The Night Hawks ( A Book Review)

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Have you read any of Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway mysteries? They’re set in modern-day Norfolk, England, where Ruth is an archeologist who is often called out to help with DCI Nelson’s investigations.

In The Night Hawks, local metal detector enthusiasts find a body while they’re looking for treasure. It turns out to be a young man who lived nearby. And surprise–it’s murder! Bodies pile up as Nelson’s investigating progresses. Much seems to revolve around Black Dog Farm, a lonely, dark place with a horrific past. As Nelson gets closer to uncovering who the murderer is, he puts more people than himself in danger.

What I appreciated about this book in the series was the characters of police inspector Judy and her partner, Cathbad, who are also friends and neighbors of Ruth. They add interest and depth to the story, in the way that Louise Penny’s characters do. The ongoing conflicting elements of Ruth and Nelson’s relationship adds tension and I wonder how long they’ll let the current situation continue.

If you’re a British mystery fan, I recommend The Night Hawks as well all of the rest of the series.

I was given a free egalley of The Night Hawks in exchange for an honest review.

The Maidens (A Book Review)

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

Alex Michaelides’ new novel, The Maidens has all the right qualities of a good British mystery which made it hard to put down. The majority of this dark, atmospheric story takes place at the University of Cambridge and is woven around Greek mythology, so it feels a bit like the Inspector Morse or Inspector Lewis tv series.

The protagonist, Mariana, a group therapist, is trying to pick up the pieces of her life a year after her husband’s sudden death in Greece. Her late husband’s niece, Zoe, who Mariana raised as her own child, calls to tell her that a friend has just been found dead on campus.

Mariana goes to Cambridge to comfort Zoe and winds up getting involved in detecting. A creepy professor, a student she meets on the train, and an unhinged, obsessed client add to the uneasiness as Mariana believes she is being stalked. Cryptic postcards, a secret society, and more murders lead to what I thought was a sure ending…and then the rug is pulled out to reveal the startling truth! The twist left me dumbfounded and in definite awe of the author.

I highly recommend The Maidens to British mystery and psychological thriller fans–this is a must-read for your summer TBR stack.

I was given an ARC of The Maidens from Celadon Books in exchange for an honest review.

Deeper Into the Wood (A Book Review)

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Ruth Pavey’s new book, Deeper into the Wood, shares her love of the four acres of wooded land she has been nurturing for over two decades. It’s a personal tale of one woman’s faithful care for a patch of land that is rather ordinary to anyone except to her.

We follow her through the year as she travels between London, where she lives, and Somerset, where the wood is located. She spends time tirelessly planting, pruning, weeding, watering, and walking among the trees, shrubs and plants. And as she spends time in the wood, she observes the growth, the changes, what thrives and what doesn’t.

She also observes a rather alarming reduction in the diversity of animal, bird, and insect species, as well as a drop in overall numbers. She observes the changing climate. She invites experts in to count plant and moth species. She invites friends on walks with her. She invites family into the wood in hopes of interesting them in caretaking. She researches the history of the place. She is determined to do the best she can as caretaker of this land.

Deeper into the Wood was an inspiring read, and it encouraged me to care for my own land with greater devotion. If we all tended our land as well as the author did, Nature would benefit greatly.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in nature memoirs, natural history, or books about country life.

*I was given an e-galley of this book through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

Evening Poetry, March 10

Wild Geese

by Elinor Chipp

I heard the wild geese flying

In the dead of the night,

With beat of wings and crying

I head the wild geese flying.

And dreams in my heart sighing

Followed their northward flight.

I heard the wild geese flying

In the dead of night.

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, November 7

The Mist and All

by Dixie Wilson

I like the fall,

The mist and all.

I like the night owl’s

Lonely call–

And wailing sound

of wind around.

I like the gray

November day,

And bare, dead boughs

That coldly sway

Against my pane.

I like the rain.

I like to sit

And laugh at it–

And tend

My cozy fire a bit.

I like the fall–

The mist and all.–

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, November 1

Apple Song

by Robert Frost

The apples are seasoned

And ripe and sound.

Gently they fall

On the yellow ground.

The apples are stored

In the dusky bin

Where hardly a glimmer

Of light creeps in.

In the firelit, winter

Nights, they’ll be

The clear sweet taste

Of a summer tree!

You can find Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, October 31

Hallowe’en

by Harry Behn

Tonight is the night

When dead leaves fly

Like witches on switches

Across the sky,

When elf and sprite

Flit through the night

On a moony sheen.

Tonight is the night

When leaves make a sound

Like a gnome in his home

Under the ground,

When spooks and trolls

Creep out of holes

Mossy and green.

Tonight is the night

When pumpkins stare

Through sheaves and leaves

Everywhere,

When the ghoul and ghost

And goblin host

Dance round their queen.

It’s Hallowe’en.

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, October 30

Theme in Yellow

by Carl Sandburg

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

You can find this poem in Poetry For Kids: Carl Sandburg.

Saint X (Book Review)

Saint X is one of the very few books I’ve read this year that I could not put down! The bright, tropical cover disguises the depth of the subject matter. For although it is a clever, suspenseful thriller, this novel addresses the evolution of self, the parent-child relationship in its various stages, the advantages and guilt of white, wealthy people, and the disadvantages of poor people of color on Caribbean islands and the rest of the world.

It starts like a film, zooming in to the fictional Caribbean island of Saint X. It’s the mid-1990s. The reader is introduced to a well-to-do white family from New York vacationing at a luxurious resort for their New Year holiday.

Alison, the elder daughter, is eighteen, pretty, self-absorbed, bored, and typical of girls of that age. The unusual one and the heroine is the younger daughter, Claire, or Clairey, as the rest of the family affectionately calls her. She is seven years old, has an unusual appearance, is shy, socially awkward, and appears to display possible OCD tendencies. The parents remain on the periphery of the story, and what we know of them is seen through the eyes of Claire.

The other main character in the novel is Clive Richardson, a young man who was born and lives on Saint X, and who, along with his friend, Edwin, becomes a suspect in Alison’s death. In comparison to the comfortable lives led by Alison and Claire, Clive is without the advantages that wealth can provide. He grows up without many prospects for the future, so after high school, he and Edwin find employment serving the rich white people at the resort. Which is how they meet Alison and become involved with her on the night she goes missing.

As the novel unfolds, we glimpse some of what Alison gets up to and who she interacts with in the days and nights leading to her disappearance and death. After her body is discovered, Alison and Claire’s parents are frantic to find answers, to discover who is responsible for their daughter’s death. Although Clive and Edwin did spend some time with Alison on the night she disappears, not enough evidence is found to charge them with her supposed murder, so it goes unsolved.

The novel moves forward to when Claire is in her mid-twenties and living a fairly normal life in New York City complete with a good job and friends. She calls herself by her middle name–Emily–in an attempt to put the past behind her. Except she can’t. She still longs to learn more about Alison, and more about why and how she died.

We flash back in time to the months immediately following Alison’s death when Claire’s parents are wrapped up in their own grief and she feels forgotten. Then we see her as she grows up, through all the awkwardness of adolescence and into young adulthood, and how she must deal with the way people treat her when they discover who she is. And even though she wishes she could forget, Alison haunts her wherever she goes.

So Claire is in NYC, trying to live like other people do. As a way to assuage her guilt for her affluent background, she moves into an apartment in a part of Brooklyn that is mostly inhabited by economically disadvantaged people of color. She is still socially awkward, so she doesn’t interact much with the other tenants in her apartment building, but she wishes she could.

Then, out of the blue, while taking a taxi home one day, Claire looks in the rearview mirror and is shocked to find that her driver is Clive Richardson–the man that she has always believed was involved in Alison’s death! Everything she lived through as the sister of a murder victim comes flooding back in that instant. She becomes obsessed with getting Clive to confess. She relentlessly stalks him every night after work. She finds out everything she can about him. Then she pretends to befriend him.

What comes of this obsession with and connection to Clive? Will he eventually confess to his involvement in Alison’s murder? Will Claire ever be able to heal and let go of the past? Ah, but that would be telling! That is what you’ll find out when you read Saint X for yourself.

I was very fortunate to receive an Advanced Reading Copy of Saint X from Celadon Books; however, all opinions are entirely my own. Saint X, written by Alexis Schaitkin, will be published on February 18, 2020 and I absolutely recommend this novel to lovers of mysteries, crime thrillers, and really good fiction.

Evening Poetry, October 29

The Last Corn Shock

by Glenn Ward Dresbech

I remember how we stood

In the field, while far away

Blue hazes drifted on from hill to hill

And curled like smoke from many a sunset wood,

And the loaded wagon creaked while standing still…

I heard my father say,

“The last corn shock can stay.”

We had seen a pheasant there

In the sun; he went inside

As if he claimed the shock, as if he meant

To show us, with the field so nearly bare,

We had no right to take his rustic tent.

And so we circled wide

For home, and let him hide.

The first wild ducks flashed by

Where the pasture brook could hold

The sunset at the curve, and drifting floss

Escaped the wind and clung. The shocks were dry

And rustled on the wagon. Far across

The field, against the cold,

The last shock turned to gold.

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.