Saturday, 11 August 2018

A Start in Life

Finished August 8
A Start in Life by Anita Brookner

This short novel looks at the early life of lonely academic Ruth Weiss. As the book begin, she is forty, looking back on her life to that point. Her major research has been on the women in Balzac's novels, and her immersion in the world of literature is her life now.
She looks back on her life, with her parents, Helen, a high-spirited and successful stage actress mother, and George, a quiet father who had inherited a stock of rare books from his own father, running a small shop of them. For the early part of her childhood, she had primarily been looked after by her paternal grandmother, a woman with a sad European past, who had brought from Europe a selection of large dark wood furniture, classic china and silver, highly pressed table linen, and a deep sense of order.
To the child it seemed as if all dining rooms must be dark, as if sodden with a miasma of gravy and tears. She imagined, across the unknown land, silent grandmothers, purple flock wallpaper, thunderous seascapes, heavy meats eaten at speed. Velvet curtains, the damask cloth laid over only half the table, the intricate siege architecture of the chair legs and cross bars.
As Ruth, named for her grandmother, kept to herself, escaping within the world of literature, she was also aware that although she loved her parents, they would be no support for her, for they were unable to even look after themselves properly. Following her grandmother's death, they hired a live-in woman to do the housekeeping and meals, Mrs. Cutler. George lost interest in the store and began to look for a buyer. Helen began to go straight to bed upon arriving home, supplied their with drinks and a light meal. The two slipped easily into an intimacy with Mrs. Cutler that prevented them from ensuring that she carried out her work, and the house fell into slovenliness, with poor meals.
Ruth concentrated on her studies, mastering French and venturing into the discovery of French authors, including Balzac. She went to college and planned to study abroad in France, where she would be able to do more research on her subject of choice.
But it is her parents, and their worries and lack of independence that would draw her back from her life of independence.
A look at a woman who life has for the most part, passed by.

A Good Day for Ducks

Finished August 1
A Good Day for Ducks by Jane Whittingham, illustrated by Noel Tuazon
This picture book has a young girl and her little brother venturing out on a rainy day. We see them looking out the window at the rain, then getting all their gear on to go outside. The happy illustrations show them enjoying everything a rainy day has to offer, puddles, mud, ducks, and worms. They are both fully engaged in the world around them.
When the lightning and thunder start, mom takes them home, pulling off their wet clothes and changing them into something cozy. She makes them cocoa, and gets them settled at the table with paper and paints to draw pictures about the fun they've had.
This is a book in celebration of a rainy day, of siblings, and of the fun of experience. Like Jane's previous book Wild One, this is a book about children enjoying nature.

The Tinsmith

Finished July 30
The Tinsmith by Tim Bowling

This novel begins in the US Civil War, around the Battle of Antietam. Anson Baird is a doctor working for the Union Army. With a seemingly endless supply of injured man, Anson moved from one operation to the next, amputating, digging out bullets and stitching closed wounds. He has little time for sleep, and next to no assistance. So when he first notices a tall man in a torn uniform helping bring injured men to the medical area, he does so only to notice that he keeps bringing men in, unlike most who disappear quickly. When the man proves even more helpful by serving as a surgical assistant, he is very thankful.
When a civilian is killed in a shocking manner, and the body goes missing soon after, he doesn't connect it with the man until later when men come searching for the body. Once he's made the connection, he works to protect the man and give him a new identity. The man, previously John, now taking the identity of a soldier named William Dare.
We see backwards into John's life as a house slave, looked after by a slave family, and caught as a pawn between a violent and vindictive overseer and the culture he was born into. The story moves back and forth between first the war and John's past, and then many years later, the Fraser river in B.S. and John's past, as William Dare tries to save his fledgling salmon business by asking for Baird's help once again.
This is a story of race, of culture, of reputation, and men whose greed is larger than their morals.
I enjoyed the character of John/William Dare, a man who doesn't really fit in wherever he goes, and of Anson, a man who wants to do the right and moral thing.

My Father, Maker of the Trees

Finished July 27
My Father, Maker of the Trees: How I Survived the Rwandan Genocide by Eric Irivuzumugabe with Tracey D. Lawrence, read by Dion Graham

This memoir is that of Eric Irivuzumugabe, who was sixteen at the time of the genocide. It tells of his life from just before the genocide to a decade later. It is the portion telling of his experience during the days of the genocide, along with the experiences of several other family members that was the most terrifying and poignant. People didn't know which way to go to be safe, and many thought that the violent men chasing them would be after the men and the older boys, so they left the small children with the women, not realizing the extent the violence would reach. Some were hid by brave neighbours, but the practice of violence to those that did hide people was enough to deter many from this action.
Of Eric's immediate family, only himself and two younger brothers survived. In his extended family, some uncles, an aunt and some cousins survived. His grandfather, a man who had survived two previous genocides, did not.
In the shock following these days, looking for answers, Eric was drawn to Christianity and the church and much of the remaining book is about his conversion, the people in the church, both local and foreign that he grew to trust, and his career within the church subsequently.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Something in the Water

Finished July 23
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

This suspense novel really took me by surprise a couple of times, despite the unusual beginning.
The book opens with Erin, a documentary filmmaker and newlywed, in the woods near a country inn that she and her fiance had vacationed in just a few weeks before their wedding. What is she doing there? Digging a hole, a grave to be exact, to bury her husband in.
Most of the rest of the book is a flashback to the weeks leading up to this moment. They include her big documentary project, one in which she follows three people from phone interviews, to meetings while they are still in jail, to meetings either at time of release, or soon after, with a bit of followup. One of the women is from poverty, and has made some poor choices, ending with setting a bus on fire, which has led her to prison. The other woman she follows is a bit older, a successful lawyer, who assisted her mother to kill herself as she was dying a painful death. She is calm and sympathetic, and has her life planned out following her release. The third is a man who has long been rumoured to be a high stakes player in a criminal organization, a man who knows his stuff, but was caught a few years ago for money laundering. Getting him to interview is a coup, and Erin knows it. She doesn't really know why everyone agreed to cooperate with her, and she pulled in a lot of favours to make this work. A lot of her work is done in the weeks and days leading up to her wedding date in the fall, but the releases of all three are scheduled for after she returns from her honeymoon. So between the wedding plans and her work, a lot is happening.
As the wedding gets closer though, there are also new issues arising with her fiance. First he seems distracted, and then worried about finances, and she tries to put aside her worries as she calms him, and accepts some of the changes that he suggests. Things move along, but when the two of them discover something in the water near their honeymoon resort, things really start going south.
This is a story with lots of twists and turns, and surprises. Erin is an interesting character, strong and determined in some ways, and vulnerable in others. It is interesting to see her develop here.

Charged

Finished July 20
Charged by Jay Crownover

This is the second book in the Saints of Denver series, but the only one I've read. It focuses on a young woman, Avett Walker, who has made a series of bad choices in her life, seeming to fall a bit lower each time. She has reached a point where she is in jail, charged as an accessory in an armed robbery. And the victims were people she had been friends with, and who were close to her family. She feels too disgusted with herself to ask for help, or to call her father, who has always been there for her no matter what she has done. She is ashamed and scared.
Enter hot-shot criminal lawyer Quaid Jackson, ex-military and with a big reputation. He says that he is her lawyer, and she is to do what he says, but she has no way to pay him. When she finds out who called him on her behalf, she is even more determined to find a way to pay him herself.
Quaid has taken the job without knowing anything about her, but he soon finds out that she's cute and feisty, and up for almost anything. He also finds himself digging deeper to discover what has taken her down the road that she's gone down, and intervening with her family to help her find a new start to her life.
This is a novel of two very determined people, each with their own issues, who begin to change each other's lives significantly. With lots of hot scenes, and some tense situations, this book is a quick read.

The New Moon's Arms

Finished July 18
The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson

This novel was one I picked because of a challenge over at Following the Thread. The story follows a woman, Calamity, as she undergoes some major changes in her life. Her name as a girl was Chastity, but she changed it to Calamity as it felt more fitting to her. Her family was poor, and when her mother disappeared when she was still a young girl, there were all kinds of rumours that put her on the outside at school. Soon after that, a major storm caused destruction to the island where she'd lived until then, Blessée, and when they evacuated that island, her father was offered a house on Dolorosse. When Calamity was sixteen, she got pregnant, and her father kicked her out. She survived, and made a life for herself and her daughter Ife, and eventually when her father became terminally ill with lung cancer, she returned to look after him. As the book opens, she is at his funeral,
When she was young, Calamity was a finder, who seemed to have the skill to locate things that people had lost, but that disappeared around the time her mother did. Lately though, something like it seems to have returned. Calamity feels warm, and her hands go tingly, and something shows up unexpectedly. Her doctor says it is just menopause, but she thinks it is more than that.
At the funeral, it is her pin, that her mother gave her, that she has been missing since childhood. That appearance is followed by others, some former possessions, some larger than herself, and one hurt little boy on the beach near her home.
As new people come into Calamity's life, from old friends, to new men, she finds herself needing to adjust her attitude, and not every interaction goes well. She hasn't talked to Ife's father in years, but finds herself reaching out to him again, and dealing with Ife's choices for her own life. She fights against the term grandma, but loves her young grandson Stanley.
She believes in things that can't be explained, from her finding ability, to the personality of her car Victoria, to the strange physical attributes of the young boy she has found. She calls him Agway, from a noise he makes often, and finds herself wanting to both protect him, and care for him. He reminds her of a child she met a couple of times when she herself was just a child, and we see these memories. There are also a few times where an employee of the local Zooquarium notices things that are odd about the endangered monk seals, and these are interspersed at key moments in the story.
From the salt factories, to the cashew groves, the monk seals to the pressure of hotel chains and resorts, we see how the island and its inhabitants are under pressure to change.
I've all kinds of ideas percolating in my brain about how to take instances and themes from this book and create something, and will post it when it comes to fruition.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Hometown Cowboy

Finished July 15
Hometown Cowboy by Sara Richardson

This is the first in a series of romance novels set in Topaz Falls, Texas. Jessa runs an animal rescue center started by her father. Though her parents never married, and lived apart, Jessa was close to both of them. She got her vetererinarian degree, and then her MBA in preparation for working with her dad and making the center a success. But just before she came on board, he died of a heart attack. Her dad's best friend, Luis Cortez has been great. helping out at the center and treating her like the daughter he never had. Jessa had spent summers with her dad, and loved to hike the Cortez ranch and the mountains around it. She's spent a lot of time doing that with Luis.
Another thing that Jessa has always wanted was a family, and she's been engaged but things have never worked on. After her last boyfriend, and major funder of the rescue, dumps her rather publicly, she engages her friends in helping her get together a new look to engage with the community and find new funders. She says she done with men for now.
Lance Cortez is working hard to take the top medal at the upcoming World Bull Riding championships, and he's been focused on his career for years. He's also not a fan of marriage ever since his mother left his father, him, and his two younger brothers when he was only fourteen. After an arson incident, his middle brother, Lucas, went to jail, and his younger brother, Levi, soon left for the high life of rodeo.
When Lance's training is interrupted by a worried ranch worker telling him his father never came home from the hike he went on yesterday, Lance seeks out Jessa to see if she knows where his father might have gone. He's never really paid much attention to Jessa, but now he really sees her for the first time, and he must adjust his view of her. As he feels drawn to her despite his lack of experience of or interest in relationships, Jessa must fight against her own feelings to stay true to her dreams.
I liked the family aspects of the book, with Luis and his sons, and the other ranch workers. I also liked the close group of girlfriends that Jessa found when she came to town.
A light romance with some pretty hot scenes. Good start to a new series.

I Let You Go

Finished July 13
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, read by Nicola Barber and Steven Crossley

This suspense and mystery novel unveils things gradually, so you aren't really sure what is happening until part-way through the book, and even then not everything is clear until the end.
The book opens with a terrible scene. A mother is walking her young son home from school, and the day is gray and rainy. As they come to the last street before home, the boy lets go of her hand and rushes to beat her home, but a car comes, seemingly out of nowhere and hits him. It does not stay at the scene.
DI Ray Stevens, DS Stumpy, and trainee Kate work on the case, following up on a myriad of clues to try to figure out who the driver of the vehicle was. There are lots of tips that must be followed up on, lots of CCTV footage to view from various places nearby, and lots of time needed. But after a few months, no real progress is being made, and the funding for the case is pulled back, making it inactive. The mother feels that people are blaming her for not taking enough care, and she doesn't feel supported by the police, and she decides that she has to go away, away from the memories of her son, and of the blame and guilt.
We now switch to see Jenna Gray quickly packing up her most important possessions and running from Bristol, first by bus, and then walking. She has no clue where she is going. She just has to get away from all the things that remind her of her son and of the accident. She finds herself in a small town on the coast of Wales. There, she rents a small cottage inland, and begins life anew. She is haunted by the accident, having nightmares that wake her screaming, and she secludes herself. The manager of the nearby caravan park, Beth-Ann, who assisted with her finding a place to live, makes some overtures and gradually Jenna begins to come to life again. She takes her artistic leanings in a new direction, and begins to find a quiet way to make enough funds to live on.
The viewpoint switches back and forth between Ray and Jenna until we get to the second half, when a new voice is brought in, one that has big significance to the case.
This is a story of twists and turns, of love and fear, of lives ruined, and of marriages.

American by Day

Finished July 12
American by Day by Derek B. Miller

I really enjoyed Norwegian by Night by Miller, and this is a follow-up book to that one. Set in 2008, shortly after the earlier book ended, but published this year, there are occasional allusions to some of the events of the present, which I enjoyed.
Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has taken a leave after the conclusion of an investigation into the case covered in the earlier book, and finds that instead of relaxing on the family farm, her father is sending her to the United States to look for her older brother, Marcos, who appears to be missing.
Marcos was an adjunct professor at a small college in upstate New York, and Sigrid flies through Iceland, to Montreal, and then on to Watertown.
Sigrid's reactions to her environment, her questions about the things happening around her, and the reactions of those she interacts with are a big part of this book, and a source of humour, insight, and storyline.
When Sigrid arrives she finds that her brother is indeed missing, and that he is connected to the death of a professor at the same college he worked at, a professor he was involved with romantically, and a professor who was African American and wrote and researched race issues. There is another death connected to the professor on a personal level, also race-related, and Sigrid's view of the situation is vastly different than the one the police seem to have.
The sheriff of the area seems like a nice man, but he ignores the media to his peril, and sometimes bends too much to the political pressure of the state authorities. He takes a close watch on Sigrid, asking that they work together, but, as Sigrid envisions a different outcome she isn't always on board with his actions.
This is a story that involves American race relations, politics, the view of "outsiders," mental illness, police relations, motivations, and communication. There is also guilt, perceived and felt, and the search for what is right. A wonderful read.

Joyful Stitching

Finished July 11
Joyful Stitching: Transform Fabric with Improvisational Embroidery by Laura Wasilowski

I was drawn to the cover of this book, the colour and playfulness of the design.
The book provides a brief introduction to free-form embroidery, and then discusses the tools that are needed or helpful and materials that can be used for this work.
The author then shows different methods for transferring designs to embroidery, discussing fabric choice as an element of method choice.
There are then stitch directions for twenty-one different embroidery stitches, using pictures and examples from the projects in the book. The stitches covered are: backstitch; blanket stitch; bullion knot; chain stitch; couching; cross-stitch; ermine stitch; fern stitch, fly stitch; french knots; herringbone stitch; lazy daisy or detached chain stitch; long-and-short stitch; needle weaving; pistil stitch; running stitch; satin stitch; scattered seed stitch; sheaf stitch; stem stitch; and straight stitch.
The book then gives instructions for six different projects, all fun and colourful, with lots of pictures showing the steps through the project. Patterns are included.
Ideas are given for displaying the work and other ideas for more of this type of embroidery.
I found myself inspired by the ideas here, and looking forward to trying some of them myself.

The Last Time I Saw You

Finished July 10
The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

This story follows several people as the prepare for their fourtieth high school reunion. Each has their own reasons for going, and their own expectations of what the night will bring.
Dorothy Shauman is recently divorced, and hopes to finally get her chance with Pete Decker, the high school quarterback. Dorothy was popular in school, but didn't have a ton of friends. The girlfriends from back then are still in touch with her, and will also be attending the reunion. There is much gossip among them about who is going to be there and what each person's marital status is.
Mary Alice Mayhew was bullied in school, but rose above it, trying not to let it affect her. She is recently retired from her job as a researcher, and living in the house that used to belong to her parents. She has made a friendship with the older neighbour next door, Einer, who watched her grow up, was aware of the bullying and insists on going as her escort, in case anyone "tries anything".
Pete Decker has recently separated from his long-suffering wife, and is beginning to realize just what he has lost. He plans to go to the reunion to try to reconnect with his wife, who was his high school sweetheart.
Candy Sullivan was one of the prettiest girls in school, but she didn't date much among the boys in her class. She's been married for years, and lives a life in luxury, but never feels that it fits her that well. When she has a health scare, she insists on going to the reunion alone, taking the time to think about her next steps.
Lester Hessenpfeffer was a smart but nerdy kid, and he goes to the reunion mostly because of the nagging of his office manager who wants to see him move on with his life. He was widowed years ago, and hasn't been interested in relationships since then, except with a mentoring grandfatherly relationship with the girl who lives next door. They share an interest in animals and science. He doesn't have a lot of expectations for the reunion, but has a thought for Candy, wondering what she is like now.
This is a book of memories, regrets, hope, and renewal. Most of them don't get the outcome they expected from the reunion, but they all get something, something that brings a change to their lives.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Restless

Finished July 5
Restless: A Ghost's Story by Rich Wallace

As the title indicates, this story is told by a ghost. The story takes place in the town of Sturbridge, Pennsylvania, and the central character here is Herbie, a 17-year-old entering his senior year of high school. Up to now, Herbie played soccer, but the new coach doesn't appeal to him, and when he quits the team, the coach slings an insult at him that he couldn't make footfall or the cross-country team, so Herbie decides to do both. There are no rules against it, but it hasn't been done before, and meeting the challenges of both will require a lot of work on Herbie's end. As the year begins, one of his regular runs is through the cemetery, and Herbie's energy draws the attention of a ghost who hasn't been able to move on, Eamon Connelly, a young man who died in 1888, while trying to scale a cliff just below the cemetery late one night. But Eamon isn't the narrator of this story, although he does have a central role.
The narrator is Herbie's brother Frank, who died years ago when he was 17 of lymphatic cancer. Frank hasn't been able to move on either. He also hasn't been able to make himself felt in any way to Herbie, except in Herbie's dreams, even though he spends almost all his time with him.  But things seem to be changing. Herbie actually sees Eamon's ghost that night when he runs, and he begins to wonder, about energy, about life after death, about ghosts, and about many other things.
A couple of years back, Herbie's parents separated and he moves back and forth between them. This is definitely better than when they were together, arguing so much.
As he continues to work hard at school, at his sports, and as he meets a girl that seems to like him as much as he likes her, his interest in his brother and in the ghost he continues to encounter lead him to think hard. But he's not the only one. Frank is also entertaining some ideas that he never considered before, and that just might change everything.
A wonderful story of the need to prove oneself, of the idea of possibilities beyond what has been proven. A story that I truly enjoyed.

12th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge

I'm once again joining this fun reading challenge to read Canadian books.
It is hosted by Melwyk here

I nearly made it to 50 books last year, so even though the challenge is for 13 books, I'm going to try to hit 50.

This should be fun!

11th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

The 11th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge
Hosted by Melwyk here.


The theme was highways and byways, and the goal was to read 13 books.
I read 49

Here are mine:
1. Just Like Family by Kate Hilton. Finished July 1
2. Two Times a Traitor by Karen Bass. Finished July 4
3. The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay. Finished July 5
4. Cottage Cheese Thighs by Jenn Sadai. Finished July 6
5. The Last Wave by Gillian Best. Finished July 12
6. Hunting Houses by Fanny Britt. Finished July 23
7. The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier. Finished July 27
8. Malagash by Joey Comeau. Finished July 29
9. Road Signs That Say West by Sylvia Gunnery. Finished August 1
10. Firing Lines by Debbie Marshall. Finished August 4
11. Winter Child by Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau. Finished August 6
12. Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. Finished August 13
13. All That Man Is by David Szalay. Finished August 17
14. More Than a Lover by Ann Lethbridge. Finished August 18
15. Campbell's Kingdom by Hammond Innes. Finished September 3
16. Slug Days by Sara Leach. Finished September 23
17. Baby Cakes by Theo Heras. Finished September 24
18. The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis. Finished October 1
19. Wild One by Jane Whittingham. Finished October 7
20. Glass Houses by Louise Penny. Finished October 17
21. Purple Palette for Murder by R.J. Harlick. Finished October 21
22. Shallow End by Brenda Chapman. Finished November 8
23. Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley. Finished December 3
24. Timo Goes Camping by Victoria Allenby . Finished December 7
25. The Ghost Orchard by Helen Humphreys. Finished December 15
26. Last Lullaby by Alice Walsh. Finished December 26
27. One Day It Happens by Mary Lou Dickinson
28. Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki
29. A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena. Finished January 14
30. The Finest Supermarket in Kabul by Ele Pawelski. Finished January 26
31. Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer. Finished February 4
32. Flo by Kyo Maclear. Finished February 7
33. Where's Bunny by Theo Heras. Finished February 28
34. Wash On! by Michèle Marineau. Finished March 15
35. Shrewed by Elizabeth Renzetti. Finished March 23
36. The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson. Finished March 23
37. A Troublesome Boy by Paul Vasey. Finished March 28
38. The Prisoner of Snowflake Falls by John Lekich. Finished March 28
39. The Good Liar by Cathering McKenzie. Finished April 7
40. Ben and the Scaredy-Dog by Sarah Ellis, illustrated by Kim LeFave. Finished April 8
41. Roughneck by Jeff Lemire. Finished April 8
42. Things To Do When It's Raining by Marissa Stapely. Finished April 26
43. Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney. Finished April 28
44. Don't I Know You by Marni Jackson. Finished May 4
45. The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley. Finished May 11
46. Sun Dog by Deborah Kerbel, illustrated by Suzanne del Rizzo. Finished May 13
47. Montrose County by Bill Greenwood. Finished May 23
48. Missing Mike by Shari Green. Finished May 27
49. NemeSIS by Susan Marshall. Finished June 29

Then She Was Gone

Finished July 3
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

This suspense novel revolves around Ellie Mack, a bright, pretty, 15-year-old girl who goes missing on her way to the library shortly before her exams, and her mother Laurel Mack, devastated by the unanswered question of what happened to her daughter, Laurel's story begins ten years after her daughter's disappearance, when she finally finds a way to move on.
We go back and forth between Laurel's story, and Ellie's, and sometimes other voices at the moments where their stories cross those of the mother or daughter.
Laurel's marriage to Ellie's father Paul didn't last, and she didn't spend the time on her two older children, Hanna and Jake that they needed, causing distance to grow between her and them. Now that she is ready to move forward, she isn't sure how to start. Enter Floyd, a man near her own age, that she meets in a cafe, and begins a relationship with.
She meets Floyd's daughters, Sara-Jade, a young woman who lives with her mother, and Poppy, a nine-year-old girl older than her years in some ways, and more naive in others. And Laurel begins to reach out to her own children. To Hanna, who has lived quietly alone, spending most of her time at work, and whose apartment Laurel cleans weekly. And to Jake, who lives further away, with his partner Blue, a young woman Laurel barely knows. Laurel also goes to see her mother Ruby, who lives in a nursing home, but still shows Laurel the love and support of a mother,
As the story unravelled, I surmised and suspected parts of the story, but not all of it, and the story is a story of love and want, of sadness and hope. A great read.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Poison

Finished July 1
Poison by John Lescroart

This novel is part of a series featuring the lawyer Dismas Hardy. It is the only one that I've read in the series. Hardy has sworn off murder cases after getting shot a year before in connection with a case. But when Abby Jarvis, a young woman that he defended years ago is arrested for the murder of her employer, he feels compelled to take her case.
We see a variety of points of view here, including Eric Waverly, a homicide inspector with the SFPD. Waverly also took a couple of bullets not that long ago, and he's back at work, but the pain is still causing him issues, and he's not dealing with it well on either a professional or a personal level.
As the book begins, Hardy is enjoying the season opening baseball game with his son, and Waverly is attending a reported homicide nearby. The man killed is a young Asian man, and it seems as if he knew his killer.
Abby hasn't been entirely honest with the police, and some of her actions definitely look questionable, but Hardy doesn't believe that she committed the crime she is accused of. He gets his usual investigator, Hunt, to look into other possible suspects, since the police seem to have stopped looking with Abby in jail.
Hardy has a lot of experience, both in the DA's office and as a criminal lawyer, and he has learned to go with his instincts on cases. His daughter is also a lawyer, and his son works for Facebook, and Hardy and his wife are close to both kids. As he learns of his son's connection to a murder case, he also warns him off getting involved.
There are connections all over here, and while I suspected some of them before they were exposed, the novel was still engrossing, and I enjoyed the plot.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Nemesis

Finished June 29
NemeSIS by Susan Marshall

This YA novel by a Canadian author involves a number of issues that teens face in today's world. The main character, Nadine, is the younger of two sisters, and facing a lot of adjustments in life. She moved to high school over a year ago, but didn't adjust to the new environment as well as she thought she would. She feels out of place and the friends she had in middle school have moved on. Around the same time that move happened, her parents separated. Her dad went to New York, and while it was supposed to be temporary, a year has now passed and he's still there. Nadine was close to her dad, and they spent a lot of time bonding when he took her to her hockey games. Now she's quit hocket because she no longer has a reliable ride, and she's been hiding in the library at lunch time. She's also been avoiding her older and very pretty sister Rachel, as Rachel hasn't taken the changes in their home life well and seems to blame Nadine for every little thing that goes wrong. Her mood is volatile, and the way she treats Nadine is something Nadine is only realizing now as a form of bullying. With their mother working more hours and studying for her real estate exam, the two girls are alone together more now than ever before.
She knows something has to change, but she isn't sure where to start until she notices a AA flyer mentioning the twelve steps, and decides steps are what she needs to set to make the changes in her life. Her first move is approaching another girl she sees in the library at lunch, Anne, and this move towards friendship takes her slowly toward other changes in her life, some more difficult than others.
I liked the way we saw Nadine's thought processes as she found her way towards more self confidence, and problem solved along the way. When she had to deal with bad choices, she realized that they were something she needed to learn from and not hide from. A good choice for teen readers.

Every Note Played

Finished June 28
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova, read by Dennis Boutsikaris and Dogmara Dominczyk

This novel was amazing. Along with her own knowledge of neurological diseases, Lisa Genova has really done a lot of research for this book, and you get a definite sense of the awfulness of this disease, ALS, for both those who suffer from it, and those who care for them.
Here Richard, a reknowned classical pianist, is diagnosed with ALS, and we watch how he deals with this, at first alone, until he needs to acknowledge that he needs help.
Karina is his ex-wife, and the two had a long, but difficult marriage, marred with resentment on both sides, lies, betrayal, and unfulfilled dreams. Each had a hand in the derailment of the other's dreams, and the breakup was not an amicable one.
Their only child, Grace, is away at her first year of college, and is at first unaware of the situation her father is now in.
As we move from Richard's point of view to Karina's, we see how the love of music, of piano, that first brought them together, is still a link between them. We see how each struggles with both resentment and guilt over the missteps of their history together. ALS is a disease both predictable and unpredictable, in that you know where it will end, but not necessarily how it will get there. For Richard it starts with his right arm and hand, but he doesn't know when or what the next loss will be. As the disease progresses, we see how he deals with the new loss, and how Karina comes to terms with her role as caregiver.
Each story that I've read by Genova brings me understanding and empathy for those who suffer from these neurological ailments. ALS is a particularly horrible one, and this book makes that clear.

Men and Dogs

Finished June 24
Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch

This southern fiction book focuses on Hannah Legare, a woman who seemingly screwed up a happy life and career for reasons even she can't define. One issue is that she's never really accepted that her father died when he never returned from a fishing trip when she was a girl. As she returns from San Francisco back to the home of her mother and stepfather in Charleston, she finds herself reaching out to people in her past, revisiting memories, and asking questions that most near her have grown tired of. As we gradually learn about her unresolved grief, and see how it has affected the others in her family, we see the fear of loss and secret guilt has led to relationship issues for more than just Hannah. Her mother is in a loving marriage with a partner who cares deeply for her and her children, and her brother is a successful veterinarian. But her brother hasn't settled down, and has some issues with unresolved events in his past as well.
One gets a sense of the south from the novel and the culture of what is said and what isn't.
This novel has moments of humour, of sadness, and of hope

One Station Away

Finished June 23
One Station Away by Olaf Olafsson

This novel follows neurologist Magnus as he deals with the loss of his lover, the possibilities of an unidentified, seemingly unconscious woman being locked-in, and the resurgance of his mother's classical piano career.
Magnus is a man who really keeps to himself. He doesn't tell the people around him much of his personal life; he doesn't tell his family much about his personal or professional life; and he resents sharing his lover's time with anyone else.
As we gradually learn about his lover, and her reticence as well, we see that like him, she felt deeply, but didn't share a lot.
Magnus distanced himself from his parents years ago, and knows that his father has always been passionate about his mother's piano career, and as her agent has always been her biggest fan. When he finds his father excited at an uplift in her career, he is at first reluctant to believe in it, but finds himself gradually coming around as one of his coworkers, a man knowledgable about this aspect of music, appears to appreciate her work. He hopes that the cycle of rise and fall that has existed for her will be broken. From her, we see little, as she seems a quiet unassuming woman in person, and we don't get a sense of how she feels about everything.
At work, Magnus is interested in the experiences of the patients that he and his team have studied as they research aspects of those patients outwardly unconscious, but having some sense of the world going on around them. He begins to develop a rapport with the most recent patient, but his team begins to feel that he is hiding things from them.
This is a strange book, about a man that ultimately one doesn't quite understand, always, as the title says, one station away.

The Alice Network

Finished June 22
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

This novel begins in 1947, but has flashbacks to 1915 and the years following that during WWI. 19-year-old Charlie St. Clair is enroute to Switzerland with her mother, to take care of her "problem." But Charlie doesn't view it in the same way as her parents do, and she is more driven to follow the one lead she has to find out what became of her cousin Rose during WWII. As she escapes from her mother's watch and goes to find a woman at a house in London, she is taking a big change. When she meets the woman, Eve Gardiner, and finds her resistant to her pleas, she isn't sure what to do next.
The next morning brings new possibilities, and Eve is more amenable to following Rose's trail in France, and the two set off with Eve's driver and minder, Finn, a young ex-serviceman with his own issues. A name that is Charlie's only clue to Rose's story has brought back a memory of her WWI experience to Eve, one that changed her live irrevokably. Eve was trained in England, and sent to France as a spy, under the network of Lili, aka Alice, as part of a wide network of female spies. She was tasked with working in a restaurant that the German officers frequented, and thus became an excellent source of information, but also was drawn into a relationship that she wanted no part of.
The novel tells Charlie's story and Eve's story in alternating chapters, and we gradually see Charlie grow in confidence, and Eve come out of the self-inflicted seclusion she put herself in.
As the trio follow the trail of the man responsible for so much destruction in 1947, Eve is also led back to her past to deal with her guilt.
The story is inspired by the real WWI female spy network of Louise de Bettignes, and the character Alice is based on Louise. I love how so many historical novels that I've read lately bring to light real women's stories that have never been covered in our history books.

The Vengeance of Mothers

Finished June 21
The Vengeance of Mothers: The Journals of Margaret Kelly and Molly McGill by Jim Fergus, read by Laura Hicks and Erik Steele

This historical novel is based on some real historical people in terms of the native leaders, such as Little Wolf and Crazy Horse. This is the second book in the series that began with One Thousand White Women. The novels are inspired by a request made during peace talks with the Cheyenne, where Little Wolf suggested the government send one thousand white women to be the brides of young Cheyenne warriors, as a way to assimilate. In the Cheyenne culture, children were automatically of the tribe of their mothers, so in their eyes, the children would be white. The request was never acted upon, but Fergus' novels take the idea of that into fruition.
Here, the survivors of an army attack on a Cheyenne village have made the journey to the camp of Crazy Horse, where they are taken in. Around the same time, a group of warriors have ambushed a train to get the horses and ammunition that were being shipped on it. Also on the train was the last batch of women sent under the Brides for Indians program, and the survivors have been brought to the camp as well.
Margaret and Susie Kelly, survivors of the attack on the village are asked to talk to the women from the train and explain the current situation, and the cancellation of the Brides program, and offer them choices. The majority of women from the train volunteered for the program to escape a worse situation and have no wish to return to that situation. As we learn about the women, we learn about their histories, from incarceration, to mental institutions, widowhood to brothels and domestic abuse, the women are all willing to try to assimilate to the native culture.
As in the first novel in the series, the women have been given account ledgers, which a couple of them use as diaries. One of them is Margaret Kelly, who writes for both herself and her twin sister Susie. The other is Molly McGill, one of the women from the train, who worked as a teacher until her recent incarceration.
The journals are brought to the attention of a newspaper editor in the present day, and he sorts them by date, and transcribes them, moving alternately between the two memoirists as they pass through the remaining winter and into the spring of 1876. This is the frame of the story, but the story itself, told as diary entries is full of emotion, detail, and description.
The characters are drawn well, and with respectful acknowledgement of native culture and the unfair treatment by the US government. We really see life in the native encampments and the nature of the battles between the government forces, their allied native partners, and the tribes they warred with.
A wonderful story.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Cowboy Boots for Christmas

Finished June 16
Cowboy Boots for Christmas (Cowboy Not Included) by Carolyn Brown

Sometimes it's nice to just read an escape romance, and this fit the bill. This is the first in a series for the prolific romance author. The cowboy in question is Finn O'Donnell, former military sniper, and new ranch owner in the small town of Burnt Boot, Texas. He has refused a couple of offers recently to return to service, and he thinks the vehicles coming up his drive are a third try. But he is mistaken. as Callie Brewster, the woman who he was partnered with steps out of one of the vehicles. Callie was his spotter, and he hasn't seen her in a couple of years, having lost touch when he left the service.
Callie retuned home following the death of her sister, to care for and adopt her six year old nephew Martin. Recently, Martin witnessed a crime, and until the trial the authorities think he should make himself hard to find.
Finn agrees to take them in, knowing the capabilities of his former partner, but soon the house becomes home to other strays, both animals and people.
A story of compassion, mutual crushes, trust, and community, this is a definite feel-good read.

Confessions of a Funeral Director

Finished June 15
Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life by Caleb Wilde

The author of this book started writing a blog about his experience as a sixth generation funeral director, and that led to this book. He is very open about his experiences, including his initial reluctance to join the family business, one that both of his parents grew up in. He discusses his crisis of faith, his ongoing uncertainty about his career, his moments of understanding and enlightenment, his respect for the people whose bodies he looks after, and their loved ones. He talks about his own family and the things he has learned from his father, both his grandfathers, and others. He includes deaths that affected him personally, as well as those for whom he only learned the stories as he carried out his services. Drawing on different experiences that he was part of, he showed how other people, other organizations, and religious bodies showed honour to those that died as well.
He took on graduate work on the subject of death, religion, and culture and thus was closely observing these experiences, thinking hard about them, and trying to learn more, and that all shows here.
One bit of writing that I shared with a friend going through her own loss touched me,
Nevertheless, death asks us to pause. It doesn't tell us what we need to do when we pause (there may be nothing to do at all), but it asks us to be in its presence. To site with it. Listen to it. To lay aside chronos and embrace kairos. [Kairos has to do with the quality of time, not with the passing of time] ... It's not a moment of weakness but of strength, and we need to be reminded to allow for these natural pauses in life. We will find that death sits at the heart of what it means to be human, and we mayjust find ourselves when we practice death Sabbath
I didn't always connect with everything he wrote, as much as did with this, but I always appreciated his thoughts and feelings around these issues.

Whisper

Finished June 9
Whisper by Lynette Noni

This teen novel is the first in a series. A woman, known as Jane Doe or Subject Six Eight Four, is being held in a secret facility underground. She has been told only that it is a government facility and that she needs to cooperate with the people working with her.
Her day is routine. Her locked cell is bare, she has no footware, and a basic dress to wear. She meets every day with a therapist, a physical trainer, and a doctor who performs tests on her. She says nothing to anyone. She sits silently with the therapist, does everything the personal trainer asks her to do, and endures the painful experiments in silent stoicism. She has been here for two and a half years, and is still not sure of anything except that they want her to speak, something she is determined not to do. Then one day, her routine is interrupted. After all her normal daily activities have ended, she is taken from her cell to an area of the complex she hasn't been before and she meets with the man in charge. He tells her that they are tired of waiting for something they don't believe will ever happen, and she will work with someone new for the next month, and if nothing comes of it, he implies that she will die.
The woman is surprised to find that her new interaction is with a young man close to her own age, a man who treats her kindly, who offers her comforts, who introduces her to other young people. Her silent stoicism is no longer the effective defense it has been.
When an unexpected situation impels her to speak, she finds that this opens new doors, new opportunities for her. But as things continue, she finds that these people know more about her than she has shared, and may not have been telling her the truth.
A great start to a new and interesting series.

Greeks Bearing Gifts

Finished June 5
Greeks Bearing Gifts by Philip Kerr

This is part of the series featuring Bernie Gunther, but the first one that I have read.
This story takes place in 1957, and begins in Munich, where Bernie has taken on a new identity as Christof Ganz, and is working as mortuary attendant in a hospital. When the body of a man killed due to an explosion of a war period bomb needs to be identified by one of the men injured in the same incident, Ganz must show the body to the man and one of the policemen in attendance recognizes him. As he gets drawn into a situation that he knows will create problems for him, he trusts his instincts and goes for help to a man he knows, who also has involvement with the blackmailer.
As a result Ganz gets recommended for a job as an insurance adjustor. His detective skills make the job a good fit for him, and he gets brought in to cover for another colleague in the insurance on a boat that was sunk in Greece.
As he meets with the man at the Athens office of the insurance company, and gets to know him, he also lets his instincts lead him to follow the man claiming the loss. The subsequent death of the man raises other issues, and he ends up working with a Greek police detective to try to find the killer behind this and other deaths.
The case takes him to local lawyers, accused war criminals, museum curators, a beautiful young woman, and an arm of the Israeli state.
This is a complex case, with a reach back into the war years, with Gunther/Ganz wanting to do the right thing to atone for his country's actions in the war, but also save his own skin.
I quite enjoyed it.

Lilac Girls

Finished June 1
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

This book is based on real women in history. It is told around three women, with each of them taking turns in telling her story. One of them is the real-life New York socialite Caroline Ferriday. Caroline had worked as an actress, but by 1939 was acting as a liaison to the French consulate in New York City. Herta Oberheuser was also a real person, a young female German doctor who worked at Ravensbrück concentration camp. The third woman, Kasia Kuzmerick, along with her sister Zusanna, are based on real life women Nina Iwanska and her sister Krystyna, who were both operated on at the camp. The author did a lot of research, looking at letters, diaries, testimonies, and visiting the sites of the story. She includes an author's note that details her work, and where fiction varied from fact.
In the story, Caroline efforts are towards French people in the United States, and orphans homes in France. She tries to locate relatives of people who come into the consulate, and sends clothes, supplies, and money to the orphanages. She has a relationship with a well-known French actor, whose Jewish wife is still back in France, and after the war, when she finds out about a group of Polish women victimized by their Nazi jailors she takes on their case.
Kasia is a teenager in Lublin, Poland. Her older sister Zusanna is trained as a doctor, and their father is head of the postal office. Their mother is of German heritage, but that doesn't matter when Kasia and the other women of the family get caught up in a German sweep of the town and taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp for womn near Furstenberg. A number of the Polish women in her group were subjected to experipents related to sulfa, with doctors injecting their legs with bacteria and foreign agents. The became known as Rabbits, as they often hopped about on their good leg after the operations, and were experimental subjects, like rabbits had often been.
Herta came to Ravensbrück around the same time as the Polish women, and was the only female doctor at the camp. She was put on trial and imprisoned after the war, but was released early and went on to practice medicine afterwards.
As this novel tells the story from these three points of view, we see the motivations, and the blind spots for each of them. I love history and found this a fascinating story of an atrocity of war that I knew little about before.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Promise Not to Tell

Finished May 29
Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz, narrated by Susan Bennett

This thriller takes place in and around Seattle, with two main characters who have a shared traumatic past. Virginia Troy was only a young child when she survived a deliberate fire at a rural cult compound. Her mother died in the fire, and Virginia still has nightmares about that night, despite being raised by a loving grandmother. Cabot Sutter was a bit older than Virginia when he survived that fire, and he also lost his mother. His mother's family wanted nothing to do with him, and he was raised along with two other young male survivors by a man who had his own terrors from that night, Anson Salinas, the police detective that saved them. Anson and all three of the young men have now joined together in a detective agency, and they have reason to believe the cult leader Quinton Zane is still alive despite the boat fire that was supposed to have killed him.
Virginia has made a good life running her own art gallery, and recently made contact with a couple of older women who also survived that night. They were friends of her mothers, and one of them found her truth through painting. The pictures she painted of that night are dark and haunting, even disturbing, but also very good. Virginia has taken the paintings, but it is the last painting, sent to her just as the artist died in a very suspicious manner, that has made Virginia seek out Anson and his agency as people who won't dismiss her suspicions that Zane is still alive. She is correct, and as Cabot returned to the office as she was describing the situation, he is the one that works with her on the case. It doesn't hurt that there is a spark between them, and that they both understand the other's PTSD symptoms.
At the same time this is all happening, Xavier, a younger cousin in Cabot's estranged family approaches him out of curiousity and rebellion wanting to know more about this cousin his father and grandfather hated so much. At first Cabot doesn't want to deal with him, but Virginia and Anson convince him to give the young man a chance without blaming him for his family's actions.
The cult element is very interesting, showing the tactics and personal characteristics of a sociopath intent on his own interests. This is the second book in a series, and I haven't read the first, but had no issues with that.

Missing Mike

Finished May 27
Missing Mike by Shari Green

This children's novel centers on one 11-year-old girl, Cara Donovan, as she and her family deal with the threat of encroaching forest fires, evacuation, and worry. The town that Cara's family lives in, Pine Grove, is a fictional place that could, unfortunately stand in for many Canadian town which have been devasted by fire, but for me it brought to mind the terrible scenes from Fort McMurray and the evacuation of that community.
Cara, her older sister, Sloane, and their parents live in a town that is threatened by encroaching fires. They have an emergency kit, and their mother asks them to pack an overnight bag with essentials, just in case. Cara has been planning for a great summer, exploring on the new bike she got just as school let out, an early birthday present. As the book begins, she is out on a trail with her dog Mike. Mike is named after Mike Wazowski, a one-eyed monster from Disney movies. Mike is a dog that Cara chose two years ago, when she convinced her parents she was ready for a dog. Her parents steered her toward the cute puppies at the shelter, but Cara was drawn to Mike, an older dog, who shows the scars of past fights, include a tattered ear and the loss of an eye. And they've been practically inseparable since.
Mike still has nervous moments though, and it is one of these that causes him to disappear just when the Donovans have to evacuate. Cara is despondent, and the trip to the distant town they are evacuated to is a tense time, as the fire stays close for a long while, and others leaving need help along the way.
Cara tries to keep herself busy, spending time with Jewel, the foster daughter of their host family, and volunteering at the evacuation center. She quickly finds out how to fill out a form to let authorities know about her dog, but nothing really distracts her completely from her loss.
The desperation of the situation, while fleeing the fire is expressed well, and Cara's focus on her loved pet Mike is a constant.
The book is written in free verse, which adds an interesting flow to the story. And I loved that Cara was a crossword fanatic, mulling over word definitions and able to consider how a word might mean different things to different people. A big part of Cara's musings throughout the book are around the word "home" and how the word can mean sometime differnt to people given their experiences, personalities, and situations. A book that will get the reader thinking.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

It's Always the Husband

Finished May 25
It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell, read by January LaVoy

This psychological suspense novel follows three college roommates from very different backgrounds. The girls meet at the beginning of their first year at Carlisle College in New Hampshire. Aubrey is a poor girl from Vegas who has made it to college on her marks. She is hoping to make the contacts to lead her to a life beyond the one she experienced up until now. Jenny is a local girl who has always had an eye towards her future, making the right connections, getting good grades, and planning ahead. Kate is the spoiled rich girl, whose daddy is one of the board members at the college and a major donor. Too bad that she no longer has a great relationship with her father.
As the girls go through their first year, they become friends despite their differences, hanging out together often enough that they become known as the Whipple triplets after the dorm that they live in. Aubrey hero worships Kate in a way that Jenny finds disturbing, and that and family issues lead to her grades slipping significantly. Kate becomes the campus party girl, indulging in alcohol, drugs, and sex at the expense of her courses. Jenny is still the go getter, getting a part-time job in the provost's office and finding herself agreeing to something that she should know better than to do, but that she believes will lead to a better future for herself.
As the year goes on and the antics grow wilder, including a ill-fated spring break trip, things culminate in a tense scene at an abandoned railway bridge in the woods, and someone dies. What really happened that night is hushed up and the girls go their separate ways. But twenty years later, Jenny is the town mayor married to a local boy, Aubrey is a new age yoga teacher married to a less than loyal doctor, and Kate is back in town as a result of her husband's father being caught in financial fraud. And this time around the girls aren't so friendly with each other. This is a story more psychological than action-based, and definitely a who-done-it question on a death that occurs in the present world. With lots of twists and turns, and plenty of motives, you won't be sure who to believe.

How to Find Love in a Book Shop

Finished May 25
How to Find Love in a Book Shop by Veronica Henry

This romantic novel has a touch of sadness to it as well. Emilia has returned to the small Cotswold town of Peasebrook that she grew up in as her father Julius is dying. She grew up in an apartment over the bookstore, Nightingale Books that he ran. Emilia must now decide what to do. She always intended to run the bookstore some day, but she'd thought that day was far ahead of her. She knows that a local developer, Ian Mendip has his eye on the property to gain enough parking for the high end condos he is building just behind, but she really wants to keep it open.
The bookstore employees are all eager to put their skills to work to bring new life to the store, her best friend puts her accounting skills to work to sort out the financial confusion that Julius left behind, and a new acquaintance offers valuable assistance in rethinking the interior of the shop to draw in new trade. But Emilia has a big learning curve and Ian Mendip doesn't want to take no for an answer.
I liked the various characters that came into the story, from the cooking teacher and her protege, to the nearby estate owners come garden shop operators, and the small music group. There are lots of subplots, interesting personalities and more than one burgeoning romance. The power of books to connect is shown as well. A feel good read.

Montrose County

Finished May 23
Montrose County by Bill Greenwood

This thriller follows more than one set of characters, and includes a past timeline for one of them. The chapter headings helpfully give place of action and timeline, and the author also uses quick phrases to link events together between characters. The first character we see is a woman, Sabrina Murdoch, waking from a recurring dream she has related to the past. It's just a glimpse, and we move on to another set of charcters, very far away.
These are a pair of Canadian soldiers working as a remote commando force. Mike Buffalo and Brad Hall have worked together before, and are a good team. They are one of several sniper teams tracking Islamic State fighters, and so far the most successful in terms of hits. The drones that work with these units are operated out of Nellis AFB in Nevada, managed by Lt. Col. Tony Benedetto. As they check in after their hit, they are informed that satellite phones, satellite GPS, and drone coverage will not be available for the next day or so due to an expected solar flare. They are also asked to check on the ground result of a hit on a building where some type of meeting seemed to be happening.
The two capable men make their way by maps and orienteering to the specified site, But there they find something bigger and more disturbing than they would ever have guessed, and circumstances mean they have to use all their creativity and skill to convey what they found back to base.
The next group of people we see are some well-meaning American, intent on doing right by those less lucky in their life situation. Unfortunately, they are a bit too trusting, and in this case, people with bad ulterior motives have taken advantage of their kind hearts. Similar situations play out with other components needed for the planned crime.
Back to the first character, Sabrina, who works in the titled Montrose County in Colorado as a deputy. She has worked there for a couple of years. She has the duty of driving a prisoner over the courthouse. On the way over, she encounters a truck slightly damaged by an encounter with wildlife, and is faced with a situation that she finds difficult to deal with. When she makes it to Ouray, she has a moment to chat with a county deputy that she has begun a relationship with, Rick Sanchez.
We gradually learn of Sabrina's interactions with the locals, including an older rancher named Del and his wife. Del understands her and some of her baggage, because he is a Vietnam vet. At one point, we have a flashback to several years earlier to an intense firefight that Sabrina was involved in while in Iraq and we understand the source of her anxiety and dreams.
As we follow the events with Buffalo and Halls and with Murdoch and others in her area, we gradually move closer to the time of the planned crime, and the suspense builds.
I really enjoyed this thriller, and the way the author gradually revealed the characters to us, giving us a real sense of who they were. The use of humour, creativity, and military detail all made this book a page turner for me. Highly recommended.

Monday, 21 May 2018

A Higher Loyalty

Finished May 21
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

I wanted to read this book to see what Comey felt behind the role he held, and this book met that expectation. Comey tracks his career journey from its beginnings, and goes into detail on some of the cases or situations that he dealt with. The details increase as we grow closer to the present, specifically regarding the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and Comey's dealings with Trump. Nothing actually surprised me, and I understood Comey's reasons for doing what he did.
Comey knows that nobody is perfect, including himself, and he does talk about a few actions that he is ashamed of, and details the struggles he had to make some decisions, including often asking for input from others or advice from people he trusted.
He outlines his ideas of what a good leader looks like, and what things a leader must keep in mind to remain a good leader. He talks about ethics, and his personal take on that and how it led him to the career he chose. He also talks about his lifelong goal of helping people, of righting wrongs and bringing those who betray others to justice. Through examples, he shows how he tries to give people chances to redeem themselves, to choose a different path, and how some choose it and others don't.
He talks about his wife, and the strong relationship they have, and how they've dealt with the struggles that life has brought them.
I enjoyed the book, and feel I understand the author better as well.

The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium

Finished May 15
The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium: From Joseph P Frisbie to Roy Jacuzzi, How Everyday Items Were Named for Extraordinary People by Philip Dodd

This book was inspired by the curiosity of the author as he tracked down the story of the origin of a wide variety of items to their namesakes. Some of these you may have been aware of, others are less well known. Included here are:
* The frisbee
* The saxophone and other musical instruments
* The jacuzzi
* The biro
* Mesmerism and the guillotine
* The leotard
* Oscars and Tonys
* The dahlia, the freesia, the bougainvillea, the fuchsia, and the magnolia
* The G-spot
* The sandwich
* The Mercedes
* The silhouette
* The foxtrot
* Mavericks
* and, of course, guppys
For some he finds dubious myths about origin, others are well documented. And the reader learns a number of other interesting things along the way.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sun Dog

Finished May 13
Sun Dog by Deborah Kerbel, illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo

This picture book is about Juno, a young husky who lives with a family near the Arctic Circle. Juno finds the endless days of the summer make it hard to settle down to sleep, and one night, she leaves the house in search of playmates. She finds only that she feels lonely without her boy, and vulnerable to those creatures who look for food during this time. When she returns to her house and finds danger there as well, the big dog that Juno knows exists inside her comes alive as she raises an alarm.
This is a lovely story of the connection between Juno and her boy, but also of the high Arctic days, and the animals who call that part of the world their home.
The illustrator of this book uses polymer clay as one element of the illustrations and I loved the effect. She brings alive Juno's playfulness (I particularly liked the picture with the sock) and the beautiful environment Juno and her boy live in. The flowers look so real, I wanted to smell them!
A great book, especially for youngsters with their own special dog.