Monthly Archives: March 2019

A Spring Ramble

next tulips 03595
From humble beginnings, come auspicious beauties like these tulip buds.  Photo by flora.cyclam on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Dear Readers,

Spring is now officially a week old though you’d be hard pressed to tell from the temperature fluctuations we’ve had this past week-up to the forties and fifties(Fahrenheit) during the day and down into the twenties at night!

From where I sit to write, if I squint, I can just make out the azaleas and the Japanese maple in our front yard that are just beginning to bud, though it will be a bit longer before the walnut tree in the back shows any sign of life.  I’ve taken time this week to observe our yard and a few planters that weathered the winter where the little shoots of greenery are pushing through, heralding the imminent arrival of spring flowers.  As the temperatures creep up, I will need to clear the last of the dead leaves out of my flower beds so the new life will be able to spread and take hold.

It’s time to prepare for the robin that each year comes calling by pecking on our front window all hours of the day and night, and sometimes even nesting in the wreath I place on the front door.  A couple of years ago, we purchased a “scare-owl” just to discourage the persistent fowl from leaving droppings all over the sides of my husband’s car, where he (the robin) apparently frequently perches to talk to the birds he sees in the side mirrors.  A pity our birdie doesn’t just choose to visit the backyard instead, where I have a nice feeder set up next to the deck!

I need to move the larger planters to a new spot this year, one that’s less shady, so the neighbor’s pine tree doesn’t drown them in needles, and get some new chairs for our screened porch, and scrub the cushions for the deck furniture, and …There is so much to be done, but the joy that comes with the new season, and the warmth of the sun and the prospect of new life encourages me to keep going, knowing that the effort will be worthwhile when we can enjoy sitting outside to eat the dinner my husband cooks on the grill.

As I write this, I’ve already begun to plan out the menu for our Easter dinner, which we will share with family, even if we have to take our meal on the road to see some of them this year!  Easter is a time when we tend to indulge a bit, so the chocolates I’ve already purchased are carefully hidden to ensure they last until the actual event.

The warming temperatures and the promise of good weather, after a very wet and cold winter, fill me with joy, and I look forward to spending more time outside, taking walks, working in the garden, and just enjoying nature.  I hope you all get the chance to do the same.  Happy Spring!

Amy

 

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Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Waking the Dead

Waking the Dead by Heather Graham
Waking the Dead (Cafferty and Quinn, #2) by

Heather Graham (Goodreads Author)
50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review

What evil could possibly be hidden in a recently-recovered painting done by an obscure artist, whose major claim to fame, besides the work of art, was that he was friends with the likes of poet Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein?

Lovers and occasional colleagues Danni Cafferty and Michael Quinn must answer this question when a series of heinous murders follows the sale, and delivery, of Ghosts in the Mind to a wealthy widow in New Orleans.  Quinn, called to the scene by his former partner on NOLA’s police force, Larue, investigates the murders, while Danni examines a copy of the painting at a local gallery.  Neither wants to believe that the infamous artwork is haunted, but both history and recent events tell tales of death following the painting in its wake.

As the death toll rises, Danni and Quinn lead an unusual team to the source-the location where Henry Sebastian Hubert painted the original work, Lake Geneva, Switzerland, in an effort to exorcise the evil manifesting on the streets.  The society widow, a coroner, a parish priest, a voodoo priestess, and couple of Danni’s employees join together in a quest into the heart of darkness, and a crypt that has been untouched for 200 years.

This particular novel, the second in the Cafferty and Quinn series, has a wide-ranging plot that includes eleven possible killers that are no longer among the living, as well as several suspects, and a couple of not-suspected individuals, who may or may not have committed some of the murders.

My only issue with the plot was the first scene on the castle grounds, which was a very close match to Natasha’s (the voodoo priestess) earlier ominous vision of what Danni might face.  The problem I saw was that none of the characters acknowledged or appeared to recognize the similarities to the vision, which turned out to be disappointingly very anti-climactic, because its resolution did not stop the “evil.”  However, the finale to the plot was very satisfying; as Danni discovers the identity of a villain that in life was a virtual puppet master who lured people into carrying out horrible deeds, a legacy he continued after his death, and a heartbreaking betrayal leads to the identity of the living murderer.

Overall, I give this book 4 stars and recommend it to any fans of paranormal romantic mysteries, as well as fans of Heather Graham’s other series.

 

 

 

The New Hero on the Block: A Review of Captain Marvel

Move over boys, there’s plenty of room in this galaxy for the fiercest female superhero to appear in many years.  Captain Marvel, the latest addition to the Marvel universe saga, hit theaters last week and the title character, played by Brie Larson, lives up to the moniker.

This movie is set mostly in 1995, which means chronologically it predates the events presented in any of the other Marvel movie storylines except for the one detailing the origins of Captain America.  A much younger (thanks to CGI) Nick Fury is already in place as the head of SHEILD, but the organization has not yet developed its mandate to stop alien threats, mostly because it is not yet aware of their existence.

Fury, accompanied by “the new guy” Phil Coulson, is unprepared for his first encounter with the green-skinned alien shapeshifters called The Skrull, but he is smart enough to recognize that there’s more than meets the eye to the mysterious young woman who claims to be hunting them as a member of the Kree defense force.  Ready or not, Earth is about to become a battle ground between these two alien races, both previously introduced in other Marvel movies.

What follows is a story of loss, betrayal, and battles both on land and in space as Carol “Vers” Danvers has to piece together lost memories to determine who she really is, and which side in a galactic war is actually a threat to not only humanity, but the galaxy at large.  The powers she acquires, and the ease with which she wields them, prove her to be more than a match for any of the previously shown Marvel heroes or villains.

Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and Lashana Lynch as fellow pilot Maria Rambeau in a scene from the new movie.  From imbd.com

This movie seemingly attempts to raise the quota of female characters in the Marvel franchise.  In addition to a female lead with mind-blowing abilities, there are also featured two hardcore female test pilots, a (deceased) female scientist who was actually an undercover Kree agent, a female supreme being of the Kree race, and a female Kree warrior for Carol to face off against.  Despite the occasional estrogen overload, though, the central story is more about overcoming limits and finding the hero inside one’s self.

Spoilers: those invested in the Marvel universe will be very interested in the fine details scattered about the movie, including; the true story about how Fury lost his eye, the origin of the name “Avengers,” and the fate of the Tesseract after it was sunk in the ocean during Captain America and before it appeared in the desert in Thor.

I loved this new version of Captain Marvel, and am now even more pumped for the conclusion to the Marvel epic, Avengers: Endgame, which is coming in April.  Captain Marvel is currently showing at a theater near you.

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Fool Moon

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2) by

Jim Butcher (Goodreads Author)
50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review

  

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s very own modern day wizard, is back, in a sequel where his enemies outnumber his allies.  Harry is in hot water with the police and officially under scrutiny by FBI Agent Denton due to unfortunate rumors he’s in league with local crime boss Johnny Marcone following the events of the first book in the series, Storm Front.  He’s also on the outs with the women in his life, Lt. Karrin Murphy, his girlfriend, Arcane reporter Susan Rodriguez, and his former apprentice Kim, all because he’s trying too hard to protect them from the chaos that is his life.

A series of grisly murders committed around consecutive full moons lead a suspicious Lt. Murphy to seek Harry’s help; could werewolves be involved?  The case proves more complicated as multiple types of “weres” start coming out of the woodwork, leading to an epic battle inside the headquarters of Police Special Investigations.  With lycanthropes, loup-garou, hexenwulfen, and true werewolves running around Chicago, Harry has his hands full.

As the body count rises, Harry is not sure who’s bad, who’s good, who’s innocent, and if the killings are the result of “animal” instincts, or if someone is using the cursed as a smoke screen for pre-mediated murder.

Will he continue to blame himself for those who are injured or killed simply by being close to him, or will he learn to trust and accept help from his friends?   Ultimately, Harry finds himself in a battle against his own darkest instincts, with the lives of his friends, and the true nature of humanity at stake.

I read a couple of Jim Butcher’s books last year after being introduced to the series in a book club, and decided I enjoyed them enough to read the entire series in order.  Fool Moon is one of the best I’ve read to date, and I award it five stars, with recommendations to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy, paranormal stories, and crime dramas with a side of romance.