, you really should hunt it up.  It also include many other wonderful actors and Truman Capote as Lionel Twain, their host.

So, I've given you a look at where my mind runs when I'm rereading an old favorite and a classic.  Hope you find something you like.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Salad Love by David Bez

I want to introduce you to a book, which the author himself says is not a cookbook, that has 260 crunchy, savory, filling meals you can make every day.  It says so - right on the cover.  It's called Salad Love and the author is David Bez.  Now David is very upfront about the fact that he is not a chef - he's an art director.  However, he is a man who wanted to eat in a healthier manner.  He wanted to be energized in the afternoons and not droopy.  He wanted to prepare his own lunch every day at the office.  And he wanted his meal to be both fresh and tasty.

Salad Love is the result of David Bez's experiment.  A whole book of maybe the most beautiful salads I've ever seen in my life.  Art director, remember?  They are lovely and very much a feast for the eyes.  When I first opened this book, I was amazed at page after page of luscious looking salads.  I thought, I'll never be able to make my salads look like this.  And that's probably true.  However, each salad page contains a beautiful photo and a detailed recipe of 5 or 6 ingredients for the salad and 3 or 4 ingredients for the dressing.  Simple.  Really.

The book begins with some instructions on how to assemble a salad.  There are then some components like vegetables, fruit, protein and fresh herbs.  There are something like 30 dressings listed - with recipes.  There are the tools David used - with pictures.  And then there are the salads themselves - divided into the 4 seasons.  That's it.  Simple.  Beautiful.  Healthy.

Some of the ingredients are a little exotic for me - quail eggs, salmon caviar, and squid.  Others are very familiar - avocados, blackberries, hazelnuts.  Some I don't like - kale and goat cheese.  Mostly, the salads are interesting and unique combinations that look really appealing.  And, yes, I could find many that I'd like to try.

So, here are a few that are on my list (2 for each season):  Summer - Strawberries, Melon & Almonds and Oak-Smoked Cheddar, Peaches & Blueberries.  Fall - Hot-Smoke Salmon, Corn & Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Zucchini & Pine Nuts.  Winter - Celery, Chickpeas, Pumpkin Seeds & Mint and Roasted Potatoes, Black Olives & Capers.  Spring - Roasted Chicken, Avocado & Croutons and Cauliflower, Hazelnuts & Dried Apricots.

What do you think?  Does Salad Love sound like a winner?  It does to me.  Now, where did I put my chickpeas?

Linking this review to Weekend Cooking on Beth Fish Reads.  And thanks to the folks at Blogging For Books and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Day in the Life Blogger Event - Kay's Day

Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity (which you should definitely read if you already don't) proposed a blogger event a couple of weeks ago.  She calls it "a day in the life" and it's just a fun way to share what our lives are like outside the blog.  She has done "a day" in her life twice, once while she was at home with her kiddos and once after she returned to work.  Both were fun to look at and read.  I told her that my life would likely be boring compared to hers or other young mommies.  She responded that I led a productive life and it's wouldn't be as dull as I thought.  She promised.  OK....well, jury is out on that question.  But, here we go...

Hello, I'm Kay and I'm a blogger of a certain age - let's say between 55 and 60.  I am the mother of one lovely daughter and have one handsome son-in-law.  I have a wonderful husband that I've known since he was 12 and I was 13 and we've been married 34 years.  I no longer work outside my home, but he still does.  We live in the country (i.e. at least 15 minutes from any store) in Central Texas.  And this was my day last week, Wednesday, March 18th.  With pictures.  And commentary.

5:00 AM - First thing every morning.  A must.  The best part of waking up and not Folgers in this cup.  Hubby off to gym and work - long commute.

5:30 AM - My computer desk.  Yes, I use a desktop.  And I'm back and forth here as my day progresses.  Email.  Blog reading.  The usual.

6:15 AM - Throw a load in the washer.  I like to get my laundry done early and don't actually mind doing it.

8:00 AM - Check outside to see if walking in the neighborhood is a possibility this morning.  It's raining, which we need, but think I'll wait and see if it stops.  Have skipped yoga class because of rain, which makes traffic horrid.  Don't feel like treadmill or rowing machine.

9:00 AM - Stacy has a quiz today on her blog, Stacy's Books.  Love those.  What do I know about Irish actors and their ages?  Turns out not much.  Sigh.

9:30 AM - Hurray!  The rain has ended and I can go outside for a walk.  Love that blue sky.

9:45 AM - Have my tennis shoes on and ready to go.  Love the purple and these are the most comfortable - truly.

10:55 AM - Have left the house to run a few errands.  Pick up prescriptions.  Take some clothes to the cleaners.  And stop by the library that is closest to me that I use for actual book borrowing, as opposed to e-book borrowing.  A trip to pay my annual fee for use of this library because I don't live in their city limits.  I don't mind - always support the libraries.  I borrow e-books from my former workplace, the Austin Public Library, where it doesn't matter that I live outside the city.  This is a little sculpture outside the library I visited entitled "Storytime".

11:45 AM - Making a stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things.  This is one of my reusable bags, with a Texas Longhorns symbol on it (Hook 'em Horns!).  We're all about the reusable bags in our area.  In Austin, they don't allow plastic grocery bags or plastic bags at all.  Strict, but better for the environment.

1:45 PM - Sitting down with my current book on my Kindle.  Will read for a little while before I have to tackle one of my least favorite household chores.

2:30 PM - There it is.  My vacuum cleaner.  I hate vacuuming.  Really.  And I have a good one, but I hate it.  You know, for the first several or many years of my married life, I never had to vacuum.  My hubby did it.  I didn't even know how to change the bag.  Just something about it irks me, plus it's hard to hear my audio book with all that roaring.  

5:15 PM - Hubby is on his way home and I'm starting to prepare taco salad for dinner.  This would be the guacamole part.  I make very simple guac.  Just avocados, lemon juice, a little garlic, a little seasoned salt, maybe some diced tomatoes.  That's it.  Yum!  The taco salad will have ground turkey instead of ground beef.  I can't tell the difference with the seasonings. 

8:00 PM - We're watching a little TV, prerecorded on our DVR (how did I ever manage without that before - no commercials) and I have my iPad and whatever game I'd like to be messing with while watching.  Obviously, tonight it's Candy Crush.  Because we get up so early (remember 5AM), we're usually heading toward bed around 9:30-10-ish.  

And that's my day.  It was a usual day.  I checked my Audible stats and they told me I listened to 3 hours and 9 minutes of my current audio book today.  And that's usual too.  Taking my phone around with me and listening while I do whatever or while I'm driving is so normal now.  Some days I volunteer and some I have family obligations, but today was typical.

Sometimes I miss the busier times when I worked full time or raising our daughter, but mostly, I like where we are now.  It's a good life.  And, Trish, you're right - not boring to me!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Last Girl by Jane Casey

Oh, yes, I am really liking DC Maeve Kerrigan and Jane Casey's 3rd book in the series, The Last Girl, was lots of fun - for me anyway.  Not so much for the people that were killed.  I'm trying to think how I even heard about this series.  I know I read the 1st book, The Burning, last summer.  Just can't recall.  Well, if it means anything, I've already got the 4th book, The Stranger You Know, ready to go.  Back to The Last Girl.

Maeve Kerrigan is a young Detective Constable on Superintendent Godley's team.  Her partner seems to now be Detective Inspector Josh Derwent.  They are getting used to each other and feeling a bit more comfortable after the wild events of the last book, The Reckoning.  It's summer in London and it is a hot one.  Over and over the heat is mentioned, sweat and no A/C and humidity - shirts sticking to the back and icky-sweet soft drinks.  It sets the scene.

Kerrigan and Derwent are the lead investigators on a double murder case - the wife and teenage daughter of a noted defense attorney, Philip Kennford.  The attorney himself was assaulted by the killer and suffered a concussion that rendered him unable to remember much.  Then there is the twin sister of the murdered girl, who was swimming laps in the pool, and luckily was overlooked.  Or so it seems.  There is little to go on and the two detectives have a difficult time with both Lydia, the surviving daughter, and Philip, the father.  Neither seems willing to cooperate and answer many questions.

Meanwhile, the rest of Superintendent Godley's team is busy trying to determine the best way to stop a series of gang shootings.  The two sides are vying for control of drug trade in the area and some of this storyline is left over from the previous book.  Maeve doesn't understand why her boss is keeping Derwent out of that investigation, as Godley and Derwent were both familiar with the players involved some years ago.  Derwent, who is definitely growing on me, just growls when she asks him.

I pretty much devoured this book, enjoying getting to know more about all the characters and also testing my guessing skills in figuring out who-dun-it.  I was sort of right, but not completely.  And my mind had gone in all different directions first.  I like Maeve a lot, but she kind of makes me nuts in her mistrust of both her love interest and her slight chip on the shoulder about being a "woman in a man's world".  I guess it doesn't help that her partner is maybe the most sexist-while-still-being-somehow-likable character that I've read in a long time.  His loyalty to Maeve is beginning to show though, and there were several occasions in this book where I felt like clapping at his protective reactions toward her and other females.

I know there is a back story between the boss, Godley, and Derwent.  I'm hoping that more of that will come out in the next book.  I'm intrigued and Maeve has hero-worshipped her boss a little much.  No one can be that good.  Every white knight has cracks in his armor.  I think those are going to be coming out soon.  So, I can completely recommend Jane Casey's series.  Start with the first book and have a good time.  And now, I'm moving on to The Stranger You Know.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - House of Echoes

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I don't know anything about the book I selected this week or it's author, Brendan Duffy.  It just sounded good when I read about it.  And the cover art is fairly atmospheric.  Always a plus in my book.  My selection this week is:

by Brendan Duffy
Publication Date: April 14th

In this enthralling and atmospheric thriller, one young family’s dream of a better life is about to become a nightmare.

Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over. Ben has hit a dead end with his new novel, Caroline has lost her banking job, and eight-year-old Charlie is being bullied at his Manhattan school.

When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, the Tierneys believe it’s just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven’s chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn’t the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village’s haunting saga is far from over.

House of Echoes is a novel that shows how sometimes the ties that bind us are the only things that can keep us whole.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top 10 Books From My Teen Years That I Would Love To Revisit....and probably already have

This is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, where bloggers relate their "top ten" of a certain topic.  This week's topic - Top 10 Book From My Childhood (Or teen years) That I Would Love To Revisit.  Oh yeah!  Bring it on!  I love this topic.  I love thinking back on the books that meant so much to me as a teenager (which is the time period I selected - it was the '70's) and when I had my other blog, I did a feature occasionally that was called "Bookish Nostalgia".  Each of those posts was a highlight of some author or book that I had loved at some time in my past, mostly my teen and early adult years.  I was a book reading teen - a library visiting, stay up until all hours finishing one more chapter, love the summer for the endless reading, boring beyond all measure unless I was talking books teen.  Here are a few of the books I loved and probably have already revisited...and I likely own a copy of these books, either on my shelves or on my Kindle.  I used the covers I remember from my first experience with them:

1. Christy by Catherine Marshall - The story of a young woman, Christy Huddleston, who goes to the Appalachians to teach and find friendship, heartbreak, and love.  And, of course, they made it into a TV show - which I did not watch.  I had never read anything with such wonderful descriptions of a culture and a people who lived with poverty every day.  I'm going to listen to it on audio at some point.

2. House of Scorpio by Pat Wallace - Such an interesting romance/sci fi/fantasy book.  People are divided into their astrological signs and the whole world is built around that - where you live, what you do, what you wear, who you marry.  In this book, there are 6 sisters who go on to find their 6 loves/husbands.  I've never read anything else like it.  This book is out of print and very, very hard to find.  And, yes, I have a copy that is virtually falling apart.  Wish they would release as an e-book.

3. Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow - Celia lives in Charleston, South Carolina during the Revolutionary War times and is a seamstress by trade.  She is asked to become a spy for the rebels and Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox.  Lots of intrigue and pretty good historical detail.  Plus romance of course.

4. Bride of Pendorric by Victoria Holt - Probably the first gothic romance I ever read.  I remember checking it out at my junior high school library, at the suggestion of the librarian.  I was mesmerized by the descriptions of Cornwall and Favel and Roc.  There was a crazy person in it, who looked like everyone else.  First time I ever had goosebumps on my scalp while reading.  I was hooked!

5. Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart - Another early gothic romance by another author that I loved.  This one is set in Scotland - my first visit to the Hebrides (see why I like Peter May's books).  It has the Isle of Skye, mountain climbing, Gianetta and Nick, and another crazy person.  This is probably my favorite Mary Stewart book and that's saying something.

6. 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King - This was my first King book.  I picked it up from a grocery store paperback carousel while waiting for my car to be serviced.  I was in college and I started reading it right away.  It was also my first experience with vampires - not sparkly ones - the kind that scratched at the windows and said, "let me in...".  And my roommate was out of town.  I'm not sure I slept that weekend.  But, I was a Stephen King fan ever after.

7. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom - I read this one in my early teens.  A friend's mother gave it to her and then she gave it to me to read.  It was probably my first experience reading about concentration camps.  I just could not get over the fact that this was a true story.  Corrie ten Boom and her family worked with the Dutch Resistance during WWII helping to hide individuals in a secret room in their house.  They ended up in a concentration camp and Corrie was the only survivor of her family.  Powerful stuff.

8. Penmarric by Susan Howatch - I think this book likely started my love of family sagas.  Again, set in Cornwall, it tells the story of a large family, the Castellacks and their home, Penmarric.  I can remember that I learned later that the characters were based on some of the royal family in English history of the 12th or 13th century.  Me, I just loved that the story went on and on and on.

9. Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels - Oh my goodness - when I first read this wonderful ghost story, I was just delighted.  Of course, it's a romance too in the gothic vein, but the creepiness of it was lovely.  Set in Georgetown (Washington, DC area), Ruth and her niece, Sara, find that Ruth's house holds a secret from many years before.  And there are ghosts of a murderer and his victims.  I loved the books that author Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Mertz wrote, in all her guises.  Her Michaels books are mostly a little more creepy rather than regular mysteries.  This one is a doozy and made me not want to turn out the light.

10. A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich - I think I read this one perhaps even before my teens.  A lovely story of Abbie McKenzie who marries Will Deal and travels with him to settle in Nebraska in a sod house.  Based on the author's own family stories, much like the Little House books, but for an older reader.  A wonderful prairie story.

Well, I'll stop there.  I could go on and on, but I enjoyed this walk through my teen reading.  So, what were your favorite books as a teenager?

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

The Outcast Dead is the 6th book in Elly Griffiths' series featuring Dr. Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist.  And I am now caught up with this series.  The next book will be published in May.  I loved the beginning of The Outcast Dead:

"And we ask your abundant blessing, Lord, on these, the outcast dead...Lord, you told us that not a sparrow falls without our Father in Heaven knowing.  We know that these people were known to you and loved by you..."

Ruth is attending a service for The Outcast Dead in Norwich.  Each year, this service is held to remember the poor, the prostitutes, the ones unknown and unloved that had been buried in mass graves in times past.  Ruth and her team have discovered some bones belonging to a woman who may be the infamous Jemima Green, otherwise known as Mother Hook.  And the skeleton indeed has a hook at the end of one of the arms.  Jemima Green was a convicted murderer of a young child and a horror story has grown up around the circumstances of her life and memorialized in a rhyme used to scare kids:

Don't cry little darling.
Don't cry little dear. 
Don't cry little darling.
Or Mother Hook will hear.

Ruth's boss is delighted with the possibility that the so-called Mother Hook has been found by his department.  There is a TV show scheduled that will include the discovery and Ruth gets dragged into the filming.  Meanwhile, DCI Harry Nelson is busy investigating a local family that has had their third child die unexpectedly.  He's not sure if the parents have had something to do with the death, but  before he can determine this, another child is in danger, abducted by a person who leaves a note signed, The Childminder.  Things become quite grim when someone else close to Nelson and Ruth is also taken.  Can Nelson solve the clues in time and how does all this connect with the Mother Hook discovery?

The whole of this book is concerned with parents, both mothers and fathers, mother's helpers, and their relationships with dear little children.  As this series has progressed, we've come to know and love so many characters.  And children have been born and lives have been changed by these kids.  We see in this book the fierce love that each of them have for their own children and indeed for the children of their colleagues as well.  They all step up and get involved when something unthinkable happens.  This author does a great job with making us care too.  The last quarter of the book was quite scary and I could not put it down.  And in the end, lives have been changed and mysteries solved.

I recommend this series so highly.  The settings are always vivid and the archaeology info is always quite interesting.  The next book, The Ghost Fields, will be coming out soon and I can't wait.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub

First of all, I'm going to link this review to the Weekend Cooking event on Beth Fish Reads because it is about food.  I actually got the idea to read this book from a post that Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity wrote last weekend concerning her quest to give up sugar for 3 weeks.  All sugar and all sugar substitutes and gluten and I'm not sure what else.  And good luck, Trish - hope you are doing OK.  She thought her biggest sacrifice was probably going to be no sweetener in her morning coffee.  And I sympathize.

I knew I had a book in my audio library that was about one family giving up sugar for an entire year.  I decided I would see what giving up sugar might be like.  The book is Year of No Sugar and it was written by Eve O. Schaub.  This is how it begins:

Sugar and me, we go way back.  I love sugar.  LOOOOVVVVE it.  I love everything about it: how it makes little occasions special and special occasions fabulous.  How it performs hot, bubbling magic on sour fruits, like rhubarb and gooseberries, to make the most succulent mind-blowing pies and jams.  How it crunches with perfect granulation in the best cookies and how a single cube of it adds fairy-tale perfection to a real Italian cappuccino.  And don't even get me started on chocolate.

OK...so I'm thinking, this is a book about depriving oneself and one's family of sugar.  Really?  Maybe she will just spend the whole book describing how wonderful sweet things are.  The author then goes into a funny story about a junior high "how to" assignment she had where she "taught" the class how to decorate a cake and how very wrong it went.  Wait, I thought - deja vu - did I do that?  Did my daughter?  I had to stop and call my daughter to ask.  Yes, she said, I did do that and thanks for reminding me of my humiliation, Mom.  It was awful.  Everything got too warm and the icing melted and the fudge syrup didn't work right and it ran everywhere.  It was a horrible project.  But the cake was good.  She's still our family baker - my daughter.

Year With No Sugar is a memoir of a family, Eve Schaub's family, who decide to try to avoid eating any food with added sugar or sugar substitute for an entire year.  Eve had seen a video by a doctor that opened her eyes to the harm that could come from all the added sugar, mostly fructose, that we routinely eat in our diets.  Because sugar is everywhere, in lots and lots of foods and goes by many, many names.  She discussed the project with her husband and enlisted her two daughters, ages 6 and 11 (they weren't quite as enthusiastic) in her quest.

The book was really very interesting and funny.  Eve kept a blog the whole time and related the joys and horrors of that year.  She included a lot of relevant information, but it didn't overwhelm things with statistics.  She also included bits from her daughter Greta's journal as well.  Greta was 11 and she did fairly well on the project - mostly - well, sometimes.  Her journal is really amusing, very much from an almost teen viewpoint.  The author related stories of the family's once-a-month planned desserts.  A camping trip for 6th graders with a s'mores dilemma.  Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Finding out that certain products that you never dreamed contained sugar did have sugar.  Did you know that balsamic vinegar is not really a vinegar?  And that it contains sugar?

Eve tried many food experiments that sometimes worked well and sometimes not.  The family took a two-week trip to Italy and managed to stay strong on their quest - well, except for that peach gelato.  The year included visits to extended family who had bowls of Hershey kisses available, a trip to the Mayo Clinic with her father and trying to find no-sugar-added food in a hotel breakfast buffet or hospital cafeteria, and spending the year asking question after question anytime the family ate at a restaurant.

I actually enjoyed the book very much.  I learned some things and found myself picking up foods in my pantry and fridge and reading the ingredients.  While I don't think I want to go a similar route for a year, it did make me consider how much sugar I eat (and I don't really think of myself as having a sweet tooth).  It also made me consider whether the best decision would be to save my sugar calories for really, really tasty and planned-for events.  I think that could be doable.  Plus, I paid a lot more attention this week to added sugar.  I didn't do what Trish is doing, but I did make better choices.

The audio was read by Hillary Huber and John Lee. Year of No Sugar gets a thumbs up from me.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Vows of Silence by Susan Hill

I'm not sure how I can express how very happy I am that I began listening to Susan Hill's series featuring Simon Serrailler, his friends and colleagues and his family.  It has suited me so well and I now have completed the 4th book, The Vows of Silence.  Again, I listened to this book read by Steven Pacey, who is fast becoming a favorite narrator of mine.  It's hard to describe what has made these books so lovely for me.  This is not an ordinary crime novel series - at least not in my experience.  There is a combination of crime solving/mystery, family dynamics of the Serrailler bunch and their extended group of friends, and also the inclusion of philosophical discussions.  This might include spiritual issues, for Lafferton is a cathedral town, or new age/holistic beliefs, or medical/psychological angles.  After all, the Serraillers are doctors, except for Simon.  The melding of these factors has made the narratives very well suited to audio.  I'm going to share a quote and then explain more about this book's story.

In this scene, Jane Fitzroy, a female priest who was a major character in a previous book, is visiting a convent where she has spent some time thinking about her future.  And I felt like I was there with her:

Silence.  The most astonishing palpable silence she had ever known.  It filled her with a sense of calm now, as it had done every day of the six months she had spent here.  The silence had become part of her for that time, had lodged inside her, and something of it had remained for her to draw on even after she had left.  Now, as she breathed it in and let it fill her again, she felt that she was topping up her inner store, to see her through the next few months.  If it had only been a question of simply living with this silence, she would be here still.

Since the last book, Simon Serrailler has had a promotion to Detective Chief Superintendent and is the head of a special group called SIFT - Special Incident Flying Taskforce.  They handle big, public cases that could occur virtually anywhere.  Simon's sister and her family have returned from an extended stay in Australia.  Lots of things have happened to the family and more will come in this book.

There is a person in Lafferton that is shooting young women.  Many seem to be newly married or engaged and the police are scrambling to even decide if there is one shooter or more because different weapons and strategies have been used.  There is a lot of publicity and the pressure is on to keep the residents safe.  Adding to the confusion and dread is an upcoming local wedding for a goddaughter of the Prince of Wales.  Simon has not completely bonded with many of his new colleagues and that is causing him to be even more "lone wolf" than usual.  And in this storyline, he has a lot to manage, solve, and sort out.

There is a theme in this book regarding families and how they, and especially their children, young or older, deal with death, divorce, upheaval.  Some handle it well.  Some turn very dark and there are consequences.  I found all of this very satisfying to consider.  And yes, this entry into the series is a thumbs up from me.

I'm going to take a little break from Simon and company in the listening part of my reading.  The next book is The Shadows in the Street and I'll look forward to it in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Inside the O'Briens

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

The book I selected this week is one I've actually already read.  I read an e-galley of this book at the end of last year before I came back to blogging.  And sent the publisher my reactions.  If you haven't been living under a rock the last few months, you are aware that Lisa Genova is the author of the book Still Alice and that a movie was made about Alice.  It starred Julianne Moore, who was also awarded an Academy Award for her performance.  I have read Still Alice and also this author's second book, Left Neglected.  Both were so emotional, sad, touching and yet so full of intricate details about their respective neurological conditions.  This week's highlighted book is about yet another neurological disease, Huntington's.  I loved this book and recommend it highly.  My pick this week is:

Publication Date: April 7th

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List...I'm considering them...no guarantees

This is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, where bloggers relate their "top ten" of a certain topic.  This week's topic - Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List.  All of these books looked interesting to me.  Some are more of a lock-in than others...can you say Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire book?  Yep, that one is a "must".  Also, Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple book and Jane Casey's.  Since I participate in the Waiting on Wednesday event each week, I've already listed several of my "yes, I wanna read it" books, but none of these.  Take a look at these and tell me what you think.  I'll give a little teaser to whet your appetite.  No particular order.  All will be published between March 17th and June 9th.

by Mary Louise Kelly

A single bullet, gracefully tapered at one end, is found lodged at the base of her skull. Caroline is stunned. It makes no sense: she has never been shot.

by Susan Crawford

Dana Catrell is shocked when her neighbor Celia is brutally murdered. To Dana’s horror, she was the last person to see Celia alive. Suffering from mania, the result of her bipolar disorder, she has troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia’s death.

by M. J. Carter

India, 1837: William Avery is a young soldier with few prospects except rotting away in campaigns in India; Jeremiah Blake is a secret political agent gone native, a genius at languages and disguises, disenchanted with the whole ethos of British rule, but who cannot resist the challenge of an unresolved mystery. What starts as a wild goose chase for this unlikely pair—trying to track down a missing writer who lifts the lid on Calcutta society—becomes very much more sinister as Blake and Avery get sucked into the mysterious Thuggee cult and its even more ominous suppression.

by Anne Hillerman

Navajo Tribal cops Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, investigate two perplexing cases in this exciting Southwestern mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Spider Woman’s Daughter.

by Craig Johnson

When the largest, most complete fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex ever found is discovered in Absaroka County, it appears to have nothing to do with Walt Longmire—that is, until the Cheyenne rancher who claims her is found face down in a turtle pond.

by S. K. Tremayne

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.
But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity--that she, in fact, is Lydia--their world comes crashing down once again.

by Lori Roy

On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory. Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family’s lavender fields toward the well on the Baines’ place. At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future. Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for.

by Emma Kavanagh

Blood stains the carpet of an empty house. A front door slams behind a mother with a suitcase full of secrets. Someone screams. A plane falls out of the sky.

by Jane Casey

Detective Maeve Kerrigan is away for a colleague's wedding, and she's enjoying an excuse to spend a beautiful fall weekend relaxing in the English countryside. It's a much-needed break from the grit and grime of her daily life on the London police force. But even at a wedding, the job is never far away.
Midway through the reception, Maeve and her abrasive but loyal partner on the police force, DI Josh Derwent, are called back to London. A fellow policeman has been murdered, in a compromising position in a public park at night.

by Carola Dunn

In England in the late 1920s, The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher, on a convalescent trip to the countryside, goes to visit three old school friends in the area. The three, all unmarried, have recently bought a house together. They are a part of the generation of "superfluous women"--brought up expecting marriage and a family, but left without any prospects after more than 700,000 British men were killed in the Great War.
Daisy and her husband Alec--Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, of Scotland Yard --go for a Sunday lunch with Daisy's friends, where one of the women mentions a wine cellar below their house, which remains curiously locked, no key to be found. Alec offers to pick the lock, but when he opens the door, what greets them is not a cache of wine, but the stench of a long-dead body.

I know this post was ever so long.  Thanks for being patient to the end.  Here's hoping that both you and I can find some good reading in these selections.  Good luck!!