I love this whole week. Here in the U.S. it seems to be all about the food. Yes, you could say that Thursday is one of our great eating holidays. Families and friends gather around a table and share a bigger than normal meal – a feast. Most of us try to duplicate what we think the original settlers, the Pilgrims, ate on their first harvest festival in the new country. That’s why every decoration and every grocery store features turkey at this time of year. (59 cents a pound at our local store, but a whole lot more if you want the organic free range variety.)
Here at the “ranch” in northern California we are gearing up for a crowd of twenty-three. That means a whole lot of food and drink. That also requires a ton of preparation. Where will we seat everyone? We could set tables up on the deck but, what if it rains? Do we have enough chairs or silverware or napkins? Will one turkey be enough? We have so many guests from out of town, maybe we should think about serving breakfast.
As experienced feast planners know, you can’t pull off such a big event like this in just one day. Nor can you do it alone. As far as I’m concerned, this is the beauty of this holiday. To pull it all together there has to be lots o conversation among the group who will gather. Planning together and working ahead allows everyone to enjoy Thursday’s celebration.
So the menu has been set and volunteers have chosen the food they will cook from that menu. Another list is looking for volunteers to set up tables, bring extra chairs, set the table, and, of course, clean it all up. My husband and I have our assignments and today is the day to begin. We’re focusing on the food we will contribute. We’ll get our grocery list together, clip some coupons, and head out to get the job done. Oops – I just remembered that I should clean out the refrigerator before I put the new food in there. (Okay, leftovers for lunch and dinner.)
Tuesday will be my day for baking bread. One thing I’ll make is Apple Muffins for Thanksgiving breakfast. There is a bag in the freezer I’ve been saving for this special occasion. It’s a bag of small chunks of apple from our tree out back. (The Gravnsteins were so good this year.)
Wednesday I will try out a new recipe for an Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie. We’ll also prepare the raw vegetables on Wednesday so there won’t be so much to do Thursday morning. Working together helps. It doesn’t feel like a job. I am very glad to be retired so I can sit and rest in-between each chore. I do remember years in the past when these things were done after a long day of full-time work.
In past Thanksgivings I used to get out of bed early to get the turkey going. I’m so glad that has changed. Now the next generation is in charge of preparing the turkey. Of course, this generation is much smarter. They simply moved the start of dinner to mid-afternoon. There’s no need to get up before sunrise to get the turkey going.
So now, instead of cooking most of the dinner, my tasks are contributing to the feast. I’ll be making my Corn Souffle (recipe previously shared) and some appetizers and the bread. My husband will make his special Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts.
This is a better way to celebrate Thanksgiving. When everyone shares in the feast preparation, we all enjoy the holiday. We can enjoy gathering together as a community of family and friends. We’ll be giving thanks for our collective harvest of good food, good health, and especially good company. I’ve noticed in past years that the thankfulness usually extends to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If nothing else, the leftovers are so, so good.
I trust your week of Thanksgiving will be as rich as ours. And I hope you also find a little time to enjoy those people you love the most.
Author: James Sheehan
Publisher: Center Street, October, 2013
Genre: Legal Thriller
Format: Paper and eReader
Source: Publisher via TLC Bood Tours
My Rating: A+
In this novel an “Alligator Man” is a term coined to describe a CEO who goes about swallowing up whole corporations, taking the good parts and spitting out the remaining scraps. Roy Johnson was such a man. One of the companies he ruined was called Dynatron. To get a picture of the devastation, think Enron.
Roy Johnson left the Dynatron with hundreds of millions of dollars in his pocket and then let the company to go bankrupt. Employees lost their jobs, health insurance and pensions. Some people died. With no health insurance, they didn’t have the resources for good care.
Now, years later, Roy Johnson is living in south Florida, off in a very small town west of the Everglades. He doesn’t have much of a life isolated in his mansion in the swamp. He does like to drink late at night and take a walk along a county road that goes past his home. One night he is hit by a car which causes him to fall off the side of the road into the swamp. It’s the mating season and the alligators are aggressive. The Alligator Man has fallen in with his own kind – the alligators.
Most everyone believes this is pure justice but some good basic detective work shows it was murder. Who would want him dead? Nearly everyone. How to narrow the field? Again, good simple detective work.
This was an exciting novel to read. What I’ve told you so far is just the beginning. There’s a lot to the story and, best of all, it’s character-rich. Let me share with you a couple of my favorite characters:
- Carlisle Buchanan is a young man who grew up in the Everglades. He is most at home out on the water. He knows his way around the waterways. He understands how to maneuver an airboat through the mangrove trees and over roots. Carlisle is a part-time auxilary deputy who found of Roy Johnson’s clothing and his wallet. He’s also the one who found an eye-witness as well as a good clue as to how the man was killed. He’s the one who has good basic detective skills, better than experienced officers.
- Kevin Wylie is a young man with lots of experience as a criminal attorney. He’s also the son of a legendary attorney. Unfortunately, father and son haven’t seen each other in twenty-eight years. They are together now representing one of Kevin’s childhood friends who is accused of murdering Roy Johnson.
There are so many good “people” in this book that the author made me care about them all. Each one of the characters has a nicely developed story of their own. Fortunately, the author has woven them together to make the larger story very compelling.
In addition to compelling characters, the story is very fast paced. The chapters are short. reminding me of a good James Patterson novel. Each chapter is focused on one particular character and segment of the story.
At the end of each chapter I was so involved that I wanted to keep going – had to keep going. It never felt disjointed to go from person to person and from one story line to another. For me, it was storytelling at it’s best.
By the end of the novel I was satisfied – but I wanted more books by James Sheehan. I have two of the author’s books waiting for me on my kindle. I’m eager to get started. Watch out for this author. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more from him. Even our local public library has The Alligator Man and there is a waiting list! Whoa – I don’t need to say more
About James Sheehan
Born and raised in New York City, Sheehan moved to St. Petersburg, Florida to attend Stetson Law School and was a practicing trial attorney in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for 30 years. He is now the Director of the Tampa Law Center at Stetson University College of Law and is also a Visiting Professor of Law. Sheehan is the author of three acclaimed legal thrillers, the bestselling The Mayor of Lexington Avenue,The Law of Second Chances and The Lawyer’s Lawyer.
To connect with James, visit his website, Jamessheehanauthor.com.
I want to extend my thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all. To see other stops on the book tour, visit the schedule here: TLC Book Tours
Thanks to the publisher, I am able to give away one copy of The Alligator Man. Open to US/Canada residents. Please leave a comment indicating you are interested in the giveaway. The Giveaway will end November 30.
Thanks to Kathy at BermudaOnion’ Weblog, we have Wondrous Words Wednesday. This fun meme is how we share the new words we discover as we read.
This past week I was looking for other book reviews for a book I reviewed – JFK’s Last Hundred Days by Thurston Clarke. While reading them I discovered a couple of new-to-me words.
1. bildungsroman: The former Kennedy speechwriter Theodore C. Sorensen and the aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. focused on Kennedy’s record and the promise of his vision, creating a sort of bildungsroman portrait of the president, as learning and growing on the job.
A bildungsroman is a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education.
2. hagiography: “ . . and they also make this intermittently interesting volume feel like a sentimental work of hagiography.”
Hagiography has several meanings but in this sentence it means the biography that idealizes its subject.
That’s what I found this week. I hope you encountered some new Wondrous Words.
An exciting legal thriller is one of my favorite genres. I’ve read good things about the books of retired trial lawyer James Sheehan. I bought two of his books but, before I could even start them, I was asked to be a part of a book tour for The Alligator Man. Reading this one should be a good way for me to see how good he is. Here’s how the first chapte starts:
Gazillionaire Roy Johnson was, among other things, a lush. Every night somewhere between ten and eleven, Mighty Roy would get a bottle of red wine from his wine room, walk outside into his enormous backyard garden, and sniff his various, expensive tropical flowers. Then he’d sit in his overstuffed chair, drinking by himself until the bottle was empty and he’d have to get up and get another one.
He’d screwed a lot of people over to get to that position in life.
What do you think? Did it make you want to keep reading?
Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea asks us to share the first paragraph of a book we are reading. As you can see it’s called First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros. Visit Diane to read more First Paragraphs.
Author: Jen Turano
Publisher: Bethany Press, October, 2013
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Paper and eReader copies
Source: The publisher via TLC Book Tours
My Rating: B
I love a good old-fashioned historical romance. This one was very good. In it I found all the things that make up a good romance:
- lots of witty banter,
- immediate attraction and sizzle whenever the two main characters are near each other,
- tension as they fight that attraction,
- supporting characters that are funny in how they plot to bring the two together, and,
- in Historical Romances, a good feel for the culture of the era in which the story is set.
In A Talent for Trouble we travel back to the 1800s and a small town in New York. We first meet Felicia. She’s just had her “life plan” torn apart. She thought the local minister was the man for her. She’s spent four years rearranging her life, her actions, and even her wardrobe, to suit him. But now he’s married someone else.
As her family and friends try to console her, she realizes that she hasn’t been true to herself. She sets out to go back to being who she really is. Her friends and family also ask Grayson Sumner, who happens to be Lord Sefton, to pay attention to her in an effort to cheer her up. That lit the match, the sparks fly, and the story takes off.
The story is not overly complicated, but it was enough to keep my interest. Grayson has a past that he thinks should keep him from a serious relationship and Felicia doesn’t trust herself when it comes to falling for another man. As you can see, A Talent for Trouble was a lighthearted story that kept me reading. I had to see what might happen next. There were enough shenanigans and other language thrown in to remind me I was mentally in another era.
I had a couple of minor complaints. I thought Felicia, at times, behaved more like an eighteen-year-old than a twenty-four-year-old. Although I loved the character of Ruth, Felicia’s mother, she tended to also act like Felicia was much younger. A few other things seemed to be a bit un-believable.
The publisher, Bethany House, is known for publishing good Christian fiction. There was no overt religious message in the book. Just people of faith living their lives. Overall, a good story.
I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour. One of my fellow tour hosts, A Chick Who Reads, pointed out how much the woman on the cover of the novel looks like the author, Jen Turano. I completely agree. Here are the two pictures. What do you think?
About the author:
Jen Turano, author of A Change of Fortune, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, and A Talent for Trouble, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in Clothing and Textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado.
Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.
Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all. To see other stops on the book tour, visit the schedule here: TLC Book Tours
JFK’s LAST HUNDRED DAYS:The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President
Author: Thurston Clarke
Publisher: Penguin Press, July 2013
Format: Audiobook, Read by Malcolm Hillgarther
Source: The publisher
My Rating: B
Everyone in my generation has answered this question numerous times:
Where were you on November 22, 1963?
It’s a date and an event we’ll never forget. That’s the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
It’s hard to explain the incredible impact this event had on our thinking, our emotions, and, for some of us, our actions. But here we are, fifty years later. It’s time to look back and remember.
So many books have been written about JFK over the years, and many more now to celebrate this anniversary. I chose to read this one, JFK’s Last Hundred Days, because I liked the idea of focusing on the last few months of his life. What was he doing just before he died?
The author, historian Thurston Clarke, tried to create an in-depth look at the former President. He divided the books up by days and made it feel like a diary or a journal. Mr. Clarke showed us the events that happened on each day and at the same time gave us background on that event, sometimes personal background and sometimes political.
As the book opens we see JFK rushing to be with his wife and then rushing to Boston with their two-day-old premature son. The baby died while the president held his tiny hand. We see how that event really shook the president and caused him to make a sincere effort to be a better husband and father. The author didn’t hide JFK’s extensive womanizing, but honestly believed the president was a changed man.
The personal life of JFK, both at that time and other events in his earlier life, are interspersed with the president’s politics and policies. There is a recap of the schools he attended and his pt-boat experience during the war. At the beginning of the book there is a statement about his older brother Joseph who died in World War II: Jack didn’t just take the place of his older brother, he lived his life.
During these last months of his life, JFK examined and worked on issues such as the test-ban treaty, U.S. military presence in Vietnam, civil rights and so forth. Unfortunately, this book makes assumptions about what JFK would have done had he lived that seemed over the edge. For instance, the author implies that JFK was planning to bring home the advisors from Vietnam in order to keep the war from expanding.
All of the information in this book was obtained from numerous sources such as other books, papers, friends and associates of the former president. Other reviewers have questioned the authenticity of some of this information. There’s no way I’ll ever know for sure. The author is a fan of JFK and presented him in positive terms.
However, if the author was trying to show that JFK was a truly great president as the subtitle of this book implies, I think he missed the mark. Kennedy didn’t live long enough, wasn’t in the office long enough to accomplish that. That’s the real tragedy of this assassination. It’s why the assassination meant so much to my generation. We saw the promise of what could have been and then saw that promise cut short. Our assignment was to live our lives fully and to carry on the promise that had been ended.
Do I recommend this book to you? Yes. I mentally talked and argued with the author all the way through the book, but that’s why I can say read it for yourself. It will be good for reminiscing about those “good/bad old days” and for discussion.
Do you remember where you were on November 22, 1963?
I listened to the audiobook version provided for me by Penguin Audio.
Fellow Word Lovers: I read an article this past week that is made for us. The article’s author, Michael Kinsley, was reviewing a new book, Double Down by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The first thing Mr. Kinsley mentioned in his article was his amazement at all the new words in the book. Of course, that was also part of his complaint.
As a word lover, I found the article delightful. In the first two pages there were ten new words. Here they are: suasive, acuminate, appetent, pyretic, hoggery, noisomeness, coriaceous, vomitous, freneticism, and retrograde.
All these new words are found in the book the article writer was reviewing. He actually thinks the authors went way overboard with the newly-created words. I want you to get the flavor of this article so I’m quoting the first paragraph of the article.
“Chasmal.” Is that a word? Here, I’ll use it in a sentence for you: “Santorum had been turfed out of office in 2006, losing his re-election bid by a chasmal 18-point margin.” According to Merriam Webster, it is indeed a word, meaning “resembling a chasm.” In other words, Santorum got beaten badly. But why use other words, when “chasmal” is available?
I found the article fun. If you’d like to read it for yourself, the article is here: War of Umbrage I haven’t decided whether I’ll read the book. I’m tempted just for all the new words.
The article was in the November 10th issue of the NY Times Sunday Review of Books.
This post is part of Wondrous Words Wednesday. Thanks to Kathy at Bermuda Onion for this always enjoyable meme.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly fifty years since the assassination of President John Kennedy. So many books have been written about this man and many around this anniversary. I chose just one of them to read, JFK’s Last 100 Days. It was written by the historian Thurston Clarke.
Prologue to the Last Hundred Days
Even though people may be well known, they still hold in their hearts the emotions of a simple person for the moments that are the most important of those we know on earth–birth, marriage, and death.
What do you think? Would you keep reading?
Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea asks us to share the first paragraph of a book we are reading. As you can see it’s called First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros. Visit Diane to read more First Paragraphs.
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur Books, August 2013
Source: Public Library
Format: Audiobook, Read by Ralph Cosham
My Rating: A+
I’ve been reading Louise Penny’s series of mysteries two years ago when several fellow book bloggers recommended her to me. They are wonderful mysteries – well plotted and beautifully written. As you may remember, I was reluctant to read her eighth and ninth books because that is all she has written so far. I didn’t want my Louise Penny reading to come to an end.
But then, a couple of months ago I started reading Book 8, The Beautiful Mystery. The book was, of course, up to Louise Penny’s high standards, but – it left me hanging. The mystery was solved but the circumstances of some of my favorite characters were unsettled.
There was no way I could wait long for Book 9. I could hardly wait to get it, much less read it slowly and savor it. So, the minute I got the newest book, How the Light Gets In, I started in on it. It picked up where Book 8 left off and I was happy.
**Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read Book 8, The Beautiful Mystery, you may want to skip down to the end of this review. I find it impossible to talk about some of the events in How the Light Gets In without mentioning some of the events in the previous book.
As How the Light Gets In begins we see that Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is even worse off than when we last saw him in the previous book. All but one person in his once illustrious homicide division is gone. Now the department is filled with detectives who are lazy, dishonest, and definitely disloyal to Gamache. Chief Superintendent of the Surete, Francour, is doing everything he can to sabotage Gamache and force him into retirement.
Equally as disturbing is the fact that Jean-Guy Beauvoir is no longer with Gamache. For years Gamache had been Beauvoir’s mentor and a welcome member at family events. But now, Beavoir is hooked on pain-killers and is both a physical and psychological mess. He’s also working for Chief Superintendent Francour.
Superintendent Francour has been an enemy to Gamache for years. He is intent on destroying Gamache. But, even worse, Francour has plans to elevate himself at the expense of thousands of people. Over a period of a few days Gamache and a few loyal friends set out to figure out Francour’s scheme and, somehow, stop him before it’s too late.
While all of that is playing out there is another problem, this one coming from the village of Three Pines. The bookstore owner, Myrna, asks Gamache to check on a former client (Myrna is a retired psychologist) and friend. When Gamache finds the friend, she is dead, murdered. As Gamache investigates, he discovers she is the remaining member of a set of famous quintuplets. (It will remind you of the Dione quints.)
The ending of this book made me very happy. Everyone gets involved in solving the murder of Myrna’s friend, including key members of the village of Three Pines. The mystery surrounding Chief Superintendent Francour comes to a very tense and terrifying conclusion. (The good guys win and there’s a surprising twist involving Ruth, the rude and famous poet .)
Overall, this is a complex novel, but one that is very satisfying. Louise Penny picked up plot-threads that have been brewing since her first book in this series and brought them to a conclusion. As usual, the author gave her readers something to think about. Gamache and other characters wonder how it’s possible for some of the detectives to turn and become dishonest.As an answer, Gamache (and Louise Penny) quote from a song by Leonard Cohen:
Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There’s a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
And there we have a little philosophy and the title of the book.
An excellent book that I highly recommend.
Louise Penny has a lovely website here: Louise Penny and a fun Facebook page here: Louise Penny on Facebook The photography is amazing on both sites, well worth looking at.
I listened to How the Light Gets In. Ralph Cosham is Armand Gamache for me and, evidently, for Louise Penny as well. There is a very interesting interview between the two of them at the end of the book reading. In it Louise Penny confesses that Ralph Cosham’s voice is the one she hears when Gamache speaks. Nice.
Wondrous Words Wednesday is how we share the new words we discover as we read. This week I only found one while I was reading but I found a related word while roaming through the dictionary.
While reading the Times I came across intransigence. For some reason my brain thought of the old hobos who used to travel from town to town. That just didn’t fit the sentence. I had to look it up. First, here’s the portion of the sentence containing the word:
“ . . . that it came to realize that it couldn’t forever be the party of intransigence in a nation of progress, without being burned by the friction inherent in those two warring concepts.
Intransigence means being unwilling or refusing to change one’s views or to agree about something.
While looking through the dictionary I found the word I was thinking about: transient. That word means something only lasting a short time, or impermanent – like hobos.
Thanks for letting me share my weird brain patterns this week. And, a big thanks to Kathy at Bermuda Onion for this always enjoyable meme. Be sure to pop over there and visit.