Friday, April 26, 2013

Awakening (A Joey Dearing Mystery) –by Patsy Shepherd

Publisher: Kindle
721 KB
Footnotes/Endnotes: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
4 Stars

Disclaimer: I used to know Patsy Shepherd so my review may be a tad biased.

Joey (Johanna) Dearing is raised by her widowed father, goes off to college, and marries a real control freak. After a lifetime of being told what to do, when to do it, how to do it, by Dad, teachers, and husband, she finally decides she's had enough, and leaves her husband, her teaching job, and returns to her small hometown and a life on her own. The story is set in 1974, and that's important to remember for several reasons.

She gets a job as a part-time reporter for the weekly paper, and the story opens with her having a vision of a red tennis shoe. She's never had visions like this, and doesn't know what it means, or what to do about it. She ignores it and goes about her business of the day, on this day, interviewing the new police chief. While waiting, she has another psychic experience.

She learns, among other things, that the Police Chief believes her, and is interested in her visions, or sightings; her new boyfriend is not interested in that "bull crap;" and that she has a gift and finds a teacher to help her.

The story is engaging, I liked the characters I was supposed to like, and disliked the ones I should have disliked. The sex scenes were handled with a nice erotic touch, and weren't over played. Unfortunately, the one, and necessary, violence scene was, for this reviewer, a bit over the top. This is a case where I would have preferred more left to my imagination rather than the graphic and detailed description.  But, that's my preference, it may not be yours. The only other negative about the book is I think a good Copy or Continuity Editor would have worked wonders. There were several places where it was obvious things had been cut and pasted and not all of the old words deleted. Nothing major, but each place stopped me as I figured out which word was the correct word.

I enjoyed the building of the tension using Joey's visions and the climax of the story was, to this reader, logical. I don't want to get into too much and spoil it for anyone. This reads like the first in a series, and I hope it is. I look forward to more Joey Dearing books. I hope the same main characters are brought along for the ride, too. A good read.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Madame Dorion

Madame Dorion –by Jerome Peltier

Nonfiction / Biography
Publisher: Ye Galleon Press, Fairfield, Washington
43 Pages
Footnotes / Endnotes: Yes
Illustrations: Yes, black ink drawings
Suitable for eReaders: Yes (but not available)
5 Stars

Marie "Madame" Dorion was the second known woman to cross the Great Divide into the Oregon Territory, following in the footsteps, more or less, of Sacajawea. Except Marie had two children, and gave birth to a third on the trip.

Not a great deal is known about this woman, other than she was a member of the Iowa Indian Tribe, and married to a French Canadian, Pierre Dorian, who spoke a few Indian languages, and when hired by the Hunt expedition to guide and interpret took his wife and two young sons along.

Marie did not slow the party down, even though her sons were 4 and 2 years old, and the 2 year old had to be carried. She carried her child, and her share of the packs and chores. She had a third baby along the way, who lived 9 days, and was buried near the Powder River in Oregon.

When Pierre was killed, she was offered passage back to her homeland, but refused, and stayed in the Oregon country where she remarried. There are church records of her being in the Okanagan country, mentions of her visiting Narcissa Whitman, and settling near what is now known as Salem, Oregon.

Although there are no known records of what all she did, she must have been a stellar woman to have not only been given the honorific of "Madame" but when she died, she was buried under the steeple of her church, rather than in the graveyard with everyone else.

When she married John Toupin in the Catholic Church, all her children became "legitimized" according to the Church, and her descendants are still found today, usually with the last name of Turpin.

I don't know how accurate this booklet is, but I'm guessing fairly accurate. Written in 1980, there is very possibly more information available now, through church records that were either not available or not known at the time of this writing. Mr. Peltier treats the Indians as human, not savages.  If you can find a copy, and are interested in the history of the Oregon Country, I recommend it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Week in Winter

A Week in Winter –by Maeve Binchy

326 Pages
Footnotes / Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
5 Stars

Maeve Binchy died a few weeks after finishing this novel. She was 72. And I miss her. When I read fiction, I want to escape my world for another world. I don't want to trade my problems for more problems, I just want to visit, and when I close the book, having finished reading all the words, I want to feel better than before I picked up the book in the first place.

Maeve Binchy wrote those kinds of books. I have totally enjoyed every one of them I've read, and look forward to reading or even re-reading others. Her books are not adrenalin gushers, filled with violence (though there might be some here or there), but for the most part, they are filled with people I'd like to call 'Friend' should I ever be introduced to them in real life. Except for the ones who aren't very nice.

A Week in Winter takes place on the West Coast of Ireland, in the small village of Stoneybridge.  The heroine, Chicky, leaves Ireland as a young woman with an American man with whom she is deeply in love. After a while in New York, he moves on, leaving her stranded. She finds a refuge and a job in a boarding house, saves her money, and eventually returns home, a "widow," where she buys an old home atop the cliff overlooking the Atlantic and turns it into a typical Irish hotel, that opens in Winter.

The old home, Stone House, was owned by three spinster sisters, two of whom have died. As a child, Chicky was friendly with them, and when she returns, she not only buys the old house, which has sunk into genteel poverty, she wants Queenie, the remaining sister, to stay and be a part of the project. Queenie is very enthusiastic, especially when she realizes Chicky wants to return it to it's original beauty, with as few changes as possible.

We follow Chicky as she turns the home into a warm and welcoming hotel, literally saves a young man and gives him not only a good job, but a place to live with his new family, and then, when Stone House opens for the first week, we meet the first guests, and see how this old house, and it's proprietor, change the lives of some of the guests.

True to her style, Maeve Binchy brings many disparate people into the book, but by the end, we know who each person is, and where they fit in the story. And they do fit.

Knowing that there will be no new books by Ms. Binchy, I decided to parse this one out, no more than one chapter per night until finished. Had I started it before 8pm last night, I would have read it in one sitting. Alas, sometime after midnight I could no longer focus on the words, so closed the book. Upon arising from bed this morning, I fed the animals, made a pot of coffee, and sat in my favorite place and finished the book. So much for parsing it out. I am so glad she wrote the books she did, and that many of the people appear in other books. They are, truly, 'old friends' with whom I enjoy sharing my time.

Buy these books. Read them. Make new friends. And feel better for having done so.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Guilt by Association

Guilt by Association (A Rachel Knight Novel) – by Marcia Clark                      

Fiction / Legal
374 Pages / 514 KB
Footnotes/Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
5 Stars

I truly think Rachel Knight has become one of my favorite fiction heroines, and Marcia Clark one of my favorite writers. I assume most attorneys would be good writers, and Ms. Clark definitely proves my case.

Rachel Knight is a strong woman, with her own demons and flaws, a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles, who seems to get into more trouble than one of the celebrated "rogue cops" of TV-Land. I enjoy both her exploits, and her friends.

The pacing of the story never lags. It starts on page one and goes to page end. In this episode, a work-buddy of Rachel's, Jake, is killed in suspicious circumstances, and Rachel is ordered to butt out, stay away, lets the Feds handle it. Yeah. Right. And then she gets her share of Jake's cases, and in solving the rape of the daughter of a prominent doctor, she also finds herself drawn into solving the murder of her friend, Jake.

The dialog between Rachel and her friends is great. There are some laugh-out-loud lines, both in the dialog and in some of the comments made by the narrator.

I've now read two novels and one story. And I'm sure I'll read as many novels (and stories) that Ms. Clark writes and publishes, at least as long as they feature Rachel Knight. And this just isn't 'my' genre. Go figure! ;-)

Although Rachel Knight is a DDA, very little of the story takes place in the court room. She is not a fem Perry Mason (perish the thought). It's far more investigation.

There is very little foul language, and though the main thread through the stories is rape and child pornography, there is no description of either. If you watch TV, you've seen far more than you'll read here. While it may not end with a 'Happy Ever After' ending, it does end with a satisfying ending, and justice for all.

By the book. You'll enjoy it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

If I'm Dead

If I'm Dead: A Rachel Knight Story –by Marcia Clark

45 pages / 252 KB
Footnotes/Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
4 Stars

OK, I admit, I didn't do my homework, and thought I was buying a full fledged novel when I bought this (caveat emptor!) short story. While it was a fun read, it was also somewhat predictable. It was fun, and I enjoy the protagonist, ADA Rachel Knight.

I don't want to give away the ending, but if you're as old as I am, you've seen it on Perry Mason;-) And, you'll recognize it. I think I've seen it on a couple other shows of similar ilk.

For $0.99 it was worth it. And, like I said, if I'd done my due diligence, I still would have bought it, but wouldn't have been so upset on page 45 to find the end!

Of course, if I claimed to be smart, I would have noticed it said A Rachel Knight STORY and not Novel. But, I've never claimed to be smart.

Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it.

Narcissa Whitman - Diaries and Letters

Narcissa Whitman – Diaries and Letters 1836 – by Narcissa Whitman

96 pages / 174 KB
Footnotes / Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
5 Stars

This was a good companion piece to my hardcopy Narcissa Whitman, my Journal which does have illustrations. This contains letters, which were very interesting, as well as journal entries.

Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding (Spaulding) were the first two white women to cross the Rockies to Oregon Territory. They were not the first white women in the Oregon Territory, as several had sailed around, and some had come up from California.

Very interesting to read the difference in language since the early 1800s to now. Also interesting to note small things such as how much she and Marcus loved their Indian boys (guides) and would as long as they deserved it.

Some of her descriptions are excellent, and some not so much. I assume she saw the things that interested her, and or that she thought would interest her family. Much as we do today when we travel.

I loved the descriptions of the food, "Our dinner consisted of dry buffalo meat, turnips and fried bread, which was a luxury." The meat was probably jerky, or over cooked. And I could not agree more that fry bread is a luxury ;-)

If you enjoy history of the early Oregon Territory, I think you will like this book, short as it is.