Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mystery/Crime Reviews - Ann Rule and Anne Perry

Be careful who you trust. . .

Ann Rule
Don't Look Behind You




These are based on true stories. . .

A divorced father disappears after befriending two sharks: a woman and her daughter. They cruise the male world looking for a means to get rich without actually having to work. . . One daughter suspects something is amiss in the tale the two women provide to the police. 

A wife of a man who abuses her and threatens the children is gone without a trace.  The husband says she left him and the children to run away with another man. . .everyone believes him, almost. He tells the children she didn't care about them. Another cold case is logged. Several decades later, the dirty facts surface.

One section of the book includes several rape crime stories. A common theme flows through them all: be careful who you trust and always be aware of your vulnerability in any given situation. Avoid being distracted or alone in less populated areas after dark. Anyone can be a victim. 


***

Anne Perry
Silence in Hanover Close
A Victorian Mystery






One man is murdered in his own home and several objects are missing from the room. Did an enemy or a friend commit robbery and murder? The killer came and went in the daylight in an exclusive neighbourhood. . .an inside job?

Pitt, the detective sent to deal with this cold case encounters hostility and distrust when dealing with the family. No one will look him in the eye. . . he must get someone to infiltrate the dinner gatherings and listen for clues. In the Victorian era, the social code was strictly enforced. A person needed connections, as well as poise, and social background to attend a society dinner, someone like his wife, Charlotte. She would be able to get an invite and blend in with the other guests.

Pitt takes care of the footwork and interviews the staff, while his wife tries to get inside knowledge of what occurred before the murder. There is one common thread voiced by the few that were interviewed by Pitts - an elusive lady in red. Who was she? 

I preferred the less-journalistic format and the Victorian time period of this second story. I read these two books as part of my research on characters. I would likely read Perry again.

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Do you read mysteries or do you prefer the adrenalin rush of thrillers?  What about true crime stories? Do you read to research?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by! I'll be posting a few more book reviews in the coming weeks: Diana Gabaldon, Jack Kerouac, and Christopher Moore. I'm trying to catch up on book reviews, before I let myself start a new book.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Far Future Tales on Tamut - Sci-Fi WEP Challenge

Happy Year's End - Spacer Celebration!!
Morgan's Early Life on Tamut

Image from an observatory


STAR DATE: 13001, 13th month Galactic Calendar

It's Spacer Celebration time! That's the way most Tamutians celebrate the end of the year - what the ancient ones called Christmas and the New Year. Now it's one year end holiday.


There's no jolly fat old man that distributes toys, candy and other frivolous stuff. Most kids don't even know the old stories like I do. Mother gave me three books from the Terran archives, before she was declared missing:  'The Mouse before Christmas', 'A Grinch saves the Day', and 'Stockings on the Mantel'.

I hate this time of year.  I never get to go to the Tamutian End of the Year celebration. Uncle doesn't approve of it.  Just one - why can't I go to just one? 

Our Tamutian forefathers wanted us to appreciate our own beginnings and revere our Spacer ancestors, the old time space captains who came on the original colony ship to settle here. Spacer Joe looked like that old comic book hero Flash Gordon. A kid can relate to a spacer who came from an old world to discover a new planet. With laser guns, and a fast starship, Spacer Joe beats a flying chariot pulled by reindeer, whatever they were. If the colonists brought reindeer with them on the mother
ship, they must have eaten them or maybe they just died. Tamut didn't have any, we knew that for sure.

***

Dak, my best friend, called me and asked if I could go with him to the celebration this year. He told me about the laser light show, and the rockets exploding for the new year. There were copies of the antique spacer ships on display and real-life space pilots to talk to.

"It's one of the biggest shows for kids. We would have a great time and my dad said you could stay over one night, if you were allowed to.  Please, please try. Maybe this time he'll soften up."

"I'll ask, but Uncle never lets me do anything." My stomach churned. 

"But, this is our history. He's got to let you go. He doesn't have to do anything, my parents will take care of us."

I knocked on the library door; I knew Uncle liked to read in the evenings. I want to go to that Spacer Celebration so bad I could taste it.

It didn't matter. Uncle's way was the only way. He wouldn't listen to me


"Uncle said no, Dak. His exact words were, 'Morgan, you have better things to do than waste time watching rockets explode'."

Yeah, like what? Study?"

My friend went with another school mate of ours.

Just you wait, Uncle, I'll find some way to get off this planet.  Just like my parents did. . .one day it will happen. When the stars call, you have to listen. 

***

Ten years later, I did just that. 

HAPPY YEAR'S END!

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WC = 494

Observatory Images

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DECEMBER 16-19: WEP Challenge



1000 words or less in your choice of Flash Fiction, Poetry, Non-Fiction, Playscripts, Artwork, and Photography

For this challenge, we want you to give your favorite celebration a Science Fiction twist. This month's judge is Alex J. Cavanaugh, author of the Cassa Series and 'Dragon of the Stars'.


Take us out of this world with a story told in whatever mode you prefer: fiction or non-fiction, poems, photography, artwork.  For links to more stories and details about the WEP challenges, see the WEP Page: Write, Edit, Publish Thanks to the host bloggers: Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee.

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Can you imagine what a few centuries could change in our society? Do you like what you envision? Would we still have stress? What do you think?


Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond! Thanks for dropping by! And don't forget to check the WEP Challenge page for other stories.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

French Quarter Nocturne by R. Yeomans - A Review

How do you fix something once it's broken? Piece by piece.


Roland Yeomans' novel, 'French Quarter Nocturne'

FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE

A city devastated, law and order tossed to the gutter, and citizens abused by thugs - this is what faced the two men who wanted to make things right, or at least as right as they could be. As the men survey the damage, the shadows from the edge of the darkness start to become annoying, hovering like vultures waiting to pounce. 

Muddy stains marked the sides of houses, while children's toys and dead bodies floated among the debris flung inward by Katrina. The only hope for the people in this part of the city is Sam McCord and Father Renfield. When Sam tries to help the people in need, he is rebuffed initially by some who have become bitter waiting for relief from Washington. They were left without water, food or adequate shelter until the government and its associated relief groups were shamed into doing what should have been done immediately. 

This is the setting in which French Quarter Nocturne takes place. It tells a tale woven of the things most of us didn't see when Katrina came to town in New Orleans. News trucks couldn't get into many of the areas, and those who did know what was happening turned a blind eye.

Roland has captured that feeling of loss, of the fear of the helpless and the weak in a city which the water tried to claw back. . .and the one man who was brave enough to take some action. This book will hold your attention as it reminds us you must never assume that the powers that be (in reality, not fiction) will be there when you need them. Recommended reading if you like paranormal stories set in interesting locales, with history based elements.

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The Author - Roland Yeomans
Roland's Blog - Writing in the Crosshairs



This prolific author has many titles to entice you. The formats are Kindle e-books, Audio, and some print titles. Check his blog page and see what might appeal to you. I like the New Orleans and the Egyptian stories, but I have read much of Roland's work, and he never fails to teach me something about mythology, American Native legends and history. 

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Have you read any of Roland's work? Do you have a favorite novel? Which characters do you like? Do you like New Orleans history? 

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by!

Be sure to come back on December 16th to read my WEP entry (Write, Edit, Publish). The theme for December is Out of this world Christmas stories (Science Fiction). 

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Reference:

Roland's Blog, Writing in the Crosshairs,

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ernest Hemingway - For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Review

Don't ask For Whom the Bell Tolls - you might not like the answer.




Waiting is the hardest part of any venture, especially during war time, and this story shows the mental stress and psychological strain that results. For Whom the Bell Tolls starts out slow and builds towards the bridge and its demolition, which is the goal of the main character.  He's a hired explosive expert working in a country that isn't his own. Attached to the bridge project in various ways are the people who live and fight in the mountains, the enigmatic girl saved from the train, the foreign sentries guarding the bridge, and the enemy troops coming closer every day.

The characters: Roberto (Robert Jordan), explosions expert; Maria, the female interest; Anselmo, the old guide; Pilar, the matriarch who controls much of the actions of the local group; and Pablo, the tired old leader who stirs the trouble pot to see what Roberto will do. Each has his own doubts, his wants, his fears and his past. Into this maelstrom of testosterone comes a love story, a relationship which might not have happened in any other time. Two people who have no personal connections to hold onto are thrown together in wartime, when no one knows what the future will bring. Roberto's cold heart and Maria's painful past find solace in the other's company. 

Hemingway's male perspective on the intimacy between Roberto and Maria is somewhat subtle considering today's standards, but anything more would intrude. Duty, honour, and dedication to one's cause is the thread that runs through the story. The setting is the Spanish Civil War, the story is about trying to protect one's home from outside forces and the resulting cost in human terms. One particular scene details how Pablo deals with the Fascists and anyone he deems to be sympathizers. 

This is also a story about how war affects those who must fight and those who must watch. It's a clear look at the good (comradeship, duty, honorable acts), the bad (excessive killing and torture) and the ugly (destruction of bridges, homes, etc) aspects of any war. I like Hemingway's style of writing and although it's not my favourite Hemingway novel, it is an important one, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. I recommend this book if you want to understand more about the Spanish Civil War and the painting that Picasso painted in 1937, Guernicaafter the bombing of the town of the same name. 

***

E. Hemingway, by Lloyd Arnold cover photo, late 1939 *PD

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Are you a Hemingway fan? Have you read this novel? In general, do you read to learn more about a certain point in history, or do you prefer only to be entertained?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond.  Thanks for stopping by! More reviews are on the horizon. . .

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Public Domain Image of Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold for the first edition of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, late 1939.

This image was only used on the 1940 edition. It was common (and allowed by the copyright office) to change things such as the preface, foreword, and dust jacket when renewing a book. If the old book cover was not renewed along with the book, it fell into the public domain. This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed. This also applies to Canada.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Alone with the Unknown - A WEP Flash

Youthful Frights vs Adult Fears - Halloween Nights when the veil thins between this world and that other one. . .

Don't listen, don't look, don't turn around. . .


Paris - An Old Cemetery, by DG Hudson

A child sleepwalks, unbeknownst to the rest of the family. Out the door, and into a nearby cemetery, stepping gingerly, not feeling the cold night air.  She halts amid the dark stone tombs of yesteryear, eye closed and hands sensing her path and her active mind guiding her tiny feet.

A cat growls and hisses in the shadows of a nearby tomb and the child awakens. There is fear in her eyes yet she knows not what caused her to awaken. She looks around, feeling an aura of restlessness in the spirits biding in the place. All the things around her are dark and foreboding. . .she screams, breaking the stillness of the night. . .

Back in her own home, a few houses away, a mother hears the scream through her sleep and awakens panicked.  She knows her child walks at night. What calls her? She is up in a minute knowing where to find the little one. The child is always drawn to the cemetery, as if for a purpose. A shiver runs down the mother's spine.

***

I woke up sweating, looking about me and trying to determine where I was. In the dark, my sleepy eyes could still make out some things by the light of the moon shining outside, its light beaming in the window. I tried to calm myself, this was familiar, not like the dream from which I had woken. A dream where I was alone in the dark, in the middle of a cemetery hundreds of years old, with no idea why I was there nor how I had gotten there. I drifted back into sleep and the dream continued. . .

I didn't recognize the place at all, and there was a feeling of very old things lurking. Why was I standing still, why did I feel like something was getting closer, something I didn't want to see. Why wasn't I running or at least moving away? 

I turned, hearing something behind me. There was nothing there. I looked for my house, but I couldn't see anything, the fog has rolled in, damp, cloying and thick enough to smell. An earthy smell, like earth freshly turned.  Or, musty like a grave. What am I doing here? How did I get here?

***

The doorbell rang, and I nearly fell off the couch. I had fallen asleep again, Was that really a bell I heard or did I dream that too?  There was no way I was answering a door after midnight.. .especially on Samhain, All Hallows Eve, when the spirits can cross over.  No way.

***
WEP

Minor feedback acceptable Or MPA
WC=449


That's my entry for this October Challenge of WEP, Write...Edit...Publish, hosted by Denise and Yolanda at the WEP site. This is Flash Fiction using your creative turn of mind in the form of prose, poetry, non-fiction, art, or photos. 


Check the WEP site for details

The prompt: Tell us about the horror that stalked you in the night. Write about it for this challenge and turn those childhood fears into a scare-fest like no other. . .but then leave your night light on when you go to bed.  It's supposed to prevent the spirits coming in under cover of darkness, or so my friend's Italian grandmother told her.  . .

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Do you dislike being in dark dank places, especially cemeteries? Do you feel an affinity to the spirit world, walking dead or otherwise?

Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by and I'll respond.  Don't forget to check the list for DL (Direct Link) at the WEP site to read more Halloween tales. It's your treat for Samhain.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Diana Gabaldon's Dragonfly in Amber, A Review

If you could travel through a portal in time 200 years in the past, would you? If you left a beloved spouse behind, would that change your mind?





In the library belonging to a deceased clergyman scholar and his adopted son Roger, Claire Randall delves into historical records of her current time to find out what occurred after the battle at Culloden, fought in 1745 in Scotland. In Dragonfly in Amber, the story of her journey back in time unfolds after Claire has been back in her own time twenty years. She wants to tell her adult daughter about her real father. Roger's connection with that time in the past must also be explained.

Roger and Brianna listen as Claire tells how she arrived in 1745 from 1945 and why and how she came back. What she is burning to know - did Jamie Fraser, a man from that time, survive the battle which decimated Scottish clans? In the past from whence Claire came twenty years before, political turmoil gripped Europe, with the Bourbons, the Stuarts, and other nobles all plotting in Scotland, France, England, Spain, and Italy. From Scotland to France and back again, loyalties shifted and royal favour depended on whom you were backing.

Jamie and Claire establish a business in France, intent on keeping an eye on the Scottish royalty in exile there. They manage to get close to certain royal circles, but the game keeps changing. The intrigues of the French court under Louis XIV, and the pompous and tedious daily rituals of being 'at court' start to weigh on the Scottish visitors. 

A duel ensues after Jamie discovers a secret of the hated English officer from Outlander, Jonathan Randall and challenges his nemesis. Dueling is against the law, landing Jamie in the notorious Bastille prison, where only a royal pardon will release the prisoner. Once Jamie is released, he and Claire are given safe passage back to Scotland where preparations for a battle in support of 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' is gathering momentum.

Following on the heels of Outlander, this novel continues to explore the Jacobite uprisings. I recommend this book if you like historical fiction seasoned with time travel, romance, historical battles, duelling, attempted murder and blackmail. . .I enjoyed Dragonfly in Amber and its story nested within a story approach.

******

Are you a Diana Gabaldon fan? Have you read Dragonfly in Amber? Would you like to time travel? To what time period?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond.  Thanks for stopping by! I'm currently working on something for Halloween, via a challenge hosted by Denise and Yolanda at WEP ...Write Edit and Publish. . .. check out the link, you might be interested.



Reviews Coming Up: 
I'm going to be reviewing two totally different books for this blog soon: Hemingway's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Anne Rice's 'Don't Look Back'. 

Currently reading: 
French Quarter Nocturne (R. Yeomans) and Sacré Bleu (Christopher Moore).

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Spectacular Settings - WEP: A Slice of Montmartre, Paris

A quote about Paris, from David McCullough, in The Greater Journey.

". . .Paris was a place where one wanted to walk, where to walk - Flâneur* . . .as the French said - was practically a way of life." ('Ah, to wander over Paris!' wrote Honore de Balzac, 'what an adorable and delectable existence is that.  Flânerie is a form of science, it is the gastronomy of the eye.")

I concur.

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A Slice of Montmartre Life

Paris - A Montmartre Street Still Life, by DG Hudson

A man in the left foreground of the image above, stands behind his wife who is framing a photograph.

"Oh honey, just take the photo. . .quick before the tour group leaves us behind."

"But I just noticed that street performer on the other side of the street. . .where did he come from?"

"Who knows? Be sure to get Sacre Coeur's dome in the shot, that's what we want - the church looming over the hill, reminding the people of its past. . .as the Mount of Martyrs."


"Of course, the camera is set for wide angle. I have included the church, the performer, the tourists, even the mother and child."

“Great, let’s catch up with our tour group. The performer is headed that way."

***

 The young mother watches the performer with his tell-tale long legs and wonders at his purpose.  Her son in the stroller sees him too.

"Maman! Maman! Look!" the child points to the street performer in stilts.

"I see him, ma cherie, do you know what he is?"

"Street play man? I want to see, ple-e-a-s-s-e, Maman!"

"We will see if he stops, little one, he may be headed for that tour group up the hill. . ."

***

The performer focuses on retaining his balance and stride as he climbs up the hill towards the tour group. His black and white ensemble is de rigeur for his occupation.

These new stilts are slowing me down a bit. . .but no matter, that must be the tour group ahead. What a disjointed collection of travellers. . .but I will charm them. I would much rather entertain that child and its mother, the little ones always love me, but the tour group will pay better. I have to eat too. 

I know what will appeal to this older audience, I will present the French tour guide view as he tries to interpret the Franglais and other mashed languages that most of the visitors speak.  I will be diplomatic as they say, of course! Ah, Paris!

***

*Flâneur - an aimless idler, dawdler, a dandy with time to stroll; one who observes life and offers his opinion on what he has observed.

***
From DG:

As I walked the steep hills of Montmartre, I saw the little things that bring a place to life and imprint upon the memory: the blue door to the residence where two brothers Van Gogh lived, an inner city vineyard, Lapin Agile - a café which swapped meals for art, the wall-passer - an author's story brought to life by a sculpture in a small square, and the view from  Sacré CoeurI saw the areas which had declined with time, but they faded behind the historical aura of Impressionist artists painting turn of the century dances in courtyards tucked in the shadow of the windmills. I could almost smell the fresh bread made from the milled flour.

WC = 501

Feedback = MPA


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August WEP Prompt: Spectacular Settings

A setting can infuse our imagination. The visual prompts the sensory and the memory follows along. What is spectacular will vary with each writer. 






WEP = Write, Edit, Publish - this worthy challenge is back!

WEP has been revised to allow more time between prompts and more opportunity to read the work by the writers who join in the challenge, WEP offers the writer an opportunity to test their short writing skills. The word limit is 1000 or less.

The hosting job is now shared between two writer/bloggers, Denise and Yolanda, who have tweaked this challenge to make it more interesting. Read more about the changes, the prompt and how to participate at the WEP blog site. Also check out their blog sites to find out a bit more about our two hosts.

Join us! Hope you enjoy reading all the entries via the web site and giving feedback where indicated. 







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Have you heard of WEP? Are you interested in joining? Do you like reading short fiction?

Please leave a comment just to say you were here, so I know you dropped by!  Constructive feedback is welcome. Hope you enjoy the reading!

Thanks for reading my entry, and don't forget to visit the other writers on the list at WEP - Write, Edit, Publish! 

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