Friday, April 19, 2019

The Pitter Patter of Little Feet Weekly Link Round-Up

Between the weather and the two of us not checking our plans and dates more carefully, it's a wonder that Denis and I ever get to go anywhere. Monday, we headed to the Desert Botanical Garden to check on all the blooms only to get there and find that that was the day Antiques Roadshow was filming. Duh. Since we were already out and about, we decided to head out to east Scottsdale to Butterfly Wonderland and OdySea Aquarium on the off chance that the heaving herds of humanity had lessened. They had. Whew!

Harry Houdini
I was quite popular with the winged beauties. They took up residence on my shirt, my arms, my legs, and-- most especially-- my hair. In fact, another visitor scurried over to me once to tell me that I had four butterflies in my hair. (Unfortunately, Denis wasn't around so no photo op.)

I didn't need to be told. I could feel the pitter patter of tiny feet on my head, arms, and neck. When Denis and I left, I had not one, not two, but three people checking me for stowaways. I was giving myself the once-over, too. A few minutes later, I was checking out the Reptiles of the Amazon exhibit when I happened to look down at my upper arm to see Harry Houdini, the escape artist. You can see him there in the photo. Somehow, he managed to avoid four sets of eyes to make it to the outside. If only he'd kept still a little while longer, he would've made it all the way to freedom. But, alas, he's back in with his buddies. Sorry, Harry, but you're not a desert butterfly, and I didn't want you to fry in the sun!

Now... on to the links!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • A baby monkey has been born using frozen testicular tissue, giving hope for infertile childhood cancer survivors.
  • Thousands of invasive cane toads have overtaken a Florida community.
  • The cat who single-handedly rendered a species extinct.
  • How do scientists know what colors prehistoric animals were?
  • A 50,000-pound whale tucked a scuba diver under its fin to protect her from a nearby shark.
  • The Nicobar pigeon, the closest living relative to the dodo bird, dazzles with vibrant iridescent plumage. Trust me, this isn't your run-of-the-mill urban pigeon!
  • "Super Mom" has been spotted on a Minnesota lake-- with 56 ducklings in tow.
  • There's only one place in the United States where it's legal to swim with wild manatees.

►Fascinating Folk◄
  • Peter Benchley, the writer of Jaws, regretted his depiction of sharks and became an ocean activist.
  • The bold accomplishments of women of color need to be a bigger part of suffrage history.
  • John Sato, the 95-year-old World War II vet who took four buses to protest racism in New Zealand. 
  • Roxie Laybourne, the feather detective who changed aviation.
  • Eliza Leslie, the most influential cookbook writer of the 19th century.

►The Happy Wanderer◄
  • Welcome to Noraville, the small Maryland town rebuilt by Nora Roberts.
  • Tourists flock to this poison garden, but a trip there could prove to be fatal. (It wasn't for me. I've been there three times!) 

►I ♥ Lists◄

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

First Lines: The day is still. The heat, having eased during the night, is building again; the sky is cloudless and unforgiving, the sun punishing.

A year ago, an isolated rural community plagued by endless drought faced the unthinkable: the local priest killed five parishioners before being killed himself. Now journalist Martin Scarsden is there to write a piece for his newspaper. How have the people of Riversend coped with the tragedy during the past year?

It doesn't take long for Martin to realize that the accepted conclusion made by police, media, and townspeople may be wrong. And just as he feels that he's making progress, the bodies of two backpackers-- missing since the shootings-- are discovered in a dam in the scrublands, a deserted backwoods marked by frequent brush fires. Once more, Riversend is buried alive with a heaving mass of representatives from every branch of the media, and Martin's job just got a whole lot harder. What was the real reason behind the priest's shooting spree, and does it connect to the backpacker murders? As strange things happen all around him, Martin finds himself risking everything he has to learn the truth-- even his life.

From the very beginning, Chris Hammer's Scrublands grabbed me by the throat and drew me right into the heart of the story. For one thing, I love reading books written by people with a literal as well as a poetic understanding of heat. Must be because I've lived in the Sonoran Desert for many years. But it was also the story itself that wouldn't turn me loose. Why would a young priest-- one who's well-liked by almost everyone in the community-- take a rifle and murder five people?

There are many things to ponder in Scrublands. Martin's own PTSD from an assignment in the Mideast. How PTSD has affected the entire area around Riversend for years (a section that contains some of the best writing in the entire book). And then there's the ambiguity of the town's name. Is it River Send or River's End? Yes, there are many things to think about, just as there's an excellent story to enjoy.

The solution to the murder of the backpackers came as more of a surprise than it should have, primarily because the priest's story took center stage. This book was racing full-out to my Best Reads of 2019 list when it faltered yards before the finish line. What happened? When the story was being wrapped up at the end, there were just too many people with too many motivations. I almost felt as though I needed a scorecard. Be that as it may, Scrublands is still a cracking good read that I certainly recommend. I look forward to other books by Chris Hammer.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer
eISBN: 9781501196768
Atria Books © 2019
eBook, 385 pages

Standalone, Investigative Journalist
Rating: A-
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April at the Phoenix Zoo

It was a perfect day to go wander around the Phoenix Zoo. Partly cloudy skies meant that between the clouds and the trees at the zoo, we wouldn't be "fried on the hoof" in the unrelenting desert sun. We also timed it to miss most of the hordes of children because-- although I think it's great for them to learn about the other citizens of this planet-- I can do without their screeching and not looking where they're going. (Yes, I'm a silent curmudgeon.)

Without further ado, join Denis and me on our stroll through the zoo!

It only takes a little water to make desert plants happy, like these prickly pear. ©db

You know me. I check holes. This time I found a woodpecker doing some prep for this year's nest. ©db

Then off in the distance we spied desert bighorn sheep on the top of the butte.

That one just had to raise his head at that particular moment... ©db

This is the first time we'd been able to see them at the top of the butte.

I felt sorry for the spotted hyena. It was being chased around its enclosure by a herd of screeching children. ©db

Knock it off, kid, ya bother me! ©db

The tiger had quite the fan club. ©db

The Endangered Species Carousel. ©db

The zoo is a good place to check out the flowers, too.

Other folks enjoying the day.

An egret appreciating the breeze.

A baby giraffe was born recently here at the zoo. As chummy as these two were getting, I wouldn't be surprised if there's another birth in the future.

Just me appreciating the shade...and the GREEN!

A Hamadryas baboon.

Some snoozing African Painted Dogs.

Flower bracts on a crown of thorns succulent.

Did you see that?!?

Sweet acacia blossoms.

The inside of a cactus is just as interesting to me as the outside. Sometimes they look like lace.

You know me. If it blooms, I'll take a photo of it!

Another pretty!

Growing by the lagoon.

A row of benches along a row of bougainvillea that's just about to go ballistic (bloom like crazy).

Nice seating area by the lagoon, but "natives" like Denis and me will only sit in the shade.

Have Flowers

Will Photograph!

A nice place to sit and enjoy the zoo.

On our way over the bridge and out to the parking lot, I happened to spy this little green heron fishing for its lunch. Too bad I couldn't get a shot without those ESPs! (Evil Stick People)

Hope you enjoyed your visit! This week, Denis and I are going back to the Desert Botanical Garden, and then there's a zoo on the opposite side of town that we want to check out. Gotta wear out those camera batteries, ya know!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Flowers Over the Inferno by Ilaria Tuti

First Line: There was a legend that haunted that place, the kind that clings like a persistent odor.

In a small village in the Italian Alps, the first victim in a gruesome string of murders is found. Superintendent Teresa Battaglia has a background in criminal profiling and is called to head the investigation. Massimo Marini, a city detective, is added to her highly trained and competent team.

It is a difficult investigation. Going without proper food or sleep, Battaglia tries to unravel a historical angle that threatens to endanger a group of eight-year-old children towards whom the killer is gravitating.

With the insular village fighting them every step of the way, sixtysomething Battaglia is battling exhaustion, illness, and the knowledge that her mind and body may fail her before the investigation is over.

The first third of Flowers Over the Inferno made me despair. The opening is a bit clunky and as the author set her stage, I found it difficult to become engaged with the story. But I kept at it-- mainly because her descriptions of the landscape create an atmosphere that's at once magical and foreboding. In fact, the landscape becomes a major character in the book. More than anything else, I think it was the transitions between the main narrative and the intermittent chapters taking place in a creepy old building in Austria that caused this reader's troubles-- even though those chapters made the hair stand on the back of my neck along with their mantra of "Observe, record, forget."

Then there are the children: Mathias, Diego, Lucia, and Oliver. The more you learn about them, the more you will admire their resilience, intelligence, and bravery. And when the story finally settles down to the investigation, fasten your seatbelts: Teresa Battaglia is one of the best characters I've come across in a long, long time. In her mid-sixties, Teresa is single, alone (and not enjoying it), overweight, diabetic, and has a razor-sharp intelligence. She does not suffer fools gladly, but you will seldom ever find a character who has more empathy and compassion. As tiny pieces of her backstory are told, your admiration of the woman grows. Her mere presence makes those who stand by her feel stronger; her team is utterly devoted to her. When you add to that mix a city detective who needs more than a bit of training, sparks can fly. But as he learns, Massimo Marini's opinion of Teresa Battaglia changes. In the beginning, each time he underestimates her, she steamrolls right over him, so it's fun to watch their relationship develop.

If not for that clunky beginning, Flowers Over the Inferno would be on my Best Reads of 2019 list, but it comes very, very close. There are supposed to be two more books featuring Teresa Battaglia, and I can't wait to get my hands on them. She is a fantastic character! (Think Vera Stanhope and Ruth Galloway, you fans out there.)

Flowers Over the Inferno by Ilaria Tuti
Translated from the Italian by Ekin Oklap.
eISBN:  9781641290692
Soho Crime © 2019
eBook, 361 pages

Police Procedural, #1 Teresa Battaglia
Rating: A
Source: NetGalley

Sunday, April 14, 2019

At The Poisoned Pen with Jane Harper!

I was thrilled when Jane Harper's name appeared on The Poisoned Pen's event calendar and even more thrilled when I saw that she would be here on a day when Denis and I could both come. After all, her just-released book The Lost Man is on my Best Reads of 2019 list. The only question in my mind was how many people would show up to see her. Harper had only five stops on her US book tour, so it was quite a coup to be able to see her at my favorite bookstore. I needn't've worried; the place was packed, and now it's time for me to be quiet and let Jane and host Barbara Peters do all the talking! (I love my little recorder!)

Jane Harper (speaking into microphone)
Barbara: Thank you so much for coming, and I would like you to welcome Jane Harper on her first visit to The Poisoned Pen. [lots of clapping]  Jane has come to us from Melbourne, Australia. For any of you who may have grown up in the Midwest, Melbourne is not dissimilar to the northern suburbs of Chicago. One of the reasons why I love Melbourne, aside from the university and its unbelievably good city library-- one of the best city libraries I've ever been to-- is the botanical garden.

So, a question for you: living in Melbourne toward the southern end of Australia, what's drawn you so often to Queensland and the outback?

Jane: [looking out at audience] Thank you all for coming, by the way, it's really lovely to be here. Yes, as you said, I live in Melbourne. It's coastal, very urban obviously, but I think for me the settings are such an important part of the book that there are a few reasons why I go for the more remote, isolated settings. I think they're a gift to Australian writers. Beauty, brutality. Things can go wrong very quickly there. It really lends itself well to the mystery and suspense elements of the story.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the geography. The outback is in the northeast, very central, it's what we call the interior, and it's full-on outback. It gets to well over 105° degrees every day in the summer. It's very isolated, and it's a very brutal landscape. People live out there, they make their livelihoods out there. I'm really interested in those sorts of communities that are so isolated that everyone knows all the aspects of each other's lives. That's sort of how I started to come up with the idea for this book.

Jane Harper
Barbara: Of course, when you say 105 in other venues everyone probably gasps in shock. In Phoenix, we're going, "That's okay. That's a reasonable summer's day!" [audience laughter]

We are familiar with what the environment can do to people. There are people who die here of dehydration and other related things on a fairly regular basis. It's even more deceptive here because it looks like the city and people (mostly visitors) don't realize how dangerous the heat can be even in a city, but the outback that you're writing about-- especially in this new book-- it isn't a city, it's very sparsely populated.

Jane: I think the thing that struck me when I went out there for my research was how well-prepared people are out there. The locals at least. The tourists not so much. The tourists do all sorts of stupid things, but the locals are so well-prepared. You open up the backs of their cars and they have a week's worth of supplies. Liters of water, food, shovels, a first-aid kit, all the sorts of things they need for survival. It's often the tourists who get in trouble because they're so used to being close to help that it's hard for them to realize how isolated the area is.

Barbara: So in your first book, The Dry, which gets its name from the fact that the area you write about has long been stricken by drought, how ironic that one person in it dies in the water. Aside from the main crime, I thought it was really interesting that someone drowns in a book called The Dry.

Available Now!
Jane: One of the things I was really trying to pull out in The Dry was that these communities that are suffering from really extreme drought weren't always like that. People used to have thriving farms and businesses that ran well based on the land and the weather patterns. A lot of those have disappeared and they haven't got the ability to reinvent the industry so a lot of people don't know what else to do. It was a sort of contrast I was trying to capture. You go back not so many years ago and the towns were very different then.

Barbara: As a reporter, are you inspired by things you've written about or have come across in your role as a journalist?

Jane: I was a journalist for thirteen years. I worked on two papers in the UK and I worked on two papers in Australia. I covered all kinds of things during that time. I did crime, health, community things, education, all kinds of different topics.

I think journalism helped me in a lot of ways. I've never used any specific event that I covered. I think it's really unfair to use real people and real events unless you're going to be completely upfront about that. What I've tapped into a lot more is the emotional aspect. When you go out to see someone who's had something happen... it could be something very traumatic or something rather minor... but in some way, it affects them and you try to listen to their story, how it affects them and their community, and you try to tell it in a way that people who haven't experienced the event can relate to the people and the situation. That's the sort of skill I found very useful in fiction-- trying to capture those emotional and psychological impacts and write them in a way that readers can recognize them.

Barbara Peters
Barbara: Certainly in The Dry, the whole dynamic of the community has a huge amount to do with how the story plays out.

As a reader, I've always felt that the best books are the ones where you can root for the hero and really mourn the victims. You should feel loss when people die. One of the crimes in The Dry... you'd like to think that when people are killed, it's for a big reason and yet one of the crimes in The Dry I thought was so interesting was because it wasn't.

Jane: I think with all the books and the way the stories play out I always try to tuck into the authenticity and make scenarios believable. A big part of that is looking at life and how mundane it can be. How people can make really difficult decisions and do things they otherwise would never dream of doing. Often they're not dramatic.

Barbara: I thought it raised the impact of the crime since it was an ordinary person pushed to an extreme. I had this discussion with Joe Finder who was here last week and who has a protagonist who has put herself in a bad place-- she's had a one-night stand that comes back to haunt her-- and the challenge then was to make the readers really sympathize with her as her dilemma progresses. Because she put herself in that situation in the first place. How can you make her really sympathetic to readers?

Jane: For me, the crime is really the catalyst to tell the story. It's never about the crime for me, it's always about the characters, and I think that's what I'm really interested in. Why people behave in certain ways and what sort of factors come into play to make them into the people they become. That's been true for all the books, but especially in the third book [The Lost Man]. It was a really interesting character study for me as I wrote it.

Jane Harper
Barbara: So, in your new book, the landscape turns out to be the murder weapon. Can you tell us about the-- this all happens right at the beginning so no spoilers-- stockman's grave and how the person dies in its vicinity?

Jane: In the first pages of The Lost Man, we open up with the death of a man. He's found in the middle of nowhere on this really isolated cattle property. He's the middle one of three brothers. They're all grown up, they're all outback men through and through, they know what they're doing out there. This particular man is found miles from his home and his car, and he's found dead at one of the few manmade landmarks in the area-- the stockman's grave. It's not a real landmark, but it is based on real things that I discovered during my research.

In the outback, they can have these instances where someone has died in the middle of nowhere, and if they're lucky someone has come along later and put up a bit of a memorial to them. You can be out in the desert and come across one of these incredibly ornate graves standing all alone, and I thought that it was such a striking visual that I just had to put it in the book.

Barbara: How long did it take your character to die?

Jane: When I went out there to do my research, I had a really strong idea of what I wanted to have happen. I remember thinking that maybe I exaggerated the dangers here but I can probably get away with it. When I actually got there I realized that I'd completely underestimated the dangers in terms of the length of time people survive. If you're really unlucky, it can be a matter of hours. We're not even talking a full day. That really surprised me.

Available Now!
Barbara: I think of Queensland as crocodiles and jungle. [chuckles from audience] I do! I was really interested in the size that Queensland must be-- didn't you say that they were five hundred miles west of Brisbane... for your locale in this book?

Jane: Yes, Queensland is huge. It's the biggest state. It's very diverse. The town in the book is fictional but geographically it's based on the town where I went to do my research. To get there I had to fly to Brisbane then to a town five hundred kilometers west, and from there I met a police officer who-- he's a fascinating man-- who'd lived in Birdville, this tiny outback town, for ten years. He singlehandedly policed an area the size of England all on his own. [sounds of amazement from audience] That was his job for a decade, so he was an amazing resource as you can imagine.

I met him and he very kindly offered to drive me on this sort of bizarre, epic road trip that lasted eleven hours and nine hundred kilometers (which is about six hundred miles) across the desert outback. During those eleven hours, we saw fifteen cars the entire time, and some of those were traveling convoys. He told me his stories and he answered all my questions. He introduced me to all sorts of people: the Aboriginal elders, the nurse who drives the ambulance... I ran all my different scenarios past him. It was a really fascinating trip.

Barbara: Are you finding that doing this is bringing you a greater knowledge of your own country?

Jane: It definitely is. The kind of area the book is set in is something that most Australians are very aware of, but in terms of actually getting out there, it's quite a trek. It took me ages to even get there and once you're there you're stuck there-- like there's only a plane in and out once a week. Accommodations are few and far between. It's a trip that not a lot of Australians actually get to make.

Barbara: And it's someplace you might not have gone if you hadn't been writing this book.

Jane Harper
Jane: You're right. I'm a full-time author now, and I'm really impressed by how willing people are to help authors. I knew this as a journalist, but I was used to being attached to a newspaper and being able to just pick up the phone. I wasn't sure if I were just an author writing a book that people would still be so willing to help.

I think people love talking about themselves and their experiences, and if you're genuinely interested and willing to listen and be accurate they're happy to help you.

Barbara: I think you're right. We've had hundreds of authors sit here and say that.

So you like to write stories that have a fairly limited number of suspects? Where this crime takes place, there are not a lot of people, so you have a small pool of potential suspects. We're pretty sure that he didn't go out there to commit suicide. That would be an awful way to die. What's the trick for you as a novelist with a small cast to keep it going and to cast your red herrings and clues about and make it interesting?

Jane: I always enjoy having quite a tight cast of characters. I find it easier as a writer to keep characters under control. And as a reader as well. I hate it when you're reading these books where a character-- the killer-- gets dropped in at the last minute and you haven't gotten a chance to get to know him. There's a fine line between surprising and tricking the reader, and you always want to come down on the side of surprise.

Available Now!
Barbara: In your second book [Force of Nature], there was the classic so many people went into the woods and one fewer came back. That's a wonderful structure. That was a different landscape from the one we've been talking about. What drew you to that?

Jane: Force of Nature was, again, set in a remote area, but this time it was bushland in the winter. It was a fictional area outside Melbourne. A group of women goes on a corporate retreat, team-building sort of exercise, hiking in the woods.

There were a few reasons why I chose that. One was that I consciously did not want to write another book like The Dry. I was so delighted with The Dry and the response to it from readers, but I think it would have been a mistake to try and replicate that. It's important to push yourself and explore new ideas. I wanted to set it somewhere different but still recognizably Australian, and I thought the dense bushland was a great option.

Barbara: Is there anything you'd like to say about The Lost Man that I haven't asked you or that hasn't come up?

Jane: I really loved writing this book. It was so much fun, and the whole thing was something that I thoroughly enjoyed. The research stage through to exploring the new characters. Oh! I should mention this. The Lost Man is a standalone. The first two books had the same recurring character, Aaron Falk, but I knew that the setting for this book wouldn't work for him unless he was on holiday. [audience laughter] It was really enjoyable for me to get to know these new characters and sort of to build out from scratch. I still find myself thinking about the characters from The Lost Man, especially Nate. Unpacking all the background that made him the man he is was really interesting for me as a writer.

Jane Harper
Barbara: It's a book that you don't want a sequel to. You want it to end where it ends and then you can imagine what their lives might be like. Which is the way I always felt about Gone With the Wind. I never really wanted to know what happened after she went back to Tara. [audience laughter] I've said this before: Rebecca ended when the house burned down, and all these tiresome things like Mrs. deWinter... who wanted to know? That wasn't really the point.

Jane, your book has had great international success. You won the British Gold Dagger for The Dry. For those of you who don't know, that's the British Crime Writers Association's highest award. We have the Edgar in the United States, we have the Ned Kelly Award in Australia, and in Canada, we have the Arthur Ellis Award, which is really kind of gruesome because it's a little man hanging from a gibbet-- Arthur Ellis was the hangman of Canada-- who was Ned Kelly?

Jane: He was a bushranger-- quite a dangerous and notorious man who shot a policeman. You've probably seen illustrations showing him wearing the helmet he fashioned out of a bucket? He's gone down in Australian legend.

Barbara: What does the award look like? The Edgar is a sort of peculiar bust of Edgar Allan Poe, and the Dagger is, obviously, the dagger, but what does the Ned Kelly look like?

Jane: It actually is his mask, [audience laughter] so it's a wooden frame with this sort of metal mask on it. It's a nice-looking award.

Jane Harper
Barbara: This is the first time you've toured the United States. Have you toured the UK? Obviously, you must've gone around Australia. Do you find differences in going around the various countries in the reactions you get?

Jane: I've done quite a bit of touring in Australia, but this is the first time I've been in the States, and it's really great to be able to have the chance to do that. I've been over in the UK a little bit for The Dry. I went to the Harrogate Crime Festival. That was really interesting. It's an event full of enthusiasts who come from miles around. It's so well attended. Everyone comes every year and they all know each other. There's a very festive atmosphere.

It can be very interesting. Sometimes you do get some slightly different takes on the book. In Australia, they're more familiar with the settings of the books, so there's a sort of shorthand in use; we don't have to discuss some things to the degree I have to elsewhere-- especially in Europe. Like here, you guys know heat and you know space. I think there are a lot of similarities with Australia here as well.


It was then time for the Q&A section of the event, which I'm not going to transcribe. I'm always conscious of not wanting to take up all your time. If you haven't already, I certainly hope that you take the time to get your hands on a copy of The Lost Man and read it. It's on my Best Reads of 2019 list, so you know I loved it!

For those of you who would like to watch/listen to the event in its entirety, here is the link to it on The Poisoned Pen's Youtube channel.

Friday, April 12, 2019

A Feeling Puny Weekly Link Round-Up

Folks in my family very seldom ever said they were "sick" or "ill" or "didn't feel good." No. We tended to say we weren't "up to snuff," or we were "feeling puny." And if you asked us how we felt while we were under the weather, we'd most likely say "with our fingers." When we were feeling better? "I'm able to sit up and take nourishment." See? I've always talked funny, and it's only gotten worse after years of living with a British submariner.

To get back on track, I've had a feeling puny week, and pollen is the main culprit. More than plentiful winter rains have led to super blooms of every flowering plant in the valley, and you can practically do the backstroke through all the pollen in the air. The last time I remember it being so bad was back in the late 1970s when monster winter rains led to 500-year floods. (Yes, I had to move to the desert to experience 100- and 500-year floods.)

What kind of patient I am can probably be best shown by a photo I took at the Phoenix Zoo before I went down for the count.

Like the cheetah, I turn my back and sleep. And don't come in too often to ask me how I feel! (With my fingers, remember?) But I am well on the way to being my usual bright-eyed and bushy-tailed self, so let's take a look at those links!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
  • C.J. Box on drones, cowboys, and the American West.
  • Forensic genealogists at Parabon NanoLabs are using DNA databases to solve cold cases faster than anyone could have imagined. But how will their techniques hold up in court? 
  • Elly Griffiths explores the landscapes of Gothic fiction through the ages.
  • A landlord wants a Brooklyn man out of his home of 46 years. Why? Because he has too many books.
  • Our love affair with eBooks is over.
  • Emily Dickinson's black cake was boozy and delicious. 
  • An entertainment advertising executive explains what movie posters communicate through their color schemes.
  • Alexandra Dumas's magnum opus was a massive cookbook.

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
  • The medieval masterpiece, the Book of Kells, is now digitized and put online.
  • On display: a stunning Viking bead necklace belonging to a pagan sorceress. 
  • Recently unearthed documents reveal the day-to-day life of Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • An ancient Babylonian artifact that was seized at Heathrow Airport in London has been returned to Iraq.
  • Henry VIII's famous sunken warship the Mary Rose had an African crew.
  • A study has found that Bronze Age Irish bog butter is actually made from dairy.
  • A study has found that paintings featuring blue and red hues sell for the most money at auction.
  • The striking jade death mask of ancient Mayan King Pakal the Great is on display in Mexico City.

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • The carcasses that mountain lions leave behind power entire insect ecosystems.
  • Birds and humans are depicted together in this rare scene from 12,000 years ago.
  • Scientists have reawakened cells from a 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth.
  • In memory of Yellowstone Wolf 926F.
  • A hot and thirsty koala seeks cool refuge in the air-conditioned environment of a winemaker's car. (And animals are stupid, eh?)
  • An orangutan was shot 74 times. She survived.
  • The first-ever fossilized mother bird with an unlaid egg has been found.
  • The high-tech, humane ways biologists can identify individual animals.

►The Happy Wanderer◄

►I ♥ Lists◄

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!

Sunday, April 07, 2019

On My Radar: Craig Johnson's Land of Wolves!

It's no secret that I'm a huge Craig Johnson/ Walt Longmire fan; I have been since Johnson's first book, The Cold Dish. I've been to several of his events at The Poisoned Pen, I've sat at a table with him while he autographed books and interacted with other fans... well, I just might be a groupie. So any time I find out about a new Craig Johnson book, it's time for celebration.

Let's see what Craig's got in store for us on September 17, shall we?

Available September 17, 2019!


"Attempting to recover from his harrowing experiences in Mexico, in Land of Wolves Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire is neck deep in the investigation of what could or could not be the suicidal hanging of a shepherd. With unsettling connections to a Basque family with a reputation for removing the legs of Absaroka County sheriffs, matters become even more complicated with the appearance of an oversize wolf in the Big Horn Mountains to which Walt finds himself feeling more and more empathetic."

It's been a while since Walt has had anything to do with the Basques, so I'm looking forward to that, and-- critter lover that I am-- I'm also looking forward to that big wolf. I know the wolf will have a special part in the book.

Hurry up, September! I want to get my hands on a copy of Land of Wolves!