I haven’t read any of Dorothy Cannell’s books before but I must say I found it a lighthearted and sometimes laugh out loud change of pace. I completelI haven’t read any of Dorothy Cannell’s books before but I must say I found it a lighthearted and sometimes laugh out loud change of pace. I completely enjoyed the book, however implausible it may be, that is part of the fun. Ellie obviously has a rich imagination and a problem with drifting off into her own scenarios in her mind with the slightest trigger, into a world of gothic romance fiction with herself as the main character. Her partner in crime solving is the irrepressible and ever helpful Mrs. Malloy, her housekeeper. This time out, Ellie’s husband Ben’s twice-married cousin has won the lottery. His daughter Ariel from his first marriage shows up at the house in a anxious state and begs Ellie to come to Yorkshire to Cragstone House where the family has quietly moved since winning. There are many strange events happening. Of course the mansion is spooky on entering to add to the mystique. Disappearances, sudden “accidental” deaths, a bit of “gaslight” all add up to a delightful light romp solving the mystery. Very entertaining and funny, I loved Dorothy Cannell’s writing, wit, and old-fashioned plot with modern twists. I will definitely read more of her books, especially between “heavy” reads, what a relief she will be....more
This book is difficult to describe. On the one hand, it is historic and delves into the politics and ecological problems in clear prose, but on the otThis book is difficult to describe. On the one hand, it is historic and delves into the politics and ecological problems in clear prose, but on the other hand, the author seems to show himself as self-satisfying, drunken though compassionate, irresponsible in his personal relationship, and not the type of person who would be writing this book. I found it difficult to reconcile the two.
Andrew had been to Suriname before, as part of a team of researchers working in the Central Suriname Nature Reserve studying monkeys. He left Suriname after a few months to return to Canada, but Suriname never left him. Several years later, he abruptly leaves once again, this time leaving a fiancé behind, and heads off on his obsessive need to return to Suriname. With no real goal in mind except to explore the heart of the country, he immerses himself completely. When he hears of the extremely rare and most protected tiny blue frog, okopipi. This one tiny shining frog becomes even more of an obsession and he will not leave Suriname before he finds it. His stay in Suriname extends far beyond his original timeset. This sets the background of the story.
Suriname as described is most certainly an Eden, but as with all versions of Eden, there are snakes. Snakes in human form, political form, internal warring, deception, conglomerates who poison the ground and the water, and also poisonous snakes, in fact some of the most poisonous in the world exist in this country.
One of the largest man-made lakes in the world buried the jungle canopy and misplaced 43 Maroon villages, scores of dead bodies of villagers, animals, and the once buried. As the waters rose, a group of SPCA volunteers under Operation Gwamba made the largest animal rescue in history by rescuing with little more than “normally used to capture raccoons in the subburban alleyways of Boston.” Young (23 yr old) Walsh and his team “saved 2,104 three-toed sloths, 1,051 nine-banded armadillos, 479 red howler monkeys, 161 pygmy anteaters, 36 tapirs and 3 jaguars, just to name some of the larger animals.” This was done over a period of 18 months. It is hard to imagine wrestling frantic deer, boars, giant armadillos into dugouts! The rescue itself took a terrible toll on the workers with everything from infected bites to dengue fever. The grim reminder of the drowned jungle are the tops of the trees, the canopy, now dead and standing like ghostly sentinels all through the lake.
Suriname is dying. There is barely a spot in the jungle or plain or lake that is not full of poison; workers do not have any protection against the poison they work with, their drinking water is poisoned, everything they do poisons them more, from the clothing they wear and wash in the poisoned water, to the food they cook, being washed and stewed in poisoned water. Shamans have cures for a lot, but they must remain hidden and their secrets which could save many in the world will die with them. Children are often born deformed or blind, and there seems no end to what is happening. There appears to be no answers. The young people of the “cities” drink their type of beer, dance to reggae, and seem to have forgotten what oral history they may have heard. I can understand the author’s feelings and would not be surprised to find he returns to Suriname once again. Over all an excellent book, but with so much history I would rather not have him dwell so much on being hungover when has initiated trips into the wilds. I found that a bit of an annoying aside. It made me feel as though he was afraid of being thought a hero. His interaction with the Surinamese is remarkable otherwise. Difficult to put down, I would prefer to give it 4 1/2 stars for the sheer amount of legend, myth, history, zoology, botany, and political information researched and well-told....more
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
A fascinating look at an island few know much about. BeginningThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
A fascinating look at an island few know much about. Beginning in 1946, just after the war, this story is told mostly through letters, so well-written it is difficult to realize it is a novel. It soon encompasses the reader to such a point that the characters become friends. Mary Ann Shaffer has obviously done a great deal of research to capture the essence so completely. By a fortunate chance a farmer in Guernsey, Dawsey Adams, has written a letter to Juliet Ashton in London asking where he might obtain writings of Charles Lamb. He has contacted Juliet because he had an old book that had her name written inside. Juliet in the meantime has become an author in her in her own right. From this point on, communications are sent back and forth between Juliet and several people in Guernsey.
Guernsey was Occupied by the Germans during WWII and through the letters we learn how the Occupation affected the people of the island. The underlying thread is that the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came into existence on the spur of the moment, when a group of friends who had gathered for an illicit dinner, were caught out after curfew. Quick-thinking Elizabeth tells them they were at a meeting of the Guernsey Literary Society discussing “Elizabeth and Her German Garden” and enjoying it so much they lost track of time. This apparently appeased the patrol officer, and the Society was henceforth born, but now actually as to read and discuss books. You will laugh over the roast pig incident and learn that a few Occupiers were even compassionate.
Guernsey was totally cut off from the rest of the world during the Occupation, which lasted 5 years, and knew nothing of what was happening in England. They were able to see some of the attacks on France from the island. Now, in 1946, they are trying to return to normal living. The correspondence with Juliet brought them to a point where the members of the Society indicated they would love to have her visit, so visit she did. The island and the people won her over and Juliet is no longer sure she wants to return to London. This is a warm, friendly, funny and compassionate story, a war story, and a love story. I found myself feeling as though I personally knew these people and their island personally. In fact immediately after finishing the book I went to the computer and looked up Guernsey to see this island that captured her so. Although the final work on the book was taken over by the author’s niece due to the author’s health, whatever was done by Annie Barrows fits smoothly into the whole. I loved the book beginning to end. It is very sad to realize that there can be no more stories by Mary Ann Shaffer, as this shining light has been snuffed far too soon by her death earlier this year....more
The first book of a trilogy, a Canadian Childrens Book Centre Choice, The Nordlings are the inhabitants of the NothThe Nordlings by Kathleen McDonnell
The first book of a trilogy, a Canadian Childrens Book Centre Choice, The Nordlings are the inhabitants of the Notherland world. Peggy, or Pay-Gee as the Nordlings refer to her, imagined this wonderful world into being when she was a young girl. Now a disillusioned and angry 15 year old, she is brought back to Notherland.
Notherland is in trouble and in danger of disappearing altogether. During Peggy’s four year absence, her imaginary world has undergone some changes and taken on a life of its own, not all of it good. She has been called back by her Notherland friends who consider her the Creator of their world and therefore the only one who can save it. The Nordlings are disappearing and only one is left. Peggy must somehow gather the courage, imagination and belief to defeat the feared and sinister Nobodaddy who dwells in the cold and dark “Hole at the Pole”.
Kathleen McDonnell has crafted a wonderful story of adventure while also imparting some important lessons for life. Colour and music, two of the strongest senses of peace and joy, are a major influence in the feel of Notherland. Her books keep me enveloped in a cozy cocoon of memories of childhood imagination. She takes me out of my adult worries and transports me very effectively. I, a grandmother, delight in reading the adventures in Notherland and am looking forward to handing these books over to my young grandchildren when they get older....more
The story about an entire village poisoned with ergot-tainted rye flour, causing hallucinations, deaths, and other related symptoms as one might see iThe story about an entire village poisoned with ergot-tainted rye flour, causing hallucinations, deaths, and other related symptoms as one might see in high doses of LSD, ergot being similar or relative to the making of LSD. I've read this book a few times but not recently....more
A fertilizer plant in another country puts out dioxin as a biproduct causing great suffering among the people and eventually the plant and thousands oA fertilizer plant in another country puts out dioxin as a biproduct causing great suffering among the people and eventually the plant and thousands of acres of surrounding property has to be fenced off forever. It is something that was happening in many countries at the time (in the 1970s particularly. John has a very powerful way of writing and a good eye to detail. I really enjoyed his books....more
John G. Fuller was an investigative reporter. He turned to authoring a number of books, some based on poisonings, some nuclear near-disasters, some alJohn G. Fuller was an investigative reporter. He turned to authoring a number of books, some based on poisonings, some nuclear near-disasters, some alien stories, and all interesting. A very strange thing happened when I tried to get this book several (at least 25) years ago. All the libraries listed it but not a one of them had it when they went to look. I finally got a copy sent by interlibrary loan, and when I got halfway into the supreme court hearings, the pages had all been removed! Very strange indeed!...more
An investigative report in book form about the now famous sighting of Betty and Bob Hill, who purportedly were taken aboard a "flying saucer". As mostAn investigative report in book form about the now famous sighting of Betty and Bob Hill, who purportedly were taken aboard a "flying saucer". As most people today know, Betty was able to reproduce a star map that was exceptionally close to fitting the galaxy from a specific point of view. This was the first abduction on record if I remember right, and the book emphasizes the ordeal they went through afterward....more
I am a long-time fan of Doss' Charlie Moon series, but this one seems to have a lot more humour than previous books. I love the interaction between thI am a long-time fan of Doss' Charlie Moon series, but this one seems to have a lot more humour than previous books. I love the interaction between the characters, the blend of cultures, Ute, Apache and white, the glimpses of the old ways through Charlie's aunt Daisy - the elderly shaman, and the uniqueness of his mysteries. I would certainly recommend his books to those who like a dish of humour with their murder mysteries. For Tony Hillerman fans who are bereft of the famous Leaphorn & Chee Navajo series since his passing, this is a great series to check out. ...more
Interesting little mystery involving Lippezan stallions hidden for safety. "Airs Above the Ground" is one of the Lippezan tricks they are famous for.Interesting little mystery involving Lippezan stallions hidden for safety. "Airs Above the Ground" is one of the Lippezan tricks they are famous for. Mary Stewart writes good mysteries, though perhaps better known for her Arthurian novels....more
This is my favorite Kate Shugak story. Not quite the usual story but hilarious. Imagine beginning your day with a jetplane dropping its engine right bThis is my favorite Kate Shugak story. Not quite the usual story but hilarious. Imagine beginning your day with a jetplane dropping its engine right behind your house! After a long Alaskan winter it is Break Up time, hungry bears awakening, rivers starting to run, and insanity in bloom after so many long days in the dark and cold. This one is hard to find, must be popular with more than me! I first read it as a library book, as I did with most of the series and have been gradually buying them ever since. I love the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow, as well as her Liam Campbell series. I've yet to read her Star Svensdotter Series (SciFi) and considering they are out of print I may never get the chance....more
The Lost City of Z : A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Gramm
“He was the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into uncharThe Lost City of Z : A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Gramm
“He was the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into uncharted realms with little more than a machete, a compass and an almost divine sense of purpose.” This sentence sums it all up in a nutshell. I congratulate the author on the tremendous amount of research he put into this and for actually risking his own life in his quest for the truth of the disappearance of the above explorer, Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett. Also to be appreciative of is David’s wife with their 1 year old son who, no matter her personal feelings also made his trip of discovery possible, even after Fawcett had been missing for 30 years and all searches to date had ended in failure or disappearance all together. Non-fiction, this is truly an amazing book! Fantastic debut!
This is definitely not a romanticized version of exploration; it is instead the torturous journeys Fawcett made, mostly on foot, through the uncharted Amazon. Although the narrative is predominantly that of David Grann, it is based on all the letters, notes, drawing, mappings, every shred of written or noted information Fawcett sent or brought back to his wife with each new expedition. She kept every single piece of it and so did the Royal Geographical Society to which he belonged. There is a great deal of history, especially in early medical treatments in the jungle, as well as how to avoid starvation. Learning as much as was known about the tribes was essential also, but at this time, there was so little known about them that they were all presumed to be hostile. It was a new century, about all that was mapped on South America was Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil. There were gaping holes of nothing in between and they could not agree on their borders. Fawcett was ostensibly to be sent out as an impartial observer from the RGS to map the borders. This encompassed several hundred miles of nearly impassable terrain, a two year expedition with no guarantee any members would survive, but in Fawcett’s words “Destiny intended me to go...” They left July 4, 1906 from La Paz, Bolivia. He always insisted in small expedition parties, feeling they posed less threat to the indians. Many large well-equipped parties had been slaughtered or died of disease or starvation in the past. There are wonderful descriptions of the land, the flora and fauna because the explorers were to observe everything and note it.
What really took hold of Fawcett though, was his utter belief in a lost city which he code-named as “Z”. He had made studies of all papers and notes by earlier expeditions. He had an obsessive need to locate the city which would have had a huge flourishing population at one time. No one would believe him except a few eccentrics who had stars in their eyes thinking of riches or perhaps the lost El Dorado. But every bit of his research led him closer and closer to where he believed this great city would be found. Many other wealthier explorers also were looking for the city and he was becoming paranoid someone would get there first, but always said they were on the wrong track. He meticulously studied his and others’ maps and drawings of topography, became friendly with many of the natives and learned from them as well. But, after several unsuccessful trips, he made his final trip in 1925 with his son and son’s friend as part of the party. Every expedition he led he felt closer to Z. Then they suddenly disappeared never to be heard of again. There were dispatches up to a certain area and then nothing. There were rescue missions launched but no sign could be found. Rumors abounded over the next several years.
A reporter, our author David Grann, in 2005/6 made his case to get fund-raising to record indigenous people, cultures, and integration, with the search for what had happened firmly set in the back of his mind. And with this, the story begins to be told. I would recommend this to anyone: historians, anthropologists, fans of mysteries, non-fiction and fiction readers. What an adventure story! What a wild ride! I was completely absorbed in the book....more
This book is Young Adult Fiction and I have rated it from that point of view.
Arthur Slade has given us a story about a 14-year old boy with a very unuThis book is Young Adult Fiction and I have rated it from that point of view.
Arthur Slade has given us a story about a 14-year old boy with a very unusual heritage. For over 200 years the Starker family have all been killed by lightning. Newton is the last male descendant and as such is extremely restricted in his lifestyle, something a lot of young people will relate to. His home is equivalent to living in a bunker.
I really enjoyed this book, and I’m sure it will appeal to this age-group. Every chapter is short, every episode is a chapter. Aside from the constant fear of lightning, “always check the weather before going out”, when Newton enrolls in the Jerry Potts Academy of Higher Living and Survival in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, he learns about friendship, trust, overcoming fear, and above all patience, although it takes the whole book to teach him the last.
Newton’s Survival List is the filler and the glue that joins the chapters. The book is very easy to read, each short chapter a different part of his learning. There are some good survival tips for anyone in the book, as well. I would recommend this book for children and teens 8-14, but not exclusively. A fascinating, entirely different type of style and storyline to enjoy....more