The best laid plans can be thwarted with a little whimpulsiveness.

>> Monday, May 31, 2010



What I did not accomplish this month:

I committed to two readalongs and only finished one of the books. I read The Handmaid's Tale and participated in one of the weekly online chat sessions which I enjoyed very much. The other readalong for Angela's Ashes is one I have not completed. The discussion post is up at The Little Reader so as soon as I finish the book I'll be heading over to weigh in on that.


What I probably won't accomplish by the end of July:

I've been listening to the Harry Potter series as a reread for the Harry Potter Reading Challenge. The challenge goes through the end of July, but it's becoming increasingly unlikely that I'll finish listening to all the books by July 31st. Does this bother me? Not in the least. I'm enjoying listening to them and will continue until I finish (whenever that may be).


What I did accomplish this weekend while I was not reading Angela's Ashes:

Memorial Day Weekend and Thanksgiving are the two big Wine Tasting events. Many wineries are only open or set up at event facilities on these two weekends. We plan for it and take advantage.

We spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons driving out to the wine country of the Northern Willamette Valley. Saturday's stop was a place with five wineries and Sunday's hosted three. We had a wonderful time talking about and tasting wine.



Oh yeah - we now have two boxes like this that we didn't have on Friday.



I also had an opportunity to play with my brand new camera for the first time and I think I adore it.  Stay tuned for upcoming Wordless Wednesday and Hangin' with Howie posts to see the results.



On Memorial Day itself we did a 10k race. The Hubster is the runner in the family and his sister and our niece also ran the race. I'm a walker not a runner but have learned over the years that if I pin a number on my shirt and have someone just slightly faster or slower in front of me I immediately lose all sense of "just treat this like a training walk and there's no reason to go all out". The weather was a bit damp for my racing preference, but the rain did let up just in time for the race. This event was one of the few to have a separate category for walkers. I finished with a respectable time (1:19:50) and all but one of the folks who finished in front of me was a true racewalker.



There you have my roundabout explanation why it looks like there will be another week here at Whimpulsive with only one book review posted. I'm not in a reading slump, I'm not burned out on reading or blogging, I'm just enjoying life.

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The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

>> Friday, May 28, 2010




The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner



Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 397
Challenges: none
Source: ARC from Bookbrowse





The Short Version:
Fictionalized memoir of a powerful woman, who was the last of a famous Italian dynasty, became Queen of France and spent the rest of her life keeping her children on the throne of her adopted country

Why I Read It:
I’d had C.W. Gortner’s first book (The Last Queen) on my TBR list after reading so many positive reviews but hadn’t read it yet. When I had the opportunity to get this new book through Bookbrowse, I jumped at the chance.

The Book:
Orphaned at a young age, Catherine was the last of the famous Medici family of Florence. She was raised by relatives until the Medici were thrown out of Florence, at which time she lived in a convent during the siege of Florence. Her uncle, Pope Clement II brought her to Rome and then began the process of marrying her off in a way that was to his benefit.

As a teenager, she was married to the Dauphin of France. Her marriage was complicated by the presence and influence of her husband’s long term mistress. Nevertheless, she managed to perform her duty as a royal spouse and produce heirs. When Henri died at a relatively young age Catherine moved into her most well known role of Queen Mother. Three of her sons ruled as king of France and she either served as regent or influential advisor to all of them.

During Catherine’s lifetime the conflict between French Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots was a long standing and continually simmering battle. At times she supported religious tolerance and at others supported the ouster of the Huguenots. This ongoing religious and civil war was the dominant problem in France but Catherine’s focus was always on making decisions based on what would keep the Valois Monarchy on the throne.


My Thoughts:
Although Catherine de Medici has been a peripheral character in almost any 16th century European historical fiction I’ve read, I’ve never read any book focused on her. I’d already heard good things about C.W Gortner’s first book (The Last Queen), and was very happy to have been able to read an ARC of this book. It would have been a wonderful book to just totally immerse myself in over a short time, but circumstances interfered with that so it took me longer than originally anticipated to read this. Gortner’s storytelling is such that I never felt like I had to become reacquainted with the book or characters when I was able to return to it despite the large number of people and events to track. Certain things were either left out or slightly altered but I think it made the story more readable.

Catherine is such an interesting character and despite what is known of her, there is also much speculation and guesswork regarding her motives and methods. I thoroughly enjoyed the way that the author presented Catherine as a young girl eager to fulfill her expected role, a mother and politically savvy monarch. The opposing sides of her nature and actions are all present in the story and make it difficult to decide whether to love, despise or sympathize with her. I think that I ended up with somewhat mixed feelings about Catherine. She knew that as the daughter of noblemen, her life was not her own, but after the death of her husband she became a power to be reckoned with as she did everything she could to secure the throne for her children. Whether what was necessary was right or moral may not have always been what determined her actions, but perhaps her ultimate motivation was right. She was clearly a complex woman in a complex time.

I was very impressed with the character, the story and the writing. I’m looking forward to reading The Last Queen and am eagerly awaiting Gortner’s next book. I’d been heading for a return to historical fiction in my reading mix and this was just an excellent one with which to kick that off.


Rating 4.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #34

>> Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lake Wenatchee, Washington



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Why I haven't read a thing since Thursday

>> Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I haven't read any of my current book since last Thursday so obviously there's no book review for me to post. The reason I had no time to read was because I was out of town for a wonderful long weekend with friends near Leavenworth, Washington.


 
We rented a large vacation home in the woods near Lake Wenatchee. At a 6 hour drive from Portland and on the other side of the mountains from Seattle, it's not exactly a place you drop in to for a long weekend. It was a bit tricky to manage the logistics of getting folks from Portland, Washington, Florida and Oklahoma all in the same place, but we did and it was totally worth it.



Considering we all originally met online is it any surprise that our electronics inventory for 7 people included 6 laptops, 4 iphones, 3 blackberrys, and I'm not sure how many cameras? Although we really didn't spend that much of the weekend plugged in, it was amusing to look around the room at times and see everyone with their laptop or iphone fired up at the same time.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend of fun, conversation, relaxation, more laughter than I've experienced in a long time and even roasting marshmallows in the fireplace for s'mores.




As for reading . . . didn't happen and I'm glad to have been too busy having fun to read. Today it's back to the routine and back to my book - I'm currently in the middle of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner (it's being released today) and loving it.

For those of you who read my Rant about Borders and poor incentives regarding disposable cups I have a bit of an update. I wrote a letter and sent a copy of my blog post to both Borders and Seattle's Best Coffee. Although I believe that the pertinent decision is from Borders, I included Seattle's Best because it reflects on both companies. When I got home yesterday I had received a response from Seattle's Best. It's pretty much a 'thank you for your feedback' and a coupon for a free drink, but at least it's a response and I know someone read and passed on my concern. Borders? Still haven't heard a thing from them.

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Audiobook - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

>> Friday, May 21, 2010


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (Audio)

Genre: Fiction
Series: #4 in the Harry Potter series
Publication Date: 2000
Read by: Jim Dale
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #22, The Harry Potter Reading Challenge #4
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Things get a little darker with this one in the series at the same time the kids are growing up and adding the complications of more adult relationships and general teenage traumas to the already complicated mix.

Why I Read It:
I’m just enjoying the heck out of listening to these as a method of re-reading. It’s increasingly unlikely that I’ll finish all of them by the end of the challenge, but I really don’t care.

The Book:
As I’ve said before on the re-read via audio posts, I’m not going to bother with any kind of plot summary. By now you either know it or you don’t want to know.


My Thoughts:
As always, Jim Dale does an exceptional job of reading this series. The minor quibbles I have with some of the voice characterizations he uses are either becoming less pronounced or I’m getting used to them.

The Quidditch World Cup and Tri-Wizard Tournament were a nice way to expand the scope of the story to include characters beyond Hogwarts and the wizarding folk in England. The introduction of other Wizarding schools and characters from other countries expanded the cast and world of Harry Potter in a good and interesting way. It also reinforced the breadth of the influence of Voldemort.

The fun is bigger, but the dark side of the story is bigger too. As the main characters age the story gets more complex and the themes darker and Harry is forced to face things and experiences that are more than kids (even wizard kids) his age should not have to face.

Although it’s not going to make it any likelier that I’ll finish listening to the entire series by the end of July, I did try something a bit different toward the end of this one. I listened to the last two CD’s with my ipod audiobook playback set to the ‘faster’ setting. I’ve never tried that before and had presumed it simply speeded up the whole recording and changed the reader’s voice so that it would be like listening to the Chipmunks. Then I ran across a discussion post in the Audiobooks group on Goodreads where the faster playback was described as not significantly altering the narration, but shortening the spaces between words so I decided to give it a try. By this time I’m quite familiar with Jim Dale’s reading and knowing that with 17 cds for this book and 23 for the next book (followed by 17 each for the final two books) decided that speeding up the process was worth a try. It took a little bit of getting used to but I think it might be a good way to shorten some of the listening time for the remainder of the series. I wouldn’t do this with every audiobook, but with a re-read of a story I’ve already read once, it works.


Rating 5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #33

>> Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My new toy


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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

>> Tuesday, May 18, 2010




The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood




Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Publication Date: 1985
Pages: 395
Challenges: None
Source: Purchased Used




The Short Version:
Unsettling story of a dystopian world where everyone and particularly women are strictly relegated to specific roles and role of the handmaid is to bear children for others.

Why I Read It:
It has probably been 20 years since I first read this. A recent conversation on Twitter led to a readalong of this book hosted by Pam at Bookalicio.us for Margaret May. While I’d read the book ages ago and remembered the basic story this was the perfect opportunity for a re-read.

The Book:
Set in the not to distant future, the story is told by a handmaid known as Offred (she never reveals her real name). While she can remember the times before, she is forced to deal with her current circumstances. The Republic of Gilead is a highly structured society where people are required to exist within the rules for their assigned roles. Offred is a handmaid and her role is to bear children. She lives with The Commander and his wife (the wife was a televangelist in the time before). Once a month they all participate in a ‘ceremony’; the sole purpose of which is to impregnate the handmaid in a twisted interpretation of the biblical story of Rachel, her maid Bilhah and Joseph.

In the Republic of Gilead, women are not allowed to read, have their own money or hold jobs. There is a strict moral code that all must comply with or suffer the consequences (various forms of punishment, exile to The Colonies, or even death).

Offred tells the story of her current circumstances interspersed with recollections of her life before the political and environmental changes that led to the development of The Republic of Gilead. The reader gradually learns of her life in the time before with her husband and daughter as well as the things she experienced as the world around her changed.

An odd but interesting afterward adds a whole additional tweak to the readers' perspective.

My Thoughts:
I remember reading this book when I was in my late twenties and finding it quite unsettling. When Margaret Atwood wrote this in the early 1980’s it was a time when the ‘Moral Majority’ was growing and in the news along with the activities of some of the more well known televangelists and other religious organizations becoming very politically vocal and active. At that time of my life it was not a huge stretch to imagine a government like that of the Republic of Gilead in power somewhere and sometime.

Re-reading it now was still a bit unsettling. Different things jumped out at me this time. Beyond the ‘religion’ that developed in Offred’s world there were other things I found jarring. I just about dropped the book when the description of the collapse of the United States Government included the statement “They blamed it on the Islamic Fanatics”. Hmm – the more things change, the more they stay the same? 25 years after the book was published and parts of it still sound like the evening news.

I think what stood out for me while reading it this time was the difference from most other dystopian fiction I’ve read in the past couple of years. In most of those the current society and government has been in place for a long time and any references to a time before that remotely resembled our current world was far in the distant past. In The Handmaid’s Tale the storyteller is very much a participant in both the present and past societies. The drastic changes have taken place fairly recently and she had a full adult life in the time before and to read of her longing for that while she’s facing the facts of her current existence made it seem that much more real and touching to me.

You’ll have to forgive me. I’m a refugee from the past, and like other refugees I go over the customs and habits of being I’ve left or been forced to leave behind me, and it all seems just as quaint, from here, and I am just as obsessive about it.

This was definitely worth a re-read and I although I was only able to participate in one of the scheduled discussions hosted by Pam, I enjoyed it very much. Next week, I’ll be watching the movie version and our last Margaret May discussion will be about the book versus the movie.

If you are thinking about reading and discussing this for the first time or as a re-read please check out the Classics Reads Book Club at http://classicreads.wordpress.com/. They’ll be reading and discussing this book together beginning in July.

Rating 4.5/5

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Hangin' With Howie

>> Sunday, May 16, 2010

When you don't actually fit in the bed there's always at least one leg left over.







Other times you just say "What the hell, it's actually quite comfy this way'"



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Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

>> Friday, May 14, 2010


Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

Genre: Mystery
Series: #4 in the Maisie Dobbs series
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 319
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #21
Source: Library


The Short Version:
Former maid, now private investigator Maisie Dobbs searches for the truth about an artist’s death in 1931 London.

Why I Read It:
It’s a series I enjoy and it had been a while since I read the last one

The Book
In 1931 London, Maisie Dobbs has established her own business as an Investigator and Psychologist. Her newest client is well-known journalist Georgina Bassington-Hope, who wants someone to investigate the death of her twin brother. Nick Bassington-Hope died on the eve of a major exhibition of his paintings. The police have ruled the death an accident, but Georgina doesn’t believe that.

In order to learn the truth about what happened to Nick, Maisie has to get to know his family and friends. Wealthy and eccentric, the Bassington-Hopes all seem to have secrets. And Nick’s masterpiece that was about to be unveiled is nowhere to be found. Maisie’s investigative ability and intuition are both needed for her to get to the truth.

While spending time with the privileged folk who could afford to spend a fortune on artwork, Maisie sees her assistant Billy Beale and his family struggle to scrape by. The sometimes bitter class divisions and lingering pain in post war London is as much a character and storyline in this book as is the mystery of the artist’s death.

My Thoughts:
Although these are mysteries, I find them incredibly peaceful to read. They are not fast paced, but to me that doesn’t make them plodding, it enhances and reflects Maisie’s calm measured approach to her cases. I enjoy that these books are part mystery and part historical fiction set in England between the two World Wars. It’s a period I haven’t read that much about and Winspear paints a vivid picture of both the time and place. The wounds of World War I are still very much a part of life and while life and society are returning to a new normal, there is tension between the working class and privileged and every once in a while hints of the turmoil to come out of Germany.

I like that the pacing of the story mirrors Maisie’s approach to her investigations. It’s measured, deliberate and not complete when the initial answer to the mystery is discovered. As Maisie says:
“My work does not end when a solution to a given case is found or the grain of information sought is discovered. It ends only when those affected by my work are at peace with the outcome.”

This was a satisfying episode in the continuing story of Maisie, her friends, and England in the 1930’s.


Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #32

>> Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Candytuft bloom in fortuitous sunbeam



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Confessions of a Serial Reader – The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith

>> Tuesday, May 11, 2010


This is a series that I have enjoyed without ever picking up and reading one of the books. It’s one of those series that I’ve only read via the audiobook versions (more about that later).

Set in Botswana, the books tell the story of Precious Ramotswe as she launches her detective agency and a new life for herself. The wit and charm of this series just make me smile. The observations about people and life as well as the love that Mma Ramotswe has for her homeland of Botswana make her someone I’d like to know.



The series currently consists of 11 books. I’ve listened to the first 10 over the past several years. As soon as I finish my current audiobook project (the entire Harry Potter series), the next audiobook I listen to will be The Double Comfort Safari Club.

Each book usually contains several cases for The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Mma Ramotswe and her assistant Mma Makutsi also have their own lives and relationships that progress throughout the series. There is an interesting cast of secondary characters that move in and out of the limelight of the stories. Sometimes the cases take on the elements of a true mystery, and other times they are a matter of Mma. Ramotswe guiding her clients as they find own truth or peace with circumstances. There is humor, sadness, love, loss and the joy that Precious Ramotswe finds in life and in Botswana.


This is one of those series that I’m not sure I’d enjoy as much if I read them as opposed to listening to them. Lisette Lecat does such a great job of creating distinctive voices for the characters and energizing them with individual personalities it’s just a pleasure for me to listen to her. I just giggle every time I hear her say “Ninety Seven Percent”. One of the reasons I like listening to this series is that I’m unfamiliar with the pronunciation of the names and places so it’s nice to not have to struggle with that aspect.  I mean I seriously would have had no idea where to start with pronouncing “Tlokweng Road”.

The stories fit perfectly with the way I listen to my audiobooks. My listening time is pretty much limited to the times I’m in my car by myself, which means morning and afternoon drives between home and the train station and general driving around town time. Because of that I listen in fairly short 10 to 15 minute increments. These books are fairly light and slower paced so they really lend themselves to that type of listening format.

When I heard that HBO was adapting this series for television I was a bit leery of how it would turn out. I’ve only watched the first episode, but I can say that I think they did an excellent job of casting the major roles. Someday I’ll watch the HBO series.

Alexander McCall Smith speaks about Precious Ramotswe’s Botswana in this 2008 Times Online article.


The Author’s website at Random House is a great source for more information about Alexander McCall Smith and this as well as his other series.

My favorite part there  is a useful list of What's What and Who's Who related to The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.

If you read this series, I hope you’re looking forward to The Double Comfort Safari Club as much as I am.  If you haven’t read any or only some of the books, I’d strongly encourage you to try the audiobooks read by Lisette Lecat.  They’re truly a treat.

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All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

>> Friday, May 7, 2010



All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris


Genre: Mystery / Vampire / Romance
Series: #7 in the Sookie Stackhouse series
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 323
Challenges: Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge #7
Source: Purchased New



The Short Version:
Sookie attends a Vampire Convention at the demand of the Vampire Queen of Louisiana and of course it becomes way more complicated than she expects.

Why I Read It:
It’s the next in a series that I’m having fun with and trying to finish through book 9 by the end of June for the challenge.

The Book:
With any series it’s difficult to discuss plot without giving spoilers to the earlier books so if you haven’t read the others yet, skip down to My Thoughts.

Between what happened in the previous book and Hurricane Katrina, things are not looking good for the Vampire Queen of Louisiana. She’s hurting financially and emotionally in the aftermath of the hurricane. On top of that she’s set to go on trial for the murder of her husband at the Vampire Summit in Illinois. The gathering of Vampire royalty from the Central US makes for an interesting combination of court proceedings, convention, sales expo and gala. Because of the pending trial and expected political gamesmanship, the Queen of Louisiana demands Sookie’s presence so she can gauge the truthfulness of what she’s being told.

Sookie is reluctant, but feels she must go and decides to make the best of it and enjoy as best she can the experience of her first big convention like event and visit to a part of the country that is new to her. As a bonus, Sookie’s latest love interest, Quinn the weretiger is also going because his company is handling the arrangements for the special events.

Between the political intrigue among the vampire royalty and the growing antipathy toward the vampires by the Fellowship of the Sun, there’s potential for even more trouble that Sookie can imagine.

My Thoughts:
As with the other books in the series this was mostly just a whole heck of a lot of fun. Lots of returning characters of varying species and getting the story out of town again was fun. I did miss the Bon Temps crowd a bit (particularly Sam), but the change of venue from book to book is one of the things that keeps the series interesting.

I’ll admit to growing a bit weary of a new type of creature showing up in every book. This time it’s folks from a whole different dimension. I quite think there is enough of a cast of species already, but that’s also part of the formula so I don’t really expect it to change. It’s not going to keep me from reading and enjoying the series.

This one was suspenseful and with a few predictable and a few unpredictable turns along the way.

Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #31

>> Wednesday, May 5, 2010

dewdrops on hosta


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I rant about Borders but it's not about books

>> Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Borders: encouraging customers to do the right thing? You're doing it wrong.

Some background:
I work downtown 3 days a week. The closest most convenient drinkable coffee (in the form of a large Americano) is right across the street at the Seattle's Best Coffee Cafe inside the Borders Books store. Last year I finally got myself on the right track and bought a 20oz thermal coffee mug that I take over and have them use instead of disposable paper cups. Conveniently, since using my mug saves them money, I get 10 cents taken off the price of my coffee when I bring my own mug. All good. Good for me. Good for the environment and the extra change goes in the tip jar for the best baristas in town.




◄-------- Yay!!!!










But then:
Seattle's Best stopped using a stamp card method of earning a free drink after X number of purchased drinks. Borders introduced a 'new and improved' method that would replace the stamp cards with tracking purchases via our Borders Rewards cards and coupons for free drinks when we'd earned them would be emailed to us. Great. Good for me with no stamp card to lose. Good for the Baristas since they are already scanning our Borders Rewards card. All good, right?

Plot complication coming through:
I never really thought about it much until one day one of the Baristas who knows me well asked me if I was getting my free drink coupons in my email since she'd never seen me use one. When I told her no, she recommended I contact Borders Customer service. I did and was informed that the coupons must be going into my spam folder. Just to verify if this was indeed the case, I updated my email for the Borders Rewards program to one that I could easily monitor the spam folder. No coupons ever appeared in either my mail or my spam folder.

I love me a good mystery, so upon further review of the email from Borders Customer Service I found some details about the Cafe Loyalty Program

For every 5 beverages purchased within a 30 day period, you'll receive an e-mail with a coupon to get a free beverage. Every time a 5th beverage is purchased, the 30 day period starts over. The coupon is good for 1 week only and you must present your Borders Rewards card to get the beverage. The offer is valid in Seattle's Best cafes only.

For a beverage to qualify the item must be at regular price; it cannot be discounted. The drink item must also be priced greater than 99¢. Multiple beverages purchased in the same transaction are all eligible. Also, purchases made during Happy Hour, an in-store offer that runs every Mon-Thurs from 3-5 pm, do not qualify for café accruals.

So that's the major malfunction:
By using my own mug and not a disposable, (worse for the environment) paper cup and cardboard insulating sleeve I was not only getting 10 cents off the price of my coffee, I was also getting a discount that disqualified my purchase from the Cafe Loyalty Program. Just to verify this I did not use my own mug for 2 weeks and Voila! in my email I get a coupon for a free beverage.



Where's the incentive to do the right thing Borders??


Boo !!!!!---------►







So, from now on, I'll take my mug when I go over to get coffee in the morning, but request that I not get the discount for using it. After 5 drinks and 50 cents more than I've been spending, I'll get a free beverage with a regular price of much more than 50 cents. I never pocketed the the extra 10 cents in change anyway, it went into the tip jar. So the Baristas will get a bit of a smaller tip when I buy my coffee, but when I use the free beverage coupon I'll make sure they get a tip that makes up for it. They earn it. There's a good group of kids who work there that know their regular customers. It's nice to be greeted by name and have them know what I'm getting without asking. It's not their fault that Borders can't figure out how to make the incentive to do the right thing for the environment also the right thing for rewarding customers.


and no incentive to do the right thing.

Pffft!!



*** 7/27/10 Edited to add: please see my follow up regarding this topic.

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Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart

>> Monday, May 3, 2010


Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart

Genre: Mystery
Series: #2 in the Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire series
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 328
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #20,  What’s In a Name 3 #5 (Body of Water)
Source: Library


The Short Version:
Another ancient preserved body is found in an Irish peat bog but when a second contemporary body is found with similar evidence of ritual killing, forensic pathologist Nora Gavin and archaeologist Cormac Maguire end up not only investigating these deaths, but are also under suspicion themselves for present day crimes.

Why I Read It:
I read the first book in this series last year and enjoyed it so when I realized that it would qualify for the What’s in a Name challenge it seemed like a good time to continue the series.


The Book
The peat bogs of Ireland have proven to preserve both inanimate objects and sometimes human remains. Nora Gavin is a forensic pathologist who has made a study of these bog bodies part of her ongoing research. When she is called to the site of a new discovery at the Loughnabrone (Lake of Sorrows) bog it also provides an opportunity to spend some time with Cormac Maguire who she’d met a year earlier. He’d arranged for them to stay at a nearby cottage while she worked and he finished an article he was writing.

In the process of excavating and researching the site of the newly discovered body, a second body is found. Initially it is thought to be as old as the first due to evidence of a similar ritual killing, but the presence of a modern day wristwatch on the body turns the archaeological research site into a possible crime scene.

The investigation soon involves not only Nora, Cormac and the local police, but also Ursula Downes the onsite archeologist who has prior connections to  Cormac as well as an antagonistic relationship with the manager of the peat harvesting operation. There are also many local residents who are possibly enmeshed in the crimes (both past and present). The multiple storylines play out slowly and become gradually more intertwined and complex. The stakes get more and more dangerous for everyone before the truth comes out.

My Thoughts:
As with Haunted Ground, this second book in the series is densely packed with characters and places that play important roles in the final story. There are several intertwining story lines and many past connections that come to play a role in the present day. The continuing story of Nora and Cormac begun in Haunted Ground is not any less complicated a year later. She’s torn between the potential relationship with him and her inner desire to return home to see her sister’s killer brought to justice.

Once again I was fascinated with not only the mystery, but the characters. There are too many complex people all interconnected and entangled in the story to even begin to touch on them in this post. The complexities of small town life mixed up with scholarly research and modern day criminal investigation is hard to describe. That it all takes place in a very Irish setting makes it that much more interesting to me.

I don’t find Erin Hart's books to be fast paced thrillers, but I do recommend them if you’re interested in thoughtful, atmospheric, interesting and well written stories that can be complicated, yet come down to basics of human nature and interaction as the motivating forces behind the action.


Rating 4/5

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