Category Archives: Mysteries

The Month of May

Dear friends,
I must start this post with an apology for disappearing into silence on this blog. April and May have been a particularly busy time for me as well as an emotional time. (We call May our “tender-hearted month” in my family.) Unfortunately, once I get off track with my posting, I find it hard to get “back in the groove” again. But I have continued with my reading, even being able to read on the porch again when time has allowed, and I am here now to say HI and to reflect on my May reading.

May has been a completely enjoyable reading month. I’ve squeezed in as much reading as I can in between multiple trips to Washington State helping our daughter move and get settled into her new home; helping my husband with his shed building project in our backyard (I’ve always been his construction assistant); trips to the State Legislature with my Moms Demand Action group; and my continuing efforts to get the yard and garden in shape (it still feels like a wilderness area!). I’ve read mostly mysteries, and all have been very enjoyable. I am also half-way through the audiobook of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, and am almost finished reading Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October which I wanted to read before Hubby and I watch the movie again (one of our favorites). I also downloaded the audiobook version (free) of the Mueller Report and am very slowly making my way through it. I feel it is a very important work to read, no matter how long it takes me.

Busy, busy time…and as my friend, Les (Coastal Horizons) said, “Who knew retirement would be so busy!”

Here are the covers of my completed May reads.

 

Stuck in a Book Friday

There’s a lot going on around me today…in particular, construction workers in our backyard…but I can’t do anything but sit here and read. I’m completely stuck in a book at the moment. The Brutal Telling, by Louise Penny, has captured me and I can’t do anything else until I finish it. I do love it when that happens! (And husband is overseeing those construction workers.)

A Muscle We Don’t Use Enough

Dorothy Gilman, author of the Mrs. Pollifax series

“I love to laugh personally, and I love to hear people laugh. I don’t think we laugh enough. I consider it a muscle we don’t use enough because we’re all under pressures, tremendous pressures, and we forget how to laugh. It’s a habit that one should watch and take care of just like another muscle.”
~ Rosalind Russell

I love this quote from Rosalind Russell, who starred in the 1971 movie version of the book, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman. The Mrs. Pollifax series is certainly one that exercises that laughter muscle! I’ve listened to the first two books in the series on audiobook, narrated by the wonderful Barbara Rosenblat, and they were delightfully fun. This is a series I read and enjoyed many years ago, but now that I found the audiobooks on Audible, I’m starting over! This is a time that we particularly need to exercise that laughter muscle!

from the publisher:

Mrs. Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was a widow with grown, married children. She was tired of attending her Garden Club meetings. She wanted to do something good for her country. So, naturally, she became a CIA agent.

She takes on a “job” in Mexico City. The assignment doesn’t sound dangerous at first, but then, as often happens, something goes wrong. Now our dear Mrs. Pollifax finds herself embroiled in quite a hot Cold War—and her country’s enemies find themselves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady.

So, stories about a “little old widow lady” who becomes a spy is a fun premise for a mystery series. Mrs. Pollifax gets herself involved in many different predicaments, but always manages to succeed with her mission with help from the friends she makes along the way. The friendships are wonderful, and her attitude about life is refreshing. It’s also refreshing to read a series that entertains in such a positive way.

Currently Reading: The Eye of the Needle

Actually, I’m listening to the audiobook version of Ken Follett’s, Eye of the Needle, and I can’t stop listening! I would say that the author was wildly successful with this goal he shared in an interview:

I want to tell a story that makes the reader always want to see what will happen next.

 

I am reading this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old. Ken Follett was born in the same year as me, 1949!  Happy Birthday this year, too, Mr. Follett!

Just Finished: The Janus Stone

I just finished reading the second book in the Ruth Galloway Mysteries, by Elly Griffiths. Dr. Ruth Galloway is an archaeologist, very bright, insightful, and independent. Because of her unique forensic skills, she is called on (as she was in the first book of the series) to help D.C.I. Harry Nelson solve a police investigation of a murder.

Summary from the Elly Griffiths website:

Dr Ruth Galloway’s forensic skills are called upon when builders, demolishing an old house in Norwich, uncover the bones of a child – minus the skull – beneath a doorway. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain straightforward murder? Ruth links up with DCI Harry Nelson to investigate.

The house was once a children’s home. Nelson traces the Catholic priest who used to run the place. He tells him that two children did go missing forty years before – a boy and a girl. They were never found.

When carbon dating proves that the child’s bones predate the home and relate to a time when the house was privately owned, Ruth is drawn ever more deeply into the case. But as spring turns into summer it becomes clear that someone is trying hard to put her off the scent by frightening her to death…

My review?  I simply couldn’t put this book down! Judging by this second book, I think this series gets better and better with each book!

A New Series!

I love finding new series to read especially if they are mystery series! Recently, while waiting to meet friends for lunch, I browsed through the mystery section of a little bookstore in Edmonds, Washington. A series by Elly Griffiths caught my eye and looked very interesting, so I bought the first book, The Crossing Places. I read it in December, and yes, I’m hooked! I’m looking forward to reading all the others!

Death in the Castle

The Classics Club issued a DARE for the month of October. Choose one book from my list of classics to be read in five years, and dare myself to read it.

“Simply read a CLASSIC book from your #CClist that you classify as thrilling, a mystery, or Gothic. It could even be a book or author that SCARES you (because of it’s length, it’s topic, it’s reputation etc).”

This sounded like a lot of fun to me, and it was a perfect blend with my RIP XIII challenge, as well as my 2018 TBR Pile challenge! So I chose to read Death in the Castle, by Pearl S. Buck, for both the Classics Club Dare 2.0 and for the Readers Imbibing Peril XIII challenge.

The old castle is a thousand years old, and although it has been in the family for generations, SIr Richard Sedgeley and his wife, Lady Mary, can no longer afford to keep it. The National Trust will only agree to take it over if they can turn it into a prison–not an acceptable option for the aging Sir Richard. However, a young and wealthy American is interested in it and wants to buy it. But he also wants to move the castle, stone by stone, to Connecticut! What a difficult dilemma for the aging owners of the castle!

He let the reins lie slack as he went and his eyes roved over the mellow landscape of field and forest. The afternoon light lengthened the shadows and deepened the gold of the willows and the green of growing wheat. In the distance the castle stood against the sunset in all its stately beauty. It was his home, his inheritance, and how could he give it up?

Lady Mary has always believed in “others who had lived in the castle and until now she had accepted the possibility of the persistence of the dead beyond life.” Not ghosts, but the life forces of those ancestors who lived there before her. And Lady Mary is quite sure that the Others can show her where some treasure is hidden so that they will have the money to save the castle.

“There’s no such thing as death, not really,” Lady Mary said. “It’s just a change to something—I’ve told you—another level of whatever it is that we call life. It’s only a transfer of energy. Can you understand? Please try, Kate! It would mean so much to me.

This was a story that involved mystery, intrigue, suspense. A gothic-type mystery is not the usual subject matter for a book by Pearl Buck, but it was, as always with her books, well-written and enjoyable to read. The suspense definitely worked for me because I couldn’t stop reading until I found out what would happen to the castle and the different characters. A fun read!

RIP XIII: The Seer of Shadows

If you are interested in reading a good ghost story for the season then you must read The Seer of Shadows, by Avi. I know this book would have been a popular book to have on my classroom bookshelves for my 6th graders. My students always loved Avi’s books so I know this one would have been a popular choice for them to read. Eerie, fascinating, well-written and informative. It was easy to get caught in it and read it straight through.

From the  publisher, Harper Collins, 2008:

The time is 1872. The place is New York City. Horace Carpentine has been raised to believe in science and rationality. So as apprentice to Enoch Middleditch, a society photographer, he thinks of his trade as a scientific art. But when wealthy society matron Mrs. Frederick Von Macht orders a photographic portrait, strange things begin to happen.

Horace’s first real photographs reveal a frightful likeness:  it’s the image of the Von Machts’ dead daughter, Eleanora.

From the book:

It was like the process of developing a photograph I have described: as if the shadow were coming from some mystic depth, emerging from another world, taking, little by little, bodily shape and form until that shadow becomes . . . real. Exactly what I’d done for Eleanora’s spirit!

…The facts of the matter were perfectly clear—though surely not normal. My picture taking had summoned a ghost, and not just any ghost, but one bent on murder!

Avi is a wonderful writer and storyteller! This was a spooky and fun read for both middle grade readers…and us older folk!

Click here to visit Avi’s web site.

 

This was my fifth book read for Readers Imbibing Peril, XIII.

 

Reflections: September 2018

Reflections on the Columbia River, September 2018…

September was both a busy reading month and a busy family month! At the first of the month, I  happily joined the Readers Imbibing Peril XIII challenge, hosted by Heather (@Capricious Reader) and Andi (@Estella’s Revenge) and got right to the job of reading from the list of genres that make up the focus of this challenge. It continues until the end of October, which is great because I’m really enjoying reading the books I chose.

I took a reading and blogging break in the middle of the month to travel to Salt Lake City for my mother’s Celebration of Life. It was a beautiful celebration of a life well-lived. My husband and I enjoyed the road trip, being with family, and spending time in the beautiful Rose Garden at Red Butte Garden where we have my parents’ memorial bench. Both my parents donated their bodies to the University of Utah Medical School, so the Garden and the bench are extra special to us, and the bench is a cherished place we visit a often as we can. The bench itself sits in the Rose Garden surrounded by beautiful roses, which they both loved, and is a happy, peaceful place for us to spend time.

My reading has been a great solace to me in the last two months. My extra hour of reading in the afternoon, dedicated to my Mom, has been wonderful! So despite the long-distance road trip, and all the planning that took up so much time, I was able to enjoy 7 books in September. It really should be 8 books, because I am almost finished with Rosamunde Pilcher’s, September, but, unfortunately, I won’t finish it before midnight tonight.

My September reads: