pause-buttonLately my energy and productivity are at a low ebb, with heat, health, and other things occupying my mind. So I’ve decided to put the blog on pause for a while.

Catch you later.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 9 Comments

H O T !!

It is unusually, awful, nastily, horribly, miserably hot here, in the entire Pacific Northwest, from Seattle down through northern California, and we hates it (as Gollum would say). Three more days in triple digits, then several still in the 90s before it drops into the 80s. Even that’s not cool enough for me, but it will be an improvement. It’s been 50 days since we had a drop of rain.

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Posted in At Home in Portland | 14 Comments

Current Reading: M. C. Beaton, Val McDermid

It’s been hot and will be getting hotter: in the 90s now and 106 expected in a couple of days. I really hate this kind of heat, and it drains all the energy out of me. I don’t even feel like reading. Nevertheless I did finish a few things.

The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald was, as you would expect, excellent. Though it’s not forgotten in any sense of the word, it’s worthy of a Friday post, which will be upcoming.

Then I wanted something different from hard-boiled, so, having read a review of one of M. C. Beation’s Hamish Macbeth novels, I decided to try one. I wanted to start with the first book, but it wasn’t available from the library, so I got Death of An Outsider , the third in the series. Macbeth is a Scottish Constable, happy in his small village of Lochdubh, leading a simple life living among people he knows and for the most part likes. However, he is sent to a neighboring village of Cnothan to cover for the Constable there, who is going on vacation for 2 weeks. Naturally, a murder occurs, and Macbeth is thrown into the middle of the investigation. I liked it a lot, then got the first in the series, Death of An Outsider, then the fourth in the series, Death of A Perfect Wife. I’m waiting for the second in the series to arrive from the library.

Barbara finished Chaos by Patricia Cornwell. She liked it well enough, but said it wasn’t one of the better ones.

She also finished Val McDermid’s Out of Bounds. It’s the lasted in the Karen Pirie series. She always enjoys McDermid, though this time she said there was more Scottish “lingo” than she prefers.

She’s now waiting for A Game of Ghosts, the new Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly to show up from the library.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading, Mystery | 15 Comments

Current Reading: Dunstall, Macdonald, Cornwell

After finishing the Patricia Moyes mystery, I was in the mood for some science fiction, so I decided to read Linesman by S. K. Dunstall, a mass market paperback I bought last year. I liked it quite a lot, both for the characters and the interesting idea of lines of energy that control various aspects of ship controls, including the ability to make jumps through the void (and thus faster than light travel throughout the galaxy).

Ean Lambert is a Linesman Ten, (the highest level) but gets no respect from the other Linesmen (of any level or gender). He “hears” the lines, and sings his communications to them, whereas other Linesmen “feel” them with their minds, an uncertain process. But Ean’s abilities surpass most others, as long as he can sing. When as alien spaceship is discovered in a mostly-deserted corner of the galaxy, Ean is brought to examine it, and discovers an eleventh line, one that speaks only to him.

I’ve just gotten the next two books in the trilogy and will start it after I finish another novel, namely The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald. After Bill Crider posted on a book about Macdonald, I thought it was time to read another of his that I still hadn’t gotten to. This was the choice. I’m about 50 pages in.

Barbara finished John Sandford’s current Prey series novel, Golden Prey, and as usual with these books, enjoyed it.  She’s now about 3/4 of the way through Patricia Cornwell’s latest, Chaos. 

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading, Mystery, Science Fiction | 21 Comments

Friday Forgotten: A Six-Letter Word For Death by Patricia Moyes

This is the 262nd in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

A Six-Letter Word For Death by Patricia Moyes, Henry Holt (an Owl Book) 1985 mass market paperback

I have long been a fan of the mystery novels of Patricia Moyes. Her series featuring Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett (and occasionally his wife Emmy) is excellent, and I’ve read most of them and can now add this one to that number.

This is the 17th in the series, and takes place on the Isle of Wight. Henry has been invited to speak to a small group of authors on Scotland Yard CID procedures, and has a successful talk. Before he arrived, Tibbett had been sent a crossword puzzle to solve, and it turns out that the solution included the names of the authors and other information which the group intended Tibbett to solve, or, embarrassingly, fail to solve. Thus the books titular reference to crossword.

The crossword hints at foul play in past deaths, each clue referencing one of the six authors in the group. The mystery writers all use pen names, keeping their identities secret, but Henry has little difficulty deducing who they are. He presents his police procedure talk, then reveals he solved the crossword, knew which writer designed it, and has investigated the events referenced by crossword clues.

One of the guests makes an appointment, heard by all, to see Henry later in the afternoon but then dies of an apparent accidental death before he can keep it. Henry is suspicious, and does his own unofficial investigation. When the crime scene and evidence are  tampered with, Henry is certain the death was no accident.

He and Emmy extend their vacation, in order to remain in the area and keep investigating. He ultimately stages a re-enactment of a decades-old crime to resolve all mysteries and obtain justice.

Though I found the plot in this one to be more convoluted than usual, I was happy with the conclusion, and as always Henry and Emmy are delightful. Well worth reading

Posted in Books & Reading, Mystery | 8 Comments

The Summer Garden

It’s peak Summer garden time, and I took some photos Sunday. Our Lilies are especially magnificent this year. Lots of pictures for you. Click to see larger image.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 10 Comments

Current Reading: Foster, Moyes, Sandford

I finished Icerigger by Alan Dean Foster, which I first became aware of through a blog review, though I don’t recall which blog. I enjoyed it. It’s nothing literate or thought-provoking, just a fun SF novel about a group of people who get stranded on an ice world, and their struggles to survive, get along, and find a way to somewhere civilized enough to allow them to get off the world and back to their lives. Good characterization, good world-building and nice doses of action and humor. It turns out to be the first in a series, though it could be read as a stand-alone. I’ve found a used copy of the second book.

I then felt in the mood for a British mystery, and spotted a Chief Inspector Henry Tibbit novel in my TBR stack, so I snapped it up. I love Patricia Moyes books, and it’s always a pleasure to come across one I haven’t read. This one is A Six-Letter Word For Death and, at the halfway point, I’m enjoying it very much.

Barbara just finished John Sandford’s current Prey series novel, Golden Prey. She’s not sure what she’s going to read next, she’ll see what’s on hold or pause at the library.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

By the way, I’ll be posting some garden pictures Wednesday, for those who may be interested.

Posted in current reading, Mystery, Science Fiction | 21 Comments


Having a bad day – the old devil migraine.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 13 Comments

Current Reading: Edwards, Heywood, Foster, Sandford

Two books read this time, in addition to the Civil War book I reviewed for my FFB.

Miraculous Mysteries, edited by Martin Edwards, is a collection of “locked-room murders and impossible crimes”. An anthology of 16 stories, published recently by British Library Crime Classics (Poisoned Pen Press in the U.S.) these are mostly well-known classics of the type. I’m always eager to buy and read new books in the BLCC series, but in this case I should have been more careful. I’d read three-quarters of these stories in the Otto Penzler edited Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries just over a year ago. I re-read them anyway, and enjoyed them, as I did the few stories that were new to me, but there was a great deal of overlap.

The other book was Hard Ground by Joseph Heywood. Heywood writes two series, one is the Woods Cop series featuring Conservation Officer Grady Service, who works in the farthest reaches of Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula, the other  – with a 1913 historical setting – features Lute Bapcat, a former Rough Rider turned Michigan Game Warden. Hard Ground is a story collection set in the same area as the Woods Cop series, though only one of the stories features Service, all of the stories are very good indeed. I really enjoyed this one. Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for recommending Joseph Heywood’s books!

I’m currently reading, in addition to more Civil War non-fiction, Icerigger by Alan Dean Foster, which I first became aware of through a blog review, though I don’t recall which blog. So I thought I’d try it, and so far, so good.

Barbara got about a third way into The Thirst, the latest Harry Hole novel by Jo Nesbo and gave it up, at least for now. As much as she loves the character and series, she was finding this one more than usually disturbing, and since there were over 135 people in the library waiting list for the book, back it went. She may get back on the list for it at some time in the future, but not right away.

So now she’s begun John Sandford’s current Prey series novel, Golden Prey.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in Adventure, Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 24 Comments

Friday Forgotten: The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton

this is the 262nd in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

The Coming Fury – Centennial History of the Civil War, Volume I, by Bruce Catton, Doubleday hardcover (1961) 565 pages – Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

In light of a new documentary by Ken Burns on Viet Nam coming this Fall, we were talking about his many other fine documentaries. We decided we wanted to watch The Civil War again, and got it from the library. It’s on 6 DVDs, and we watched it over a couple of weeks. We’d forgotten a lot of the content and details, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

I then decided I wanted to read more and was going to read Shelby Foote’s The Civil War, A Narritive in three volumes. However I remembered I had the Centennial History of the Civil War, by Bruce Catton, also in three volumes, on the shelf, unread for more than forty years. So this, the first volume, is what I decided to read.

The Coming Fury describes the event and forces leading up to secession, as well as the beginnings of the combat, and then leading to failure of political processes from Ft. Sumptor to Bull Run, and those battles. Though Ft. Sumpter wasn’t really a battle, just the marking point of the beginning of armed hostilities.

Yes, this is somewhat dated compared to the Foote trilogy, which has a more modern tone. But it’s also less oriented toward a every-sentence-everyone-said-counts approach. I found it quite readable and sufficiently detailed. Note that the first shot at Ft. Sumpter is described on page 313, so much has gone on before that April morning.

Catton was and is a superb historian, as he seemed so many decades ago. A fine piece of scholarship neatly presented. If you’d like to learn more about the Civil War, perhaps the defining time of our nation, this isn’t a bad place to start. After a break for some other reading, I’ll come back for the second volume, The Terrible Swift Sword.

Posted in Books & Reading, Non-fiction | 8 Comments