Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Written in Stone by Ellery Adams

 Written in Stone (A Books by the Bay Mystery) has a story within the mystery.  It also has older main characters, which is nice.  I don't have anything against twenty somethings, but it's nice to see older people finding a life partner and solving the mystery.

In Written in Stone Olivia Limoges gets summoned to visit Munin Cooper, a reclusive old woman also known as the Witch of Oyster Bay, who warns Olivia that death is coming.  Munin gives Olivia a homemade memory jug with tokens encrusted in the pottery which has clues to secrets in the community and possibly to Olivia's mother who died when Olivia was very young.  Shortly after they meet, Munin is found dead of a supposed snake bit.

Although Olivia is preparing for the Coastal Carolina Food Festival, she doesn't believe that Munin's death was accidental and she and the rest of the Bayside Book Writers investigate. As they start to identify the jug’s contents and unraveling secrets from the past, they also come face-to-face with a murderer.  
If you like cozies, I recommend this series by Ellery Adams.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The first Kate Morton book I read was The House at Riverton which I read as part of Barnes and Noble's First Look book club in January 2007.  It was a great read, reminiscent of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

In December I joined and one of my first selections was a Kate Morton book, The Secret Keeper.  I think everyone is a secret keeper in one way or another, but in this book we find that the many secrets overlap and come back to haunt the keepers eventually.

The Secret Keeper takes place in 1941, 1961, and 2011.  The central characters in 1941 are Dorothy (Dolly), Vivian, and Jimmy and takes place in England during the Blitz.  Dorothy is a young woman who moved to London to make her own way. Jimmy is her boyfriend, a photographer who takes pictures of what is happening to the city and the people.  Vivian who lives across the street from Dorothy, is a young woman of means, married to a famous writer.  Vivian and Dorothy volunteer at a war effort canteen and Dorothy is the companion of the rich old Lady who owns the house across from Vivienne.

In 1961, Dorothy's daughter, Laurel Nicolson is sixteen years old.  She sneaks away from a family birthday party picnic and is daydreaming in her childhood treehouse, when she watches a strange man walking up the road to the farm.  She then watches as he speaks to Dorothy and then as Laurel watches as her mother stabs him with the cake knife she had come back to the house to retrieve.

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful actress, living in London. When she returns to Green Acres Farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday, she is overwhelmed by memories of that day and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.

As Laurel unravels the mystery of her mother and the stranger, Kate Morton draws the reader in with details of what it must have been like to live in London during that period of time and war.

The audio version, read by Caroline Lee, was incredible.  Caroline Lee's interpretation just added to the suspense and brought the characters to life.   

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry

"If I'd have blinked, I would have missed it."  Thus starts the story of Troy Chance and the young boy she rescues after he is thrown off a ferry going in the opposite direction. 

This was one of the audio books I purchased from, and while I liked the story very much, the person who was recording it took some of the enjoyment from the experience.  Troy is a freelance magazine writer who specializes in sports, she is in her late 20s, early thirties.  The story is told in the first person and the reader is obviously older. 

Anyway, the premise of the book is strong.  Troy jumps into Lake Champlain and rescues the boy, then swims to shore.  The boy tells her that his name is Paul, but he speaks only French.  She calls the police, but they have no record of a child falling overboard, and no one appears to be looking for him at the docks.  Troy worries that he is an abused and unwanted child and decides to find out who his parents are and why they are not looking for him.  She figures if they don't want him, or are responsible for him being in the water, she'll just keep him.   She gets enough information from Paul to figure out who is parents are and sets off for Ottawa to find them and find out why they are not looking for him.  

I think this is a book I would have enjoyed more if I had actually read the story.  As it is, I only liked it enough.

Dire Threads by Janet Bolin

I usually like cozy mysteries, but this one just had too many quirky characters and they were more weird than they were quirky.  Plus I think the fact that I don't embroider anything made the fact that the main character embroiders everything she owns seem a bit over the top to me.  That's not to say that if you are a big fan of pictures and words all over your clothes and household items, you are not just as stylish as the person with the knitted hat and sweater, but if you start knitting your pants . . . the line is drawn.

Willow, the main character moves to a quaint town where her best friend, Haylee, owns a fabric store and Haylee's three mother figures own a knitting shop, button shop, and I can't even remember what the third shop sells.  They all give lessons to the locals and the tourists.  The only policeman is an inept old guy called Uncle Allen by everyone in town, the townswomen are all busybodies who don't like the newcomers, and all the eligible men are tall, fit, and handsome. 

Willow is suspected of murder and tries to solve the case with the help of her friends. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Witness

I am not an avid Nora Roberts' reader, but I have read a few of her books that I liked.  The Witness is definitely my favorite. 

The Witness is Elizabeth Fitch, the 16 year old daughter of a domineering mother, a mother who has planned Elizabeth's entire present and future.  A freshman at Harvard, Elizabeth comes home for the summer to find her mother is going out of town and has enrolled Elizabeth in a summer program in order to accelerate her graduation and ensure she is the youngest neurosurgeon in Chicago.  Elizabeth, who was looking forward to vacation and a promised trip to New York, rebels and goes shopping for clothes for the first time in her life.  She meets someone she knew of in high school and they go to a club which is owned by the Russian mob.

After leaving the club, Elizabeth witnesses a murder and goes into witness protection.  When her protectors are murdered, Elizabeth runs.

Twelve years later Abigail Lowery moves to a small town in Arkansas and catches the eye of the local chief of police, Brooks Gleason.  While their relationship deepens, Abigail makes plans to get her life back.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Up Country

Nelson DeMille is, and has been for many years, one of my favorite authors.  His books always entertain, yet you can't help learning something at the same time.  I think the first DeMille I read was The Charm School and it remains one of my favorites.  Recently I listened to (yes, I am an audio book fiend) all of the John Corey books and in The Panther, Paul Brenner had a pivotal role, which is one reason I picked Up Country as my first book of 2013. 

As a child of the 60s, I put off reading this book on Vietnam by Nelson DeMille for quite some time.  It's been in my TBR bookcase since it first came out in paperback, but I recently got a copy of the audiobook, so I figured why not start listening. 

Up Country is the story of Paul Brenner's return to Vietnam to investigate a murder that happened during the Tet Offensive in 1968, the same time that he was a PFC in the Army.  Chief Warrant Officer Paul Brenner (also the character in The General's Daughter) is a no-nonsense, tell it like it is, recently retired Criminal Investigation detective.  He retired after solving the case of the general's daughter's death and pissing off a lot of the brass.

In order to investigate the murder of an officer by a superior officer, Paul must find a Vietnamese soldier who witnessed the crime and get a statement and retrieve any mementos of the crime he might have in his possession.  Paul Brenner meets and then is accompanied by Susan Webber, an American woman who lives and works in Vietnam, and who may not be exactly who she says she is.

I liked the book very much, the complaint I have is the ending leaves several questions in my mind.  I want to know what happens next.  

Friday, January 4, 2013


Today I had a wonderful lunch with my friend, Marie.  We went to Patty's Eggnest in Arlington, which I think is one of the best places to go for breakfast or lunch with friends.  The food is good, they give you enough for two meals, and the service is great.  Plus they don't seem to care how long you sit there and visit, they just keep filling your coffee cup and being nice.  Bear was happy because he got Marie's leftovers (I ate mine for dinner). 

We missed having Mary join us, but hopefully her back will get better quickly and we can do this again soon.  I miss my old neighborhood and the wonderful people I met there.

I have to say that I miss having the constant interaction with the people I lived near, worked with, and saw on a daily basis.  I think it is the downside of retirement and moving.  You just lose contact with the people you saw day in and day out.  I guess the reason the people at Walgreen's think I'm always such a pleasant customer is I'm just happy to see them.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1 time for a do over

It's January now and the day was crisp, sunny, and cold.  Not cold like Alaska cold, but cold for Washington.  It was a good day.  I actually went through some clothes, washed them, and now they are in the Goodwill box.  I haven't worn a dress since I attended a funeral shortly after I retired, so I'm passing them on to someone who might need them.  

Why is it so hard to give clothes I haven't worn in ten years?  Why do I think that I will suddenly start wearing dresses and jumpers, it's not like they are even in style anymore.  Still, even though I know I won't be wearing them, I put three jumpers back in the closet "in case it get hot this summer".  

I put out some bread chunks for the birds the other day and last night something came any ate them.  I don't think it was birds, because there was half a loaf of toasted bread yesterday and today there are about three chunks.   Plus Bear was really sniffing in the area . . . coyotes?  Probably.