Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series

Loved Miss Louise Penny's latest, How the Light Gets In, named one of the best mystery/thriller novels of 2013 by NPR. Absolutely loved it. All the pieces of the puzzle from past books in the series seemed to have been resolved at the end of this story.  It felt as if  this was the last of the Inspector Gamache series.  The series started in the small Canadian village of Three Pines and feels like it has ended in Three Pines. Even Yvette Nichol, the socially inept officer, turned up in this book. The last time this character was mentioned was in the sixth book in the series, Bury Your Dead.  I liked the back and forth conversation as Team Gamache tried to hack into the computer that held the secrets of Team Francoeur; it added excitement to the story.  I also enjoyed the humorous tone in the story.  I finished this book in two days could not bear to put this book down and I am glad I read the series in order.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What are you reading?

I just finished reading an interesting historical fiction. T.K. Welsh (pseudonym for J. G. Sandom) took me on a rough journey with young Victor from Modena, Italy in 1830 to a vastly different world in Surrey, England in 1852.  The title of the book is Resurrection Men, the name given to those who practiced body snatching and sold the bodies to Physicians. Twelve year old Victor went from orphan to cabin boy then later evolved from beggar to Physician's Assistant.  He went from one horror to another every step of the way. Victor's "rag to riches" story is narrated by a Dr. Lambro who is treating a young boy who reminds him of a boy he once knew.  This is worth reading for young adults but the horror is very graphic.

I have started the murder mystery,  How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny, the ninth book in the Inspector Gamache series. As I read, I feel as if I am reuniting with my old friends from Three Pines.   I am reuniting with the quirky residents in the town such as the book store owner, Myrna Landers;  the angry poet Ruth; the artist, Clara Morrow; and the Bistro owners, Oliver and Gabri. In this book Clara and her husband are separated and I can't remember the marital issues between them because the previous book in the series, Beautiful Mystery, was not set in Three Pines. I searched and found a post dating from March 2012 that should refresh my memory about this couple.

I am only on page 75 but I am expecting three things by the end of this story. I am expecting the work-related issues at the Surete that have divided Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his old friend Jean -Guy to be resolved. I am expecting to find out what is the connection between the suicide of Audrey Villeneuve and the murder of Myra's old friend, Constance Oeullet also known as Constance Pineault. I am expecting to find out  who murdered Constance and why.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Best Books of 2013

Just look at this Best Books of 2013 on NPR! I can't keep up. I see Louise Penny's book on the list of Mysteries and Thrillers, How the Light Gets In, from the Chief Inspector Gamache series. Remember I first came across Penny because her first book in the series was a book club pick? I have that book at home to read during the month of December. I also have these books that I intend to read: John Grisham's Racketeer,  Jan-Phillip Sendker's Art of Hearing Heartbeats, JD Robbs' Promises in Death, and Susan Gregory's The Daniel Fast.  

I just finished reading The Mercy Prayer by Robert Gelinas and enjoyed it so much I bought copies as gifts for my friends. I have a testimony. Bring out the tambourine. Have you ever worked with a narcissist? Someone who constantly talks about himself or herself day in and day out? The talk varies. In my situation, sometimes the husband, the son, the mother in law, the sister in law, the siblings were all portrayed as awful people and she was a victim of some awful thing done to her.  Another time these same people were all wonderful and gifted with high IQs. Then the stories took a different turn. I became a target of the lies. Eventually we had creative story about a strange smelly man entering the workplace while she was alone and who made uncomfortable comments except after investigation the man turned out to be invisible to security cameras.  Praying, "Lord, have mercy on me" took on a whole new meaning. It is a prayer described as a raw plea for intervention. After reading Daily Word on September 9th, Isaiah 57 verse 14 also became a prayer: "Prepare my path and remove every obstacle from my way". Shake the tambourine. The narcissist resigned yesterday.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Open and Shut: An Old Murder Case, An Old picture, and An Inheritance

Just finished reading Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt.  Held my interest to the point that I was reading till minutes to 3:00am on Thursday night and had to wake up 6:30 next morning for work.  What seemed like a clear open and shut case turned out to be a really big case for the protagonist Andy Carpenter, a defense attorney.

Andy Carpenter is a likable character; he is youthful, superstitious, with a quirky sense of humor. At the beginning of the story he is separated from his wife who was his childhood sweetheart and daughter of his Dad's friend. He has a romantic relationship with his female investigator that he ends when the wife suddenly moves back in the marital home. We learn that Alex loves his Dad and his dog, a golden retriever.  His Dad prosecuted a case years ago and it ended with Willie Miller being sent to prison for murder and facing the death penalty in four weeks time.  Daddy Carpenter asks his son to look into the case, get the facts and get an appeal, because he now has information that a juror in the Miller case may have lied and Miller may have been innocent. The Dad dies suddenly (and conveniently) and shortly after that Andy finds an old photo of his Dad with some of his friends. Andy meets with his Dad's lawyer and discovers to his shock that he has inherited millions of dollars from his Dad.

This legal thriller was about how an old photo, the millions of dollars inherited and the Miller case were all connected.  This was the first novel in a series by David Rosenefelt. The next book in the series is First Degree.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Dinner by Herman Koch

When a Mom says these words, it is usually a positive thing, an indicator that a Mom is expecting her child to be responsible and independent: "He doesn't have to wait for his Mom to tell him everything. He's old and wise enough to decide for himself."  However, in the story of  The Dinner by Herman Koch, those same words written on page 271 and spoken by a Mom named Claire indicate something ominous. Claire wants her only child, a teenager named Michel, to hide his wrong doings by any means necessary.

One steady theme in the story is sibling rivalry and this is the focus of the narrator who is also Claire's husband, Paul.  Paul, an unemployed teacher with a mystery illness resents his brother, Serge, a popular Dutch politician hoping to campaign for the post of Prime Minister.  The characters; Claire and Paul, and Serge and Babette; meet at an up-scale restaurant for dinner then there are flashbacks explaining why all the characters have come together and how each one is connected. The chapters in the story are divided into parts starting with Aperitif, Appetizer, Main Course, Dessert and ending with Digestif. This is a well written story even though it starts off slow in the Apertif section. The story is not for every reader; it is dark. All the characters in The Dinner set in Holland are horrid and the writer makes you dislike them all.

The story makes you think, What would I do in a situation like this?  Would I cover up my child's wrong doing by any means necessary?  Many people do just that.  I am thinking about a teenager in Brunswick, Georgia, De'Marquise Elkins, who tried to rob a mother and ended up murdering her baby. That teenager's Mom, Karimah Elkins, his sister and his Aunt tried to cover for him.  The story makes you think about genetics.  It is not clear if Paul's illness was a mental one but whatever it was, I believe readers are supposed to think the child is not totally responsible for his behavior, that Paul and his son Michel suffer from the same illness.

I have read some interesting books in October.  I finished reading Bel Canto and The Dinner. I have moved on to Open and Shut by  David Rosenfelt which is actually our book club selection for November.

Listen to the writer Herman Koch on NPR.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Am Loving Bel Canto

I am still enjoying Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and am on page 202 of this 318 page book.  I  like the humor in the story and I am fascinated by the characters.  I am going to recommend this book to the book club. There is a mixed group of about 58 high level officials in a hostage situation. The women and children had been released except for an opera singer, Roxane Coss. The story revolves around her. The male hostages and the terrorists which include two girls are captivated by Roxane's voice; the pure sweetness of her upper register. Page 201 says of Roxane, "She sang as if she was saving the life of every person in the room."  She has become close to one female bandit, Carmen. They braid each other's hair as if they were BFFs.  According to Carmen, Roxane is in love with a Japanese businessman also in captivity, Mr. Hosokawa.

Mr. Hosokawa's personal Japanese interpreter, Gen, is a key character in the story because he speaks several languages and is needed to keep the communication going.  He is very busy in this hostage crisis interpreting Russian, French, English, Spanish, Japanese. Much of the communication is between various male hostages and Roxane and also between the Red Cross official Messner and the terrorists. Gen is in love with Carmen, the young female bandit who wants to improve her education in the midst of this hostage crisis.

Father Arguedas, a young priest and another major character, seems very happy to be a hostage. He loves opera and is grateful to be in the presence of Roxane.  He prays for love, protection, and safe delivery for all but not  for rescue.

The Vice President, Ruben, of this unnamed South American country is an interesting character in the story. The hostages and terrorists are in his home and he is busy cleaning, organizing the cooking, and generally playing host as if this were a normal situation. He's given Roxane some of his wife's clothing. It was funny when he approached Roxane to get guidance on how to prepare dinner. He assumed because she was a woman she would know about cooking.

I am hoping this has a satisfying resolution.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Creating a Reading List for 2014

What will our book club read in 2014?  Club members are checking out certain books to see if the rest of us would be interested in selecting them for 2014. Linda is checking out Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. Tom read Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls and reported that he loved it. And I am reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

I am on page 56 and I am loving it so far. Bel Canto is loosely based on the hostage crisis in Peru in December 1996 when members of Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) took hundreds of high level officials as hostages while they were attending a party at the Japanese Ambassadors residence.  President Fujimori sent in Peruvian troops in April 1997 and freed the hostages. One hostage died and all the MRTA members were killed.  In Bel Canto, however, a group of young armed bandits have entered the residence of the Vice President of an unnamed Spanish speaking South American country and are holding the guests hostage. Their intent was to kidnap the President but the President happens to be absent because he chose to stay home to watch his favorite soap opera that night.

Our club meets next Friday to discuss Blood of the Prodigal: an Amish Mystery.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

240 Year Old Automaton

This is so cool. If you have read The Poisoned Pilgrim, fourth novel in The Hangman's Daughter series by Oliver Potzch,this article about a 240 year old automaton will be very meaningful to you.  The book club selected the first book in the series in October last year.  Since then I have read all four books.  These books are worth adding to your reading list.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Book Thief Movie Clip

We read and discussed The Book Thief in April 2010; death was the very unusual narrator in the book. Here is a clip of the movie:

What will Okefenokee Book Club members read in 2014?

I have some suggestions already:  Tinderbox by Lisa Gornick, 320 pages; Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri,352 pages; Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini, 368 pages; Silver Star by Jeannette Walls, 288 pages; Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, 294 pages. 

We read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri in October 2004 and loved it. Note that Spymistress will be published in October. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Fancy Pants Jonah

Jonah, son of Bishop Eli Miller, was a rebellious Ohio Amish child who loved to wear "fancy pants".  When he had a chance to do his Rumschpringe or Rumshpringa (from the verb rumspringen meaning "to jump around"), he never wanted to return to his community. He was banned by his father, the Bishop, and shunned by the community.  I have just finished reading Blood of the Prodigal, an Amish Country Mystery

This is actually our book club pick for October.  It is a murder mystery that starts off with the thoughts and feelings of Jonah's ten year old son Jeremiah who is being raised by his grandparents. Jonah takes his son and leaves a note for Bishop.  The Bishop-grandfather seeks help from a local pastor and also from a college professor to locate the grandson. He does not want the help of the police. I loved the unexpected twists to this very short story, 230 pages.

I found the Amish life portrayed in this book very interesting. For readers who do not know, "Rumshpringe" is  a period for Amish adolescents to experience the world of the non-Amish, called the "English",with the hope that they will eventually return to the community to take Amish vows of commitment through baptism. I certainly did not know that any form of adolescent rebellion or exploration of freedom in the non Amish world was acceptable as part of Amish culture. 

I will seek out the next book in the series, Broken English. There is a sneak peek of the first chapter at the back of this book and it opens with violence from a criminal just released from prison.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What are you reading this weekend?

I am reading the fourth book in the Hangman's Daughter series, Poisoned Pilgrim by Oliver Potzsch.  I am on page 264 and so far some relics and a monstrace are missing, monks have been murdered, the abbot's brother is missing, and there is talk of an automata running around as if it may be possessed.

Book of the Month: Revolution

It's been a while. I am still reading but have not had time to blog about my readings. Our club chose Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly for the month of August. This is a Young Adult book. I could not identify with the teenage angst in the first 60 pages of the book. The book became interesting to me when the main character, Andi Alpers, a teenaged musical genius went to Paris and found a diary, written by a teenager named Alexandrine, in a guitar case. The diary was all about her life during the French Revolution and specifically her connection with the royal family.   I would give this book 41/2 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cerca Trova/Seek and You Shall Find

Protagonist: Symbologist Robert Langdon. Setting: Florence, Italy. Themes: Hell, overpopulation, bio-terrorism threat. Mystery Message: Seek and you shall find or Cerca Trova in Italian. Put all those elements together, add some chases, and some mysterious characters with secrets and we have Dan Brown's latest novel, Inferno. 

The book gets its title from Dante's epic poem Inferno about his journey through the nine circles of hell with roman poet Virgil.  The storyline is that Langdon is in possession of a tube-like projector.  On the projector is a picture of Boticelli's painting titled, Map of Hell. It depicts the nine circles of Dante's hell. The mysterious element about this particular projection is that the circles are depicted incorrectly. From what I have read so far, there is a female hired killer, Vayentha, chasing Langdon and a mysterious British female Doctor named Sienna Brooks, around Florence. Also chasing and tracking them with the help of a drone, is an organized group of men, seemingly working with the American Embassy in Italy.  Langdon does not remember why he is in possession of the tube and why all these people are trying to kill him.

Among the mystery characters are a silver haired female WHO official named, Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey, an otherworldly type character who calls himself the Shade, yet another man on a yacht called, The Mendacium, and who is referred to as the provost or the devil's enabler. What service does his Consortium really provide to clients? I am anxious to see how all these characters will connect.

I am only on  page 154 (of 461 pages).  There is so much more to come.  This book brought back memories of my visit to Florence a few years ago.  There is so much detail about the buildings and artwork,I am sure there will be a Dan Brown Tour of Florence any day now.  In the meantime, enjoy some of my personal pics of Florence, the first one is Ponte Vecchio:

Fans of Inferno should check this interesting link out: Nine Circles of Dan Brown. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Book to be Released: How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

Today, I finished reading The Beautiful Mystery, a murder mystery that features Gregorian Chants that connects with the murder of Thomas Beckett and includes a continuation of events in Penny's previous book, Bury Your Dead. This is 41/2 stars for me.  I loved it.  This book made me think, laugh out loud, feel anger, anxiety, and sadness. I loved the dialogue.  I loved all the subplots in the story.  I  loved the historical elements about the music, the monks, the Jesuits.  I loved the contrasts in the story of harmony and disharmony.  The fabulous acoustics in the chapel as described by the writer reminded me of  the Church of St. Anne in Israel.  I am looking forward to the next book, How the Light Gets In, which will be released in August to see how the relationships between Chief Inspector Gamache and Lieutenant Beauvoir and Beauvoir and Anne, the Chief's daughter, develop. 

To Be Released:New Book by Jeannette Walls

Jeanette Walls has a new book that will be released on June 11th titled The Silver Star.  Our book club chose her first book, The Glass Castle, for discussion in 2005 and it is one of my favorite reads. If you are a fan of the bestseller, The Glass Castle, you will enjoy this article in the New York Times.  Jeannette's Mom is a hoarder so I love the photo with the article. Jeannette and her mother are sitting in the middle of the clutter in a cottage where the mother resides.  Having read the Glass Castle, this is how I imagine her mother would be living.  The article refers to the smell of cat urine on entering the cottage, garbage and a junk room.  I am not surprised by those details. Here is one new thing I got from the article. One motivation for Walls to write her memoir,The Glass Castle, had to do with her learning that the Church of Scientology was about to look into her background. I tried to find the article that Walls wrote that probably upset the church enough to investigate her but found nothing.  Could it be this one about Jenna Elman, updated 2/15/05? Or this one about Tom Cruise updated 1/21/2004? I have no idea but I am curious.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Frere Mathieu Entre Les Loups/Brother Matthew Among the Wolves

The monastery lit up with rainbows, prisms and cheerful natural light is the scene of an ugly dark crime.  I am fascinated by the contrasts and the ironies in this story Beautiful Mystery set at an isolated monastery in Quebec called Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups translated as St. Gilbert Among the Wolves.  However it was Frere Mathieu who was among the wolves because he is dead and it appears that his murderer is one of his brother monks who sing Greorian chants in his choir.  The Gregorian chants are likened to the voice of God yet one singer of the Divine is a murderer. These monks have taken a vow of silence yet they are famous in the outside world for their singing voice.   Twenty four voices used to sing in harmony and the death of one has left the community of  twenty three unbalanced and the divisions among them are about to be revealed to Inspector Gamache and his assistant Beauvoir.  The two must investigate what started the rifts.

I believe I see evidence of foreshadowing when Inspector Gamache suggests that if the killer flees the monastery he would have to leave through the door guarded by Frere Luc who holds the key.  Could Luc be in danger of being hurt or killed?  Communication with the outside world is limited and I suspect that bit of information may be important later in the story.  Gamache and Beauvoir are able to communicate with the love of their lives by Blackberry adding realism to the story.

The story reminded me of Dissolution when Matthew Shardlake and his assistant had to live at a monastery until they could find a murderer.  In that story the monks pointed fingers at outsiders but in this story the monks know that one among them is a killer.  I am on page 105 and I am enjoying the story.  This book has won the Agatha Award for Best Mystery in the USA and has been nominated for the Anthony Awards  scheduled for September.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Murder in the Monastery

There is a wolf in the fold dressed in a black robe with shaved head and he whispers prayers with his brothers. At last I am reading The Beautiful Mystery by Canadian mystery writer, Louise Penny.  I have been looking forward to this book featuring Inspector Gamache for a long time. The setting is not Three Pines as  in most of the other books in the series.  This time it is a monastery called Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups located in Canada.  This is a remote cloistered monastery with twenty-four monks so one of them must be the "wolf".  The choir director in the story, Frere Mathieu, has been found murdered with a rock in the abbot's garden. His body was found curled up into a fetal position with the Latin words meaning "Day of wrath" written in vellum, possibly from a page of an ancient chant, and placed in the sleeve of his robe.  I was curious if this was a real monastery but it is not.  However, it is based on a real monastery famous for singing gregorian chants. I am on page 50 and so far there is Inspector Gamache, Jean Guy Beauvoir and a new character,Captain Charbonneau, investigating the murder.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What are you reading?

I finished The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau.  She paints an interesting picture of the conflict between the Roman Catholic Church and the Crown.  Many of the characters in the Tudor period came to life in this book such as the Princess Mary and Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester.  I liked the detailed information about the period such as the introduction of the translation of The Bible by Tyndale so that all those who were literate could read it; a shocking thing at the time.  I liked the main character, Joanna Stafford ,with all her vulnerabilities.  I, however, preferred the writer's first book, The Crown. I moved on to The Third Gate by Lincoln Child and to my surprise, that was about another crown; the hunt for the double crown of Pharoah Narmer. Narmer was the God-King who united Egypt into one kingdom.  This story delved into the paranormal, archaeology, the use of propofol (the Michael Jackson drug) to induce hypnosis, and introduced me to the term "Enigmalogist". In this book, the enigmalogist was an interpreter of strange happenings, a ghostbuster type.  I enjoyed the story; couldn't put the book down but found the ending not so satisfying.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau

I have moved on to Bilyeau's second book, The Chalice. One theme in this book is destiny. A key sentence on page 308 is, 'There is a destiny one creates. And there is a destiny ordained.'

The first book, The Crown, introduced us to Joanna Stafford, of noble birth, former lady in waiting to Queen Katherine, who has answered the call to be a novice nun. The setting is 16th century England and King Henry Vlll is on the throne.  This is a period when the people of England are caught between the Crown and the Papists. Catholic Churches, monasteries and nunneries have been dissolved. Sister Joanna and her sister nuns have been displaced from the nunnery in Dartford.  Her plan is to make a living for herself and her cousin's son, Arthur, by continuing the weaving business that the nuns had engaged in prior to the Dissolution. We got a hint of romance in the first book which continues in this book in that Sister Joanna seems to be attracted to two men, Brother Edward, a friar, and Geoffrey, now a constable assigned to Dartford.  It was common for the displaced nuns and monks to marry as they tried to fit into civilian life.  I am on page 308 and I do not know yet which young man Joanna will choose. I would like Geoffrey to win her over.

There are many subplots in this story. One  plot in the story has to do with prophecy and Joanna's reluctance to listen to the prophecies ordained for her.  So far she has heard two prophecies and she does not fully understand the meaning and is puzzled about her role in the prophecies.  She is supposed to hear a third prophesy.  All she knows is that her role in the prophesy is linked to the future of England possibly the future of the Catholic Church.

I do not know at this point how the title of the book fits into the story.  There are some slow parts in the story.  While I am enjoying the subplots in the story, it is not as captivating as The Crown.  At this point I would give it 4 stars out of 5.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Beggar King - Historical Fiction

I am on page 362 of The Beggar King, The Hangman's Daughter series by Oliver Potzsch, almost at the end, and I am still not sure I understand who the bad guys are in this story.  The setting is the 17th century Bavarian town of Regensberg. There is conspiracy after conspiracy, treachery after treachery in this story.  All the minor characters seem not to be who they say they are.  So far, they all seem very shady: the Beggar King, the Venice Ambassador; The Raftmaster; the patricians of the city; the dead bath house owners, Kuisl's sister and brother-in-law; and even Kuisl's wife seems to have some secret past. 

Hangman Jakob Kuisl has been targeted, tricked into leaving Schongau for Regensberg so that he could be accused of  murder in that town.  The leaders in the city seem to have conspired together to accuse him.  Kuisl got a taste of the brutal punishment that he himself has imposed on others in his role as Hangman.  His chief tormentor who wants the punishment to be more and more severe is a voice from his past, which he can not remember fully, and a leader in the city.  The feisty hangman's daughter, Magdalena, and her paramour, Simon, just happened to have run off to Regensberg to start a new life together when they find themselves having to find evidence that Kuisl is innocent.  Then they have to go into hiding after being accused of arson. In the meantime some prostitutes are disappearing and turning up dead. How their deaths connect with Kuisl, I do not know at this point.

I am not as excited about this story as I was with the other two in the series. Too many things are going on in this story.  Who committed the murders and why?  How do the politics and church issues relate to the murders? What is up with this great war in the past?  Who is killing the prostitutes and how does that connect to the main story? What was the mystery powder found at the scene of the murder? So many aspects to this one story.  I was the one who recommended the first book in the series to my book club and we loved it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Immaculee Ilibagiza's Story

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza is our book club pick for April. I have never wanted to watch Hotel Rwanda or read anything about the genocide in Rwanda.  I thought this was just going to be a depressing story about evil. It was a depressing story about evil but there was so much more.  This is a story of how Immaculee's Roman Catholic faith guided her, made her bold, kept her safe, and freed her from hate. This book was worth reading.  Imagine, she was locked up in a small bathroom with a group of women for their safety and during the ordeal she kept her faith and obeyed what she discerned to be God's direction.  She even tried to teach herself English in anticipation of her vision to work at the United Nations.  Some of the characters mentioned in the book were interesting. One is the pastor who tried to hide the women yet seemed to regret getting involved with their rescue when the weeks turned into months.  The other is her university friend who had a plan involving electrocution if the Hutus turned on them and there was no escape. Her plan reminded me of the story about the zealots of Masada in Israel as told in the Dovekeepers.

This is not a long story and very easy to read.  There was one typing error in the book towards the end; it mentioned her Aunts and nieces when it should have been Aunts and cousins.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Pics For Fans of The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Sharing pics of the ruins in Masada, ancient mountaintop fortress in Israel, which is part of the setting for Dovekeepers  It was rebuilt and redecorated by King Herod the great.  Top picture is supposed to be the dovecot where the doves were kept.  I am also including a picture of the Rabbi of Masada who is writing the Torah by hand in the ancient synagogue.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jodie Picoult's Storyteller

I was still on my Israel "high" this morning when by chance I found out about a new book by one of my favorite authors. Jodie Picoult, who was raised Jewish, has a new book out titled, The Storyteller. According to the article I read, this book is about the Holocaust, making moral choices, and forgiveness.   This book is going to be on my list of "Must Read" books. One reason I love Picoult's books is that she always has an unexpected ending and this book promises a surprise twist to the end. 

Israeli Authors in the Spotlight

Book lovers, I have to introduce you to this article on Israeli Authors by Ellis Shuman. I just returned from Israel last Wednesday so I am still a little 'high' on Israel and reading everything I can.  I forgot my camera in Israel and waiting for the hotel security to mail it to me.  Big oops! When I get it, I will display some of my beautiful food and landscape pics for you my readers.  By the way, the book Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman really helped me to appreciate the fortress of Masada when I visited it last week on February 15th.  We were shown the area where the doves were kept.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

On My Way to Masada

I am on my way to Israel next week and I am reading The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. I am liking this story set in the fortress called Masada in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea; a base from which the Israelis fought back against the Romans in 70 AD.   This story is filled with stories about magic, dreams, survival, and animal and bird symbols such as doves, ravens, goats, scorpions, and lions. I liked the irony of the doves, symbols of peace, in the midst of this story about war and death.  In the story we learn about the zealots that fled to Masada and how the Romans, using slave labor, built a wall encircling them.  It is told from the point of view of  these four fascinating Dovekeepers; red haired Yael, who is hated by a father who is known by his reputation as the Assassin; Revka, who lost her husband and children and has to care for her mute grandsons; Aziza, a fighter who secretly takes her brother's place among the warriors; and her Mom, Shirah, known as the witch and healer. One minor character that fascinated me was the slave from the North and he in turn was fascinated by Yael.  I am on page 444 and will complete this book before I visit Masada next week.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Matthew Shardlake series

I have started Heartstone by bestselling author C. J. Sansom. It is the fifth  of the Matthew Shardlake mystery series. The setting is 16th century England. King Henry VIII has now married wife number six, Catherine Parr, and is preparing England for war with France.

As usual Matthew Shardlake, the narrator, has several mysteries to solve.  The main one has to do with an assignment from the caring Queen Catherine who has Matthew representing the legal interests of the son of her retired maid.  Michael Calfill, the son of the retired maid died, presumably at his own hands, just before laying a Bill of Information before the Court of Wards in which he alleged some monstrous injustice against a former student, Hugh Curteys by his caregiver.  I am anxious to find out what the "monstrous injustice" really is.  I can guess that Michael's death was no suicide because he would not have killed himself just before the hearing.  The second mystery has to do with Ellen Fettiplace who suffers from agoraphobia and has been living for years in Bedlam, a place for the mentally ill.   Who exactly has been paying her bills at the Bedlam for nineteen years and where is her family?  Ellen was a character in the fourth book, Revelation.   The third and minor mystery has to do with Matthew's steward, Coldiron.  He is a new character in the series. Is Josephine his daughter?  Why is she really afraid of Coldiron?  Will Matthew be able to dismiss him and keep Josephine as an employee.  Finally, will Jack Barak, Matthew's law clerk and a recurring character from the previous series, really be conscripted in the military?  I am only on page 90 and I am loving all these mysteries. 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Cool Links

I have come across two really cool links this morning.  One is the link to podcastomatic which can instantly turn your blog into a podcast. The other has to do with a world outreach project.  I just gave $10:00 to the Archimedes Alliance organized by this caring Oregon teenager named Julien Leitner, who wants to change the world $2.00 at a time. "It's time to move the earth."

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Free Ebook of Quotes

While it's available, get your free ebook with twitter-ready quotes compiled by the Lyttle sisters, Alicia and Lorette on amazon.  It is titled A Tweet A Day. I am loving #22:   "People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals - that is, goals that do not inspire them." Anthony Robbins.  Quote #30 by President Abraham Lincoln, who we are now so very interested in these days, is inspirational for the new year: "Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way."

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Looking for Romance in 2013?

Happy New Year readers! If you are looking for romance, romance novels that is, have I got a link for you.  I found this Romance Matrix on  So sorry I can't link you to real-life romance folks.  Hey, reading, like real life romance, requires a lot of imagination.