Wondrous Words #400

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 really like to read the online “newspaper” Politico.  I often find new words there. Here are two:

1. dissembling: Dietl’s recent admission to the Journal also opens him up to charges of dissembling.

Dissemble is a verb meaning to conceal one’s true motives, feelings, or beliefs.


When I saw this word it didn’t seem to fit in the sentence:

evinced: “He has slagged off NATO, evinced skepticism about the European Union . . . “

Evince is a verb meaning to reveal the presence of.


That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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My Week . . .

Thanks for stopping by.

Last week I told you I’d tell you about the visit of my sister. My sister and her family live in Southern California. It’s a ten-hour drive so we don’t see each other often. However, every Spring Kaye and her husband Don usually visit Yosemite National Park and then drive over to see us.

Here’s a rare picture of Kaye and I as we posed on our Town Green. (Kaye is on the right.)

We always have a great time playing cards, visiting area sites of interest, and eating local foods. Don usually shares pictures of Yosemite and especially my two favorite spots — The Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

They are unusually spectacular this year because of all the rain and snow that visited California this past Winter. All the water coming over the Falls is amazing. And, if you look close, you can still see snow on the top of Half Dome.


I love talking about books and people who also love to talk about books. Thus I belong to two book clubs. Today I want to tell you about the last two books I read for those two book clubs. Here are the two books we read during June:

Into the Beautiful North by Alberto Luis Urrea is an amazing story about saving a small town in the mid/south section of Mexico. Because most of the men have emigrated north to the U.S. the town has only young women, the elderly, and no babies. Plus, the “banditos” are threatening to take over the town. Some of the women watch the movie “The Magnificent Seven,” and one of them, Nayeli, develops a plan to go north to find seven “warriors.” Nayeli and four others set off on a journey north for the express purpose of bringing home seven men to help with the town’s situation.

The journey was an eye-opening look at part of the US/Mexico immigrant problem. Parts of the story were funny, and parts were sad and maddening. It hurt to read about the living condiitons on both sides of the border and the political situation some people are forced to live with. The book made for an excellent book club discussion. So much to talk about]

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson is a character-rich story set in the south of England during the early part of World War I. The story begins when the main character, Beatrice, comes to the small town of Rye. She’s come to be the Latin teacher, an unheard of and scandalous idea. Her champion is Agatha, one of the important matrons in town who is frequently looking for ways to advance the cause of women’s rights without being pushy about it.

Within a week of Beatrce’s arrival war breaks out and the plot of the story expands with refugees arriving from Belgium and men signing up for service in the armed forces. In spite of the title, the story actually cover the entire period of the war, so we are able to see how plot lines develop and conclude. The major themes of the story were the status and righs of women and the secrets people keep to themselves. It too was a satisfying discussion, although I must admit not as lively as the discussion for Into The Beautiful North.

On The Screen:

Last Sunday I watched the first episode of a new series, Prime Suspect, on PBS. I loved the old Helen Mirren season of the same name – all seven seasons. This is new, a look back at Jane Tennison as a rookie on the London police force. It’s set in the 1970s and it really felt like the 1970s. Stephanie Martini is the actress doing a good job of playing the young Jane Tennison. Last Sunday was the first episode, the second is tonight, and the third next week. I highly recommend.

That’s it for me this week. I wish you and your family a happy and safe Fourth of July.

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The Beginning Of A Book: Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore

I’m joining Rose City Reader as she encourages fellow bloggers to share the beginnings of a book we are reading.

I’m reading a new book with an interesting name: Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore by Michael Sullivan. I’m only a few chapters into it, but already its a page-turner. Here’s how thew book begins:

Lydia heard the distant flap of paper wings as the firs book fell from its shelf. She glanced up from the register, head tilted, and imagined that a sparrow had flown though an open window again and was circling the store’s airy upper floors, trying to find its way out.

So far I’m impressed with the writing in this book.It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel for Michael Sullivan. This seems to be both good literature and a good mystery.

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Wondrous Words #399

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.

In an editorial in the New Yotk Times by David Brooks I found these two new words:

1. infantalist: At base, Trump is an infantalist.

Infantalist is a person whose behavior is childish.

2. leitmotif: Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif.

Leitmotif is a noun meaning a recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea, or situation.


That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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The Last Couple of Weeks . . .

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by. We are back from our fun trip to Portland for our eldest grandchild’s high school graduation. We had such a great time celebrating Q’s success.

We’re so proud of this young woman. In the past I’ve shared with you her great love of reading, writing and the arts. In addition to writing on this blog (here’s one), Q has written a very popular novel on a well-known fan-fiction site. I’m hopeful that at sometime in the future I can tell you about one of her published books.

We took the fast highway route on our way to Portland, but on the back we cut over to the coast and took the scenic route home. I love that route, but this year it had the additional challenge of numerous road-repair stops. This was especially true along the far-northern California coast area where there was so much rain this past winter and thus numerous mud slides. In many cases whole roads were covered with mud and then some hillside roads simply washed away. In the photo you see above we were stuck for about 30 minutes. The nice thing about being stopped in the mountains is that there is always something beautiful to see out the window.

I was able to do a little reading while I was away from home. I read a total of five books — all fun, easy-reading books. My youngest granddaughter, Lou, now 12, shared with me a new skill she learned this year. Her teacher required them to give short verbal book reports in 60 seconds or less!! I find the whole idea fascinating since I love to ramble when I talk about books. The first book I’ve listed below is one that Lou recommended I read. When she gave her book report on that book she did it in 61 seconds. I say “Impossible!” but she did a good job of telling me the basics of the book. I’m going to give it a try. Here’s my attempt at short reviews. See how I did:

 Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is a middle-schooler’s story of Esperanza, a wealthy girl living in Mexico in the 1930s. When her father died, she and her mother had no choice but to move north into California to work as farm laborers. This was an amazing story that read like an adult novel. I loved it and want to read more. (35 seconds)

They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie features my favorite detective, Miss Marple. With her wise people skills Miss Marple figures out how someone she suspects could have shot a person in another room while still being in the same room with her and the other guests. Very clever! 30 seconds)

Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen is the story of an Irish woman who kills the man who is trying to rape her. She escapes and finds herself on a boat to th U.S. A man she met on the boat is murdered while they wait overnight in Ellis Island. Molly is persistant and thoughtful and able to solve the mystery. Great story and character. (42 seconds)

The Ladies Room by Carolyn Brown: After attending her aunt’s funeral, Trudy was in the church’s ladies room when she overheard her cousins talking about the wide-ranging philandering of Trudy’s husband. This set off a whole list of changes that Trudy makes in her life. Learning the contents of her aunt’s will helps too. Very heartwarming story that made me laugh. (52 seconds)

The Poet by Michael Connelly is NOT about Harry Bosch or the Lincoln Lawyer. It features Jack McEvoy, a reporter for the Denver Post. Jack does not believe it when his twin brother commits suicide. His brother, a police detective, was despondent about an unsolved murder of a young child, but Jack knows he would never kill himself. Jack begins his own investigation which leads to working with the FBI. There’s a whole list of cops killed under similar circumstances. The author is a former a journalist and I felt I saw that side of him in this story. Lots of twists and turns. (70 seconds)

I didn’t do too bad on my 60-seconds or less challenge, if I do say so myself. But, that’s it for me this week. I’ll be back next week to tell you about our visit with my sister and herhusband. I hope you have a great  week and Happy Reading.

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I’m Taking a Short Break

“On the road again . . . “ We’re heading North to celebrate our granddaughter’s graduation from high school. We’ll also take some time to visit with family and then roam around a bit. Joyfully Retired will return in a few weeks.

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This Week . . .

Thanks everyone for stopping by to check on me. I’ve had a busy week and so I only read one book. It was a long one (20 hours on audio), but well worth the time. The Secret Place by Tana French is the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Ever since I discovered this series I’ve been reading one big book every few months.

The “secret place” refers to an anonymous bulletin-board at a private girls school in Ireland. There’s a matching school right next door for boys. As the story opens one of the schoolgirls brings one of the anonymous messages from the bulletin-board to a police detective. The note says “I know who killed him.”

The note refers to the unsolved murder of Chris, a teenage boy killed at the school last year. One of the detectives, Antoinette Conway, worked the case last year. The second detective, Stephan Moran, is known to the girl who brought in the note. Both detectives spend all day trying to narrow it down to who could have been near the “secret place” and possibly have posted that note. As they obsess about all the details connected with posting the anonymous note they learn new information about the murder.

The story is narrated via two distinct “voices” – one is that of Stephen Moran, one of the two detectives investigating the murder on that one particular day. The other voice is that of the girls connected somehow to the murder. The story is told beginning with the events of last year, leading up to the murder and then picks up to the present.

Each “voice” is loaded with dialogue and lots of detail. I was drawn in as each character was so well developed while at the same time advancing the plot. This book, as in all Tana French’s books, should absolutely be read via audio. There’s no way I could have matched the Irish accents and in particular the snarky and bitchy voices of the teenage girls.

I highly recommend you listen to/read this book.

In the other part of my non-reading life:

I don’t watch many broadcast network TV shows anymore, but I am a fan of the TV show Madam Secretary and my husband and I both enjoy Blue Bloods. The seasons usually end in May with some kind of season finale show. Nothing special happened this year, as far as I can tell, for either of these shows. They just stopped for the season – I guess.

The last couple of episodes of Madam Secretary raised several new modes of interest for several characters such as the Secretary’s Assistant’s separation from his wife, the Communications Head’s pregnancy, and then the eldest daughter is going to stay home with the family rather than go to Harvard Law. I really like this show, so I’ll probably watch some of the re-runs until the next season comes back.

We’ve been watching Blue Bloods every Friday night since it began. We like all the family members and the part that person plays in the family business of “law enforcement.” The youngest kids aren’t an active part of the “business,” but they still fit into the plot each week. One part of the show we enjoy every episode is when they all come together for their weekly family dinner. The conversation usually involves some moral issue that fits the plot of that week’s story.


Jay and I are climbing into the truck on Sunday and heading north to Portland. Our oldest grandchild, Q, is graduating from high school. There’s nothing like a family celebration. So – I’ll be gone from the blog the next couple of weeks. In the meantime – keep reading.

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Wondrous Words #398

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.

Two words linked together caught my attention this week. I was reading a book review in the Times Sunday Book Review. It was for Elizabeth Strout’s new book, Anything Is Possible .

crystalline austerity:  “Where the earlier book turned on the crystalline austerity and reserve of its narrative voice, guided by Strout’s unerring sense of what Lucy would omit, the new work almost literally undoes the older one.”

Those two words don’t come together in the dictionary so I looked them up separately.

crystalline: An adjective meaning very clear.
austerity: An adjective meaning severe or strict in manner, attitude, or appearance.

I’m guessing here, but I think the writer meant that Elizabeth Strout’s narrative was clear and severe. What do you think?


That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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First Paragraph: The Secret Place

firstparagraphFirst Chapter First Paragraph is a weekly feature atDiane’s  Bibliophile By the Sea. Even though Diane is taking the summer off, I’m going to continue to post my First Paragraph each week. I’m hoping that others will as well. By sharing the first paragraph of a book I’ve found it a great way to be introduce to new books I might want to read. Its fun to see what other bloggers are reading too.

This week I’m reading the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. It’s The Secret Place by Tana French. Its the story of two detectives trying to solve a murder at a posh Irish girls school. Here’s the first paragraph:



There’s this song that keeps coming on the radio, but Holly can only ever catch bits of it. Remember oh remember back when were, a girl’s voice clear and urgent, the fast light bent lifting you up off your toes and speeding your heart to keep up, and then it’s gone. She keeps trying to ask the others What is it? but she never catches enough to ask about. It’s always slipping in through the cracks, when they’re in the middle of talking about something important or when they have to run for the bus; by the time things go quiet again it’s gone, there’s just silence, or Rihanna or Nicki Minaj pounding silence away.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?


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