Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Readng Update and My Continued Author's A - Z

It's been a cool few days, quite breezy in fact. Jo and I had cleaned off the deck a couple of days ago and put out the deck furniture. Then the wind picked up and the deck and driveway and sidewalk, etc are covered in pine seeds.. *sigh*... Today it's still cool but at least the breeze has died down.

Spent an hour at physio today, the physio used his acupuncture needles. There were definitely a few spots that were quite tender.. lol... Ah the aches and pains of older age...

The puppies look great with their summer hair-dos. The change is quite drastic. You can actually see their eyes. :0)

So, now onto my Reading update. I picked up a couple of books this week, one from Nearly New Books and one out of my Little Free Library out front. I also finished two books this week and have started two new ones. It's possible I might finish one more book by tomorrow.. We'll see. I'll continue with my Author's A - Z at the end.

New Books
1. Craig Johnson - Death Without Company (Longmire #2). I've read the first book in the series and have greatly enjoyed the TV series based on the books.

"Fans of Ace Atkins, Nevada Barr and Robert B. Parker will love Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of Hell Is Empty and As the Crow Flies, who garnered both praise and an enthusiastic readership with his acclaimed debut novel featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire, The Cold Dish, the first in the Walt Longmire mystery series, the basis for LONGMIRE, the hit A&E original drama series. Now Johnson takes us back to the rugged landscape of Absaroka County, Wyoming, for Death Without Company. When Mari Baroja is found poisoned at the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Sheriff Longmire is drawn into an investigation that reaches fifty years into the mysterious woman’s dramatic Basque past. Aided by his friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and newcomer Santiago Saizarbitoria, Sheriff Longmire must connect the specter of the past to the present to find the killer among them."

2.  Brad Thor - Use of Force (Scot Harvath #16). I've never read any of Thor's books but I recently read an article where he indicated he might consider running against the current resident of the White House in 2020. (If you do, take him down a notch!) Anyway, when I saw the book in my library outside, I thought I might give him a chance. It does sound like a good thriller. Maybe I should find the first book in the series before I try this one?

"As a storm rages across the Mediterranean Sea, a terrifying distress call is made to the Italian Coast Guard. Days later, a body washes ashore.
Identified as a high value terrorism suspect (who had disappeared three years prior), his name sends panic through the Central Intelligence Agency.
Where was he headed? What was he planning? And could he be connected to the “spectacular attack” they have been fearing all summer?
In a race against time, the CIA taps an unorthodox source to get answers: Navy SEAL turned covert counter-terrorism operative, Scot Harvath.
Hired on a black contract, Harvath will provide the deniability the United States needs, while he breaks every rule along the way."

Just Finished
1. Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage (CI Mario Silva #1).

"Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage is the first book in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva mystery series set in Brazil. Silva is the Chief Inspector for Criminal Affairs for the Brazilian Federal Police. He is sent to a northern state to investigate the murder of a Bishop. He brings along his nephew, Hector Costa, a federal investigator and Investigator Arnaldo.
The trio must deal with a corrupt, vicious state police commander and lawless land owners as they investigates the murder.
This is a gritty, violent story and the bodies pile up very quickly as whoever is doing the crime starts getting rid of witnesses. Silva and his team seem to be one step behind what's going on but at the same time, you can see that he has an idea about what is going on. His assistants are both interesting, competent police officers. There are many interesting story lines; the battle between the land owners and the peasants who fight for their own piece of land; the battle between the federal police and the state police, etc. It's an interesting view of a culture that is totally unfamiliar to me and I do look forward to finding out more about Silva and his friends and the country.
There are many frustrations in the story as people you like die off but at the same time there is an ultimate satisfaction to the ending. An excellent start to a series (4 stars)"

2. The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris (Dr. Silkstone #1).

"The Anatomist's Apprentice is author Tessa Harris's first book in her historical mystery series featuring anatomist, Dr. Thomas Silkstone. Silkstone is a doctor from Philadelphia who moves to England to study under famed anatomist, Dr. Carruthers. Since Dr. Carruthers is now blind, Silkstone continues to teach at college and support Dr. Carruthers.
Silkstone becomes involved in investigating the death of Sir Edward Crick of Oxfordshire. His sister, Lydia comes to London to gain Silkstone's assistance in determining whether the death might have been murder.
This begins a sometimes convoluted investigation and tentative romance with Silkstone searching for clues to Edward's death and also to determine, if it was a murder, who might have perpetuated it. There are no shortage of subjects, Lydia's husband, possibly abusive and a womanizer; his friend, Lavington, who sticks his nose into so many parts of the investigation; maybe Hannah Lovelock, the maid whose daughter died recently?
It's not a perfect story; at times Silkstone seems helpless to do anything with actions taking part at will about him. His developing feelings for Lydia seem kind of incongruous. But those are minor things. All in all, it's entertaining and a fine start to a four books series (so far anyway). I won't hesitate to check out the other books. (3 stars)"

Currently Reading
1. The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall (Quiller #1).

"You are a secret agent working for the British in Berlin. You are due to go home on leave, but you are being followed-by your own people, or by the enemy. A man meets you in the theater and briefs you on a plot to revive the power of Nazi Germany. You do not believe him, but you remember that one of the suspects mentioned was a senior SS officer you met with in the days when you were working as a spy in Nazi Germany. The next day you make contact with a beautiful girl who may know something. Someone tries to kill both of you.
Your name is Quiller. You are the hero of an extraordinary novel which shows how a spy works, how messages are coded and decoded, how contacts are made, how a man reacts under the influence of truth drugs-and which traces the story of a vastly complex, entertaining, convincing, and sinister plot."

2. Kill Zone by Loren D. Estleman (Peter Macklin #1).

"Peter Macklin, a consummate hit-man working for the Boniface crime family of Detroit, finds himself working for the FBI and the Secret Service to secure the release of several hundred hostages aboard a tour boat on Lake Erie."

Bill's Author's A - Z
Edgar Rice Burroughs
1. Edgar Rice Burroughs. American fantasy / adventure writer Burroughs lived from 1875 - 1950 and wrote such notable series as Tarzan of the Apes and John Carter of Mars. I've read the John Carter series and have begun the Tarzan books, but I've also tried a few others of his novels. Great imagination that produced excellent adventures.

a. John Carter of Mars. There are 11 books in the John Carter of Mars series. I've read them at least twice and had to buy new copies to replace the ones I'd originally purchased back in the late '60s. Most enjoyable.

b. Tarzan of the Apes. I've read the first book in the Tarzan series so far and enjoyed. There are 25+ books in the series so it's something to look forward to. The Return of Tarzan is the 2nd book.

Burroughs also wrote series based on the lost land of Pellucidar, about life on Venus, the Moon Men series, Caspak (The Land that Time Forgot) and many other books. Check out his works for classic adventures. The second book of the Caspak series is in my bookshelf to try. I'll have to find the first.

Steve Burrows
2. Steve Burrows. Burrows is a Canadian mystery writer who has published four books in his 'Birder' series. I saw the first one at the book store awhile back and thought it sounded interesting.

a. A Siege of Bitterns.

"Inspector Domenic Jejeune’s success has made him a poster boy for the U.K. police service. The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.

Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain’s premier birding country, Jejeune’s two worlds collide when he investigates the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. His ambitious police superintendent foresees a blaze of welcome publicity, but she begins to have her doubts when Jejeune’s most promising theory involves a feud over bird-watching lists. A second murder only complicates matters.

To unravel this mystery, Jejeune must deal with unwelcome public acclaim, the mistrust of colleagues, and his own insecurities. In the case of the Saltmarsh birder murders, the victims may not be the only casualties."

The other books in this series are -
-- A Pitying of Doves (2015)
-- A Cast of Falcons (2016)
-- A Shimmer of Hummingbirds (2017)
Catherine Bush
3. Catherine Bush. Bush is a Canadian novelist. I've read two of her books in the past couple of years, as part of my ongoing efforts to try more Canadian literature. Both books were excellent.

a. Minus Time (1993).

"Minus Time: A Novel is the second book I've read by Canadian author Catherine Bush. I enjoyed this as much as Rules of Engagement. Minus Time is an interesting portrait of a nuclear family (to the extreme somewhat).
The story centers around Helen, daughter of Barbara, a Canadian astronaut currently circling the Earth in the space station trying to break the time away record. Her father David, travels the world trying to help people escape and cope with the destruction caused by earthquakes and other disasters. Completing the family is Paul, her brother, who is working on an architecture degree in Montreal.
Helen and Paul travel to Florida to view her mother's launch into space. Interestingly, they don't go to Cape Canaveral but watch it from a distance. They see on the news that a replacement family has been installed in the bleachers to observe the launch.
Helen returns to Toronto, decides to stop attending her university course and takes a job at a health food restaurant and becomes involved with a group of activists who are trying to make the world aware of the sufferings of animals (testing by cosmetic companies, cruel treatment by fast food companies, etc). She keeps her family secret from the friends she makes in the activist group, United Species - kind of a neat name, I think)
The story follows Helen as she tries to cope with her family life; it wanders from the past with Helen and Paul as youngsters and Barbara just starting her training as an astronaut and the stresses it places on the family; and moves back to the present.
All in all it's a very interesting story, well-written and if you're part of the nuclear family generation, there are things that are relatable. It made me look again at my family, with me on the West Coast, one brother on the East Coast, another in the center, and my sister with my father. It makes for a different family dynamic, neither good nor bad, just one that requires differing perspectives. All in all, a very interesting, entertaining, thoughtful story. (4 stars)" 

2. Rules of Engagement (2000). 

"In its simplest form, Arcadia Hearne has run away from home and past events and relationships and settled in London where she works for the Center for the Contemporary War Studies, studying war and intervention. Catherine Bush spins this story in such a manner that it's very difficult to put the book down. She interweaves present events with Arcadia's past in Toronto, slowly winding these two stories together to provide a clear picture of Arcadia and the reasons for her running off to London. While Arcadia studies war, she does so only theoretically, never actually visiting the places where these wars are taking place. She has relationships, most recently with an Iranian immigrant who also has a secret life trying to help refugees. Arcadia, while she likes the relationship, avoids the messier side of life. Discovering more about Amir, she runs away again, back to Toronto, where she tries to confront her past events and also deal with her parents. Catherine Bush is a wonderful writer, her prose is intelligent and thoughtful and her story telling skills superb. I enjoyed reading this book so very much and loved how Bush tried to resolve the various story lines, but also leaving enough unsaid that you can come to your own conclusions. Excellent!" 

Bush's other books are - 
-- Claire's Head (2004)
-- Accusation (2013)

There you go, folks. Hope you're having a great week!!! 

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Reading Update and My Continued Author's A - Z List

It's a lovely, fresh Saturday morning and Clyde and I are resident on the sofa in the family room, enjoying the cool breeze coming in the patio doors. Bonnie was with us for awhile but once the biscuits ran out, she left us for the hall stairs... Our fair weather friend. Jo is enjoying a Saturday lie-in. I'll bring her up a cuppa in a little bit.

Not sure what our plans are for today, maybe go into Courtenay and order me a pair of reading glasses. I had an eye appointment yesterday and while my overall prescription didn't change drastically, the doc thought maybe a pair of reading glasses might help when I'm just reading and not combining it with watching the TV. We'll see. Otherwise maybe some replanting of flowers on the deck, watch the Blue Jays later on.. The options are almost limitless.

On to my Reading update. I picked up a couple of books when I drove around to the local Little Free Libraries and donated some of the books that I'm finished with. I'll probably drop off a few at my local used book store on Monday when I take the dogs to the cleaners. I also finished another book (review to follow) and of course, started another. I'll also continue with my Author's A - Z listing. Maybe we'll start the C's today.

New Books
As I mentioned, I picked up two during my drive around this week and one also arrived in the mail.

1. Chosen Prey by John Sanford (Lucas Davenport #12).

"An art history professor and writer and cheerful pervert, James Qatar had a hobby: he took secret photographs of women and turned them into highly sexual drawings. One day, he took the hobby a step further and... well, one thing led to another, and he had to kill her. A man in his position couldn't be too careful, after all. And you know something? He liked it.

Already faced with a welter of confusion in his personal life, Deputy Chief Lucas Davenport decides to take this case himself, hoping that some straightforward police work will clear his head, but as the trail begins to take some unexpected turns, it soon becomes clear that nothing is straightforward about this killer. The man is learning as he goes, Lucas realizes, taking great strides forward with each murder. He is becoming a monster — and Lucas may have no choice but to walk right into his lair..."

2. Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb (Marshal Guarnaccia #1).

"Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia of the Florentine Carabinieri wants to go south for Christmas to spend the holiday with his family in Sicily, but a retired Englishman living in Florence has been murdered. Who has shot Mr. Langley-Smythe in the back? The marshal must discover the identity of the criminal and the motive for the crime before he can take the train home for the holidays."

3. Endless Night by Agatha Christie (1968). 

"When penniless Michael Rogers discovers the beautiful house at Gypsy’s Acre and then meets the heiress Ellie, it seems that all his dreams have come true at once. But he ignores an old woman’s warning of an ancient curse, and evil begins to stir in paradise. As Michael soon learns: Gypsy’s Acre is the place where fatal “accidents” happen."

Just Finished
1. Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper

"I've seen the movie a few times, always an entertaining, tense story. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that Bunny Lake is Missing was originally a book, written by Evelyn Piper (pseudonym for Merriam Modell) and published in 1957. The edition that I found was from publisher The Feminist Press for its second installment of the Women Write Pulp series; also included books by Dorothy Hughes, Faith Baldwin, etc.
As mentioned above, I have always enjoyed the movie; its darkness, manic quality, etc. The book starts off right with the same tone and never lets up throughout the course of the story. Blanche Lake, a single mom, is picking up her daughter, Bunny, from her first day at a pre-school in New York. She waits with the other mothers and with a sickening feeling discovers that Bunny isn't with the other young children, the 3-year old class. This begins a whirlwind search for her young daughter. She struggles to find any clue that Bunny was ever there, do the police believer her? Did she even have a daughter? Where is the evidence that Bunny was registered at the school? Where is the evidence in Blanche's apartment that she has a daughter?
As well, who is Eddie and why is his mother so worried that maybe he might have something to do with the 'disappearance'? And to where has he disappeared?
Blanche's search becomes more and more desperate as she struggles to find clues and to persuade anyone that Bunny exists.
I'll leave it there. It's a frenetic, fascinating story and different enough from the movie to provide quite a different perspective from the one that Otto Preminger brought to bear in the movie. I'll have to check out more pulp fiction from women writers and try to find a copy of Piper's The Nanny. (4 stars)"

Just Started
1. The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris (Dr. Silkstone Mysteries #1). A new series that sounded interesting and I'm enjoying already.

"In the first in a stunning new mystery series set in eighteenth-century England, Tessa Harris introduces Dr. Thomas Silkstone, anatomist and pioneering forensic detective. . .

The death of Sir Edward Crick has unleashed a torrent of gossip through the seedy taverns and elegant ballrooms of Oxfordshire. Few mourn the dissolute young man--except his sister, the beautiful Lady Lydia Farrell. When her husband comes under suspicion of murder, she seeks expert help from Dr. Thomas Silkstone, a young anatomist from Philadelphia.

Thomas arrived in England to study under its foremost surgeon, where his unconventional methods only add to his outsider status. Against his better judgment he agrees to examine Sir Edward's corpse. But it is not only the dead, but also the living, to whom he must apply the keen blade of his intellect. And the deeper the doctor's investigations go, the greater the risk that he will be consigned to the ranks of the corpses he studies. . ."

Bill's Author's A - Z

Jan Burke
1. Jan Burke. When I first arrived in the Comox Valley, I was on my own. Many a Saturday I'd frequent a local used books store (since closed down), ABC Books. At the time I was also collecting comics and I used to pick up my orders there. At any rate, I began to experiment with many different mystery writers as they had a fantastic selection. Jan Burke was one author I tried and was immediately hooked on. She wrote the Irene Kelly series, Kelly being a news reporter in California who got involved in excellent and often gritty mysteries. There are 10 books in the Irene Kelly series and I've read six of them. Burke was born in Texas but has lived most of her life in California. She has written 3 other standalone mysteries. I'll highlight two of my favorites.

a. Bones (Kelly #7).

"Killer Nick Parrish says he'll lead authorities to the body of Judith Sayre--they will not demand the death sentence for his heinous crimes. But the criminal has no intention of spending his life behind bars--and he plans some deadly surprises."

b. Flight (Kelly #8 / Frank Harriman #1). Frank Harriman is Irene Kelly's husband and also a local cop.

"Hot off the publication of "Bones," the winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, Jan Burke explodes onto the suspense scene with "Flight," featuring the hard-edged Detective Frank Harriman, husband of Jan's beloved series heroine Irene Kelly. A family is found murdered. In a cruel twist, one of the Las Piernas Police Department's own, Philip Lefebvre, is suspected of killing the only witness. When that detective disappears, a crime boss goes free. And the LPPD is forever changed.

Called in to investigate the wreckage of the missing detective's plane, Frank Harriman is given a set of cold cases that have suddenly become white hot. Detective Harriman's conviction that the LPPD tagged the wrong murder suspect is wildly unpopular. Alone, his instincts and integrity questioned at every turn, Harriman must stop the killer before hundreds of lives, including Harriman's own, are lost."

The other Irene Kelly books are -
- Goodnight Irene (93)
- Sweet Dreams Irene (94)
- Dear Irene (95)
- Remember Me Irene (96)
- Hocus (97)
- Liar (98)
-  Bloodlines (05)
- Kidnapped (06)
- Disturbance (11)

W.J. Burley
2. W.J. Burley. British crime writer, Burley, who lived from 1914 - 2002) was another of the writers I discovered at ABC books. He is best known for his Wycliffe crime series. I've enjoyed a few of the excellent mysteries featuring this police officer. There are 20+ books in the series and I usually try to read at least one a year. I've read six so far. Below are two of my favorites -

a. Wycliffe and How to Kill a Cat (#2 / 1970).

"I've read a few of the Superintendent Wycliffe mysteries and enjoyed. This is the second in the series and finds Wycliffe on vacation with his wife, Helen at the coast. While there he gets involved in investigating a murder in a hotel by the waterfront. He's an interesting character, is Superintendent Wycliffe, likes to use his instincts more than criminal analyses of the CSI vein. As we delve into the story and find out more about the woman who was murdered and what she's been involved in and the people around her, the story becomes a nicely complex puzzle. I enjoyed it very much and am glad that I refreshed my acquaintance with Wycliffe. Nice ending too. (4 stars)."

b. Wycliffe and the Guilt-Edged Alibi (#3 / 1971).

"This is the second Wycliffe mystery I've read in Oct/ Nov and once again I've enjoyed very much. I like Burley's writing style. Wycliffe is a diffident copper, one who isn't easy to really like or put a finger on. He has a casual style of investigating, preferring to wander about on his own and let the information he accumulates formulate a conclusion. He is distant from the people he works with, often sharp with them but at the same time his number two, Inspector Gill seems to like him and respect him. The story was very interesting, the people interesting as well and I was ultimately satisfied with the result. I'm looking forward to reading more of the Wycliffe mysteries. (4 stars).

Frances Hodgson Burnett
3. Frances Hodgson Burnett. Frances Hodgson Burnett was an English novelist and playwright who lived from 1849 - 1924. I've only read one of her books so far, but she was a prolific writer. Some of her most well-known works included Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886) and A Little Princess (1905). I read what was probably her best known work, The Secret Garden (1911) and it's been one of my favorite selections so far in 2018.

a. The Secret Garden

"What a wonderful story The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is. I've had it on my book shelf for a year or so and added it to my 12+ 4 reading challenge on the recommendation of a Goodread's friend.
It was so nice to read an uplifting, joyous story such as this. It's a story of growing up, discovering friendship and love and it leaves you feeling very positive and happy. (well, there were a few tears shed at the end but only because it was a positive ending.)
Young Mary Lennox is growing up in India. Her mother abandons her to the care of an Indian governess; she never really wanted a child. Mary becomes a loner, a temperamental, selfish young girl. When her parents die due to a cholera epidemic, she is sent to England to live with an uncle who resides at his estate in Misselthwaite Manor. Her uncle is basically a hermit who has never recovered from the death of his wife. He wants nothing to do with Mary, heading off to Europe and other places as soon as she arrives. Mary is once again alone but she slowly begins to make 'actual' friends, firstly her maid, Martha, a young Yorkshire lass, then a robin, etc. She then discovers the entrance to a locked garden; her uncle had closed it down when his wife died. It was her favorite and she died when a branch fell on her. Mary also discovers another resident in the manor, who turns out to be her cousin, Colin.
Without ruining the story by telling you anymore, suffice it to say that the two develop a close relationship and learn about friendship and love as they grow. The link with the garden, their development as the garden grows and multiplies, is most interesting. The story is full of wonderful characters; not the least Mary and Colin but also Martha, Martha's brother Dickon, their mother and even the old gardener, Ben.
I was so pleased to read this story, to read a perfect little story that left me feeling positive and happy at the end. Everyone should read! Thanks for adding to my challenge list, Alissa. (5 stars)"

So there you go. Hope you enjoy your weekend! Oh, and congrats to Fulham FC for winning their playoff gain to move up to the Premiership. See you next year. :0)

Monday, 21 May 2018

Reading Update and My Author's A - Z

I've finished two books since my last update and have started two new books. I also received one new books in the mail from Better World Books in the UK. I'll update this before I head out and get the BBQ turned on. Burgers and fried taters tonight.

New Book
This is the last book in the Mr. Moto series. I've read 4 so far and enjoyed it very much.

Stopover: Tokyo by John P. Marquand.

"A suspense story of today's cloak and dagger boys, as Jack Rhyce is sent out to Tokyo to explore the sources of the unrest reported by the local agent as sparked by a mystery man, "Big Ben". Jack finds himself paired with a girl, Ruth Bogard, with whom he reluctantly falls in love. This complicates their mission and a number of missteps result, as they stop off in Hawaii, think they have identified ""Big Ben"" as an airline employee who whistles tunes from The Red Mill and knows far too much about their doings. Once in Tokyo they find their goal blocked by the Japanese secret service, with our old friend Mr. Moto in control."

Just Finished
I finished the following two books since my last entry.

1. Gold from Gemini by Jonathan Gash (Lovejoy #2).

"Gold from Gemini is the second Lovejoy antique mystery by Jonathan Gash. Many, many years ago I'd enjoyed the TV series based on the books. It starred Ian McShane as Lovejoy and he was quite excellent in the role. He played him as a lady-killing rogue and in the books he is that, although not quite so lovable.
In Gold for Gemini, Lovejoy gets involved in a mystery that takes him to the Isle of Man in search of ancient Roman coins. He gets interested in this by chance; finding a painting by a deceased man, an excellent forgery that piques his interest in the man. Discovering that Roman coins had been stolen from the local museum and that they had been donated by the man, Lovejoy feels that there are more hidden someplace. He acquires diaries that the man had written and hopes these might provide clues to the location of the coins. He is threatened by one of the nieces of the man and her 'fixer' to turn over the diaries to them. A death of a fellow antique hunter adds to the mystery and a personal tragedy to Lovejoy adds to the tension.
Along with Janie, his rich mistress (one of many), and Algernon, a young protege, the journey finds them on the Isle of Man searching for the coins. The story takes great leaps which I sometimes find frustrating, but this is tempered with the interesting information on antiques and creating forgeries and both Janie and Algernon are interesting characters. The story moves along almost too quickly but I found the overall story and mystery interesting and a page turner. I'll obviously continue with the series and see how Lovejoy's character develops. (3.5 stars)"

2. Sister Crazy by Emma Richler.

"I enjoyed Sister Crazy by Emma Richler very much. Richler is the daughter of Canadian author, Mordecai Richler. Sister Crazy was her first novel.
It's a fascinating picture of a strange but wonderful family, a series of anecdotes and thoughts on movies, books, etc that adds to her perceptions of this family. Jemima is Weiss #3, with two older brothers; Ben (#1) and Jude (#2), her almost twin and then two younger siblings, Harriet (#4) and Gus (#5). They are raised by 2 wonderful parents, her Jewish father and her Christian mother.
The girls are sent to school at local convent schools, first in England and then in Canada (described only as her father's country).
Jem's closest relationship is with her brother Jude; I enjoyed their playing with Action Man figurines, the worlds they create and the pain of their growing apart as Jude starts to strike out more and more on his own.
The story moves between childhood and the present but is focused on their growing up. There are lovely vignettes / interactions between the children and their feelings towards their parents; the lovely mother (Good Witch?) and their loud father (the Sun around which life revolves?)
There are hints at other issues, especially Jem's mental issues but maybe they aren't important enough to the story to get into in detail, and also incidents that make you want to explore more; her mother taken away in an ambulance; what happens to the family as they grow older, does Jem marry? So many things left untold, which is why I can't give it a perfect 5. But even so, it's a truly wonderful, enjoyable first story and worth trying. (4.5 stars)"

Just Started
To replace the two completed books, I've started the two below.
1. Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage (CI Mario Silva #1).

"In the remote Brazilian town of Cascatas do Pontal, where landless peasants are confronting the owners of vast estates, the bishop arrives by helicopter to consecrate a new church and is assassinated.

Mario Silva, chief inspector for criminal matters of the federal police of Brazil, is dispatched to the interior to find the killer. The pope himself has called Brazil’s president; the pressure is on Silva to perform. Assisted by his nephew, Hector Costa, also a federal policeman, Silva must battle the state police and a corrupt judiciary as well as criminals who prey on street kids, the warring factions of the Landless League, the big landowners, and the church itself, in order to solve the initial murder and several brutal killings that follow. Justice is hard to come by. An old priest, a secret liberation theologist, finally metes it out. Here is a Brazil that tourists never encounter."

2. Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper

"Blanche Lake is not like the other mothers who come to collect their children at the local nursery school on New York’s Upper East Side. She lives alone, has a job, and has never been married. It’s the first day of school when this story begins, and Blanche is eager to see how her daughter, Bunny, has fared away from home. But her expectant waiting becomes a mother’s most dreaded nightmare: Bunny never materializes. Neither teachers nor students recall the small girl, and soon Blanche is engaged in a frantic search for any trace of her missing daughter. And the worst part is . . . no one believes her.

In this fraught and at times freakish tale of suspense, Evelyn Piper takes us deep into the psyche of the 1950s to explore American fetishes, fallacies, and fears around motherhood and sexuality. Even the police refuse to help Blanche search for Bunny, lacking evidence of the girl’s existence. Emerging from the book’s moments of hysteria as a new kind of heroine—the hard-boiled mom—Blanche Lake turns 1950s psychology on its head. Her unbridled, red-blooded instincts win over the psychologist, Dr. Newhouse, and expose the creepiness of anti-sexual social norms. No wonder the film version of Bunny Lake Is Missing was reset in swinging 1960s London. Directed by Otto Preminger and starring Carol Lynley and Laurence Olivier (with music by the Zombies), the film reexamines motherhood and sexuality with a new plot twist that pins the problems on men."

Bill's Author's A - Z
The last person mentioned was Linda Buckley - Archer.

John Burdett
1. John Burdett. Burdett is a British Crime novelist. He is noted for his series set in Bangkok featuring police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep. As of 2015 there were six books in this excellent series. I've read the first two books so far and have enjoyed immensely. Below are my reviews of those two books.

a. Bangkok 8.

"Excellent introduction to John Burdett's Sonchai Jitpleecheep mysteries. Set in a very exotic locale of Bangkok Thailand with so many interesting things going on; great characters, I loved the relationship between Sonchai and the FBI agent. I kept wanting them to get together. One of the strangest murders I've ever read; so much interplay between cultures, the American, Thai, Buddhism, etc. Fascinating story. Loved it very much. I will read more."

b. Bangkok Tattoo.

"This is the 2nd book in the Sonchai Jitpleecheep police series, set in Bangkok, Thailand. The first book, Bangkok 8 was excellent and this follow-up was just as good. The story is a rambling mystery, starting off with the discovery of the body of a CIA agent, who has been mutilated. Sonchai and his boss, Colonel Vikorn, work to protect the prostitute who was with the body. The story wanders through the underworld of Thailand, with Sonchai meeting with CIA agents, Muslim 'terrorists', the Yakuza and many others as he tries to solve the murder. There were nice surprises throughout and the story and the characters and the locale are all so interesting. Well worth following Sonchai on his journey to solve this case."

The other books in the series are -
a. Bangkok Haunts
b. The Godfather of Kathmandu
c. Vulture Peak
d. The Bangkok Asset.

Anthony Burgess
2. Anthony Burgess. English writer Anthony Burgess lived from 1917 - 1993. A prolific writer, he wrote many novels, collections of poetry and short stories, etc. He is most well-known for A Clockwork Orange. I've read that and one others of his stories. 

a. A Clockwork Orange (1962).

"I'm glad I read this book. It's been a long time coming. I tried back in my university days, but couldn't get past the language. But really, the story is easy to understand; it reminds me of 1984, maybe more Brave New World, that view of the future. The story is told from the point of view of Alex; a gang boy, who spends his evenings on drugs with his mates, then beating people up, raping women.. Sent to prison for killing an old woman, he takes part in an experimental program, so he can get out early. This involves brain washing him so the thought of violence makes him ill. It's an interesting concept, an argument between mind control by the state or free will, even if that free will is a violent sociopath. I think the ending was a bit of a throw-away, but all in all, still an interesting concept and story."

b. Nothing Like the Sun; A Story of Shakespeare's Love Life (1964).

"I'm not quite sure what to make of Nothing Like the Sun by Anthony Burgess. The only other book I'd read by Burgess was A Clockwork Orange, a strange and interesting story of a dystopic future. Nothing Like the Sun is a tale of William Shakespeare and his purported relationships with the Earl of Southampton and Fatima, the Dark Lady.
Like Clockwork, Burgess has a way with language, Nothing Like the Sun written in an oldish English, as if you are reading a Shakespearean play. The story, itself, starts with a young William's life in Stratford, working for his father's glove - making business. Shakespeare is a moody boy, writing sonnets, chasing women until he is forced to marry Anne Hathaway after getting her pregnant.
Shakespeare then joins a traveling troupe of actors, begins writing their plays and moves to London, where he meets the Earl of Southampton and becomes involved in a romantic relationship. As well, influenced by a previous experience with a black prostitute in Bristol, he begins a relationship with Fatima, who he meets in London.
All the while, he writes sonnets for his lovers and plays for the public. His family is mentioned, he sometimes visits Stratford and at one point discovers his wife may not have been faithful to him either.
But, ultimately, for it being an interesting historical story that flowed nicely once you got used to the language and spent a bit of time with the book, I wondered if it really meant that much to me or if it provided me with any real information about Shakespeare. I'll have to try Bill Bryson's history of Shakespeare's life and compare... Just not right this minute. (3 stars)"

James Lee Burke
3. James Lee Burke. American author Burke is new for me. He has written a number of crime series; Dave Robicheaux, Billy Bob Holland, Hackberry Holland, etc. I've bought the first two books in his Billy Bob Holland series to see how I enjoy his work.

a. Cimarron Rose (1).

"Texas attorney Billy Bob Holland has many secrets in his dark past. Among them is his illegitimate son, Lucas Smothers. When Lucas is arrested for murdering his girlfriend, Holland knows that he has no choice but to try to save the boy, regardless of what it may mean to his own--or the boy's--reputation.

The boy is a country musician, abused by his stepfather and haunted by the possibility that he did, indeed, commit the murder in a drunken black-out. But Billy Bob knows the propensity of the small Texas town to make scapegoats of the innocent, and to exploit and sexually abuse those who are without power.

The dead woman was with Lucas the night she died. Everyone knows that. But they were also with the East Enders--the kids from the good homes with the rich daddies, whose morals are as loose as their pocket-books. Lucas doesn't want Billy Bob to drag the dead girl's name through the mud, but Billy Bob knows that he'll need to do much worse if he is to save his son's life."

b. Heartwood (#2).

"Billy Bob has a problem with local kingpin, Earl Deitrich, but also has a passion for Deitrich's wife. So he has to be very careful when he takes on the defense of Wilbur Pickett, a man accused of stealing from Deitrich."

Well there you go... Time to head out and get the BBQ started. I think a neighbour has already started because it smells pretty good..

Enjoy your week! 
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