Monday, December 30, 2013

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George ~ A Book Review

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George ~ A Book Review

I’ve been an avid reader of Elizabeth George’s mysteries since the aristocratic police investigator, Inspector Thomas Lynley, and his unkempt, authority adverse partner, Barbara Havers, were first introduced in A Great Deliverance in 1988. Although American, Ms. George has for the most part of 25 years been my favorite author of British mysteries after P.D. James.  This affection for the Lynley mysteries has been quelled since the publication of What Came Before He Shot Her, George’s attempt at arguing the poverty excuse for the ne’er do well who killed the beloved character, Helen Lynley. That book was nearly unreadable and the beginning of the end for me.

Out of habit, eternal hope or stubbornness, I’ve continued to give each new installment a try. I’ve read all 18.  Just One Evil Act may be the death knell for my continued readership.  The Lynley novels have, for me, been about the character development and in Just One Evil Act, none of the long beloved characters act true to the personas that have been developed over 25 years and 18 books. Not in one’s most wild imagination would Thomas attend a roller derby match (at least not more than once on a lark); Barbara Havers would not aid & abet malfeasance; and the other major players would never proceed as described in this book.

If Just One Evil Act were one’s first Lynley book, these critiques would not matter. My issues with the story arise from my lengthy relationship with these characters and the careful characterizations that have been developed over the years. While I can understand that Ms. George may have felt the need to shuffle things up a bit, the series began its slide when Helen was murdered a mere six months after finally marrying Tommy and has not been able to recover. While the overly long book is readable, it was not enjoyable for me.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

40 Attributes to Cultivate for Living a Positive Focused Life

40 Attributes to Cultivate for Living a Positive Focused Life

As 2013 comes to a close it is time to focus on the New Year and the changes in attitude that will make 2014 a year filled with joy and positivity.  The power to change is within each of us and in most cases, changing one’s attitude is the way to achieving peace and serenity.  I plan to focus on cultivating and/or maintaining the following in my life:

1.         Abundance
2.         Acceptance
3.         Appreciation
4.         Beauty                                 

5.         Balance
6.         Harmony
7.         Love
8.         Gratitude
9.         Generosity
10.       Happiness             

11.       Calm
12.       Peace
13.       Serenity
14.       Joy
15.       Wonder
16.       Kindness
17.       Openness
18.       Optimism
19.       Spirituality
20.       Healthfulness
21.       Prosperity
22.       Strength
23.       Fulfillment                                  

24.       Belief
25.       Bounty (not the paper towels)
26.       Success
27.       Tranquility
28.       Confidence                                 

29.       Energy
30.       Vitality
31.       Courage
32.       Positivity
33.       Self-worth
34.       Awareness
35.       Receptiveness
36.       Compassion
37.       Patience
38.       Enthusiasm
39.       Creativity
40.       Wisdom                    

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule ~ A Book Review

A Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule ~ A Book Review

Ann Rule never disappoints! Her true crime stories read like the most convoluted mysteries and clearly exhibit that life is stranger than fiction. Only the most creative of writers could make this stuff up.

A Practice to Deceive finds Rule true to form. The research is excellent and I like Rule’s writing style. While I did not find this book as intriguing as her best, it is still a good read. My main critique of this story is the victim was not particularly likeable nor the villains particularly heinous. It is the people that make a story compelling and this book lacked fascinating characters. That being said, the murder of Russ Douglas and the lengthy investigation into his death makes an interesting story.

December 27, 2003 off a remote road on Whidbey Island in Washington State, a man was found slumped over the steering wheel of his bright yellow GEO tracker with a bullet between the eyes. The victim’s estranged wife Brenna does not appear to be distraught by her husband’s death.  But there is no apparent motive.
And the murder weapon is missing.

The investigation into the death of Douglas takes years; but ultimately, police track the murderer because of one dumb mistake.

Coldwater by Diana Gould ~ A Book Review

Coldwater by Diana Gould ~ A Book Review

Coldwater is a dark thriller that begins with a coke and alcohol addicted writer of a successful detective television series committing vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of the accident.  This is the catalyst of Brett Tanager’s spectacular spiraling downfall from the heights of the Hollywood elite to the depths of despair, guilt and loss.

Gould’s portrayal of Tanager as an addict plunging to her bottom is stark and realistic. It is clear that Gould has seen closely the effects of addiction and the torment of a tortured soul. 

Even within the depths of her degradation, Tanager finds herself drawn into an investigation into the disappearance of a privileged teen, the daughter of a Hollywood mover & shaker and her former step daughter’s best friend.

This novel has it all – the glitz and glamour as well as the dirty underbelly of the entertainment industry.

Coldwater is a great, page-turning read that calls to mind Elmore Leonard and the earlier books of James Patterson.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Remembering Christmas Eves of Long Ago

Remembering Christmas Eves of Long Ago

Christmas Eve was a magical time during my childhood in the 1960’s. This was a time before Christmas became such a commercial, secular holiday with the seasonal focus on rampant commercialism; when children received gifts only for Christmas and birthdays; when people bought something when they needed it and purchased new clothes for a special occasion or the start of the school year or at the semi annual shoe sale.

Every year as long as I can remember our family traipsed down the block from our house to that of my grandparents, who lived on the corner across the street from the rectory of St. Bridget’s Church in Logansport, Indiana to enjoy Christmas Eve dinner.  Sometimes dinner was served on my grandmother’s pre-war Noritake china, which I used for Thanksgiving this year. The meals I remember most vividly are those of the spaghetti served on my aunt’s pink /black square bake-lite dishes, pull apart rolls, and servings of cranberry relish. Our local relatives surrounded the drop-leaf table.  In the earliest years, seated around the table would be my grandparents, my mother’s sister, Aunt Kate (who always had Hershey bars and Archway cookies and long yellow fingernails from nicotine), Uncle Mart, Aunt Lerna, and Marguerite and Al from across the alley who had a beautiful white dog that barked a lot and a Victorian gazing ball in their back yard.

After dinner my parents piled us into the car and we drove around the town looking at the outdoor Christmas decorations. We always looked forward to seeing one house in the county that put on a show worthy of Clark Griswold, long before extravagant or excess became the norm. Then we returned to my grandparent’s house to find Santa had been to visit, depositing an abundance of treasures, such as my first Barbie (the Barbie with the 3 wigs) and Chatty Kathy (who spent a great deal of time at the doll hospital). We always wondered with awe how Santa knew we would be visiting grandma & grandpa? My aunt filmed all of the glamour in state of the art 8mm! And we thought it was an amazing treat to watch the previous year’s movies with the sound of the projector churning to the jerky movements on the screen.

These are still the warm & joyous memories of childhood. We felt so truly blessed to have two Christmas celebrations. For after we left our Christmas Eve extravaganza, we headed home, were tucked into bed, and waited with excitement and anticipation for that second visit from Santa Claus on Christmas morning.

As Bob Hope used to sing at the conclusion of every TV special ~Thanks for the Memories.