Wordless Wednesday #100

>> Wednesday, August 31, 2011

At Edenvale Winery
Medford, Oregon


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Confessions of a Serial Reader – The New Ones

>> Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Last month I talked about some of the ridiculously long series I’ve started and may or may not finish. Today I’m going to talk about a few new series that are still at that only one or two published stage. I’ve read the first book in each of these and an eagerly anticipating the second books that are planned (or in a couple of cases already published but not yet available in the US). Whether or not these will actually become extended or lengthy series I have no idea.

If you’re looking for some new mystery series with interesting characters and settings but don’t want to tackle an already extensive backlist here are four good new series to think about while they’re still at the stage of only adding one or two books to your TBR list,

Here are four very good ‘first in a new series’ books that I’ve read recently and consider worthy of highlighting. (Clicking the titles of the first books link to my reviews)

The Quinn Colson Series by Ace Atkins.
The Ranger by Ace Atkins
The first book is The Ranger which I described as a blend of old fashioned western and contemporary mystery. Atkins is great at building atmosphere and tension. The hero is a likeable Army Ranger with Southern roots. If you like Jack Reacher you should check out this book because Quinn Colson reminded me a lot of Reacher but with roots to a hometown that Reacher doesn’t have. The second book is not out yet but expected release is next summer.



The Laurence Bartram Series by Elizabeth Speller.
The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth SpellerI had no idea there was a second book when I read The Return of Captain John Emmett. It’s not one that blatantly sets up a continuation or follow up at the end, but I was very pleased to discover that there is already a second book available currently in the UK. I don’t know when it will be released in the US. This is not a fast paced story, but is one in which the elements are gradually revealed. I thought it was an excellent blend of mystery and historical fiction. The Post World War I time and setting in England grabbed my interest. Fans of the Maisie Dobbs series might like this one set a few years earlier.


The Captain Natalia Monte Series by Jan Merete Weiss
These Dark Things by Jan Merete WeissThese Dark Things was one I picked up because I wanted to read something in an altogether different setting than anything I’d read lately. Captain Natalia Monte is one of the few female members of the Carabinieri (Italy’s National Police) and stationed in her home town of Naples. This first book was relatively short but the author managed to pack in a lot of story without it crumbling into chaos. I don’t see a publication date for a second book, but it’s definitely being marketed as the beginning of a new series.



The Department Q Series by Jussi Adler-Olsen
The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-OlsenThe first book in this series was just released in the US with the title The Keeper of Lost Causes. There are already four books in the series that have been published in the author’s native Denmark. I was intrigued by both the setting and the premise of the series establishing how Department Q is established and the main characters. I’m eagerly anticipating the US release of the next in the series.



What about you? What first in a new series book have you read recently that you've been recommending to your friends? What second in a new series are you counting the days until you you can get your hands on it?

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Short Story Monday – Death by Drowning by Agatha Christie

>> Monday, August 29, 2011


I’m finishing up the to the last of the related short story collection featuring the Tuesday Night Club.

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Death by Drowning by Agatha Christie
Part of a collection published as The Thirteen Problems originally published 1932
Published: originally published 1932 this edition published 2004 by Harper Collins


The first twelve stories in this collection were grouped in two sets of six. The first six were The Tuesday Night Club group gathering at their weekly meetings to share and ponder mystery stories. The second set of six in this collection took place at a dinner party that included Sir Henry Clithering and Miss Marple from the Tuesday Night Club group as well as a few new characters.

In Death by Drowning, Sir Henry Clithering makes a visit to St. Mary Mead and is encouraged by Miss Maple to get involved in a murder investigation.

The morning calm at the Bantry;s house where Sir Henry is visiting is broken by disturbing news from town, A young woman from town is found drowned in the river. It was fairly well known that she was pregnant and unmarried and that the father of the child was a young man visiting from London. The initial speculation was that the girl had killed herself rather than face her family. Later that morning Miss Marple comes to visit and tells Sir Henry that she is sure the girl was murdered and that the wrong person will end up being hanged for the crime. The problem is that Miss Marple has no proof that the person she suspects actually committed the crime. She gives Sir Henry a slip of paper with the name of the person she suspects and asks him to find a way to participate in the investigation

Although the local investigators are sure they know who the perpetrator is, Sir Henry keeps asking questions and nudging their investigation further. Sure enough by the time the slip of paper from Miss Marple is revealed, the real killer has confessed.

I have enjoyed the introduction to Miss Marple that this collection of stories provided. I will definitely be adding some of the other Miss Marple books by Agatha Christie to my reading list.


Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

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Weekend Update: August 27, 2011

>> Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekend Update

This week:
I finished The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen and now I can hardly stand that I have to wait for the next in the series. It’s very good. I decided I need a break from crime fiction and picked up the first book in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It’s The Lightning Thief and I have to say I think I was hooked as soon as I saw that the title of the first chapter is “I accidentally vaporize my Pre-Algebra teacher".

For my audiobook I’m still listening to The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith. I should finish that up today since I’ve got some driving to do today. I haven't decided for sure what's next. I updated my ipod last night with a new set of books so I'll go with whatever whim strikes when I finish the current one.

Other than books and reading:
For feeling like I’ve been busy I really don’t have a lot to show for it beyond a bunch of to do lists that seem to grow as fast as I check things off. I’m counting down the days until college football starts. It’s been a long football-less few months.
I finally got Photoshop CS5 so now I need to get it loaded on my computer and start playing with the tutorials. That was one of my goals this year that I've been saving for and I'm happy to have met that first part of the goal in actually getting the software. I’m looking forward to learning and playing. Maybe I’ll finally get around to doing something with the photos from our vacation at the coast earlier this month.

Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
 Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I’ve seen enough chat from folks I trust about this one to decide to add it to my list. I think I’m going to wait until the library has the audio version though.


Purchased this week:
I didn’t buy anything this week. I’m trying to not get distracted by the shiny new stuff long enough to read a few that I already have and catch up on a few review books I’ve committed to reading.


I know I said I wasn’t going to check out books from the library beyond the one I already had, but I’m a victim of the hold list. I’ve been on the waiting list for Turn of Mind and it came in this week. Now I just need to get it read before it’s due back. I’m hedging my bets and keeping my name on the waiting list at the other library just in case.

Library Stack

Have a great weekend!!

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The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

>> Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-OlsenMercy by Jussi Adler-OlsenThe Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Genre: Crime Fiction
Series: #1 in the Department Q series
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 490
Source: Copy provided by publisher through NetGalley. I also received a copy of the UK Edition titled Mercy which is why I posted both covers.


The Short Version:
A troubled Copenhagen detective is assigned to a new department handling special cases and the first is the case a well-known female politician who disappeared off a ferry five years ago.

Why I Read It:
When I first read the email from a publicist at Penguin it sounded like something I would like. I’ve been enjoying reading crime fiction set in interesting locations.


The Book:
Copenhagen detective Carl Mørck hasn’t been the same since the ambush that killed one of his partners and left the other paralyzed. His bosses decide the best way to avoid dealing with him is to assign him to the newly created “Department Q”. It’s a new unit that is to focus on ‘cases deserving special scrutiny’. To Carl’s bosses it’s a way to get him out of their area and shuffle him off to the basement with a stack of cold cases.

Carl is assigned an assistant named Assad who is a Syrian refugee nearly as mysterious as their cases. The first case they take on is the disappearance of Merete Lynggaard. She was a beautiful Member of Parliament who disappeared five years earlier on a ferry ride to Germany. To the surprise of Carl as much as his superiors, the case turns out to be not nearly as cold as expected and rather than sitting in the basement smoking his days away as a slacker, Carl and his assistant end up tracking leads missed or lost in the original investigation.

My Thoughts:
Even though I’d figured out some of the mystery partway through the book, it was still tension filled all the way to the end. I think I might have held my breath for the final 100 pages.

The book moves back and forth between Merete’s story beginning in 2002 and Carl’s investigation in 2007. The way it’s told keeps the final outcome in question even though I suspect that crime fiction fans will figure out at least part of it somewhere in the middle. The story moves along and the time lines begin to converge in a way that will make you want to read faster and faster.

I liked the interplay between Carl and Assad. Their relationship as they began to work together provided humorous moments in a story that at times was extremely dark. This is well done without it turning into the ‘witty banter’ that can be so common and overdone in many cases. I’m glad that this is a series (4 books so far published in Denmark) and I look forward to investigating more cases with Carl and Assad.

In addition to the primary case there are additional investigations by Carl’s former teammates that allow for him and Assad to interact with others at Police Headquarters despite their isolated basement office home. Carl’s personal life is almost as messy as his work life. It’s part of the story and adds to the development of Carl’s character without becoming too much of a major detour. His recovery both physically and emotionally from the ambush that left one friend paralyzed and another dead is as much a part of the story as the investigation into Merete’s disappearance.

Despite a couple of places where it goes a bit over the top and throws in an unnecessary roadblock or two just for effect, it’s a very well done psychological thriller. It’s those minor elements that kept this from being a 5 star book but it won’t keep me from eagerly watching for the release date of the next Department Q book. I highly recommend this one.


Rating 4.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #99

>> Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Log beam in West Shelter
Cape Perpetua, Oregon


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1105 Yakima Street by Debbie Macomber

>> Tuesday, August 23, 2011

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
1105 Yakima Street by Debbie Macomber

Genre: Fiction
Series: #11 in the Cedar Cove series
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 366
Source: Copy provided by publisher through NetGalley

The Short Version:
Another visit in the town of Cedar Cove focuses on two pregnancies and a family dealing with aging parents.

Why I Read It:
This is one of two Debbie Macomber series I read. I’ve followed the people of Cedar Cove through eleven books and I’ll be sad to see the series end.

The Book
Cedar Cove, Washington is home to many residents that readers have grown to know over the years and 10 previous books. Obviously some of what follows contains potential spoilers for earlier books in the series.

From the publisher:

Dear Reader,
You've probably heard that my wife has left me. Rachel's pregnant, and she says she can't handle the stress in our household anymore. My thirteen-year-old daughter, Jolene, is jealous of her. Maybe it's my fault. As a widower I spoiled her- Jolene was reading over my shoulder just now and says that's not true. She claims Rachel ruined everything. But that's not true. The real question is: How can I get my wife back? I don't even know where she is. She's not with Teri Polgar or any of her other friends from the salon. The other question is...when will Jolene grow up and stop acting like such a brat? Of course, I'm not the only one in town with problems. Linc Wyse's father-in-law is trying to destroy his business. And you know Charlotte Rhodes? Seems she's becoming forgetful, and the family's worried about her and Ben. Lots of other stuff going on-but Rachel is better at keeping up with it than I am. If you have any idea where my wife is, give me a call. Please.

My Thoughts:
Returning to this series is like sitting down for a cup of tea with an old friend and catching up on what’s been happening. I like to have series like this in the mix of my reading. It’s almost like a palate cleanser between heavier, darker or more involved books.

I’ve enjoyed my visits to Cedar Cove over the years. Debbie Macomber has announced the end of this series. The Christmas themed book to be released next month will be the last. I like when an author chooses to end a series rather than keeping it going until reader interest fades away. I agree with her choice to do this now. I like the series but ending it soon is appropriate.

This time around the story focuses on two pregnancies and the troubled relationships of the mothers to be. Since it’s a Debbie Macomber book I knew from the beginning that most of the troubles of her characters would be worked out by the end of the book. There are still a few hanging threads but I have no doubt that the next and final book will end on an upbeat note.

In addition to the pregnancy stories many of the threads that have woven through this series over the years are touched on and the catching up with old friends continues. There are characters I like, some I don’t and while yes there are predictable happy or positive outcomes to most of the storylines it’s a fun light series for the times when that is exactly the kind of book I want to read.

Rating 3/5

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Short Story Monday – The Herb of Death and The Affair at the Bungalow by Agatha Christie

>> Monday, August 22, 2011



I’m winding down the to the last of the related short story collection featuring the Tuesday Night Club.

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The Herb of Death and The Affair at the Bungalow by Agatha Christie
Part of a collection published as The Thirteen Problems originally published 1932
Published: originally published 1932 this edition published 2004 by Harper Collins


I read two more stories from this collection this week and will finish up the last one next week. I’ve fallen in love with Miss Marple and will definitely be reading some of the books that feature her.

The dinner party and sharing of mystery stories finishes up with these two stories. The most reluctant storytellers of the group are the last to participate.

In The Herb of Death, Mrs. Bantry is reluctant but is finally persuaded to share a mystery

Her reluctance manifests itself in the way she tells her story. In a few short sentences she tells of a dinner party in which foxglove leaves were mixed with sage and result in the death of the party host’s niece. When the rest of the group realizes that Mrs. Bantry is done with telling her story they decide to turn it into a twenty questions type of game in which they take turns asking Mrs. Bantry questions to round out her story. This results in a bit more information and enough for the expected Miss Marple solution. Along the way however is also some very humorous pokes at the actress Jane Heiler who seems to always be few minutes behind the rest of the group in keeping up with what is going on. I liked the extra giggles I got with this story.


In The Affair at the Bungalow, it’s Jane Heiler’s turn to share a story.

As expected from the earlier stories and in particular The Herb of Death which immediately precedes this one, Jane Heiler’s turn at telling a mystery story is quite disconnected and a little hard to follow. It starts out with her attempting to hide the identities of the people involved but she quickly gives away that her story is not about a friend, but herself. While rehearsing a play she is unexpectedly called to the police station to confront a young man accused of theft from a nearby bungalow. She doesn’t know the man and his story seems to indicate that he was misled into thinking a message he received was from Jane when in fact it was from someone pretending to be Jane. Soon it turns out that nearly everyone was called away from the bungalow under false pretenses and the identity of the person who stole the jewelry is more and more difficult to figure out. In fact after everyone makes their attempts at the answer, Jane admits that eve she does not know the true outcome. The group gives her a hard time for not exactly playing by the ‘rules’ of their game but admit it was still fun to guess. As she is saying goodbye, Miss Marple whispers something to Jane that indicates our intrepid little lady has once again been the only person to figure out the real truthl

What fun – particularly reading these two together. There is one story left in this collection and it’s on my agenda for next Monday.


Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

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Weekend Update: August 20, 2011

>> Saturday, August 20, 2011

Weekend Update

This week:
Since last week’s Weekend Update was all vacation photos I’ve got some catching up to do.

I spent the first part of my vacation totally wrapped up in and enthralled with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’m still trying to write up a coherent review for this one because every time I start it just gets all gushy. I can sum it up with
“Get the book. Read it”. I’ll try to become coherent about it soon so I can get the review posted before the release date in a couple of weeks.

I had to follow that experience up with a book that wasn’t going to interfere with the pieces of The Night Circus that were still swirling around in my brain. Times like this are when I turn to some reliable comfort style reads and Debbie Macomber’s latest Cedar Cove book was perfect. I enjoyed another visit there as I read 1105 Yakima Street.

I’ve started The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen. The UK title is Mercy and I have that edition as well as an e-galley of the US edition so I’m reading both titles of the book depending on whether I’m reading on my ipod or the hard copy. So far it’s a wonderful crime fiction story set in Denmark and I’m hoping to spend some quality time with it this weekend.

While on vacation, The Hubster and I listened to Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. I’m now back to listening to The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith.



Other than books and reading:

After a lovely and relaxing vacation the transition back to the normal work routine wasn’t too bad.

The fact that summer has finally arrived here in the Pacific Northwest has helped a lot. I’ve been spending what free time I have either on the porch or patio reading since it’s been so darn nice.



Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:

This might be a first but I didn’t add anything this week.


Purchased this week:

In the Garden of The Beasts by Erik Larson
In the Garden of The Beasts by Erik Larson
Both The Hubster and I thought The Devil in White City was good and I've been wanting to pick up this new one from Larson.

As for my library stack, it’s going to hold steady at one right now.

Island of the Lost  title=

I checked this out to take on vacation in case either of us got the urge to pick it up. We both want to read it so I’m going to renew it and keep it around for just a bit.



Have a great weekend!

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Audiobook – Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

>> Friday, August 19, 2011

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

Genre: Non-Fictiom
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2011
Read by: Sarah Vowell
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The history of Hawaii as seen and heard through Sarah Vowell’s unique viewpoint and voice.

Why I Read It:
We had listened to two of Sarah Vowell’s earlier audiobooks on road trips and purposely planned ahead to be able to listen to this newest one on our vacation trip this month.

The Book:
I’m going to go with the publisher’s description of this book because it’s hard for me to explain.
Many think of 1776 as the most defining year of American history, the year we became a nation devoted to the pursuit of happiness through self-government. In Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell argues that 1898 might be a year just as crucial to our nation's identity, when, in an orgy of imperialism, the United States annexed Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and invaded Cuba, and then the Philippines, becoming a meddling, self-serving, militaristic international superpower practically overnight.

Of all the countries the United States invaded or colonized in 1898, Vowell considers the story of the Americanization of Hawaii to be the most intriguing. From the arrival of the New England missionaries in 1820, who came to Christianize the local heathen, to the coup d'État led by the missionaries' sons in 1893, overthrowing the Hawaiian queen, the events leading up to American annexation feature a cast of beguiling if often appalling or tragic characters. Whalers who will fire cannons at the Bible-thumpers denying them their god-given right to whores. An incestuous princess pulled between her new god and her brother-husband. Sugar barons, con men, Theodore Roosevelt, and the last Hawaiian queen, a songwriter whose sentimental ode "Aloha 'Oe" serenaded the first Hawaii-born president of the United States during his 2009 inaugural parade
.

My Thoughts:
Once I’d heard that Sarah Vowell’s latest was about Hawaii I pretty much made The Hubster read James Michener’s epic novel Hawaii before we listened to Unfamiliar Fishes. I’m very glad I did. I think that going into this book without some background of the history of the islands and the people who settled them would make listening to Unfamiliar Fishes a bit confusing.

While the unique style of the author’s writing and reading are very much as much a part of this book as her others, I hesitate to recommend this one. While we enjoyed it, The Hubster and I agreed that if this had been our first Sarah Vowell audiobook we would not have been eager to seek out her others.

It was fun in places. It was interesting. It was thoroughly researched and entertainingly presented. It was not her best. If you’re looking for a fun road trip or just entertaining combination of history, humor and oddball bits of information, I’d recommend Vowell’s earlier books Assassination Vacation and The Wordy Shipmates, but I would not recommend this one as an introduction to her work.

It was harder to follow the history in this book than in the others. There seemed to be much more jumping around in time and asides that stretched into major detours than in the earlier books.

We enjoyed it, but without some previous knowledge of the subject matter I’m not sure we would have enjoyed it as much as we did.



Rating 3/5



SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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Wordless Wednesday #98

>> Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stairway inside Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Newport, Oregon


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These Dark Things by Jan Merete Weiss

>> Tuesday, August 16, 2011

These Dark Things by Jan Merete Weiss

These Dark Things by Jan Merete Weiss

Genre: Mystery
Series: #1 in the Captain Natalia Monte series
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 217
Source: Library


The Short Version:
Captain Natalia Monte investigates a murder in Naples that revolves around a gangster, a blind monk, a college professor she’s clashed with, a few friends from her past and some ancient superstitions thrown in for good measure.

Why I Read It:
When I read about it in a Shelving Books post at S.Krishna’s Books it sounded like something I would like and since my library has a copy I was able to do an impulse request.

The Book:
Captain Natalia Monte is one of the few female members of the Carabinieri (Italy’s national police). She serves in her home town of Naples. When a college student is found murdered and her body staged in an underground crypt, the case is assigned to the Carabinieri because the body was found in a National Monument. The investigation soon becomes complex. Was the blind monk in love with the girl? Did her professor harbor jealousies of her academic achievements? Are the local gangsters involved? Could one of Natalia’s childhood friends be wrapped up in this?

Local political corruption and a crime syndicate that is refusing to collect the garbage adds to the stink of the mess Natalia and her partner are investigating. And her partner’s infatuation with her is just one more complication.

My Thoughts:
For a relatively short book there was a lot going on, but the author manages to pull it off without it becoming complete chaos. I enjoyed the setting and really could feel and see the city of Naples as I read the book. Natalia’s own history in the city and with many of the characters added a lot to her involvement in the investigation. Experiencing Naples through her eyes and her memories of her childhood made the story more real.

I liked Natalia and despite her flaws I’m glad that this is the first in a planned series featuring her. Her partner Pino is also a great character and whether or not the relationship between them develops I would hope that he remains a featured character in any future books.

For all the twists and turns and complexities in the story it’s interesting and well done. Naples itself and its history both ancient and recent are very much a part of the story. The crime organization known as The Camorra and its influence on the daily life in the city adds to the atmosphere. There are so many suspects for so many reasons that the final outcome came as a bit of a surprise to me.

This is a darkly atmospheric police procedural set in a fascinating place and populated with intriguing characters. Take the opportunity to read this series from the beginning so that I’m not he only one eagerly anticipating the next book.


Rating 4/5

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Short Story Monday – The Four Suspects and A Christmas Tragedy by Agatha Christie

>> Monday, August 15, 2011



I’m continuing with the related short story collection featuring the Tuesday Night Club.

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The Four Suspects and A Christmas Tragedy by Agatha Christie
Part of a collection published as The Thirteen Problems originally published 1932
Published: originally published 1932 this edition published 2004 by Harper Collins

I’m continuing with this collection and I read two more stories this week. This has been such a great introduction to Miss Marple and is making me eager to read some of the books featuring her. The second set of stories in the collection takes place about a year after the meetings of the Tuesday Night Club when a new group of friends who enjoy puzzling out mysteries gather. Miss Marple and Sir Henry Clithering a former Scotland Yard Detective are the holdovers from the first group.

In The Four Suspects, Sir Henry Clithering is the one who tells the story.

It’s an unsolved case in which a man was found dead at the bottom of the stairs and while it may have been an accident, there were only four people at his house with him and all four are suspects in the mind of Sir Henry. Dr. Rosen had earned the enmity of a German Secret society and when he moved to England he fully expected that he would be killed someday. None of Sir Henry’s four suspects have an alibi or were seen by anyone else at the time of Dr. Rosen’s death. A key clue is the mail delivery the day of Dr. Rosen’s death and this time Miss Marple and Mrs Bantry (one of the other members of the group) together manage to solve the case.


In A Christmas Tragedy, it’s Miss Marple’s turn to share a story.

She tells about her visit to a spa around Christmas time. One of the couples she met had her worried from the very beginning that the man was out to murder his wife. They were living off her income but not able to touch the capital. She was able to will her money to her husband and had done so. Miss Marple gave some examples of why her instincts were so strong about Mr. Sanders and his motives. One afternoon when Miss Marple and another woman are in the lounge, Mr. Sanders arrives from an outing with friends. He asks the ladies for their opinion on a gift he’d purchased for his wife, but when they go up to the room they see her body on the floor. Miss Marple then tells how the investigation into Mrs. Sanders death proceeded and asks the other members of the group if they’ve figured it out. Of course they haven’t so Miss Marple explains what really happened,

I’m enjoying the second group of stories in this collection even more than the first. I’m hoping to wrap up the final three next week.



Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

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Weekend Update: August 13, 2011

>> Saturday, August 13, 2011

Weekend Update



This week:
We've been on vacation and it's been wonderful.



Here are a few photos from my week, there are more over at Out on a Whim.

Our backyard for the week


Yaquina Head Lighthouse



Whatcha Readin' ??

The family next door


From Cape Perpetua

Have a great weekend!

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Wordless Wednesday #97

>> Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Newport, Oregon


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Short Story Monday – The Blue Geranium and The Companion by Agatha Christie

>> Monday, August 8, 2011



I’m continuing with the related short story collection featuring the Tuesday Night Club.

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The Blue Geranium and The Companion by Agatha Christie
Part of a collection published as The Thirteen Problems originally published 1932
Published: originally published 1932 this edition published 2004 by Harper Collins

I read two more stories from this collection this week. I’m enjoying all of these stories and getting to know the utterly delightful Miss Marple. The second set of stories takes place about a year after the meetings of the Tuesday Night Club when a dinner party that includes Miss Marple and Sir Henry Clithering becomes an evening of sharing mysteries.

In The Blue Gernaium, it is about a year after the initial meetings of The Tuesday Night Club, Sir Henry Clithering is staying with friends in the area again.

He suggests Miss Marple as a dinner guest because she might be able to solve a ghostly mystery his host has mentioned. In this story a cranky and demanding semi-invalid wife of a friend of his has died under mysterious circumstances. She was a cranky and demanding patient who had a succession of nurses. Her interest in fortune tellers was a source of both amusement and frustration for her husband. When a fortune teller warns her of a succession of blue flowers it's initially laughed off by everyone else, but when the 'fortune' begins to appear to be coming true they begin to take her fears more seriously. When she is found dead in her locked room and a blue geranium is found nearby, everyone wonders if someone can truly be frightened to death. Miss Marple, of course figures out the truth.

In The Companion, one of the other dinner guests, a Doctor Lloyd tells his story.

Continuing the sharing of mysteries with this new group of dinner guests, Dr. Lloyd tells of events that occurred when he was living in the Canary Islands. He had seen a pair of middle aged women who were tourists from England. His initial thought was that nothing interesting would ever happen to either of them. Of course he was wrong. The next day he came upon a disturbance at the beach. It seems that Miss Durrant was out swimming and Miss Barton said she'd called for help. When MIss Barton swam out to help her she also began to struggle and needed to be rescued by a man with a boat. MIss Durrant who was the paid companion to Miss Barton drowned. What was distressing was that one of the witnesses swore that she had seen Miss Barton holding Miss Durrant under water rather than helping her. Several months later Miss Barton herself drowned after leaving a suicide note confessing to a crime. Her inheritance went to some distant cousins in Australia. Miss Marple is naturally the only one of the dinner guests to pick up on the deceptions behind the story.

I’m glad that the second set of 6 stories in this collection continues the concept of a group of guests sharing mystery tales but with a new group at a dinner party. I didn't figure out either of these before Miss Marple solved them.

I’ve got 5 stories left in this collection and I’m having a great time reading them.



Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

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Weekend Update: August 6, 2011

>> Saturday, August 6, 2011

Weekend Update

This week:
I didn’t do a weekend update last week because between the to do lists and work and the to do lists at home I hadn’t read much or done anything fun so I skipped the update. That means that this week you get two weeks worth of update that might combine to make a week’s worth of update worthy stuff.

I finished The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller. I liked this one a lot and if you are one of those people who like the Maisie Dobbs series but feel it’s a tad bit short on mystery, yet you love the time and place, then you should read this one. I also finished These Dark Things by Jan Merete Weiss. This is a police procedural but the setting of Naples and a main character who is one of the few female officers in the Carabinieri (the National Police of Italy). I’ve really been on a streak of good books and this continued that streak. I’ve now just barely started The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’ve heard lots of good reviews so I’m hoping my expectations aren’t too high.

On audio I started listening to Trespass by Rose Tremain. I’d heard good things about both the book and the audio production but this one just didn’t grab and hold my attention at all. I gave it 2 and a half cds, but turned it off because in all honesty, at that point I really didn’t care what happened. I then turned to one of my reliable audio series and I’m now partway through The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith. I thoroughly enjoy Lisette Lecat’s reading of his Botswana series. Tomorrow The Hubster and I will be on the road so we’ll be listening to Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. I made him read Hawaii by James Michener so he’d have some background before we listen to it.

Where and When did I read in July

This has been fun to keep track of the past few months so here’s where and when my reading took me in July.

Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book – England and Italy early 1900’s

Dick and Jane and Vampires – Imaginary suburbia circa 1950’s??

Buried – London – present day

84, Charing Cross Road – New York and London 1949

Bury Your Dead – Present day Quebec City

The Return of Captain John Emmet – 1920’s England


Other than books and reading:

Not a whole lot other than work and a bunch of stuff that I needed to get done at home.

Safeco Field

We did take a day trip last weekend up to Seattle to go to a baseball game. We have the unfortunate affliction of being Seattle Mariners fans. We haven’t been up to Safeco Field for a game in a few years so it was time.

Play Ball


We lucked out and had perfect weather for the drive and game and they even managed to pull out a rare win. The team should probably pay us to go to games.
Headed Home


Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:

In the Dark by Mark Billingham
 In the Dark by Mark Billingham

I’ve been so focused on Tom Thorne series that I somehow missed this standalone.

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
 Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

I’ve been a fan of Archer’s ever since I first read “Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less” years ago. This beginning of a new series comes out at the end of the month.

Purchased this week:

 Bad Marie by Marcy Dermanskyr

This is one that a lot of people I know and trust have said is good, but it was one of those I’d have to set down face down every time because I really don’t like the cover. Harper Perennial had the ebook on sale this week so I bought that so I don’t have to see the cover.

As for my library stack, it’s currently non-existent. Right now I’m focusing on reading a bunch of books that I have in the house before I pile up the library books again.



Have a great weekend!

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A reason to love Powell’s even more – the iPhone app

>> Friday, August 5, 2011

It’s no secret. I love Powell’s.


I appreciate that I’m fortunate to live in Portland and can shop there whenever I want. I tend to do most of my Powell’s shopping at the Cedar Hills Crossing location because it’s closer to home, but I still love the downtown City of Books Location.


If’ you’ve never been to Powell’s I can assure you that it’s unlike any other bookstore I’ve ever been in.



Multiple floors and multiple rooms full of books. Getting around the store is a bit like living in the MC Escher print of the stairways going all different directions.


I can and have spent hours on any given day just roaming the aisles in Powell’s. Browsing one section can lead to a side trip to another and another and another.

I’m fairly familiar with the store and where my favorite sections are located, but to a first time or irregular visitor, finding a particular book can be a challenge. This is where your iPhone can come in handy.

Last time I was at Powell’s I couldn’t resist giving the free iPhone app a try.



First step is to do a search for the book you want. Narrowing it down to the title is sufficient because new, used, hardcover and paperback area all shelved together.



Pick your title then tap “Directions to Here”



It’ll want to know where you’re starting from., Look around the room you’re in will be easy to figure out from the color scheme. No there’s not a coffee colored room, that one refers to the in store coffee shop.



I was in the Orange room. From there it’s a simple matter of following directions and moving from screen to screen to as you move from room to room.


I love that there’s even an option to choose an accessible route if stairs are an issue for you or anyone you’re shopping with.

Yeah, I knew exactly where to go to get the book I wanted but it was more fun this way and for someone new to Powell’s I definitely recommend having this app with you.

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