Wednesday, June 26, 2019

July 2019 New Mystery Releases!

I don't know where June went. I think it flew by while Denis and I were enjoying ourselves down in Ramsey Canyon. Of course, I've also been keeping myself happily occupied by knitting. Not only have I finished one afghan, but I'm also over halfway done with a second-- and they're going to loved ones living thousands of miles apart.

It's also the time of year when we have visitors from other climes-- like hooded orioles. So far, I've only seen the female, but I know the male is around here somewhere. They always travel as a couple.

But-- you know me-- no matter how occupied I am with other things, I always find time to keep an eye peeled for new crime fiction. The following are my picks for the best new crime fiction being released throughout the month of July. They are grouped by release date, and the book covers and synopses are courtesy of Amazon. Let's see if any of the titles I've chosen tickle your fancy!

=== July 1 ===

Title: The Leaden Heart
Author: Chris Nickson
Series: #7 in the Tom Harper historical series set in 1890s Leeds, England.
224 pages

Synopsis: "Leeds, England. July 1899. The hot summer has been fairly quiet for Detective Superintendent Tom Harper and his squad until a daring burglary occurs at an expensive Leeds address. Then his friend and former colleague, Inspector Billy Reed, asks for his help. Billy’s brother, Charlie, a shopkeeper, has committed suicide. Going through Charlie’s papers, Billy discovers crippling rent rises demanded by his new landlord. Could these have driven him to his death?

As Harper investigates, he uncovers a web of intimidation and corruption that leads back to the mysterious North Leeds Company. Who is pulling the strings behind the scenes and bringing a new kind of misery and violence to the people of Leeds? Harper is determined to unmask the culprits, but how much blood will be shed as he tries?

=== July 2 ===

Title: Almost Midnight
Author: Paul Doiron
Series: #10 in the Mike Bowditch game warden series set in Maine.
320 pages

Synopsis: "While on vacation, Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch receives a strange summons from Billy Cronk, one of his oldest friends and a man he had to reluctantly put behind bars for murder. Billy wants him to investigate a new female prison guard with a mysterious past, and Mike feels honor-bound to help his friend. But when the guard becomes the victim in a brutal attack at the prison, he realizes there may be a darker cover-up at play―and that Billy and his family might be at risk.

Then Mike receives a second call for help, this time from a distant mountain valley where Shadow, a wolf-hybrid he once cared for, has been found shot by an arrow and clinging to life. He searches for the identity of the bowman, but his investigation is blocked at every turn by the increasingly hostile community. And when Billy’s wife and children are threatened, Mike finds himself tested like never before. How can he possibly keep the family safe when he has enemies of his own on his trail?

Torn between loyalties, Mike Bowditch must respond in the only way he knows how: by bending every law and breaking every rule to keep his loved ones safe and the true predators at bay."

Title: Under the Cold Bright Lights
Author: Garry Disher
Standalone police procedural set in south Australia.
313 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "The young detectives think Alan Auhl is washed up, but that doesn’t faze him. He does things his own way—and gets results.

He still lives with his ex-wife, off and on, in a big house full of random boarders and hard-luck stories. And he’s still a cop, even though he retired from Homicide some years ago.

He works cold cases now. Like the death of John Elphick—his daughters are still convinced he was murdered; the coroner is not so sure. Or the skeleton that’s just been found under a concrete slab. Or the doctor who killed two wives and a girlfriend, and left no evidence at all.

Auhl will stick with these cases until justice is done. One way or another.

Title: Heart of Barkness
Author: Spencer Quinn
Series: #9 in the Chet and Bernie P.I. series set in Arizona.
304 pages

Synopsis: "Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in all of crime fiction” (Boston Globe) and P.I. Bernie encounter heartache and much worse in the world of country music. They’re both music lovers, so when Lotty Pilgrim, a country singer from long ago, turns up at a local bar, they drive out to catch her act. Bernie’s surprised to see someone who was once so big performing in such a dive, and drops a C-note the Little Detective Agency can’t afford to part with into the tip jar. The C-note is stolen right from under their noses – even from under Chet’s, the nose that misses nothing – and before the night is over, it’s stolen again. 

Soon they’re working the most puzzling case of their career, a case that takes them back in time in search of old border-town secrets, and into present-day danger where powerful people want those secrets to stay hidden. Chet and Bernie find themselves sucked into a real-life murder ballad where there is no one to trust but each other."

=== July 9 ===

Title: Killing with Confetti
Author: Peter Lovesey
Series: #18 in the Peter Diamond police procedural series set in Bath, England.
336 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "As a New Year begins in Bath, Ben Brace proposes to his long-term girlfriend, Caroline, the daughter of notorious crime baron Joe Irving, who is coming to the end of a prison sentence. The problem is that Ben’s father, George, is the Deputy Chief Constable. A more uncomfortable set of in-laws would be hard to imagine. But mothers and sons are a formidable force: a wedding in the Abbey and reception in the Roman Baths are arranged before the career-obsessed DCC can step in.

Peter Diamond, Bath’s head of CID, is appalled to be put in charge of security on the day. Ordered to be discreet, he packs a gun and a guest list in his best suit and must somehow cope with potential killers, gang rivals, warring parents, bossy photographers, and straying bridesmaids. The laid-back Joe Irving seems oblivious to the danger he is in from rival gang leaders, while Brace can’t wait for the day to end. Will the photo session be a literal shoot? Will Joe Irving’s speech as the father of the bride be his last words? Can Diamond pull off a miracle, avert a tragedy and send the happy couple on their honeymoon?

=== July 11 ===

Title: No Fixed Line
Author: Dana Stabenow
Series: #22 in the Kate Shugak P.I. series set in Alaska.
336 pages

Synopsis: "It is New Year’s Eve, nearly six weeks into an off-and-on blizzard that has locked Alaska down, effectively cutting it off from the outside world. But now there are reports of a plane down in the Quilak mountains. With the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board—responsible for investigating aviation incidents) unable to reach the crash site, ex-Trooper Jim Chopin is pulled out of retirement to try to identify the aircraft, collect the corpses, and determine why no flight has been reported missing. But Jim discovers survivors: two children who don’t speak a word of English. Meanwhile, PI Kate Shugak receives an unexpected and unwelcome accusation from beyond the grave, a charge that could change the face of the Park forever.

=== July 16 ===

Title: Cliff Hanger
Author: Mary Feliz
Series: #5 in the Maggie McDonald cozy series set in northern California.
226 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "Maggie has her work cut out for her helping Renée Alvarez organize her property management office. Though the condominium complex boasts a prime location on the shores of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, aging buildings and the high-maintenance tenants have Renée run ragged. But Maggie’s efforts are complicated when her sons attempt to rescue a badly injured man who crashed his ultra-light on the coastal cliffs.

Despite their efforts to save him, the man dies. Maggie's family members become the prime suspects in a murder investigation and the target of a lawsuit. Her instincts say something’s out of place, but solving a murder won’t be easy. Maggie still needs to manage her business, the pushy press, and unwanted interest from criminal elements. Controlling chaos is her specialty, but with this killer’s crime wave, Maggie may be left hanging . . .

Title: Shamed
Series: #11 in the Kate Burkholder police procedural series set in Ohio.
304 pages

Synopsis: "The peaceful town of Painters Mill is shattered when an Amish grandmother is brutally murdered on an abandoned farm. When Chief of Police Kate Burkholder arrives on the scene, she learns that the woman’s seven-year-old granddaughter is gone, abducted in plain sight. Kate knows time is against her—the longer the girl is missing, the less likely her safe return becomes. The girl’s family is a pillar of the Amish community, well-respected by all. But Kate soon realizes they’re keeping secrets—and the sins of their past may be coming back to haunt them. What are they hiding and why?

Kate’s investigation brings her to an isolated Old Order Amish settlement along the river, a community where family is everything and tradition is upheld with an iron fist. But the killer is close behind, drawing more victims into a twisted game of revenge. Left behind at each new crime scene are cryptic notes that lead Kate to a haunting and tragic secret. What she uncovers threatens to change everything she thought she knew about the family she’s fighting for, the Amish community as a whole—and her own beliefs.

As time to find the missing girl runs out, Kate faces a harrowing choice that will test her convictions and leave one family forever changed."

Title: The Other Mrs. Miller
Standalone, Domestic Thriller
352 pages

Synopsis: "Phoebe Miller isn't sure when the rusty car started showing up in the cul-de-sac she calls home, or why its driver would be spying on her. What could be interesting about an unhappy housewife who drowns her sorrows in ice cream and wine and barely leaves her house?

When a new family moves in across the street--the exuberant Vicki, who just might become the gossipy best friend Phoebe's always wanted, and her handsome college-bound son, Jake, who offers companionship of a different variety--Phoebe finds her dull routine infused with the excitement she's been missing. But with her head turned she's no longer focused on the woman in the car. And she really should be...

=== July 30 ===

Title: Let's Fake a Deal
Author: Sherry Harris
Series: #7 in the Sarah W. Garage Sale cozy series set in Massachusetts.
304 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "As a former military spouse, Sarah Winston’s learned a little about organizing, packing, and moving. Her latest project sounds promising: a couple of tech-industry hipsters, newly arrived in her Massachusetts town, who need to downsize. Unfortunately, when Sarah tries to sell their stuff, she discovers it’s all stolen—and she’s the unwitting fence.

Michelle, an old friend of Sarah’s from the Air Force base, is in line for a promotion—but not everyone is happy about it, and she’s been hit with an anonymous discrimination complaint. When one of the men she suspects is behind the accusations turns up dead in Michelle’s car, Sarah needs to clear Michelle’s name—as well as her own for selling hot merchandise. And she’ll have to do it while also organizing a cat lady’s gigantic collection of feline memorabilia, or they’ll be making room for Sarah in a jail cell . . . 

Title: Needled to Death
Author: Annelise Ryan
Series: #1 in the Helping Hands cozy series set in Wisconsin.
336 pages

Synopsis: "As a colleague of deputy coroner Mattie Winston, social worker Clothilde “Hildy” Schneider is no stranger to unsolved murders at Sorenson General Hospital. Except this time, it’s up to her to crack the case . . .

Motivated by her own difficult past, Hildy has an unparalleled commitment to supporting troubled clients through grief and addiction in Sorenson, Wisconsin. But when a distraught group therapy member reveals disturbing details about her late son’s potential murder, Hildy goes from dedicated mental health professional to in-over-her-head amateur sleuth . . .

Alongside her loyal therapy Golden Retriever, Hildy stumbles through incriminating clues—and an unlikely partnership with Detective Bob Richmond, the irresistibly headstrong cop who shares her passion for helping others. With signs of foul play surfacing all over town, can Hildy and Detective Richmond pinpoint the deadly traits of a sharp-witted killer before another seat gets filled at grief therapy?

There's some pretty good reading material coming up in July, isn't there? Hopefully, I've helped you add a title or two to your own wishlists. Have a happy reading summer!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Clause & Effect by Kaitlyn Dunnett

First Line: "Oh, no. You're not roping me into this."

The town of Lenape Hollow, nestled in the Catskill Mountains, is getting ready to celebrate the 225th anniversary of its founding. Freelance editor Mikki Lincoln has been roped into updating and correcting the script from the bicentennial play-- what the town movers and shakers believe to be an easy and effective way to keep down the costs of the celebration.

When Mikki goes to the historical society to take a look at that old script, she finds that the building is being given its first facelift since the bicentennial, and that's not all that's discovered: a construction worker finds a human skeleton walled up in a fireplace.

When a new murder rocks the town, Mikki finds that she's gone from editing an old script and trying to solve a cold case to trying to stay one step ahead of a killer who really wanted those skeletons to stay in that fireplace closet.

Mikki Lincoln moved away from Lenape Hollow, got married, raised a family, and lost her husband. Now, years later, she's moved back, and she's constantly learning how her hometown has changed while she was gone. Mikki may be sixtysomething and wear hearing aids and glasses, but she seldom misses a trick when it comes to grammar or murder. I really enjoy this character, although I certainly didn't enjoy how everyone forced her into dealing with that script for the play. As you know, when you get roped into something after being told over and over again that it's just "this one little thing that won't take but a minute," that one little thing rapidly turns into a time-consuming rattlesnake den of problems. I did notice, however, that once the cold case popped up, Mikki stopped complaining about missed earnings. She's definitely got the amateur sleuth bug.

She's also got an old school acquaintance named Ronnie who always bulldozes everyone in her path into doing things her way. I would dearly love a future book in this series to have Ronnie be forced to do everyone else's bidding. What deliciousness!

Luke makes his first appearance in Clause & Effect, and I'm hoping that he'll return; otherwise, he's a bit of a wasted character. And while we're talking about residents of Lenape Hollow, there's Calpurnia, the de rigueur cozy mystery pet. Calpurnia is for those cat lovers who only require their felines to demand food constantly and occasionally deign to be cuddled. (I know, more action from the cat detracts from the mystery. It's just the dog lover coming out in me.)

As you can tell, I've fallen under the spell of the cast of characters, and Dunnett knows how to write a strong mystery as well. I wonder what sort of trouble Mikki Lincoln will find herself in next?

Clause & Effect by Kaitlyn Dunnett
eISBN: 9781496712585
Kensington Books © 2019
eBook, 288 pages

Cozy Mystery, #2 Deadly Edits mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Relaxing in Ramsey Canyon, Part Two (Gobble, Gobble)

Today, I'm sharing more photos from the days we spent in a cabin in Ramsey Canyon which is about ten miles south of Sierra Vista, Arizona (and not all that far away from the Mexican border). The cabin may not have been much, but it had a million dollar deck that made our vacation something very special.

This week, I'll show you some photos of the second wave from the Welcome Wagon that came to check us out. I don't know how many of you have ever seen wild turkeys, but they are completely different from domestic turkeys. I know hunters who are thrilled if they can bag a wild turkey because they are extremely smart and quick, while domestic turkeys seem to have had all their intelligence bred out of them. Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird instead of the bald eagle? It's true! So I considered it a privilege to be able to watch about a dozen turkeys up close and personal so I could see a bit of their behavior.

Speaking of behavior, on their first visit, the big tom turkey came up first to sample our buffet while the rest of the family kept back. He didn't eat much, then he walked off and stood guard while the rest of the family ate. After the first visit, that protocol was not followed again. (Hmmm... perhaps he was the Royal Taster?) 

Let's get started!

This bird was the first to notice that there were two new folks in the neighborhood.

Soon the whole family came by to check us out.

They spent a good deal of time in grooming. I was sad that I never got a decent photo that showed how beautiful the males' feathers can be-- rusts, greens, blues, and reds that glowed in the sunlight.

As you can see, as long as we didn't move much, they weren't shy.

When it came time for a Sunday afternoon nap, they didn't get as close as the deer, but they did get comfortable and snooze away-- although they took turns being the sentinel bird.

A face only a mother could love.

One afternoon, a big gust of wind came down through the canyon and blew my bag of popcorn across the deck, spilling about half the contents. Denis started wondering where a broom was, but I told him not to worry about it. Sure enough, within minutes of our going inside, the maid came to tidy up. (Didn't miss a single piece either!) ~db~

There you have some turkey photos. Next week, I'll share some with fur and scales. I hope you're enjoying Ramsey Canyon! And just in case you missed it, you can check out Part One of this series.

Friday, June 21, 2019

A Some Things Take Time Weekly Link Round-Up

If you're not blessed with patience, you may not want to grow some native cactus species. For example, a saguaro is usually at least fifty years old before it starts putting out its first arm. When we had our property desert landscaped, we were told that it took two years before plants like saguaros or ocotillos decided that they wanted to live where they'd been transplanted.

As part of that desert landscaping about thirteen years ago, we had a golden barrel cactus planted. Jimmy the barrel cactus had a very rough start to life here at Casa Kittling. A former neighbor next-door received an air rifle for his birthday. Not content with shooting holes in our windows and our Jeep, the lovely child shot Jimmy several times. I don't know about you, but if I were shot several times, I'd probably turn up my toes and die, but Jimmy hung on.

Years passed, and Jimmy grew very slowly, but as you can see in the photo, he's decided it's time to throw caution to the wind and enjoy life. Not only is he flowering, but he's grown a sizable schnoz, and this year, he's even growing an ear. I know. I know. You're all probably wondering why I named a barrel cactus to begin with-- and why did I name it Jimmy? Because of his schnoz, that's why. Anyone want to guess what Jimmy's surname is? I think I'll hum a little "inka dinka dink" on the way out to the corral...

Head 'em up! Moooove 'em out!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • A raft of otters performs an unintentionally synchronized swimming routine across an inlet.
  • Australia has several new dragon lizard species-- and one may already be extinct.
  • Two captive Beluga whales are heading to a first-of-its-kind sanctuary in Iceland.
  • Ortolans, songbirds enjoyed as a French delicacy, are being eaten into extinction.
  • Chimpanzees have been seen cracking open tortoise shells, which is a first. 
  • Five things to know about Botswana's decision to lift its ban on hunting elephants.
  • A street singer was being ignored by everyone...until four kittens showed up.

►Fascinating Folk◄

►The Happy Wanderer◄
  • There's no wrong way to set a mystery novel in Ireland.
  • Step inside "Leninka," Russia's largest and oldest library.

►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, June 20, 2019

Save Me from Dangerous Men by S.A. Lelchuk

First Line: The bar was over in West Oakland.

Oakland, California's Nikki Griffin wears many hats. She owns The Brimstone Magpie Bookstore, and she's also a private investigator. But there's another hat she wears. A more clandestine one. She tracks down dangerous men who have hurt the women they claim to love. Once found, Nikki teaches these men what it feels like to be hurt and helpless so that their victims are safe from them forever.

When Nikki is hired by a tech company to follow an employee who's allegedly selling secrets, she has to break cover and intervene when the woman's life is threatened. Karen tells Nikki that there are dangerous men after her and that she'll tell Nikki what's really going on. But then something goes wrong. Now Nikki is no longer just solving a case-- she's fighting to stay alive.

When I read a synopsis of Save Me from Dangerous Men that said Nikki Griffin likes to teach abusive men a lesson, I was reminded of Sophie Littlefield's award-winning Stella Hardesty series about a 50-year-old domestic violence survivor who helps other abused women. That synopsis also compared Nikki to Lisbeth Salander, Jack Reacher, and Jessica Jones. Once I started reading the book, I felt those comparisons were a bit tenuous, but I saw another one. Anyone out there watched the film The Blind Side? I think Nikki Griffin scored just as high in "protective instincts" as Michael Oher. She simply cannot stand the thought of anyone getting hurt on her watch, and she will go to extraordinary lengths to prevent it.

From all these comparisons, you might think that Save Me from Dangerous Men is a copycat, riding on the coattails of books that have gone before. If you get right down to it, most books are. The ideas may be the same, but it's what authors do with those ideas that make the difference, and S.A. Lelchuk has created a strong, interesting main character. (Besides, most comparisons in the world of publishing are attempts to buttonhole a book in order to get readers to buy, buy, buy.)

I would have been happy with Nikki just because she has a fabulous used bookstore, The Brimstone Magpie, the name of which is a reference to Charles Dickens' Bleak House. Then there's the ZEBRAS reading group whose stated purpose is the "Solving of Crimes, Reading of Mysteries, and Nitpicking of Everything." (And may I just say here that I wish there'd been a bit more of the ZEBRAS in the book.) But there's more to Nikki than her bookstore. Her voice drew me right into the story and kept me in. For the first time, she's met a special fellow and actually wants the relationship to work. Plus... she doesn't own a cell phone, and she has some ninja skills that will make you sit up and take notice.

The story is a strong one, and I loved the twist at the end. What I did tire of from time to time is Nikki's propensity to get into violent situations. I think it must be the stage of life I'm in because I would really love to have characters get out of situations by using their brains instead of violence. However-- and it's a big however-- the violent situations in this book are not gratuitous, they are not bloody or gory, many of them are not carried out to their conclusions, and all of them serve to illustrate Nikki's character.

Save Me from Dangerous Men has a fast-paced story and a kickass main character. I look forward to reading the next Nikki Griffin mystery.

Save Me from Dangerous Men by S.A. Lelchuk
eISBN: 9781250170255
Flatiron Books © 2019
eBook, 336 pages

Private Investigator, #1 Nikki Griffin mystery
Rating: A-
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Guardians of the Night by Alan Russell

First Line: Wrong Pauley made sure no one was around before he started down the alleyway toward his burrow.

Even by the LAPD's standards, there are cases they consider bizarre, and those are the ones the two members of the Special Cases Unit work. This time around, the case Detective Michael Gideon and his German Shepherd partner Sirius are called on to investigate might even be called out of this world.

Ronald "Wrong" Pauley is a homeless man who is convinced that he witnessed the murder of an angel. Even though Gideon and Sirius are already in the middle of trying to identify the "Reluctant Hero" who braved gunfire and tackled a shooter at an elementary school, the brass wants the angel case looked into. When Pauley turns up dead, Gideon and Sirius have their work cut out for them to make sense of these crimes.

Having enjoyed the first book in this series, Burning Man, I looked forward to reading Guardians of the Night. I am one of those people who are very happy that there are more and more mysteries being written that feature working dogs.

Once again, I was treated to smart-aleck Gideon's ability to turn a phrase, and some of his acronyms are going to come in handy (NBH = Nobody Home; D-SAT = Didn't See a Thing). Readers are also treated to information and opinions on poetry, authors, and movies. I do know that I learned a lot about something important to the storyline, but I'm not going to say what it is so you can figure it out for yourself.

I like Russell's way with a fast pace and how he puts a mystery together. There's plenty of misdirection in Guardians of the Night, and you have to pay attention to almost every little thing because it will be part of the solution to both cases by book's end. I also like Russell's characterizations-- especially those of Wrong Pauley, Elle, and the Reluctant Hero.

There's only one thing that bugs me about this book: Gideon is still not paying attention to Sirius's behavior! You'd think if Gideon wound up in hot water a time or two, he'd learn that Sirius knows what he's barking about and pay attention. Maybe by book three?

With the strength of Russell's characters and storylines, you know I'll be moving on to the third book in the series. Bring on Lost Dog!

Guardians of the Night by Alan Russell
eISBN: 9781477825846
Thomas & Mercer © 2014
eBook, 353 pages

Police Procedural, #2 Gideon & Sirius mystery
Rating: A-
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


Relaxing in Ramsey Canyon, Part One: Doe, a Deer...

Denis and I recently spent five days in a cabin at the edge of the Ramsey Canyon Preserve about ten miles south of Sierra Vista, Arizona. (The preserve calls itself the Hummingbird Capital of the U.S.) The cabin was very basic, but that didn't matter because it had what I privately thought of as a million-dollar deck.

In the sky islands of the Huachuca Mountains (wah-CHOO- kuh), the cabin and deck were nestled in the shade of scrub oaks and Ponderosa pine. I spent hours on that deck. I had a book with me, but it stayed on the table while I did my best to wear out my two cameras. There was just too much wildlife to watch. With the preserve right at my doorstep, I could've taken advantage of all sorts of hiking trails or visited the Arizona Folklore Preserve which we had to drive past to get to the cabin. But that deck was my siren song. I couldn't get away from it, and since our primary reason for being there was to relax, I didn't feel bad about it one little bit.

Five days of peace and quiet. Five days of not seeing another soul. Five days of hearing nothing but wildlife and the wind through the trees. I'm not kidding you. It was won-der-fullll!

I'm going to turn our five-day trip into several posts. This way, I can share more photos and relive memories. The owner has the entire property for sale, so I'm hoping that we are able to go back sometime in the future-- especially in mid-August when it's the height of the hummingbird season and when the creek that is within sight of the cabin is running. (We were there during the only time in the year when it doesn't run. Ah well.)

For this first batch of photos, I wouldn't be at all surprised if you start humming "Doe, a deer, a female deer..."

My view when I looked up while sitting on the deck. Twenty degrees cooler here than in Phoenix!

We weren't on the deck any time at all when the Welcome Wagon showed up and wanted to know what's for supper. These are mule deer.

In case you didn't know, deer LOVE apples. As you can see, we already knew this!

What a beautiful face! (And she also knew that Denis was in charge of the apples that day...)

Since the creek wasn't running, Denis made sure to keep all the water receptacles filled. Birdbaths aren't just for birds. 

You can tell by the little knobs on his head that this is a young male. Young male deer certainly don't get much respect from the females-- at least not that we observed. Must have something to do with how males behave once they're grown!

Sunday afternoon, a dozen deer felt comfortable enough around us to lie down and take naps.

I think she wants another apple!

Off in the trees.


I hope you're enjoying your visit to Ramsey Canyon. It will continue next week!

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

First Line: The librarian and her mule spotted it at the same time.

Life is hard for the people of Troublesome Creek, but thanks to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, books can now brighten their days and give them hope. Cussy Mary Carter is one of the area's "book women," and she considers her job a true calling: bringing the light of literacy to people starving for it back in the remote hills and hollows where she lives.

Not everyone is keen on the Library Project or on Cussy Mary. She is a Blue-- her skin a shade of blue unlike anyone else-- and a Blue is often blamed for any hint of trouble. Cussy Mary's going to need every bit of gumption she has to fulfill her duties as Book Woman for she's got to confront age-old prejudice and suspicion.

Having read a non-fiction book about the pack horse librarians of Kentucky, I couldn't resist picking up a copy of Richardson's The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. In a very few pages, I found myself lost in the hills and hollows of Depression-Era Kentucky. The author brings this world to dazzling life, and it's almost impossible not to become emotionally involved with Cussy Mary, her family and acquaintances, and her library patrons.

The work of a pack horse librarian was onerous. In this poverty-stricken area, "make do and mend" was the way life was lived. Old license plates were turned into bookends for the shelves that housed the donated books the librarians took out to the people. Cussy Mary's mule, Junia, is her stalwart companion as well as a character in the book, and the descriptions of the librarians' routes in the mountainous terrain make readers wonder how they ever got through regardless the weather.

Richardson has a way with her characters. Storylines involving Vester Frazier, fellow librarian Queenie, and a loner named Jackson didn't go the way I thought they would, and it was nice to be surprised. From our perspective, reading about the prejudice that Cussy Mary has to deal with is uncomfortable, and it made me extremely angry. As I said earlier, it's impossible not to become emotionally involved with these characters-- especially when people who are slowly dying of starvation are so grateful for the books Cussy Mary brings them that they give her food in thanks.

If you're in the mood for a beautifully written and researched piece of historical fiction, I urge you to get a copy of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. The story and its characters will stick with you for a long time to come.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
eISBN: 9781492671534
Sourcebooks Landmark © 2019
eBook, 320 pages

Historical Fiction, Standalone
Rating: A
Source: Purchased from Amazon.