Wondrous Words #310

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

My new words this week both came from a couple of trips I made to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

First of all, I went to Wikipedia to check the background of author Bill Bryson. In the first sentence I found this word:

disambiguation: “For other people named Bill Bryson, see Bill Bryson (disambiguation).”

I saw ambiguity as part of the word and I know that means a lack of decisiveness. So what does disambiguation mean? It means to remove uncertainty of meaning from an ambiguous sentence, phrase, or other linguistic unit.

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My next find in Wikipedia happened while I was looking up a landmark supreme court case, Brown v. Board of Education.

excoriated: In his memo, Rehnquist argued: “I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by ‘liberal’ colleagues but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed.”

Excoriate means to censure or criticize severely.

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Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

First Paragraph: Dancing At the Rascal Fair

I’m about half-way through this second book in Ivan Doig’s Montana McCaskill trilogy. I’m enjoying it even more than the first one, English Creek. This one is the tale of two young Scotsmen and their homesteading life in Montana. Here’s how it begins:

Rascal Fair.
To say the truth, it was not how I expected—stepping off toward America past a drowned horse.

You would remember too well, Rob, that I already was of more than one mind about the Atlantic Ocean. And here we were, not even within eyeshot of the big water, not even out onto the slow-flowing River Clyde yet, and here this heap of creature that would make, what, four times the sum total of Rob Barclay and Angus McCaskill, here on the Greenock dock it lay gawping up at us with a wild dead eye. Strider of the earth not an hour ago, wet rack of carcass now. An affidavit such as that says a lot to a man who cannot swim. Or at least who never has.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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firstparagraphEvery Tuesday I join Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea and friends to share the first paragraph (or two) of a book I’m reading or about to read. Feel free to join the fun.

Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Huck FinnIt’s been quite a while since I read this great old classic. I have a fondness in my heart for the book as I do about stories featuring children of this age group. But I did fear I might not like it as much now that I have read so many other adventure books (The Graveyard by Neil Gaiman, for one) under my belt. Fortunately, Huck didn’t disappoint me.

As most of you know, this book is the tale of a 13-year-old-boy in Missouri in about the 1870s. Huck’s mother is dead and his father is an abusive drunk who is seldom around. Huck is living with Widow Douglas in a clean house with nice clothing, good food, school and church.

Having to behave himself, go to school and church is just too much for Huck. Its not “normal.” He longs for his freedom and the ability to go where he wants, when he wants. So Huck runs away. Also running away is Jim, a slave that belongs to a neighbor woman. They didn’t plan to run away together, but they both end up on an island in the Mississippi River and end up traveling down the river from there.

Huck and Jim look out for each other, which is good. They need each other because, as they learn, there is quite a bit of danger and evil in the world. The two travel by raft and sometimes a canoe and meet a wide variety of characters. There is a family in the middle of a feud, numerous villagers and farm folk, and an amazing pair of con-men.

The con-men are the King and the Duke. They specialize in fleecing people in small towns out of their cash. Huck is forced to fall in with them for a while, but he really doesn’t like or trust them. Although they are dishonest, they do provide a lot of entertainment and adventure.

Coming back to this novel after so many years did cause me to see some things I didn’t remember seeing before. The racism and frequent use of the “n” word surprised me. Although it was years after the civil war, slavery was still openly practiced with no talk about it being illegal. This time I also noticed Huck’s growing sense of morality. He wrestled with the idea that he should turn in Jim as a runaway slave. He couldn’t do it, however, as he begins to see Jim as a fellow human being and a friend.

There is so much to think and talk about in this novel. It has great discussion material for any age group, from both historical and philosophical points of view. The literature itself can also keep a discussion going for a long time. The story is written as a conversation with all the regional colloquialisms, which I liked. I felt a part of what was going on.

If you haven’t read this old classic in a while, I suggest you give i a try. It definitely fits into a good summer reading list.

Wondrous Words #309

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

The words I’m sharing with you this week come from two blogs. Every Tuesday I participate in a meme wherein we share the first paragraph of a book we’re reading. My new words were found in first paragraphs. Here they are:

1. feint: “I illuminate my cement room with the 40 watt bulb hanging overhead and, huddled under blankets, flip open my notebook and spill ink across the feint-ruled page.”

When I first saw this word I thought the author misspelled the word. Maybe she meant faint? When I looked up feint I learned that it is an adjective which means denoting paper printed with faint lines as a guide for handwriting. It turns out I wasn’t too far off with my thoughts.

(Found on Universe In Words, it was in the first paragraph of The Incarnations by Susan Barker.)

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2.  conkers: “His shoes shone like conkers.”

A conker is a British noun meaning the hard shiny dark brown nut of a horse chestnut tree.

(JoAnn at Lakeside Musing shared a first paragraph of Old Filthy by Jane Gardam.)

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Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

First Paragraph: The Other Woman

This week I’m featuring an Agatha Award winning mystery. I like the way this author, Hank Phillippi Ryan, writes. This is the first book in a three-book series. So far, I’m completely involved. Here’s the first paragraph:

Other Woman“Get that light out of my face! And get behind the tape. All of you. Now.”

Detective Jake Brogan pointed his own flashlight at the pack of reporters, its cold glow highlighting one news-greedy face after another in the October darkness. He recognized television. Radio. That kid from the paper. How the hell did they get here so fast? The whiffle of a chopper, one of theirs, hovered over the riverbank, its spotlights illuminating the unmistakable—another long night on the job. And a Monday-morning visit to a grieving family. If they could figure out who this victim was.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday I join Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea and friends to share the first paragraph (or two) of a book I’m reading or about to read. Feel free to join the fun.

Book Review: Wings In the Dark

Wings In the Dark
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Author
: Michael Murphy

Publisher: Alibi

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction

My Reason For Reading This Book:

I’ve read the first two books in this great new mystery series and I had to keep going. The two main characters are worth spending time with. They are former private investigator and mystery writer, Jake Donavan, and Broadway and Hollywood actress, Laura Wilson. The stories are set in the 1930s. Each book has featured the fictional side of real (and famous) people.

What the Book Is About:

It’s 1935. Jake and Laura are finally married and are now on their honeymoon in Hawaii. They are trying hard to keep a low profile and just enjoy their tropical paradise, and each other.

But also on the island is their friend Amelia Earhart. Amelia doesn’t want to bother them because she is busy getting ready for her big flight from Hawaii to the Pacific coast. It’s never been done before. And then, a local businessman is killed right near Amelia’s plane.

Amelia is accused of murder which could mean all sorts of bad consequences. Amelia needs Jake and Laura’s help. The two detectives ferret out the clues and meet some interesting people along the way, including George Patton.

What I Thought:

Michael Murphy does not disappoint in this third installment. He’s very thorough in his research, which I really appreciate in an historical mystery. He also knows how to keep the dialogue flowing and how to keep everything lighthearted. This is not a heavy-handed mystery. It’s meant to be light and full of fun. It’s just right for a sit-on-the-porch-it’s-raining kind of summer day. Give it a try.

Here are the first two books in the series links to my reviews:

The Yankee Club

All That Glitters

Wondrous Words #308

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

Inspector LewisI like to watch PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. One of their series I like a lot is Inspectoe Lewis. Our library has added the entire series to their collection, so I decided to go back and gradually watch the whole series from the pilot and series 1 up to the present.  (It really is great to be retied.)

In series 1 there is a title for one of episodes that was foreign  to me:  Expiation

Expiation is a noun meaning the act of making amends or reparation for guilt or wrongdoing; atonement.

The word certainly fit the storyline of this episode. A woman is found hanging in her home, apparently a suicide. But, Inspector Lewis and his sidekick, Hathaway suspect murder. The woman’s background and that of her husband and close friends will make anyone’s mouth drop open. Making amends, or expiation, is what this story is all about.

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Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

First Paragraph: The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

I think most people have fond memories of reading Mark Twain’s classic tale. It has been decades, however, since I last read it and had forgotten most of it. I picked it up this past weekend and started reading. It shocked me with it’s crude language and frequent use of the “n” word. It starts off fairly tame so, here, see what you think:

Huck FinnChapter I.
You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly — Tom’s Aunt Polly she is — and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday I join Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea to share the first paragraph (or two) of a book I’m reading or about to read. Feel free to join the fun.

Book Review: Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

Big Stone GapPublisher: Random House 2000

A few years back everybody was reading Adriana Trigiani – except me. Somehow I didn’t feel the call. And then, a library display caught my eye. The books looked like good summer reading material. I decided I would try her debut novel, Big Stone Gap. I chose the audio version because it was the author herself reading the story.

Right away I loved the main character, Ave Maria (pronounced ä vā. She’s very particular about that.) Here are the first few sentences so you can see what I mean:

“This will be a good weekend for reading. I picked up a dozen Vernie Crabbtree’s killer chocolate chip cookies at the French Club bake sale yesterday. (I don’t know what she puts in them, but they’re chewy and crispy at the same time.) Those, a pot of coffee, and a good book are all I will need for the rainy weekend rolling in.”

Ave Maria is a book-lover! My kind of woman. Some other things to know about Ave Maria is that she is thirty-five, single, a pharmacist (she owns the pharmacy), her best friend is Theodore (a teacher at the high school), and she has the ability to read faces. (A Chinese art called siang mien she learned from a book.). In addition to all that, she has a heart of gold and is loyal to her friends. The only negative about Ave Maria is that she’s a bit naive when it comes to men.

As we first meet Ave Maria, we learn that her mother died a few months back. (Her father died over a decade ago.) Although Ave Maria has a good life in her small mountain town, she feels unsettled for some reason. She misses her mother, but it’s more than that. Before our visit with Ave Maria ends, we’ll see Elizabeth Taylor and John Warner visit Big Stone Gap, Ave Maria will make a surprising Italian connection, and there will be three marriage proposals in town.

Big Stone Gap was a nice, comfortable summer read. It had both laugh-out-loud moments and times when I shed some tears. It was a solid story that was very satisfying. The author’s reading of her novel on the audio version was very good with great mountain accents.

Ms. Trigiani wrote this book as the first book in a trilogy. Later she added a fourth book and then, last year the author produced a movie version starring Ashley Judd as Ave Maria. I haven’t seen it yet, but will soon.

If you weren’t among the many people who already read this book, I suggest you find a copy. You’ll like it.

Book Review: The Widow’s Son

Widow's Son
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Author
: Thomas Shawver

Publisher: Alibi July 2015

Genre: Mystery

My Reason For Reading This Book:

I read the first two books in the series and enjoyed them. I like the main character, Michael Bevan. He’s very flawed which makes him seem more realistic. Michael always wants to take a short-cut to success, so he’s willing to bend the rules a bit and skip a few steps in the process. I’ve known people like this. They make me shake my head sometimes, but they take chances that are interesting and often lead to amazing consequences.

What the Book Is About:
Michael wants to get into this super-snobby antique book sellers group and, of course, he’s willing to bend the rules a bit to do it. He happens upon a very rare book written by the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. Its worth a lot of money.

Michael also learns of this very old conspiracy to kill every descendent of every man responsible for killing Joseph Smith. Each man within the original conspiracy was to train his children to kill any descendent of the man originally assigned to him. Michael learns of this conspiracy from a client, Emery Stagg, a direct descendent of one of the original conspirators. Instead of killing the young woman he is supposed to kill, he falls in love with her and wants to save her. He looks to Michael for help because his family is intent on killing the woman and Emery for being a traitor.

What I Thought:

Any book about books can’t be all bad, can it? Of course not. This Rare Books Mystery series has been fun up to this point. Michael is his own worst enemy so he’s fun to follow. The only problem is that by the time I finished this book, I felt like I was done with the whole series. I’m not exactly sure why. The writing is still good, as are the characters. I liked the conspiracy part of the book as it seemed believable. I’m just not that interested in going on more adventures with Michael. The next book needs to be shaken up a bit, a little more creativity.

What I’m saying is this: The first three books were good. Go ahead and read them. When the next book comes out I’ll read the first chapter and then decide as whether I’ll keep going or not. That’s about as honest as I can be.