Here’s my second attempt at a triolet, with its rhyming scheme of A B a A a b A B. The 1st, 4th, and 7th lines are repeated, and the 2nd and 8th lines repeated.
Mrs Conrad who sits right beside my grandmother at the care home she speaks of her family with pride Mrs Conrad who sits right beside in her spot by the warm fireside ever hoping her children will come Mrs Conrad who sits right beside my grandmother at the care home
Nefarious, flagrantly wicked or evil, has its origins in the Latin nefas, meaning crime, from ne (without) and fas (right, or divine law). Synonyms being wicked, iniquitous, evil, wrong, villainous, and vicious.
Years ago the heroes were the good guys, standing for the right. Editors went for good role models. Villains were nefarious. Driven by greed or on a power trip, these vicious types wanted to dodge the law in order to control, steal, kill, destroy. Times have changed: today’s “flawed heroes” may dodge the law, thwart justice, control, steal, and kill. Think Philip Marlowe. They may be liars, drunks and brawlers; still, we should root for them because they have some ultimate good in mind. But forget the role model angle.
Now for a haiku that has nothing to do with literature, but all to do with a villain. Dedicated to those in my family who lost the battle to smoking-related cancers.
lung cancer nefarious villain the ashtray overflows
I just finished an interesting book, the first of a series. It’s free on Amazon, so I gave it a try and wasn’t disappointed.
A Study in Stone
“You have all the tact of a gently lobbed hand grenade,” Alan Hargreaves tells his new neighbour, as they go about asking questions re: some strange writing on a stone and what it means. Alan, a writer of adventure stories for children, delivers these unique turns of phrase; all the deadpan humor, neatly woven into the text, gave me many chuckles.
Fresh from the dog-eat-dog world of corporate London, hard-nosed and wary, Dan Corrigan definitely lacks people skills. But the corporate world has chewed him up and spit him out; now he’s going to lick his wounds in a peaceful country setting, his sister’s rental cottage in a remote Devon village. When he arrives a passing neighbour stops to chat. The silence hits him. Settling in, he finds he can only get four channels on the telly – and no internet service! “Peaceful” soon becomes bored stiff so he joins his neighbour Alan at the local pub. All through the book the author has an amusing way of dealing with Dan’s “This isn’t London” frustrations.
In a coffee shop the next day a curious code on a stone attracts their attention and Dan’s tenacious attempts to learn the story behind it take them on this long adventure. I really liked Alan’s character; his level-headed and congenial nature makes a great foil for Dan’s skeptical, abrasive one. The two men form a unique give-and-take friendship and Alan helps Dan make the adjustment to another world, calling him on his “you out here in the sticks” attitudes.
The mystery in this story isn’t a menacing one and easy enough to guess if you’ve read some WWI history. But the story’s compelling and the dialogue enjoyable; once I started I didn’t quit reading until I was done. I enjoyed the excerpt for the next novel the author has included at the end and definitely want to read that one, too.
I debated between four and five stars, but I always hesitate to say I absolutely LOVED it. I really did enjoy it, though. 🙂 Checking the Goodreads reviews, I see that some others didn’t. A few people thought the mystery was too easy, which is true. Some enjoyed the historical details while for others there wasn’t enough suspense. Some readers couldn’t handle Dan’s behaviour, some liked the developing friendship between the two men. Reviews: 5 stars: 42 4 stars: 32 3 stars: 15 2 stars: 6 1 star: 5
Pondering these various reviews has given me fuel for my next post: The Inky Slope of Book Reviews.
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?
I’ll always remember that pink hat. It was a real beauty, so big and floppy it made you think of a sombrero with flowers.
It was made up of threads, rings of variegated colour, with small white daisies decorating the front. At the back the brim was festooned with purple mums, each with a bright orange eye. As an added touch of pizzazz, a gold braid wound its way artfully around the brim, the ends hanging down in tassels.
My hat adventure started the week after the Sunday School picnic. I’d spent a couple of hours in the sunshine supervising the kindergarten class and came home from the event red-nosed, cheeks on fire.
On Sunday morning sympathetic friends suggested, “You should get yourself a sun hat, Andella.”
I’d always been too vain for a hat, I guess, but as I looked in the mirror now, I gave in gracefully. Yes, a hat may look old-fashioned — it may even make me look like a grandma — but in the long run it would save me some serious suffering. “Saved from the bakin’,” I murmured, then chuckled to myself.
As soon as I was presentable again I headed to the accessories counter at a local upscale department store, determined to fight back against those nasty UV rays that fry you and also wrinkle you in old age. I perused their selection of sports caps, straw hats and floppies. This would be my last sunburn.
Among the various toppers on display I saw this amazing creation. A delight to the eye, a real work of art. Love at first sight! I paled at the intimidating price tag, but affection always has a price, right? From now on I wouldn’t stint on such an important issue as my health and beauty.
So I swiped the old debit card and wore the thing home, feeling delighted knowing eyes were turning my way as I walked down the street. Had here been an Easter Parade I may well have won the “most colorful hat” contest.
The very next week I had the perfect chance to test my gorgeous creation. My sister had invited us to join them for a supper barbeque by the lake and the sun was shining brilliantly that afternoon. So I wore my pink hat, expecting to turn my sister an envious shade of green.
I took it from the shelf and gave it a little shake, enjoying the rustle of the silk flowers. “They look so real,” I told my husband as I admired the color combination. On impulse I gave it a spritz of my favorite cologne, Lilac Legacy.
“Most certainly they do, sweetheart,” he said. “I hope there’ll be no deer around. They may try to sample you.”
“Deer don’t eat lilacs so I’ll be alright,” I assured him. He carried out the picnic basket, I set my hat carefully in the back seat of the car, and we were off for a delightful day at the park.
Sporting my jaunty topper and my fuschia sun-dress, I marched over to the picnic area. But we’d barely joined my sister’s family when I heard this buzzing sound. Next thing my husband and sister were both shouting, “Look out, Andella! Don’t move.”
It’s very hard to restrain from swatting at bees when half a dozen are buzzing in your face. In fact I couldn’t resist slapping at one that landed on my collar and leapt from there to my hairline. Talk about a pain in the neck. A few well placed bee sings will get you there in no time.
Not thinking clearly, I stumbled toward the lake. Or maybe because the stings felt so much like fire my subconscious called for water. Then someone yelled something about some mud on the stings, so I waded knee-deep into the lapping waves and reached down to scoop up a handful.
Our ever-capricious forces of nature have deposited some oblong, slippery rocks in the water right about there. Of course my foot had to land on the edge of one. I groped for balance, took a misstep, and fell straight forward. And my beautiful pink hat with its cargo of mums and daisies, went floating away, pursued by a dozen frustrated bees.
Thankfully my husband was right there to assist me. But what consolation did my loving, compassionate sister say as I straggled out of the lake?
“Hey, Sis. You made quite the tsunami.” Adding insult to injury.
(Original image of pink hat: Ben Kerckz — Pixabay)
Our Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is SUSPENSE — which gives me the chance to tell you about a couple of books I’ve read lately.
SCARS By Canadian writer Dr. Kevin Dautremont
One of the best Christian mystery books I’ve read, comparable to Dan Walsh’s mysteries. I enjoyed the writing style, somewhat like that of James Patterson, where the events are told in quick, intense spurts. I had no trouble following as the writer took readers from one character to another, revealing their feelings and motives, neatly weaving in the back-story for the various main characters and showing their interactions, good or bad.
Doctor Derek Kessler has moved to Montana to try and put behind him the accident that took the lives of his wife and young daughter. “Where was God that day? Why did He allow them to die?” Like gray clouds, the questions still hover, challenging his faith. Rebecca Andrychuk is a tough lawyer with issues from her troubled past, a broken relationship with her father and her mother’s suicide. The Sheriff has his own wounds; however, behind his pugnacious front and personal biases he wants to know the truth.
I found the story well plotted, not a thriller but a moderate level of suspense, moving along at a steady pace toward the surprising ending twist. The story is complete as is, but I was sorry to reach the end. Having gotten to know these main characters, I’d like to read more about each of them and would welcome a sequel.
The first book in the Freddy Pilkington-Soames series. Very well written! No high suspense, but the story grabs you from the first page and keeps you reading. The victim, Ticky Maltravers, is supposedly adored by everyone—but the fact is, no one really likes the self-centred fellow. After a dinner party with some of his supposed admirers he dies on the way home. Worse, he shares a cab with Freddy’s mother and collapses almost on her doorstep, making her look guilty of some mischief. She enlists Freddy — horrified and very annoyed — to take his body home somehow so no one will accuse her.
Realistic attitudes for that era, yet the dialogue is more of a parody on the thinking of the upper crust snobs before the Great War. “Police are a nuisance asking questions and they have no right to bother us this way. It should be obvious that none of us could possibly be guilty. We just don’t do that sort of thing.” And Freddie, nosing around asking questions, makes himself the biggest nuisance of all. He may be a humble reporter at the daily paper, but he has an air of Lord Peter Wimsey about him.
I’ve also enjoyed a couple of the Angela MarchmontMysteries by this same British author; A Question of Hats is a good one. These and the Freddy Pilkington-SoamesAdventures are traditional English whodunits set in the 1920s and 30s.