Thursday, May 26, 2022

A Help Me Decide Weekly Link Round-Up


Denis has had his MRI. The front garden is a bit torn up waiting for the forms to be laid and concrete to be poured for new, scooter-friendly paths. So, it's a bit of a waiting game. Denis's spirits continue to improve, and I can't tell you how much that brightens my day, but right now, we're in a waiting game, so I thought I'd ask for your opinion on something.

I'm just about to finish my third and final Christmas afghan, and I've chosen this pattern for my next one.

"Sand Dunes" Pattern Afghan

I want to use either a soft pale gray yarn or a soft light blue yarn. Here's where y'all come in. Which color do you prefer?
If you prefer this one, leave a comment saying "Gray."

If you prefer this one, leave a comment saying "Blue."

By the way, if you've already responded on my Facebook page, there's no need to do it again. Thanks for your input, and enjoy the links!


►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
►Book Banning & Censorship◄
►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
►Channeling My Inner Elly May Clampett◄
►The Wanderer◄
►Fascinating Folk◄
►I ♥ Extra-Long Book 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.
Stay safe. Stay healthy, And don't forget to curl up with a good book!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A Familiar Sight by Brianna Labuskes

First Line: The lace curtain created patterns of splattered light on the back of Reed Ken'ts hand as he held the wispy fabric away from the window, just far enough so that he had a clear view of the Porsche pulling to the curb.
Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White is Boston homicide detective Patrick Shaughnessy's go-to person for help in solving important cases, but that doesn't mean he's forgotten about her past. Accused of murdering her aunt when just a child, White is a self-professed non-violent sociopath-- and Shaughnessy still thinks she got away with murder.
When teenager Viola Kent is accused of killing her mother, the case seems open and shut. The public has already tried and convicted the girl. But Dr. Gretchen White isn't so sure because she sees something in Viola that no one else can: herself. And if Viola is indeed a scapegoat, then who really did it? This is something White is determined to find out, regardless whose toes she has to step on.


None of the characters in Labuskes' A Familiar Sight really reached out and grabbed me. It was the puzzle of the plot that kept me hooked. Filthy rich Dr. Gretchen White who refuses to lock the doors of her Porsche and loves toying with people always remained a bit gimmicky to me instead of feeling human. Marconi, the sergeant assigned to follow White around, was the only character that piqued my interest.  She had the smarts to adapt to White's idiosyncrasies, and both White and I appreciated her skills.

A lot of your reactions to this book will hinge on how you feel about Gretchen White. May you get along with her better than I did. Even though the story is compelling, the characters aren't calling me back for more.
A Familiar Sight by Brianna Labuskes
eISBN: 9781542027342
Thomas & Mercer © 2021
eBook, 369 pages
Psychological Suspense, #1 Dr. Gretchen White
Rating: B-
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Oh, the Places You'll Go With an Imagination!

"Boy Reading Adventure Story" by Norman Rockwell, 1923

In my younger days, Norman Rockwell was a favorite artist of mine, and some of his work can still make me smile. When I came across this particular piece recently, it made me realize (once again) that I'm not quite mainstream. Within the past few years, I've read articles about children needing books that they can imagine themselves in. If the child is Hispanic or Native American or Asian or... fill in the blank... they need to see characters in the stories they read that look like them, characters that behave like them, characters that live in the same sort of places they do. The first time I read such an article, I have to admit that I was a bit surprised, and this is why I said earlier that I have to remember that I'm not mainstream.
See that boy in Rockwell's painting? I can look at that painting and feel myself right in the middle of it. I'm that child reading that story and envisioning my armor glinting in the sun while I rescue someone in distress. (Did you actually think I'd be the damsel on the back of the horse? *snort*) I can see myself reaching down to scratch my dog's ears, telling him that we'd head for the creek as soon as I finished this chapter. I don't need to have a book present a mirror image of myself for me to put myself into the story.
But I can see how other people-- especially children-- do need that little extra boost, and I'm all for it. Only by embracing and celebrating our differences can we humans have a prayer of reaching our full potential, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is through the stories that we share. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

No Beast So Fierce by Dane Huckelbridge

First Lines from Prologue: We do not know the year. Nor does history record the poacher's name. But around the turn of the twentieth century, somewhere on the terai near the Kanchanpur District of western Nepal, a man made a terrible mistake.
In Nepal at the turn of the twentieth century, a poacher shoots a tigress in the mouth. The tigress survives, but her injuries mean that she has to find a different source of prey in order to survive. That source of prey? Humans. Moving in and out of the shadows, the tigress becomes extremely successful. By 1907, she has become the deadliest animal in recorded history with over 430 kills.

With government officials at a complete loss, a young local hunter is called upon to stop the tigress before she can strike again. The hunter is railroad employee Jim Corbett who must transform himself into a detective on the trail of a serial killer in order to put a stop to the Champawat Tiger. 


Part social history, part natural history, part conservation treatise, part detective story, No Beast So Fierce is a comprehensive description of the reign of terror one tigress had over sections of Nepal and India at the turn of the twentieth century. I had come across mentions of the Champawat Tiger several times in my reading, and since my reading was in fiction, I wasn't aware that this tigress was real. When I stumbled across Huckelbridge's book, I knew I had to read it, especially since tigers are one of my two favorite big cats.

One of the most important things Huckelbridge did for me in his book was to give me a much greater respect for tigers. I knew they were marvelous creatures but didn't really understand just how wonderful they are. A tiger is "nature's nearest equivalent to a short-range missile," and to put what the Champawat Tiger did into perspective, she "very nearly consumed the entire NBA."

Hearing this, many people would want nothing more than to kill the tigress and put an end to the whole thing. Done and dusted. No more thought required. The second important thing Huckelbridge does in No Beast So Fierce is to prove that the Champawat Tiger was an entirely man-made disaster. Through many thoughtless government decisions, the tigress's killing field was created, and for anyone interested in the natural world, it is fascinating to read how this was done.

The third important thing that Huckelbridge did was to bring Jim Corbett to my attention. The final scenes where he and the Champawat Tiger meet are extremely tense and almost gave me the impression that I'd fallen into a thriller, and although his success meant that Corbett became the Go-To man for tracking and killing man-eaters, fate had much more in store for him. Corbett wasn't just a killer. In fact, he became one of the stalwarts of the conservation effort to save the Royal Bengal tiger.

If you love wildlife and want to immerse yourself in an engrossing piece of history, I suggest reading No Beast So Fierce. It's an eye-opener and proves once again that if some species of wildlife becomes a "problem" we humans need to look to ourselves to see what we did to create it.

No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History
eISBN: 9780062678874
William Morrow © 2019
eBook, 304 pages
Non-Fiction, Standalone
Rating: B
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

On My Radar: Jenn McKinlay's The Plot and the Pendulum!


I'm a long-time fan of Jenn McKinlay, both as a writer and as a person. She's talented, kind, thoughtful, and oh so funny. (Fact-finding conducted through author events and shared meals.) Even though the sour-puss librarian in Jenn's Library Lovers cozy series shares my surname, it is my sincerest wish that I could walk past Ms. Cole at the reference desk and join in the Crafternoons at the Briar Creek Public Library. Since this series numbers among my favorites, you know I was dancing a little jig when I learned that there will be a new one. Let me tell you more about it! 
Available October 11, 2022!

"Library director Lindsey Norris is happy to learn the Briar Creek Public Library is the beneficiary of the Dorchester family’s vast book collection. However, when Lindsey and the library staff arrive at the old Victorian estate to gather the books, things take a sinister turn. One of the bookcases reveals a secret passage, leading to a room where a skeleton is found, clutching an old copy of The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe.
Lindsey does a quick check of missing persons, using the distinctive 80s era clothing worn by the deceased to determine a time frame, and discovers that Briar Creek has an unsolved missing person’s case from 1989. A runaway bride went missing just weeks after her wedding. No suspects were ever arrested and the cold case remains unsolved. Lindsey and the crafternoon crew decide that justice is overdue and set about solving the old murder mystery, using some novel ideas to crack the case.
Halloween? An old Victorian mansion? A secret passageway? A secret room? A skeleton? I can't wait to read this one!
How many of you are fellow Library Lovers fans?

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Tenterhooks Weekly Link Round-Up


Yesterday (Tuesday), Denis had his picc line removed. We had a celebratory dinner, and I'm certainly not missing all the times each day when there would be volleys of oaths filling the air as the tubing from the infusion pump caught on Denis's toes or wrapped itself around the steering wheel of his scooter.
Now it's a waiting game. Denis goes in for an MRI next week to see (1) if the infection is gone, and (2) what exactly is wrong with his spine. We're hoping that the infection is gone because then the doctors can get to work on what's causing the awful pain in his spine. There was no way they could do any sort of procedure with that infection in residence. Fingers crossed that the doctors will be able to proceed!
Putting cloth on tenterhooks so it can dry.

Tomorrow will be a first for me. Luckily, we live less than six blocks from our primary care physician because I have an appointment there. In days of yore, Denis would load my scooter on the lift at the back of the Jeep, and we'd motor on over there. With neither of us being able to load the scooter onto the lift, I'm going to have to don my hat and sunscreen, climb aboard my trusty scooter, and make my own way over there. It's only going to be 100° or so, hence the hat and sunscreen. It probably wouldn't hurt to take a bottle of water along, too.
Sheesh. It sounds like I'm going on safari, doesn't it?
(By the way, have you ever heard the expression "being on tenterhooks"? Centuries ago, people would have to hang newly washed cloth outside on tenterhooks so it could dry. Problem is, thieves loved to come along and steal their hard work, hence the folks being on tenterhooks waiting for their cloth to dry.)
Enjoy the links!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
►Book Banning & Censorship◄
►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
►Channeling My Inner Elly May Clampett◄
►The Wanderer◄
►Fascinating Folk◄
►I ♥ Book Lists◄
►I ♥ Non-Book 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.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And don't forget to curl up with a good book!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Water's Edge by G.R. Jordan

First Line: The dreary haar hung around the harbour limits meaning anything beyond the small lighthouse was abandoned to the grey blanket.
Twenty years ago, Detective Inspector Seoras Macleod left the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland due to the tragic death of his wife. Since then, he's made a name for himself as a strong religious conservative who doesn't think women have a place on the police force--but his views are tolerated because he's very good at his job.
A young woman's death on the Isle of Lewis sees Macleod returning home to find her killer, and he's partnered with free-spirited Detective Sergeant Hope McGrath. 
Solving this crime means Macleod must face everything he turned his back on all those years ago.
To be honest, I almost stopped reading this book. The main character's religious conservatism had me grinding my teeth and muttering to myself as I read. The two things that made me keep turning the pages were its location (outside of Arizona, the highlands and islands of Scotland are my favorite place in the world) and the fact that I really did want to find out who killed Sara, a young woman who led a very interesting life.
Fortunately for me, the longer Macleod worked with the comely McGrath, the more his religion took a backseat to his lustful thoughts and glances. I didn't really like this development either, but I considered it an improvement over his religious pronouncements.
For me, the story was a strong one. Finding Sara's killer really kept my interest throughout the book. Although not quite as atmospheric as I'd hoped, the setting on the Outer Hebrides was good as well. As far as I'm concerned, the weakness in Water's Edge is in the characters. Once Macleod's lusty thoughts came down off a rolling boil, I did get used to him and was able to see how his mind worked as he worked the case; however, when I learned exactly how his wife committed suicide, yet another red flag went up. As for McGrath, she was a rather standard up-and-coming female police officer.
I enjoyed the mystery in Water's Edge, but with my penchant for strong, vivid characterization, I don't think this is a series that I will continue with. A shame really, since the author chose a setting I find very difficult to resist. 

Water's Edge by G.R. Jordan
eISBN: 9781912153480
Carpetless Publishing © 2019
eBook, 218 pages

Police Procedural, #1 Highlands and Islands Detective mystery
Rating: C+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Art of Reading Comfortably

"Man Reading" by John Singer Sargent

This week's artistic offering is by one of my favorite artists-- and one of the world's best portraitists-- John Singer Sargent. Although known for his oil paintings, Sargent was quite a skilled water colorist as you can see here.

What makes the most impression on me looking at this man reading is the light. The whole painting is suffused with the most wonderful light. The second thing to make an impression on me is that this man certainly knows how to settle in and get supremely comfortable when he has some time to read! (But how can he avoid nodding off after a few minutes?)