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Hi! My name is Margot. My blog is about the things I love to do. That could be what I'm reading, places we visit, my family, food, or whatever else is happening. I hope you'll stay and visit a while. Contact me by email: joyfullyretired (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Wondrous Words #248

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

I’m still focusing on words I found in The Accident by Chris Pavone. (Yes, I loved the book.)

1. ineluctable:  A few years ago, Jeff himself fell victim to the ineluctable trend, and grew a full beard, bushy as a whole but scraggly in spots.

Ineluctable means unable o be resisted or avoided.

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2. repp:  He considered himself in the full-wall mirror, a forty-sthing editor wearing the professorial outfit – gray slacks, herringbone jacket, blue shirt, repp tie, horn-rimmed glasses – that’s practically standard-issue to people with his type of job . . .

Repp or rep is a fabric with a ribbed surface, used in curtains and upholstery.

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: Black Chalk

This week I’m featuring Black Chalk by Christopher Yates. It’s a book I’m reading for an upcoming book tour. Here’s how it begins:

Black ChalkHe phones early. England greets the world five hours ahead of us and I answer before my day has gained its groove.

Before long I have agreed to everything he says.

Don’t worry, he says. I promise you it’ll be fun.

 What do you think? 

Would you keep going?

Every Tuesday 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.

firstparagraph

Agatha: Easy To Kill or Murder Is Easy

Easy To KillAs you know, I’ve been working my way through all of Agatha Christie’s novels in publication order. After reading her first thirty-seven books, I was getting a little tired of Hercule Poirot. I have a hunch Agatha (after thirty-eight books we are on a first name basis) was feeling the same way. I say that because here in Murder Is Easy, there is no Monsier Poirot at all!

Who we get instead is a very nice retired policeman named Luke Fitzwilliam. I liked him right away. In Luke’s case I don’t believe “retired” means he was in his sixties. He behaved more like he was in his forties. He has just returned from the “East” which I take to mean India, so it may be he’s retired from army service, which I think is after twenty years. Anyway . . .

Luke Fitzwilliam had just come off the boat and was on his way to London. As he was riding the train he met an older woman in the same compartment. Mrs. Pinkerton reminded Luke of his many aunts who had been so kind to him as a child. He listened politely as she prattled on about events in her village. She was on her way to London to visit Scotland  Yard. She believed there was a murderer at work in her village. She knew the murderer by a look that came over the killer’s face.

Luke didn’t take the woman’s statements seriously. He thought it was just one of many peculiarities  of “the old dears.” [Side note: Indeed! We “old dears” do get peculiar. Actually, most of us have been peculiar all our lives. It’s just more noticeable now.] Mrs. Pinkerton did tell Luke who the next victim would be – one of the local doctors. She thought the doctor a very nice man. so she wanted the killer stopped before he or she killed him.

Luke didn’t argue with Mrs. Pinkerton. In fact, he didn’t think about her again until her name appeared in an obituary notice. She’d been killed by a hit-and-run driver on he way to Scotland Yard. Luke didn’t do anything until a week later when he learned the doctor was dead.

Now Luke and his old detective skills go into gear. He knew from his experience that he would not be believed. He devised a plan whereby he could go to the village and, working undercover as a folklore writer, dig up some clues.

With the help of a friend who had a cousin in the village, Luke had a reason for being there and an introduction to some of the residents. He believed his easy manner would have people talking to him. That strategy had worked in the past.

The easy-going yet always alert Luke established himself in the village. He began talking to one person after another. He had help from a young woman named Bridget Conway. At first Luke thought of her as the blonde secretary, but soon he was in love. I liked Bridget too. Here’s how Agatha described her: “. . . she had force, brains, a cool clear intelligence . . .” She was also kind, but not a push-over.

The hardest part for me was to keep away from suspecting everyone. I kept thinking about the titles of the book, Murder Is Easy or Easy  To Kill. I’ve never thought of murder as being easy. I also remembered something Mrs. Pinkerton said to Luke on the train:

“No, no, my dear boy, that’s where you’re wrong. It’s very easy to killl — so long as no one suspects you. And you see, the person in question is just the last person anyone would suspect!”

For me, everyone seemed to be the last person I would suspect. There were a few characters I didn’t like so I figured they couldn’t be guilty. Or could they? And then I thought that the characters I really like must be the guilty ones. I was guessing until nearly the end.

Yes, Agatha had me to the very end. Again! And, that’s how a well-written, classic  mystery should be. That’s why I keep on reading the Queen of the genre.

Easy To Kill was first serialized (seven parts) in the Saturday Evening Post in 1938 and then published in book form by Dodd Meaf and Company in 1939. Murder Is Easy is the British title, also published in 1939. The book cover above is from the first edition. Thee image is from Wikepedia.

Challenges met: Agatha Christie Reading Challenge / Women Auhors / Lucky 14

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Mr.Penumbra
Have you ever known me to read a book containing a dungeon master, programming code and loads of geeky computer stuff. Yes, totally outside my comfort zone, but I picked it up from the library shelf and brought it home to read. You guessed it – I read it because of the title. How cozy to spend a whole book’s reading time in a book store, I thought.

And I was right. I did spend a lot of time in Mr. Penumbra’s quaint little bookstore. However, the bookstore is unlike any other bookstore. First of all, there doesn’t seem to be many customers. It is the Great Recession, but still, the store sits on pricey San Francisco real estate. How is the owner going to pay the rent with just a few customers? The people who do visit the store want the old obscure books, and they seem to be just borrowing them – with permission.

Clay Jannon is a smart young web-designer who lost his job due to budget cuts. To survive he takes a clerk’s job at the bookstore, working the midnight to 8am shift. As you can imagine, Clay has a lot of time on his hands. In addition, he has a very curious mind. He begins to dig into all the obscure books, the  ones he calls “the way back list.” Soon Clay is convinced that the store is a front for some kind of cult.

Clay enlists the help of his friends to help solve the mystery. Fortunately, he has a new girlfriend who works for Google. She has amazing access to technology that was way over my head. With all this help Clay finds himself looking at the customer’s reading habits, ancient books and secret codes dating back 500 years. His quest will lead him to discover that all of this is about more than Mr. Penumbra’s store. It’s world-wide and centuries old.

The audiobook I listened to was read by Ari Fliako. His dramatic reading was so perfect that I was completely entertained, even though what I was listening to was often not clear to me. This is definitely a book for a tech-savvy reader. I know enough about Google to believe they were often making jokes at Google’s expense. I’m not so sure about everything else.

Overall, a good listen. Read it just for the fun of it or suggest it to someone who knows more about technology than I do.

Wondrous Words #247

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.

I’m sharing more words from the thriller The Accident by Chris Pavone. This was a well-written book by a man with an exceptional vocabulary.

1. ubiquity:  Or she could do what she knows she should, and wants to do: get this published, quickly and quietly to protect herself, waiting for the inevitable ubiquity of the publicity . . .

Ubiquity is a derivative of ubiquitous. Its an adjective meaning present, appearing, or found everywhere.

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2. snigger:  There can be a lot of meaning, in a little snigger, between people with a long history.

I don’t know why I didn’t know this, but a snigger is a smothered or half-suppressed laugh.

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: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

This week I’m reading a book recommended by numerous fellow book bloggers. It’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Here’s the first paragraph:

Mr.PenumbraLost in the shadow of the shelves, I almost fall off the ladder. I am exactly halfway up. The floor of the bookstore is far below me, the surface of a planet I’ve left behind. The tops of the shelves loom high above, and it’s dark up there—the books are packed in close, and they don’t let any light through. The air might be thinner, too. I think I see a bat.

What do you think?

Would you keep going?

Every Tuesday 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.

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Catching Up With the Women’s Murder Club

12th iOf Never12th of Never

by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Little, Brown & Company 2013

It’s been a long time since I caught up with the girls at the Women’s Murder Club. Do you remember them? There’s Lindsay, the cop, Claire, the Medical Examiner, Yuki, the prosecutor, and Cindy, the reporter. Twelve books ago they were introduced to us by James Patterson. The whole story is that, together, the four friends work to solve murders.

The series has been fairly successful. They even mad a couple of seasons of a TV show under the same name. Unfortunately, they retired the TV show and, in my opinion, its time to retire the book series as well.

In 12th of Never the club members barely see each other, much less solve a crime together. They are each centered on their own lives and careers.

  • Yuki is prosecuting a case of murder against a sleazy lawyer, represented by his even sleazier lawyer.
  • Linsay gives birth to a little girl as the book opens. A week later she is back at work on actually two cases, one involving a serial killer from a previous book.
  • Claire finds herself removed from duty because the body of a woman in her morgue is missing. The main suspect is a star player for the San Francisco Forty-NIners.
  • Cindy isn’t doing anything connected with solving a case. She seldom appears in the story.

As you can see, there were too many story lines at work in this novel. On top of all that Lindsay’s baby gets sick and one doctor believes its a rare form of cancer. Lots of drama here and it distracted from the other story tracks.

I listened to the audiobook version of this story. It was narrated by January LaVoy. Ms. LaVoy did a good job, changing voices and giving the right passion to her voice during the dramatic times. Without the audio I probably wouldn’t have finished the book.

I don’t feel too bad about wasting my time however. The audiobook was only seven hours, so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on the book. I managed to clean out a closet with this one so it wasn’t a total waste.

Overall, I can’t recommend 12th of Never. It was such a disappointment.

Book Review: Sackett’s Land

Sackett's LandThere’s nothing like good historical fiction set in the “Old West.” Many of those stories were written by one of that genre’s legends, Louis L’Amour. That was back in the hey-day of the Western.

In Mr. L’Amour’s one hundred plus novels he featured lots of different characters plus the characters in at least three different families. One of those families was the Sacketts. A reader, like my husband, who  has read all of them several times, will come to know many members in this multi-generational family. I’ve also read some of these Westerns and I like the Sacketts. I’d never read the story of the first Sackett to come to the new world, so I decided to check him out.

Sacker’s Land is the story of Barnabas Sackett. As I first met him, he was a young man living in the Fens, a marshy area in eastern England in the late seventeenth/early eighteenth century. Barnabas does own a few tillable acres on his marshy land but, he’s not a farmer. Instead Barnabas works at a quarry miles from home. He is unusual among his neighbors in that he has traveled more than a few miles from home.

Barnabas owes a lot to his father. His father had been a successful soldier who did valient deeds for some important people. He taught Barnabas some significant lessons, not all about soldiering, but about his character. Barnabas remembers his father’s words and they guide him throughout his life.

Barnabas‘ father had saved the life of an important earl. In return, the earl wished to leave his father all of his property which would then pass to Barnabas. This situation caused Barnabas to have an enemy in Rupert Genester, a distant nephew of the earl. In order to have a clear path, Rupert knew  he must make sure that Barnabas died young.

With that threat hanging over his head you’d think that Barnabas would hide out somewhere or leave the country. Well, Barnabas did want to leave the country, but not to escape Rupert. After finding some ancient gold coins, Barnabas sold them and purchased “trade goods” that he could take to the New World and exchange for goods desired in England. But, as Barnabas was on his way to meet his two traveling companions on the ship, he was highjacked.

Barnabas woke up in the hold of a different ship. Yes, he was at sea. Rupert had hired a villainous ship owner to kidnap Barnabas and kill him at sea. But, Barbabas understood human nature. When the bad guys opened the lid of that hold, Barnabas showed joy at being on a ship. He told them he always wanted to learn to be a sailor. He began working hard at all the jobs on-board ship and the others were happy to have the extra help. Barnabas managed to stay alive until he got to the New World.

The next part of the story was just a little too coincidental to be completely believable. The ship Barnabas was on just happened to be in the same place in the New World as the ship his friends were on. Barnabas did manage to escape and to do some trading with the Indians, one of whom happened to speak English.

I won’t spoil the rest of the story by telling you all of the details. I’ll just say that Barnabas does manage to get back home to England with his haul of furs and potash. His adventures in the New World wet his appetite to go back again, this time with a wife and more goods to trade.

Parts of the story were a bit too much. I could have done with a lot less sword-fighting and other acts of violence. I would have preferred more time spent in America. I wanted to see the New World from the imaginary eyes of Barnabas and how he decided to make the New World his home. My huband tells me there is another book in the Sackett Series that will fill that need for me. It’s called To The Far Blue Mountains. Overall, Sackett’s Land was enjoyable. I’m ready to go find and read To The Far Blue Mountains.

Wondrous Words #246

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.

Last week I reviewed a new thriller that’s just out this month, The Accident by Chris Pavone. I found quite a few new-to-me words. Here’s a few:

1. viscous: She grabs the plastic handle of the carafe and fills the mug with hot, viscous, bitter, bracing caffination.

I should have known this word. Viscous is an adjective for things having a thick, sticky consistency.

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2. bobo:  . . . Ashers and Amoses with mops of messy curls in skinny jeans on scooters; all those self-satisfied downtown bobo parents, unabashedly proud of their progeny’s precociousness.

I’d never heard of a bobo before, but it turns out this is a word that originated in the 1990s. It refers to a person who has the values of the counterculture of the 1960s and the materialism of the 1980s. Mmm, I’ve known a few bobos i my life, haven’t you?

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3. palliative:  She was making her loneliness as comfortable as possible. Palliative care.

Palliative is an adjective referring to a treatment or medicine that relieves the pain without dealing with the underlying cause.

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: Sackett’s Land

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday 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.

I just finished reading one of my husband’s favorite novels. It’s a Louis L’Amour story about one of the first fictional people to come to America, or as it was called then, the New World. Here is the first paragraphs of the Preface to Sackett’s Land:

Sackett's LandPreface

We are all of us, it has been said, the children of immigrants and foreigners — even the American Indian, although he arrived here a little earlier. What a man is and what he becomes is in part due to his heritage, and the men and women who came west did not emerge suddenly from limbo. Behind them were ancestors, families, and former lives. Yet even as the domestic cattle of Europe evolved into the wild longhorns of Texas, so the American pioneer had the characteristic of a distinctive type.

 What do you think?   Would you keep going?