Book: A Promise Kept

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A Promise Kept
by David Bishop

Story grabs you from the get-go with its sympathetic main character. This may be a cozy mystery, but I see a few shades of Phillip Marlowe in Rick Carnes’ personality. Just a touch, less hard-boiled. An ex-army Captain who’s worked in govt investigations, Carnes doesn’t take any flak or swallow any lies. The story’s fairly clean over all, but one of the suspects has a foul mouth.

This is definitely a more cosy story than Chandlers’ works, no senseless murders, but almost as mystifying. I like it that Carnes works together with the law. Plus, he has Marlowe beat with all the modern technical resources. The “whodunit” was a complete surprise. I liked the Epilogue; it rounded out the story quite nicely. Kudos, Mr Bishop, on a very well written story!

I’m not sure why, but my name seems to have been listed in Amazon’s “BAD ONES” book recently, as the last three reviews I’ve done were rejected almost immediately — even the brief review for an adult coloring book. So I’ll post my reviews here.

Morris, Goscinny, and Lucky Luke

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is SATIRE

Definition:
The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. — Lexico
Satire applies to writing that exposes or ridicules conduct, doctrines, or institutions either by direct criticism or more often through irony, parody, or caricature. — Merriam-Webster

Some years ago when we were in Quebec a friend introduced me to the Lucky Luke, the Western “bande dessinée” (comics) originally by Belgian artist, Morris, and later by Morris and Goscinny — the artist who did the Asterix series. If ever there were artists that did satire, it was these two!

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I recall one scene that was supposedly in the US Legislature where the austere governors of the nation carried on their dignified duties. A hilarious scene and a definite parody. “Shyster” one yelled. “Corrupt!” the other rejoined. There was the story where Lucky Luke got into the middle of an old family feud à la Hatfield + McCoy.

I recall his adventures with the Dalton gang, especially where they crossed the border into Canada. A sign read, “Canadian Border.” On the US side everything appeared normal, not a flake of snow. On the Canadian side deep snowbanks, frozen trees. All the men were loggers. The RCMP, Corporal Winston Pendergast, walked into a bar at closing time and said, “Gentlemen, it’s time to go home,” and everybody vamoosed. Then he ordered himself “A cup of tea, please, with a little cloud of milk.”

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Yes, I take my hat off to these two artists. They were masters of written satire and their illustrations were likewise hilariously fitting.

End of Year Shuffle

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is SHUFFLE, and a very fitting one it is. Two weeks after Christmas find me shuffling a lot of stuff — organizing, tidying, hopefully boxing up some things to be donated. “Out with the old and in with the new. Or, as FlyLady says, “If you aren’t using it, give it away so it can bless someone else’s life.”

When you have so and so much space and it’s already full to overflowing, then Christmas gifts come in, something’s gotta give. So we shuffle through cupboards to see which things we should part with to make room for the new. Hopefully by the first week in January most objects have all settled into the best place for them.

This morning I went through my stack of jigsaw puzzles. I collect and distribute to the folks at the Villa and other friends who like to do them, but somehow they come back in greater numbers than they go out. I spread them out on the bed and sorted out the ones I still hope to do someday myself, then piled the rest into laundry baskets. I took these — about thirty puzzles — to church, sending a WhatsAp message around for anyone who wants puzzles to help themselves. Now to say a prayer that they will all disappear. 🙂

Books and puzzles are best circulated; they get musty sitting around waiting to be opened and used.

Which reminds me that I did a shuffle in my closet last week and pulled out a dress I haven’t worn in awhile. It’s been a little..ahem..snug. It has — or had — elastic at the waist. But the moment I stretched it out to look at the dress, the brittle elastic just disintegrated. Ah, yes! There really is no point in storing clothes that don’t fit, either, because if elastic isn’t regularly washed, it dries up and crackles like the autumn leaves. (Ditto with the elastic in sheets that have been stored.)

Things are not made to be hoarded. Ornaments can sit around and the worst that will happen is they will fade — unless they get broken. But I’ve learned that most fabrics and paper, like food, can’t take continual non-use/storage and stay good-as-new.

Resolved Reads 2021

This morning I got an e-mail from Goodreads. Titled Christine’s Year in Books, it’s a summary of my reading in 2020 — that they know about. Kobo and library books I’ve listed as READ, as well as books on my Kindle reader which show up automatically when I’ve finished, since the two companies are connected. According to their count, I’ve read 102 books this year. Probably 110 would be closer, as I’ve re-read half a dozen or so without registering that fact on Goodreads.

My average book length was 206 pages; the longest was a collection of Penny Powers stories — 1760 pages in all. Right now I’m reading and almost done Jake and the Kid, a book by W.O.Mitchell set on the prairies. Then I have a couple more e-books started that I hope to finish shortly. Are you one to start more than one book at a time? Or are you one of these self-disciplined sorts who always finishes one thing before you start another? 😉

I enjoy a variety of genres and authors, but when I get into a series I’ll usually read the whole works — and if I really enjoy the characters, I’ll read the books more than once. Like Diana Xarrisa’s mild mystery series featuring the Markham sisters and their bed and breakfast in “Doveby Dale.” These novellas come in alphabetical order and I’ve just bought the last one, The Zachary Case, but I’ve re-read most of the others.

I’ve read most of the Miss Marple stories by Agatha Christie. Another series I’ve followed is Elizabeth Lemarchand’s mysteries solved by Inspectors Pollard & Toye of Scotland Yard. These are police procedurals as are Emily Brightwell’s Victorian mysteries featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Witherspoon and his housekeeper, Mrs Jeffries. When a murder is committed among the toffs in London, Witherspoon is sent to find the guilty party. Acting as a team, his staff and friends quietly get involved in turning up and sharing pertinent information. Finally Mrs Jeffries sorts it all out in her mind and figures out whodunit and why, then tips off the inspector so he can arrest the perpetrator. I just read the newest, Mrs Jeffries and the Alms of the Angel, #38 in the series.

A much milder series I follow is Nicholas Rhea’s Constable series, which rarely involve serious crimes, just day-to-day policing among the farms and small villages in rural England circa 1950. The Miss Read stories about Fairacre and Thrush Green are likewise sent in the 40s in rural England.

But now I’m pondering my next year’s reading plan and making a New Year’s Resolution. I’m considering all the books I’ve bought waiting patiently in the “To Read Soon” pile. I’ve read that other folks load their e-readers with books that don’t get read — and I am definitely guilty! But there are always intriguing new ones! As a friend quoted lately: “So many books; so little time.”

I rarely ever make definite New Year’s Resolutions because I know they are so hard to keep when temptation sings its siren song, but I’m resolved that in 2021 I WILL NOT BUY or BORROW ANY MORE BOOKS until I’ve gone through those 280 books on my Kindle and read the ones I haven’t yet. (If possible.) Plus write reviews for the ones I have read — if I haven’t already. Any new ones that pop up during the year and specially appeal to me can go on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list — along with the 190 already listed there. 😉

Can I keep this resolution? Or is this an impossible dream? What do you think?

Book: Ever Green Romances

To Have, To Hold (Ever Green Series Book 1) by [Darlene Polachic]

TO HAVE, TO HOLD
© 2017 by Darlene Polachic
This is the first in the Ever Green Christian romance series and is a free book on Kindle Unlimited for those who are subscribers.

When Janet O’Grady’s wheeler-dealer husband Marty dies in a car crash, she learns that he’s put everything they own under ownership of the company he and his brother own. Hoping to find a bank account with funds she can access, she discovers evidence that he’s been shifting company funds into an offshore account. Marty’s brother soon learns that millions of dollars are missing from the company’s account and he’s sure she’s been party to this deception. He wants his money and she must know where it is.

Leaving almost everything behind, Janet sneaks away in the wee hours with her six-year-old twin boys, running scared, headed for her parents’ home in Washington. She’s hoping they’ll forgive the past, take her in and give her shelter until she can get on her feet again. En route she needs help from a kind stranger.

Her parents think she must be a rich widow now — and she doesn’t tell them the truth, fearing her father’s health is too precarious for such a shock. Her sister Christa”s busy planning her wedding to banker Grant Brooks — who turns out to be the kind stranger who paid for Janet’s gas a few hours before.

Grant, a generous man with an inkling about Janet’s true financial state, offers to let her live in his grandfather’s house in exchange for cleaning it out — his grandparent saved EVERYTHING — so he can sell it. Janet appreciates working with Grant to clean up the place and Janet’s boys, starved for a father’s attention, just love him. She’d like to, too — but Grant’s taken. She’s not about to snitch her sister’s beau.

There are so many things I like about this book! It’s a clean story and well written. The main characters are mostly mature, considerate people; the ones who profess to be Christians do try to practice patience and kindness. The plot is interesting, believable, dramatic in places but not a high suspense. The only thing I couldn’t quite see was Grant as a banker — or a successful banker with Grant’s easy-going nature. He’s personable and conscientious but would a thirty-four-year-old professional money manager let himself drift into an engagement with a woman who loved to spend his money?

That aside, overall, this is an upbeat, enjoyable read — and written by one of the ladies in our writers friendship circle. 🙂

While this is The Evergreen Series, named for the town, each of the six novels is a stand-alone. Here are #2 and #3, which I haven’t read yet:

The Art of Jade Summer

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is JADE. A great word and lots could be said or illustrated, but I’m going to keep with my Books for Christmas idea and write about an artist who publishes by the name of Jade Summer.

I’ve discovered these adult coloring books on Amazon; possibly other retail outlets will be selling them, too. She has a variety of summer and winter themes. If you’re into coloring, you may want to have a look.