Saying Goodbyes

The last day of a bad year. I hope you all had a good Christmas! It’s been a bit wild here.

Friday, Christmas Eve, we packed up the truck with food, gifts, and clothes. I had been staying at the farm and came to town for supplies. Christmas Eve was quiet and beautiful. The weather was warm and there was no wind. I sat outside late at night and listened to the coyotes sing. Along with the donkey. By that time Grandpa was not good. Hospice came late that night and things went quickly after that.

Christmas morning we thought he had rallied a bit while opening his gifts. But if you have been through this you know that is not what it means. He left this earth at 1 p.m. Monday. With his wife and family by him. This family was born and died on the land they claimed in Indian Territory. It was sad and we were really tired and cried out. After everyone left, Grandma and I talked and cried some more. Arrangements were made on Tuesday and we held the wake on Wednesday and the funeral yesterday. It was a beautiful service and I made it through my reading with just a few pauses and deep breaths.

All of the grandsons were pallbearers and each wore one of his favorite caps. After all had gone, we came home and slept 10 hours.

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We sent the funeral home over 200 pictures and they created a video that made us sob and laugh. His boots were there along with a bottle of wine from his own vineyard and his wedding ring. We went with his wishes for music. The Old Rugged Cross, Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves, The Tennessee Waltz and to finish off…Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die by Joe Diffie. His love of dancing was legendary.

I hope we honored him in a way he would love. Then we all went to Cemetary which is a block from the farm on an old dirt road. The kids ran the four-wheelers and the rest of us popped some more wine and toasted him one last time. His was a life well-lived. I will miss him terribly but I’m sure he and his Australian Shepherd are headed to the fishing pond!

Happy New Year and thanks for listening!

xxP

THE SORORITY MURDER by ALLISON BRENNAN

The Sorority Murder

A popular sorority girl. An unsolved murder. A campus podcast with chilling repercussions. 

Lucas Vega seems to be a bit obsessed with the death of sorority girl, Candace Swain. Candace was at a party one night and nowhere the next. And while her body was found two weeks later, it was discovered she didn’t drown in the lake she was found in. And she had been alive quite a bit of time.

Now Lucas is creating a podcast for his capstone project and re-opening the case and asking for people to call in with anything they remember about that night. Lucas has a bit more insight into the case as he worked in the medical examiner’s office and knows some unreleased information. But the cops aren’t listening and the Sorority has closed ranks. Threatening any member who talks to him.

When his advisor introduces him to Regan Merritt, a former US Marshall and a mother who recently had her child murdered. She isn’t home to help anyone but herself. However, something about Lucas and his podcast captures her attention. She agrees to be interviewed and review the case.

Then people start dying. Someone is desperately trying to cover something up. And when tips begin coming in they know they have something. Especially when a caller ends up dead. The cops seem to be sketchy as well. With the help of Regan, Lucas may be able to share his own secret and help figure out who is killing people and why?

I enjoyed the way we would hear Rachel’s voice in her journal. There was just enough there to make you wonder. I made a lot of wrong guesses and would never have guessed that ending. What a fresh and twisty new murder mystery to solve.

It kept me up way past my bedtime!

NetGalley/December 28th, 2021 by MIRA





 

Bake, Borrow and Steal by Ellie Alexander

Bake, Borrow, and Steal (A Bakeshop Mystery, #14)

A Bakeshop Mystery #14

It’s November in Ashland, Oregon, and Jules is busy with a huge project for Torte. Creating Chocolate sculptures and a delicious feast for the fancy opening of the newest exhibit, Shakespeare’s Lost Pages at the museum.

Everyone is anxious as well as excited to see Double Falsehood and it is being guarded around the clock. Jules and the team will be making an authentic dinner with all the traditional foods of the period.

Everyone is stressed. The staff at the museum are fighting each other and the benefactor bringing in the piece is a royal pain! With everything finally in place and ready to go, Jules is told the manuscript has been stolen! Replaced by a forgery. But how in the world?

When the police arrest Javier, Rosa begs Jules to help her free her uncle. And of course, she jumps right in.

This was so well written that I suspected everyone except Jules! What a twisty read with some very sketchy characters. Loved it!

NetGalley/December 28,2021 St. Martin’s Press

Did Someone Cancel Winter?

There is some serious sunshine and warm weather here today! As in take the kayak out weather!

I just put the trash out and wore a tank top and shorts. So…what’s up with that? I am not complaining, mind you, I am highly allergic to cold.

Things have sort of piled up here. One Uncle is still in the hospital due to Covid. And Grandpa is home with palliative care. He’s pretty much done with things. But he will leave on the same land he was born on. And that is really wonderful. Christmas Day will be quiet and just close family and finger foods. I am so fine with that. I have cooked enough for work parties. So it’s another year of December losses.

On the bright side, it’s not cold yet. We went to a Christmas party where they played Dirty Santa. I have never in my life played this game. But the invitation said, “Uglier the better. Don’t spend any money.” And we both looked at each other and said, “The Clock”! Last year our 90-year-old neighbor who is a nun, gave us a clock. A very expensive clock with a beach theme even. However, every hour a seagull comes out and makes a noise like a ghost moaning. Seriously was creeping me out so we never put it up. Since there were two of us we needed two gifts. I had purchased several Kate Spade bangles and had one leftover so I went with that. It was the last one opened too and it went to the person I wanted to have it. But the clock? Four people fought over that thing! It got stolen 3 times and that was the limit. I avoided having my picks stolen by immediately putting them in my purse on the floor. It was a lot of fun and the food was so good. Especially the Red Chili Chicken.

Our funniest moment this week came from the hotel. OU Boy went to open a safe in a room where a very elderly woman is staying and in the safe was a cup of coffee. She wanted to know why it wasn’t getting hot. Now I’m wondering what she is putting in the microwave!

I won two Barbara Ross books and that was lovely. Did everyone finish their 2021 books? I had a late entry but it’s a cozy and I’ll gobble it up later. Tonight we are going to go see the Christmas lights and rest up.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas Day and Boxing Day!

Joyeaux Noel!

xx P

A Man of Honor by Barbara Taylor Bradford

A Man of Honor

A prequel to A Woman of Substance

A Man of Honor tells us the story of Balckie O’Neill at 13. His future in Ireland seems bleak. His family is dead except for his two cousins, and he is now sailing to England to see his Uncle Patrick who has a job lined up in his building company for his nephew.

So, off he goes to Leeds. A much different place from where he has come from. Obsessed with building and money, Blackie learns his trade well and is soon very successful at it. Blackie is a smart man who knows what he wants and what he will do to make it happen. He has good friends in this story and it is here that he meets Emma Harte. Like Blackie she has dreams of making it big as well.

Telling Blackie’s story gave us insight into his future character and what has shaped his decisions. He is just a really good man.

I read A Woman of Substance long ago and it stuck with me. There was some confusing language uses in this one. And I failed to see how Robert’s story was pertinent.

No matter what, it is always a good day to read BTB!

NetGalley/ November 28th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

Time For Some Tea!

Here it is December 13 and not a hint of winter. Do I care why? Nope. I wore flip-flops to the nail salon. Happy as can be. I hope your weather is behaving itself and staying in it’s own yard.

I am not exaggerating when I say this has been a rough couple of months. Let’s start with the entire OU nation losing it’s mind over Lincoln Riley hopping a jet to USC. I had told OU Boy this was going to happen weeks ago. Did. Not. Listen. Awe! Shock! And to lose to OSU and not get in any playoffs. Players were jumping through that transfer portal like it was the door to Narnia! We started playing fire the coach. It was amusing until Bama gave us UGA folks our first loss. Oh well. Such is football. But it’s not over yet boys!

Next up was OU boy sneezing and hurting his back. Sciatica. Oh, the moaning and crying and the doctor just told him Welcome to your 40’s! Then Thanksgiving where I was so hoping not to be alone as that is the day one year ago we found my mother on the floor of her apartment. She lived until December 5th. It was a tough time for my sisters and I . But no, one family wasn’t vaccinated so we did not go. I was furious. The man that wasn’t is now in ICU on a ventilator after basically killing his 95-year-old grandmother. She died in the room next to his, while his daughter was in Labor and Delivery giving birth to a cutie little girl. Grandpa got sick and was in hospital as well but his was a heart issue and he is now home and they are ready to draw that line in the dirt. No vax. No come in. Then yesterday another uncle died. So it’s been insane.

So, we’ve been on the road for weeks at hospitals, the farm and back to town. We had our boosters last Wednesday and I ran a fever of 103 for two days and felt like crap. But then I slept 10 hours and felt fine. I also got put in Twitter jail for three days for saying something true to our governor.

If it wasn’t for copious amounts of tea, I would probably be in jail right now. But the end is in sight and I’m keeping my eye on that. I am done with all of my 2021 reading and reviews and most of 2022.

Good Stuff? Well we tried out a cute little cafe’ Saturday in Bethany. The Stray Dog. It had actual metal dog bowl with paws on them full of popcorn. But oh lord, those hotdogs! Deep-fried hotdog wrapped in bacon! Such simple goodness. I will definitely be back. Especially since it’s on the way to the kayak dock. They had a lovely antique mall that smelled like peppermint and a hug.

I hope y’all have had an easier time than we have. And have more responsible relatives. Stay safe and warm, my friends.

xx P

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR by ELLY GRIFFITHS

The Midnight Hour (Brighton Mysteries)

The Brighton Mysteries

Elly Griffiths is also the author of the Dr. Ruth Galloway series,which is one of my favorites.

It’s 1965 in Brighton. Emma and Sam have set up their Detective Agency and have their first big case. Impresario Bert Billington is found dead. When the results return and they learn he was poisoned, his wife, Verity Malone, who was also a theater performer, hires Emma and Sam to find out who did this and keep her name out of it.

Lucky for Emma they have Max Mephisto on the inside to push for information. Interestingly he is in town filming Dracula along with Verity’s son, Seth.

There were so many people who looked guilty! You could tell they were all hiding something, but does that something have anything to do with the case? I am most definitely happy I was not an adult woman in the ’60s. I remember my mother reading The Feminine Mystique and finding it and reading it myself. I didn’t understand most of it,but I knew I did not want to be one of those wives.

I especially enjoyed when Emma would just pop her little boy on her hip and go interview suspects. Although eventually Edgar stepped up and pulled some weight.

I also enjoyed seeing Meg become bolder.

This is Cozy with a Bite! And I loved it!

NetGalley/ November 2nd, 2021 Mariner (formerly HMH)









The CHURCHILL SISTERS by RACHEL TRETHEWEY

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A lot has been written about Winston Churchill. And there are books about the girls and their mother. This book pulls all of them together, using unpublished letters from archives and numerous other sources, the author gives us a complete picture of the private lives of the three girls who lived to adulthood. Diana, serious and fragile, Sarah, a free-spirit, a glamorous, ambitious woman who wanted a career in acting, and Mary, the baby who stayed the course. Their brother, Randolph, did not live up to anyone’s expectations however.

The girls were smart and very different from each other. Their life goals were different as well. With Winston as their father, they also had a tremendous sense of duty to the country. Each found some way to be a part of the war efforts. They adored their father and were a little less enamored of their mother, who was often cold and distant.

They were Churchills and everything they did was news. While Diana and Mary were careful to be seen as proper ladies, Sarah, could have cared less. She lived her life to the fullest.

It was most interesting to see their relationship with their father. Clementine was gone a lot. But to read of the great man himself playing hide and seek in the bushes with his girls was a side I hadn’t seen.

How difficult it must have been to live in a fishbowl and have your every movement scrutinized. To be judged on who your father is rather than who you are.

I thoroughly enjoyed this look at the sisters. And this book was thoroughly researched, listing every source. Beautifully written.

NetGalley/ December 07, 2021 St. Martin’s Press

THE BALLERINAS by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

The Ballerinas

Three friends meet in the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet as teens. Delphine, the narrator of the story, Lindsay and Margaux. The story bounces between then and now.

Fourteen years ago, Delphine gave up her soloist spot at the POB to go to St. Petersburg. She also held a secret that could undo all of their lives. Now, Delphine is back in Paris. 36 years old and now a choreographer, hoping to work at the Palais Garnier Opera House, choreographing a ballet that will not only cement her career but to also make amends to her friends. But Paris has changed. Her friends have changed. And her secret may not be a secret after all.

This was an excellent look at the life of a ballerina. The sacrifices, the injuries, the all-consuming passion for the dance. How much of your life you lose when you wake up one morning too old to be a prima and yet it’s all you know. The complex relationships of the dancers. Are they friends or competitors?

This book lays bare the ugly side of ballet and dance. The fierce drive to be perfect, the loved ones lost along the way, casualties of a single-minded passion.

Really good book with a twist!

NetGalley/December 7th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

 

FROM LADLE TO GRAVE by AMY PATRICIA MEADE

From Ladle to Grave

A Tish Tarragon Mystery #5

Could a body found in a graveyard be linked to a tragic murder twenty-five years ago? Tish Tarragon is plunged into a new case when a fundraising dinner in the local church hall leads to a dark discovery.

Tish is back with another interesting catering event. Heroines of Literature. A fundraiser for St. Jude’s Episcopal Church. Things are humming along well when she notices a woman staring at her. Odd. But soon forgotten in the cleanup.

Walking home through the graveyard to lock up the hall, she literally stumbles over a body. A dead one.

The deceased has a fatal head wound and is lying on top of the Honeycutt plot. Daisy Honeycutt was murdered 25 years ago in a sensational case that shocked everyone.

The hunky Sheriff Reade is back and officially makes Tish a consultant! So off they go to solve a murder and find out why someone now wants this man dead. Could his reopening the case have something to do with it?

With twists and turns galore, I think this is the best one so far in the series. And oh that ending!

Very well done!

NetGalley/December 7th, 2021 by Severn House Publishers

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