Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Book Buying, History and the Birth Day Thing

Well, it was a quiet day around the old homestead yesterday. Jo and Fiona headed down to Victoria so Fiona could catch her flight this morning. It did turn out to be a lovely cool, sunny day so I did a bit of yard work. I talked to the ladies briefly this morning. I'm assuming now that Fiona is wending her way to Vancouver to meet her connecting flight back home and Jo is back at the hotel having breakfast before she heads back home. I have to say that the place was very quiet and strange without the missus. I felt at loose ends somewhat. It definitely makes me appreciate it even more when we are both together. Ah well, she'll be home later this afternoon. Time for me to get a bit more yard work done. The sprinkler guys are coming on Friday to set things up for the year so it's good that I managed to get a few things done.

Book Purchases

I was very pleasantly surprised when I checked the mail yesterday to find a book order had arrived. Surprised because it got her so very quickly. I wasn't expecting it for another week or so. Good on you, Awesome Books!! Anyway, I had ordered some continuation series books. These are the three that arrived.

1. Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton. This is one of my cozy mystery series that I like to pick up once or twice a year. Beaton also writes the Hamish MacBeth mysteries. I've got to delve into that one a bit more. The Murderous Marriage is the fifth book in the series. I've completed the 1st four so far and enjoyed them all. Don't expect anything deep and profound, just an entertaining book. The synopsis for this one is below.

"The morning for Agatha's longed-for marriage to James Lacey dawns bright and clear. But her luck runs out in the church when Jimmy, the husband she believed long dead, turns up large as life and twice as ugly. It's all too much for James, who breaks off the engagement.
So when Jimmy is found murdered the next day, Agatha and James are both suspects. And they'll have to work together in order to clear their names..."

2. The Bee's Kiss by Barbara Cleverly. This is the fifth book in the Inspector Joe Sandilands historical mysteries. The first four found Sandilands as an adviser in India during the Raj. The first book, The Last Kashmiri Rose, was acceptable, providing a nice introduction to Sandilands and the time when the story takes place. But as I read the next three books, I found the stories becoming much more interesting. I liked the setting and the time frame and Sandilands' character is developing nicely. This fifth book finds him back in England, once again working with Scotland Yard. This is the synopsis.

"It is 1926 and Joe Sandilands is back from India, enjoying the frantic pleasures of Jazz Age London. Yet there is a darkness behind all that post-war gaiety. A woman has been found bludgeoned to death in her suite at the Ritz. A broken window and missing emerald necklace suggest that it is a burglary gone wrong. But the corpse is that of a much-respected member of the British establishment. Dame Beatrice Jagow-Joliffe, one of the founders of the Wrens, and so Scotland Yard send Joe to conduct a swift inquiry. He soon discovers that this Dame was no tweed-wearing matron - Titian-haired Beatrice wore evening gowns by Lanvin and perfume by Caron, she drank cocktails and had a young lover.
But it seems that death dogs her footsteps and Joe finds himself enquiring into the apparent suicides of three young women who had been close to her. He is dismayed when he is suddenly called upon by his superiors to close the case and surrender the file. Against the background of the looming General Strike and pressure from unseen government forces, he battles on, picking his way round the political panic and hostile authorities, through to a shattering solution."

3. The Abyssinian Proof by Jenny White. White's first mystery, The Sultan's Kiss, was one of my favourite books of 2014. It was an exotic setting, Turkey, and the story was fascinating. I've looked for the next book in the series for awhile and finally decided to order it. The Abyssinian Proof is the 2nd of three books featuring Turkish magistrate, Kamil Pasha. The 3rd book is The Winter Thief and if I enjoy this book as much as the first, I'll definitely keep an eye out for the final book. The synopsis is below.

"Constantinople, May, 1453. In the dying days of the Byzantine Empire, as the city prepares for a final onslaught by the Ottoman Turks, Isaak Metochites and his family are entrusted with a silver reliquary carved with the figure of a weeping angel and the inscription: Behold the Proof of Chora, Container of the Uncontainable."
Four hundred years later, magistrate Kamil Pasha is plagued by thefts of antiquities from mosques and churches and a series of murders in which the bodies bear the same distinctive mark. Sources lead Kamil to a hidden sect descended from Abyssinian slaves living in an abaodoned cistern in Istanbul's gritty underworld. The re-emergence of the forgotten reliquary sets off a brutal race between those sworn to protect it and those who will stop at nothing to gain its explosive secret."

Great Historical Events

Today's excerpts start with the Mason and Dixon's Line and the North Carolina Rebellion, amongst other things.

"Mason and Dixon's Line

Mason and Dixon's Line, run by surveyors of that name, sent out by the heirs of William Penn and Lord Baltimore, to define the boundaries of their possessions. It afterward became the acknowledged line between the free and slave States.

1768. The British Government stationed a military force in Boston. This was the beginning of hostilities, which rapidly engendered a spirit of resistance in the American colonies toward the mother country.
1769. Boston refused to receive goods from Great Britain, and sent them back.
1770. March 5. - Boston massacre. A mob composed of citizens of Boston attacks the British soldiers, and during the fray three citizens are killed and five wounded.

The North Carolina Rebellion

1771. Rebellion in North Carolina against the Government officers by the Regulators, a band of citizens who determined to resist the oppression of the English Government, and redress the people.
May 16. - The rebellion suppressed by Governor Tryon, and six Regulators hanged, which created intense hatred against the British Government. (Ed. Note. I wonder if Stephen King got his title for his book, The Regulators, written as Richard Bachman, from this group?)
1772. June 9. - A British man-of-war, the Gaspe, burned in Narranganset Bay, by a party of Americans from Providence.
1773. First Methodist Conference, consisting of ten preachers, all of foreign birth."

Methinks things are starting to get a mite heated in North America. I've been thinking, maybe I should lend this book to President 45 so he can get his timings correct when he discusses American history? Maybe not. By the way, the next excerpt will start off with an event called the 'Destruction of Tea in Boston Harbor'. I think that rings a bell.

Science of Common Things

"Why is it dangerous to burn charcoal in rooms? Because the carbon of the charcoal unites with the oxygen of the air, forming carbonic acid. What are the effects of breathing carbonic acid? The blood is not purified, and this causes drowsiness, stupor, and finally death. Of what is the atmosphere composed? It is composed of twenty-one parts oxygen and seventy-nine parts nitrogen. (Ed. Note. I wonder what calculations were used back then to ascertain these figures? Yes, I know, I could look it up. I'd rather just wonder) What is oxygen? It is an elementary gaseous body, the most electro-negative element known. When united with twice its bulk of hydrogen it forms water, and is found in compound with nearly every known element."

Once again, thank you to Prof. L.G.Gorton, whomever he might have been, for providing this info. Next excerpt will start with the question - 'What is an element?'

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1978

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1978

You Needed Me by Anne Murray. Anne Murray is a Canadian treasure and icon, just like a Tim Horton's double - double. She was born in Springhill, Nova Scotia in 1945 and her albums have sold over 55 million copies worldwide. She was the first Canadian artist to reach #1 on the US charts and her first single, 'Snowbird', still probably my favourite song of hers, earned her a gold record in the US, also the first for a Canadian. You Needed Me was written by American songwriter, Randy Goodrum.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1978

Summer Nights by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. What can I say? Everybody of a certain age knows this movie and this song. Summer Nights was written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey and performed by Danny (Travolta), Sandy (Newton-John) and the T-Birds and Pink Ladies.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1978

This was not published due to a newspaper strike which took place from Aug - Nov.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1978

Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson. Elbow Room is a collection of short stories, none of which ring any bells with me.

James Alan McPherson was an essayist and short-story writer who lived from 1943 - 2016. He was the first African - American writer to receive the Pulitzer.

Nobel Prize Laureate for Fiction 1978

Isaac Bashevis Singer (Unites States). Singer was a Polish-born Jewish writer who lived from 1902 - 1991. He was awarded his Nobel Prize 'for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life.'

Hugo Award Winner 1978

Gateway by Frederick Pohl. This is the 1st novel in the Heechee saga by American science fiction writer Frederick Pohl. It was turned into a computer game in 1992.

Gateway is an small hollow satellite that belonged to a long dead race, the Heechee. The Gateway Corporation administers the satellite for the various governments of Earth. The satellite is surrounded by thousands of abandoned space craft. By trial and error, humans learn to operate them. Adventures ensue?

Pohl lived from 1919 - 2013 and had works published from 1937 - 2011. I can't say that I've read any of his books, although I do know that one of the books we took in my Science Fiction novel course at university was his, The Space Merchants. I just know it was one I never completed. The Gateway series sounds interesting though.

Edgar Award Winner 1978

Catch Me: Kill Me by William Hallahan. Catch Me, Kill Me tells of the search for a Russian nuclear scientist AND the search and rescue of the Russian poet the KGB is using for trade bait. But that's the tip of the iceberg in this complicated thriller. (This is a new book for me.)

I can't find out much about Hallahan except he is an American writer who was born in 1925. He wrote the Charlie Brewer novels. I'll have to check him out.

Man Booker Prize Winner 1978

The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. Iris Murdoch was an Anglo - Irish author and philosopher who lived from 1919 - 1999. The Sea, The Sea was her 19th novel.

The Sea, The Sea is a tale of the strange obsessions that haunt a self-satisfied playwright who is starting his memoirs.

Murdoch is an author I've never tried. I often take one of her books off the shelf and check out the synopsis but I've never managed to try one. I guess time will tell.

There you go, finished for another day. The missus should be heading home shortly if not already and it's time to take the dogs out and then start a bit of yard work while the sun is shining. 'Til next time.

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