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Archive for October, 2012

Happy Hallowe’en, Samhain, Feralia, Alholowmesse, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

 

 

A celebration dating from the time of the Druids, to celebrate the coming of the new year, and the ending of the old. To mark the end of summer and the harvest, and greet the dark season of winter, dancing in costumes around a huge bonfire, to keep the returning ghost of the dead at bay.

Then came the Romans, who celebrated Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. Decades later, All Martyrs’ Day was moved to the fall and combined with All Saints’ Day. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead.

In the mid 1800’s Irish and English immigrants brought us to our own American Halloween traditions. Dressing up in costumes and attending Halloween parties, going from house, asking for food or money. People would give away soul cakes, in hopes the recipients would pray for their dead relatives.

Today candy has replaced soul cakes, and Halloween has become a more social event, celebrating living, with games and cute trick-or-treaters going door-to-door in their costumes, as much to be oohed and aahed over by the neighbors  as for the bounty they will take home.

Shame that giving out books for Halloween never caught on. Coming home after a night of ringing doorbells with a bounty of books. That would be a real treat!

 

There is, of course, a bounty of Halloween books available at PaperBackSwap.

Here are a few that are currently available to order right now

 


Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

 


The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker

 


How to Drive Your Family Crazy on Halloween by Dean Marney

 


Halloween: 101 Frightfully Fun Ideas Edited by Carol Dahlstrom

 


The Halloween Ball by James Howard Kunstler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adopt A Shelter Dog Month or Why Turtles Get The Tails Wagging

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

 By Carole (craftnut)

 

This is a very special time for dog lovers and close to my heart.  My husband and I have been involved with rescues for years and we have long ties with Humane Societies.  The stories are sometimes horrific, sometimes heartbreaking, and most of the time they make me want to string up the people responsible, but I promise, no horror stories here.

 

There are ups and downs with rescuing abused and neglected darlings, but the outcome has always been worth it.   We have a soft spot for Welsh Terriers, little black and tan dogs that some people think look like miniature Airedales although the breeds are not related.   Our current Welsh Terrier is a rescue we nicknamed Psychodog.  Her favorite things are her collection of stuffed turtles.  The first one came with her, the rescue counselor gave her the second turtle, and then a friend gave her a huge, yellow one.  Since three constitutes a collection, she began receiving stuffed turtles from other family members (current count 8).  She loves those things, and will walk around carrying them in her mouth, wagging her tail.  Her tail wags so fast at times it is just a blur.  It is part of her morning ritual after breakfast, and again anytime we have been out of the house and come back home.  It is fun to watch her dig through her toy basket to decide which stuffed animals deserve to come out to play.  She has other stuffed toys, but the turtles win most of the time.

 

 

Furkids add so much to our lives.  They love us no matter what.  They wake up happy, wagging a tail just to be near us.  They are there when we need a lift, to lick our faces and make us smile.  Their unfailing loyalty and unconditional admiration is a wondrous thing, spreading joy wherever they go.  Oh, if only our own lives could be so simple and uncomplicated!!

We can learn a lot from dogs.  Some years ago, I found this in a column by Ann Landers, and I still find it to be profound wisdom.

 

“If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can get going without pep pills,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your problems,

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,

If you can overlook it when something goes wrong through no fault of your own and those you love take it out on you,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him,

If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, or politics,

 

Then, my friends, you are almost as good as your dog.”

 

If you are thinking of adding a furkid to your family, please consider rescuing a forever friend from the local shelter or humane society.  You can save a life today, and the rewards will be worth it.  If you cannot have a dog (or another dog) consider volunteering at a local shelter.  They always need help to clean cages, walk the dogs and just provide much appreciated ear scratches and tummy rubs.

 

97 Ways to Make Your Dog Smile by Jenny Langbehn

 

Dogs Don’t Bite When a Growl Will Do by Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber

 

Merles Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote

 

 

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan

 

Amazing Gracie A Dog’s Tale By Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff

 

A Dog Year:  Twelve Months, Four Dogs and Me by John Katz

 

Dog Is My Co-Pilot: Great Writers on the World’s Oldest Friendship
Included are pieces by Lynda Barry, Rick Bass, Maeve Brennan, Margaret Cho, Carolyn Chute, Alice Elliott Dark, Lama Surya Das, Pam Houston, Erica Jong, Tom Junod, Caroline Knapp, Donald McCaig, Nasdijj, Ann Patchett, Michael Paterniti, Charles Siebert, Alexandra Styron, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, and Alice Walker.

 

Rescuing Sprite A Dog Lover’s Story of Joy and Anguish by Mark R. Levin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – Moment of Untruth

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Moment Of Untruth by Ed Lacy

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

In the late Fifties and early Sixties, Toussaint Marcus Moore is an African-American detective in two novels written by Ed Lacy. In the first, Room to Swing, Moore finds himself investigating in a southern Ohio town and tracking down a killer. Facing a hostile white community, he has to deal with Jim Crow customs and being suspected in the assault of a police officer. This novel won the Edgar award for Best Mystery Novel in 1958.

The other was Moment of Untruth (1965), which I read recently. Touie’s wife Frances announces with glee that she is pregnant, to which he secretly reacts, “Damn, just what the world needed – one more kid … another colored kid.” Realizing that his mail carrier’s income will not make the nut when Frances goes on maternity leave, he calls his former employer at a PI agency for a short-term job.  The old partner sends him to glamorous, sweaty Mexico City where a wealthy widow wants him to catch the murderer of her husband.

Although the culprit is obvious, the plot has unexpected twists that make this an agreeable read. In Acapulco, then as now a fun park for the affluent, Touie feels disgusted at going through other people’s dirty laundry. He feels sympathetic toward his main suspect, who’s also a minority. Touie contemplates the uncomfortable notion that he is only “an Uncle Tom doing the white folks a favor.” Another highlight that distinguishes this novel are memorable side characters, especially  Janis, the drunken blonde from Texas and Frank, a retired American black who hilariously comes into a fortune, which does him little good.

Marcia Muller calls the Touie Moore character the “the first convincing black detective in crime fiction.” Academic critics regard him as a transitional figure – the decent man who does his best and doesn’t let prejudice or his own anger and frustration steal his joy– between the supermen Coffin Ed and Gravedigger in Chester Himes’ incredible novels in the Fifties and Ernest Tidyman’s character Shaft in the Seventies. Readers who like the tough, tense, and realistic detective fiction of Hammett and Macdonald tradition should get a kick out the Moore novels.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Romance Review – Pleasures of a Tempted Lady

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Pleasures of a Tempted Lady by Jennifer Haymore

Review by Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty)

 

This is “the real” Meg’s story.  Eight years ago she was lost at sea, an event that not only devastated her family but also Captain William Langley the dashing man who loved her. It is also the event that started this series. Quite honestly Ms. Haymore has the chops that make this a novel that can stand alone, if you haven’t read the others.  But I cannot imagine why anyone would want to do that. This is a delightful series and the Donovan sisters are interesting and so are the men who capture their hearts.

Captain Langley is patrolling off the Cornwall coast looking for smugglers and pirates that plagued those waters.  His new ship the Freedom has just been through a sudden storm and Will is checking for any storm damage to his beloved ship, his first mate Mr. Briggs sees a small jolly boat in the distance, it’s mast broken and the sail trailing in the water.  Going to investigate they see two people in the boat a woman and her child.  While hauling her on board Will recognizes her and it seems a miracle, it is his Meg!  But how could this be, and the boy, is this strange little boy her son?  Where has she been, and why had she not contacted her family?  Can they overcome the time apart can she come to grips with the trauma that she has endured over the last 8 years and learn to trust and to love again?  Of course she can this is a romance after all.

The story line is a bit farfetched but this is pure escapism, so who gives a damn.  This book is the perfect weekend read and, I was able to finish it in one sitting. The bonus is that you get two love stories in one, for the youngest Donovan sister finds herself smitten by a wholly unsuitable man, but since when did that stop one of the Donovan sister?.   3.5 stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – The Case of the Long-Legged Models

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The Case of the Long-Legged Models by Erle Stanley Gardner

 

Review by Matt B (BuffaloSavage)

 

Mystery readers who like police procedurals would probably like Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. The reason is that Mason novels, like procedurals, follow a structure that rarely varies and the swiftly unfolding action, like a bag of chips, can be savored to the very end.

The opening chapter finds a client explaining a hornet’s nest to Mason. Della Street, Mason’s secretary and office manager, gives her take on the client and the situation. Perry sics his PI Paul Drake to dig around.

The next couple of chapters detail a scheme on the margins of illegality or an outright criminal enterprise, the murder and the arrest of Mason’s client by the DA Hamilton Burger.

In the court room scene, usually the last third of the novel, Mason gets to the bottom of motives with a cross-examination eliciting a confession or a revelation of the fallibility of witness’ perceptions or wrinkles in time and logic.

Hard-headed and realistic, Gardner does not get into motivations beyond the Big Four of love, hate, greed, and lust. Gardner’s invention holds our interest, however, especially whenever Mason juggles the evidence in order to stall or deceive the police. In this novel, Mason tells Della Street that hocus-pocus is an ethical way to defend a client:

It’s my contention, Della, that an attorney doesn’t have to sit back and wait until a witness gets on the stand and then test his recollection simply by asking him questions. If facts can be shuffled in such a way that it will confuse a witness who isn’t absolutely certain of his story, and if the attorney doesn’t suppress, conceal, or distort any of the actual evidence, I claim the attorney is within his rights.

 

Freeman Wills Crofts took the “locked room” about as far as it could go. Gardner’s specialty was pairs of guns. In this mystery, a pair of guns is shuffled until we readers come to the point of crying, “Uncle! This is too complicated!” That’s why I have not discussed the plot – to avoid the risk of spoiling the book for readers who just want to be swept along by Gardner’s almost magical power of narrative. Once you start a Perry Mason novel, it is impossible to put down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Mystery Review – Silver Lies

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

 

Silver Lies by Ann Parker

 

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

 

I am totally enthralled by tales of the Old West.  I am a traveler at heart and I think I perceive journeys to the Old West as the great adventure of this land.  I love stories of cattle drives, miners, Indians, wagons, saloons, shootouts, stagecoaches and cowboys.  The Old West was a rough place and the strong (or extremely lucky) found a way to persevere.  Some people lost everything to make the trip west and some found riches beyond their wildest dreams. I acknowledge I romanticize a time period fraught with danger but I just can’t help it.  Sometimes I think I was born at the wrong time.

When I found the book Silver Lies by Ann Parker I was instantly drawn to it.  I mean, what’s not intriguing about book centered on the life of a female saloon owner in Leadville, Colorado in 1879?  Sign me up, it sounds good to me.  Here’s the gist of the story:  Inez Stannert operates the Silver Queen Saloon in Leadville, a silver mining boomtown, with her business partner Abe Jackson, a freed slave.  Inez’s husband disappeared months before and Inez is still feeling wounded.  Joe Rose, the husband of Inez’s friend Emma, is a silver assayer found murdered outside of Inez’s saloon.  Emma asks for Inez’s help sorting through Joe’s business and financial affairs and Inez is thrown into investigating Joe’s murder.  And enter Reverend Sands, the temporary preacher who seems to be interested in more than the pulpit.  Threaded throughout the mystery is a love affair gone awry, counterfeit money, secret relationships, racial prejudice and family drama.

I think the character of Inez made this novel richer and more complex than the run-of-the-mill western.  She is a strong, independent woman in a town dominated by men who don’t think women should be involved in matters of business…or doing much of anything other than working in a brothel.  She totes her own gun, leads poker games in her saloon, stands up to men and prejudices and she isn’t afraid to speak her mind.  She is a welcome character for me.  I don’t recall a strong female leading character in this genre I liked this much since Clara in Lonesome Dove.

Parker includes historical facts and people, thus providing the novel a feeling of authenticity.  Bat Masterson even makes an appearance in Leadville.  How great is that?  I felt like I could see and smell (is that a good thing?) Leadville and its colorful characters while reading the book.  Parker created an interesting, multi-layered mystery and kept me guessing throughout.  I was surprised by some of the plot twists and character developments.  I’m glad Parker left some character questions unanswered at the conclusion because I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to learn more about them.

So my final judgment: Kudos, Ann Parker!  Silver Lies is a great start to a new mystery series and a welcome addition to the bookshelves of all of us yearning to be taken back to the days of the Old West.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction Review – The Peach Keeper

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

 

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

 

Review by Carole (craftnut)

 

Willa Jackson is an organic sporting goods store owner in the small North Carolina town of Walls of Water.  She is a descendent of the town’s founders, who were wealthy landowners and builders of the Blue Ridge Madam, a wonderful old mansion.  The loss of the logging industry to national parks caused the financial ruin of Willa’s grandparents and the loss of the old home.   Recently, the home was purchased by high school classmate Paxton Osgood and is being restored to its former glory for use as an inn.   Willa can’t help but follow the progress.

 

When Paxton’s brother comes to town to finish the landscaping, he sets to work removing a peach tree that has no business on the property as peach trees cannot set fruit in the mountains.   Desiring the property to be true to mountain ecology, he plans to replace the peach tree with a huge live oak transplanted from elsewhere.  When the peach tree is dug up, more than the roots are exposed.  A number of personal items are found beside a skeleton.  It doesn’t take long to identify who it is, the question is why was he murdered, and who did it?

 

Willa and Paxton form an uneasy alliance as they dredge up the past between their two grandmothers and uncover an uncomfortable truth.  But they also learn that ties of true friendship and love can transcend time.

 

The book is sprinkled with small strange occurrences, but it really is not a book of paranormal activity.  It is foremost a story of people and their relationships, of friendship both long term and newly formed, of loyalty and support over a lifetime.  The story is an easy read, and I recommend it.