Follow the Clue Mystery Challenge

I've managed to resist signing up for all challenges other than my own.  This one I can't resist.  

Your goal? Is still to follow a set of clues furnished by the mystery books you read to create a body of evidence to support a book court case. Each book clue should lead you to your next read. The connection can be anything at all from author names to motive for murder to type of mystery (police, procedural, espionage, romantic thriller, etc.) to an item on the cover, but you must be able to make your case to the jury on your detective logic. I would prefer that you not read eight books from the same author and use the author/series/character/ etc. as the clue link. An example: If the first book I read is by Agatha Christie, then the next book could be by Elizabeth Daly, who has often been referred to as the "American Christie." If the Daly book is Arrow Pointing Nowhere, then my next book could be The House of the Arrow by A.E.W. Mason....and so on.

If you have doubts about whether your clue is convincing OR you need any clarification about the challenge at all, you may approach the bench with questions (phryne1969 AT gmail DOT com).

There are several levels of participation:

Infraction -- six books read in a single chain of evidence
Misdemeanor -- eight books read in a single chain of evidence
Felony -- ten books read in a single chain of evidence
Capital Offense -- twelve books in a single chain of evidence 

Here are the rules:

~Challenge runs from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018. All books should be read during this time period. Sign up any time between now and November 1, 2018.  If you have a blog, please post about the challenge. Then sign up via the linky below. And please make the url link to your Challenge post and not your home page. (Links that do not follow this rule will be removed.) If you do not have a blog, links to an online list (Goodreads, Library Thing, etc.) devoted to this challenge are also acceptable OR you may comment below to indicate your sign up.

~All books must be mysteries. Humor, romance, supernatural elements (etc) are welcome, but the books should be mysteries/crime/detective novels first.
~Choose a level of participation. A full body of evidence must be read at the chosen level for a completed challenge and to be eligible for the end-of-year prize drawing.
~For this year's challenge, you start your chain after signing up. The idea is to let your books lead to one another, not to read several books and then look back for connections.

~You are welcome to level up if you find that your evidence trail leads you to suspect a more serious crime. But no reduced sentences will be accepted (no leveling down).

~A wrap-up post/comment/email will be requested that should include explanations of the clue links.

~Reviews are not mandatory, but a monthly link-up will be provided for those so inclined.

~The current headquarters link will be updated for 2018 after the beginning of the year--a place for review links and the year-end wrap-up.
~All challengers who complete their level with readily explained clues will be eligible for an end-of-year prize drawing.

I think I'll go with "Infraction" and see where it leads.  

2017 Reading Wrap Up

Where did your reading take you this year?  

I went all over the place – USA, Italy, India, Russia, Iceland, Sweden, England, Scotland, Europe, Middle East, through the Arctic and up into outer space.  I time traveled back to the time of the dinosaurs, through Dystopian and Utopian worlds as well as into the future.

What was your reading goal for the year and did you meet or beat your personal goal?  Did you end with a prime number of reads?  

My primary goal was to complete Birthstone Bookology which I did and even did so with a prime number.  I also attempted to do A to Z by Author but didn’t get to Q, U, or X so calling that incomplete. I waited until later in the year to start, shouldn’t have left the more difficult letters  until last and ran out of time.  Oh well.   Overall I read 117 fiction books and 8 non fiction books.

My top favorite reads:   

My top read is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, a historical fiction novel which left me misty eyed at the end and encompassed two timelines.  The story started out in 1995 and takes the reader back into France during WWII and the French resistance from 1939 to 1941.  Two sisters, separated by distance and estranged from their father, get involved in the French Underground.  One sister in the present is sick with cancer and finds an old trunk in her attic containing mementos of her life during WWII.   Memories takes the reader back during the days of the German takeover of France, resistance, fear, strength,  and survival.  The story is both haunting and beautiful and well worth reading.

Another favorite is Snowed by Maria Alexander who is  an old friend and once upon a time roommate back in my pre-married days.  Once I started reading, I  couldn't put it down. What an awesome and unique story. Instantly memories of high school filter through my brain as I read - bullies and clicks, geeks and jocks, trips and tricks in the hallways. Now throw into the pot - a death, a dark past, love, electronics, skepticism, a dash of spice, a tablespoon of humor, and a cup of mythology. Mix it all up and you have an action packed story that won't let you go until the end.  Snowed won the Bram Stoker award for superior achievement in a young adult novel.

I also fell in like and consumed the  Inspector Armand Gamache books in Louise Penny’s detective series as well as Sir October Daye in  Seanan McGuire’s paranormal series.

Also Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series – I finished four more books including Lords of Chaos, Crown of Swords, Path of Daggers and Winter’s Heart.

Which book stayed with you the longest after finishing it?  

The Nightingale definitely as well as Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery

Which book made you want to read it all over again? 

The Beautiful Mystery.  I read it in ebook, then bought the book and downloaded it from audible.  Plus, anything by J.D. Robb or Faith Hunter make me want to read them all over again. I always end up reading their latest books fast,fast, fast, then read again much more slowly absorbing the nuances of the story. 

Which book did you think you were going to love, but didn't?  

Midnight Crossroads by Charlaine Harris.  I totally devoured her Sookie Stackhouse series so maybe I was expecting to love the characters just as much.

Which genres or authors you thought you'd never read and was pleasantly surprised to like them?  

Dorothy Dunnet, Steig Larsson, Halldor Laxness and Kij Johnson are all new to me authors and I look forward to reading more books by them.

Please share favorite covers or quotes:

From the Nightingale – first line:  "If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are."

Statistics wise: 

Physical books - 41  (the majority of which were over 500 pages)
E books - 74  (the majority of which were an average of 300 pages)
Rereads not included in overall total:  Faith Hunter Jane Yellow Rock series 1 - 10 (ebook) as well as J.D. Robb's In Death series 1 - 24 (physical books) 
Written by female - 46
Written by male - 22

Most books were in the science fiction/fantasy genre including paranormal, urban fantasy, and magical realism.  Twenty were in the mystery genre as well as twelve historical with a few romance and literary reads thrown in for good measure. 

Complete list of books

2017 Completed Reads

2017 Completed Reads 


1.       Aimee & David Turlo -  Turquoise Girl - (Ella Clah series, mystery, e)

2.       Alexandra Ivy - Kill Without Mercy - (#1 Ares Security, TX, Romantic suspense, e)

3.       Alister McGrath - Aedyn Chronicles: Chosen One - (YA fantasy, 208)

4.       Anne Bishop - Etched in Bone - (#5 Others, Urban fantasy, 416)

5.       B N Toler -  Where One Goes - (paranormal, e)

6.       Ben Kane - Spartacus: The Gladiator -  (74bc Italy, historical, 480)

7.       Benedict Jacka-  Fated - (#1 Alex Verus, paranormal, e)

8.       Charlaine Harris -  Midnight Crossroad - (#1 Midnight series, Texas, paranormal, 384 pg)

9.       Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - The Mistress of Spices - (India, magical realism, e)

10.   Daniel O'Malley - The Rook - (#1 Rook, paranormal, 504) 

11.   Daphne Kalotay -  Russian Winter - (historical U.S./Russia, 484 pg)

12.   Dean Koontz -  Ashley Bell - (Psychological thriller, 768)

13.   Dean Koontz -  From the Corner of His Eye - (thriller, 729)

14.   Della Jacobs -  Fire Dance - (historical romance,  e) 

15.   Devon Monk -   Dead Iron - (#1 Age of Steam, steampunk,  e)

16.   Devon Monk -  Gods and Ends - (#3 Ordinary Magic, paranormal, e)

17.   Dorothy Dunnett -   Niccolo Rising - (#1 House of Niccolo, historical fiction, 496)

18.   Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child -  Relics  (#1 Pendergast, thriller e)

19.   Emily Gee - Thief with No Shadow - (Paranormal, e)

20.   Emily Larkin -  Unmasking Miss Appleby - (#1 Baleful Godmother,  historical romance, e)

21.   Emily Larkin -  Resisting Miss Merryweather - (#2 Baleful Godmother, e)

22.   Faith Hunter -  Cold Reign - (#11 Jane Yellowrock, paranormal, 371)

23.   Faith Hunter – Jane Yellowrock reread  #1 – 10)

24.   Faith Hunter -  Blood of the Earth (#1 Soulwood,  Paranormal, 384)

25.   Faith Hunter - Curse on the Land - (#2 Soulwood, 341)

26.   Genevieve Cogman-  The Invisible Library - (#1 Invisible library, fantasy, 352)

27.   Halldor Laxness - Great Weaver of Kashmir - (1920's, Iceland, translated literary, 450)

28.   Hannah and Barb Taub - One Way Fare - (#1 Null, fantasy, 279)

29.   Ilona Andrews -  Clean Sweep (# 1 Innkeeper Chronicles, e)

30.   Ilona Andrews -  Sweep in Peace - (#2 Innkeeper Chronicles, e)

31.   Ilona Andrews - One Fell Sweep (#3 Innkeeper Chronicles, e)

32.   Ilona Andrews - Burn for Me - (#1 Hidden Legacy, urban fantasy, e)

33.   Ilona Andrews - White Hot - (#2 Hidden Legacy,  e)

34.   Ilona Andrews - Wild Fire - (#3 Hidden Legacy, e)

35.   Iris Johansen - Body of Lies - (#4 Eve Duncan, mystery,  400)

36.   J.D. Robb-   Reunion in Death - (#14 In Death, futuristic police procedural, 371)

37.   J.D. Robb -  Purity in Death (# 15 In Death, 355)

38.   J.D. Robb -  Portrait in Death - (#16 In Death, 347)

39.   J.D. Robb -  Imitation in Death - (#17 In Death, 342)

40.   J.D. Robb -  Origin in Death - (#21 In Death 384

41.   J.D. Robb -  Echoes in Death - (#44 In Death  341 pg)

42.   J.D. Robb -  Secrets in Death  - (#45 In Death, 384)

43.   J.R. Rain - Winter Wind - (paranormal, e)

44.   James Rollins  -  6th Extinction - (#10 Sigma Force, Suspense, Antarctica/Brazil, e)

45.   James Rollins -  Seventh Plague - (Sigma Force, Middle East and Arctic, 444)

46.   Jamie Beck - Worth the Wait - (#1 St James, NY, Romance, e)

47.   Jayne Ann Krentz - Light in Shadow (psychological mystery, e)

48.   Jeff VanderMeer -  Area X: Southern Reach Trilogy -  (dystopian/horror, 593)

49.   Jim Butcher  - Summer Knight - (#4 Dresden files, paranormal, 371)

50.   Jodi Taylor-Just One Damned Thing After Another (#1 Chronicles of St. Mary, time travel, 348)

51.   John Crowley -  The Translator - - (U.S. 60's, 295)

52.   John DeChancie - Starrigger - (Sci fi,  e)

53.   Karen Marie Moning -  Feversong- (#9 Fever Series, Paranormal, e)

54.   Kathrine Kurtz/Deborah Harris -  The Adept - (#1 Adept, Scotland, 323)

55.   Katie Meyer -   Do You Take This Daddy - (#3 Paradise Animal Clinic, Romance, e)

56.   Keri Arthur - Blood Kissed - (#1 Lizzie Grace, Paranormal, e)

57.   Keri Arthur - The Black Tide - (#3 Outcast, paranormal   e)

58.   Keri Arthur – Circle of Fire – (#1 Damask Circle, paranormal romance)

59.   Kij Johnson -  Dream Quest of Vellit Boe - (Paranormal, e)

60.   Kristin Hannah -  The Nightingale - (historical France, 1940's, e)

61.   Lilith Saintcrow -  Dark Watcher (#1 Watchers, Urban Fantasy, e)

62.   Lilith St. Crow - Storm Watcher (#2 Watchers, Urban Fantasy,  e)

63.   Louise Penny -  A Fatal Grace - (#2 Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, e)

64.   Louise Penny -  Bury Your Dead - (#6, e)

65.   Louise Penny -  A Trick of the Light (#7, e)

66.   Louise Penny - The Beautiful Mystery - (#8 e)

67.   Louise Penny - How the Light Gets In (#9 e)

68.   Louise Penny - The Long Way Home (#10)

69.   Louise Penny -  The Nature of the Beast - (#11  e)

70.   Louise Penny -  A Great Reckoning - (#12 e)

71.   Maria Alexander - Snowed - (Ya paranormal, e)

72.   Marie Brennan -  Natural History of Dragons - (#1 Lady Trent, fantasy, 359)

73.   Michael Ridpath -  Where the Shadows Lie - (#1 Fire and Ice, Iceland,  police procedural, e)

74.   Michael Scott -  The Necromancer - (#4 Nicholas Flamel, YA fantasy, 418)

75.   Michelle Gagnon -  Don't Turn Around - (#1 Don't Turn Around, YA thriller,  e)

76.   Nalini Singh -  Archangels Viper - (#10 Guild Hunter, paranormal, e)

77.   Nalini Singh - Silver Silence - (#1 Psy Changling Trinity, e)

78.   Nevada Barr - Ill Wind - (#3 Anna Pidgeon, mystery, 309)

79.   Nora Roberts -  Year One - (# 1 Chronicles of the One, apocalyptic,  419)

80.   Nora Roberts - Come Sundown - (Suspense, Montana, 474)

81.   Octavia Butler - Dawn - (#1 Xenogenesis, paranormal,  e)

82.   Patricia Briggs -  Silence Fallen - (#10 Mercedes Thompson, Europe, Paranormal, 379)

83.   Rachel Grant -  Tinderbox - (#1 Flashpoint, Africa, Military suspense, e)

84.   Rick Yancey - The 5th Wave - (#1 5th wave series YA dystopian, 480)

85.   Robert Charles Wilson   -  Axis  - (Space, e)

86.   Robert Jordan -  Spring - (Prequel to WOT, fantasy,  e)

87.   Robert Jordan- Lord of Chaos - (#6 WOT, e)

88.   Robert Jordan-  A Crown of Swords - (#7 WOT, e)

89.   Robert Jordan -  The Path of Daggers - (#8 WOT  e)

90.   Robert Jordan -  Winter's Heart - (#9 WOT e)

91.   Roberta Rich - Midwife of Venice - (16th Century Italy, historical, 335)

92.   Robyn Carr - What We Find - (#1 Sullivan's Crossing, contemporary romance, 347)

93.   Ronlyn Dominguez -  Mapmakers War - (Utopian, 226)

94.   Roxanne St. Claire-  New Leash on Life - (#2 Dogfather, romance,  e)

95.   Roxanne St. Claire - Sit, Stay, Beg - (#1 Dogfather, romance, e)

96.   Scarlett Braden  -  Harvesting the Hummingbird (Ecuador, mystery, e)

97.   Seanan Mcquire – Rosemary and Rue (#1 October Daye, urban fantasy, e)

98.   Seanan Mcguire -  A Local Habitation- (#2 e)

99.   Seanan McGuire -  An Artificial Night - (#3 e)

100.  Seanan McGuire -  Late Eclipses - (#4  e) 

101. Seanan McGuire -   One Salt Sea - (#5 e)

102. Seanan McGuire - Ashes of Honor - (#6 e)

103. Seanan McGuire - Chimes at Midnight - (#7 e)

104. Seanan McGuire -  The Winter Long - (#8 e)

105. Seanan McGuire -  A Red Rose Chained - (#9 e)

106. Seanan McGuire -  Once Broken Faith - (#10 e)

107.  Seanan Mcguire - Discount Armageddon - (#1 Incryptid, urban fantasy,  e)

108.  Steve Berry -  Alexandria Link - (present Copenhagen/Middle East, 494)

109.  Stieg Larson  -  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - (#1 Millennium, Scotland, Mystery,590)

110. Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Played with Fire - (#2 Millenium, Sweden, 724)

111.  Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - (#3 Millenium, Sweden, 672)

112. Susan Wiggs -  Apple Orchard - (contemporary,  e)

113. Tracie Peterson -  Ice Cutters Daughter - (1900,  #1 Land of shining water, historical,  e)

114.Vicki Pettersson -  Signs of the Zodiac: The Scent of Shadows - (#1 zodiac, UF, e) 

115.  Vicki Pettersson -  The Taste of Night - (#2 Zodiac, UF,  e )

116.  Will Hill - Department 19 - (#1 Dept 19, YA Paranormal, e)

117.  Zoe Fishman -  Inheriting Edith - (NY, literary, 290)

Non Fiction

1.                   Benjamin Hoff -  The Tao of Pooh - (nf, 158)

2.                   Joe Bunting - Let's Write a Short Story - (nonfiction,  e)

3.                   Molly Totoro -  Journaling Towards Wholeness - (nonfiction, e)

4.                   Sage Cohen - Fierce on the Page - (nf writing, 229)

5.                   Shonda Rimes -  The Year of Yes - (nonfiction, 336)

6.                   Susan Reynolds -  Fire Up Your Writing Brain - (nf writing, 266)

7.                   Temple Grandin -   Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum  - (NF e) 

8.                   Tyler Henry - Between Two Worlds - (nf, e)

Birthstone Bookology challenge completed

Little did I realize when coming up with the Birthstone Bookology challenge, how many vowels there were.  Loads of fun picking out books. December beat me however with the q and u's and had to go with the whole word in the title versus spelling it all out.  Incidentally,  The total number of books turns out to be 73 which is a prime number.  Plus it is Sheldon's favorite number from Big Bang Theory.  *grin*

Sheldon: "The best number is 73. Why? 73 is the 21st prime number. Its mirror, 37, is the 12th and its mirror, 21, is the product of multiplying 7 and 3."
Leonard: "We get it, 73 is the Chuck Norris of numbers!"
Sheldon: "Chuck Norris wishes. In binary 73 is a palindrome, 1001001, which backwards is 1001001. All Chuck Norris backwards gets you is Sirron Kcuhc!"'


January  - Garnet 

Spartacus: The Gladiator -  Ben Kane 
Alexandria Link - Steve Berry  
Russian Winter - Daphne Kalotay   
The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah 
Echoes in Death - J.D. Robb   
The Translator - John Crowley 

February - Amethyst 

Axis  - Robert Charles Wilson  
Midnight Crossroad - Charlaine Harris 
Inheriting Edith - Zoe Fishman
Thief with No Shadow - Emily Gee 
Harvesting the Hummingbird - Scarlett Braden  
Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny 
Snowed - Maria Alexander 
Tinderbox - Rachel Grant 

March - Aquamarine

An Artificial Night - Seanan McGuire 
Dream Quest of Vellit Boe - Kij Johnson
Unmasking Miss Appleby - Emily Larkin 
Apple Orchard - Susan Wiggs 
The Mistress of Spices - (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 
The Adept - Kathrine Kurtz/Deborah Harris 
Resisting Miss Merryweather - Emily Larkin 
Ice Cutters Daughter - Tracie Peterson 
Natural History of Dragons - Marie Brennan 
Etched in Bone - Anne Bishop 

April - Diamond 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larson 
Dead Iron - Devon Monk 
Don't Turn Around - Michelle Gagnon 
Midwife of Venice - Roberta Rich 
One Way Fare - Hannah and Barb Taub 
The Necromancer - Michael Scott 
Dark Watcher - Lilith Saintcrow

May - Emerald 

Blood of the Earth - Faith Hunter 
Mapmakers War - Ronlyn Dominguez 
From the Corner of His Eye - Dean Koontz (
Cold Reign - Faith Hunter 
Aedyn Chronicles: Chosen One - Alister McGrath 
Lord of Chaos - Robert Jordan 
Fire Dance - Della Jacobs 

June - Pearl 

The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson 
Gods and Ends - Devon Monk 
Ashley Bell - Dean Koontz 
Relics - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child 
Late Eclipses - Seanan McGuire 

July - Ruby 

The Rook - Daniel O'Malley 
Fire Up Your Writing Brain - Susan Reynolds 
The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny 
The Year of Yes - Shonda Rimes 

August - Sardonyx 

Summer Knight - Jim Butcher 
Ashes of Honor - Seanan McGuire 
Niccolo Rising - Dorothy Dunnett 
The Path of Daggers - Robert Jordan 
Where One Goes - B N Toler 
The Nature of the Beast - Louise Penny  
Do You Take This Daddy - Katie Meyer 
Area X: Southern Reach Trilogy -  Jeff VanderMeer 

September - Sapphire 

Secrets in Death  - J.D. Robb 
Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor
Purity in Death - J.D. Robb 
Portrait in Death - J.D. Robb 
Winter's Heart - Robert Jordan 
Imitation in Death -J.D. Robb 
Reunion in Death - J.D. Robb 
6th Extinction - James Rollins 

October - Opal

Origin in Death - J.D. Robb  
The Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff 
Archangels Viper - Nalini Singh 
The Winter Long - Seanan McGuire

November - Topaz 

Between Two Worlds - Tyler Henry 
Once Broken Faith - Seanan McGuire 
Sweep in Peace - Ilona Andrews 
Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum  - Temple Grandin 
Signs of the Zodiac: The Scent of Shadows - Vicki Pettersson 

December - Turquoise 

Turquoise:  Turquoise Girl - Aimee & David Turlo (Ella Clah novel)

Merry Christmas!

Hubby is carving the turkey and kitty is holding the wine. Dinner is almost ready to be served. Feeling blessed. Hugs and love to all.

Christmas Bells


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play, 
And wild and sweet 
The words repeat 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

And thought how, as the day had come, 
The belfries of all Christendom 
Had rolled along 
The unbroken song 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Till ringing, singing on its way, 
The world revolved from night to day, 
A voice, a chime, 
A chant sublime 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Then from each black, accursed mouth 
The cannon thundered in the South, 
And with the sound 
The carols drowned 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

It was as if an earthquake rent 
The hearth-stones of a continent, 
And made forlorn 
The households born 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

And in despair I bowed my head; 
"There is no peace on earth," I said; 
For hate is strong, 
And mocks the song 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!" 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; 
The Wrong shall fail, 
The Right prevail, 
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Merry Christmas Eve

We  had a lovely time with John's family celebrating his dad's birthday and Christmas Saturday evening in a quaint Italian restaurant.  Always enjoy staying at Dinah's Garden Hotel in one of their rooms on the lagoon.  We were fortunate with traffic being light in our direction on the way there and home.

Nonfiction Friday: Silenced

Have you ever been silenced?   

They don't want to hear what you think.  They only want to express what they believe. What they feel. What they know.  They don't want to be questioned or have to explain.  They don't want to hear opposing views or even the truth.

You try to speak and noise fills the air, wails of censorship zooms through the square. No, you cannot. No you should not. You should be ashamed.  They can't bear to hear and stick their fingers in their ears.  Let's not confuse the issue with facts.  They will not listen. They do not care. Emotion rules the day.  They slice and dice and tear you to pieces.   They interpret your words, change and mold them to their point of view and lead their sheep to think that what they think you said is true.

You choose silence. You choose not to explain.  You think those who know the truth will remain.  Your words, your thoughts, your ideas shred and cease to exist. Assumptions are made, seeds are planted deep in your glade. Roots spread and weeds bloom, tall and sharp, casting shadows and leaving you in the gloom. You no longer speak and they think it is fair. The only voices they hear are their own.

Shadows, shadows everywhere, steal your light without a care as weeds grow in the dark.  Such insidious things, seeds planted due to their need,  grow more toxic by the day with their speed.  Banishing the shadows is easier said than done, especially when you have let it go on too long. 

You claim your garden and discover that those you thought had been true had been false all along. Do you feel sorrow or more like a fool for not recognizing how toxic things had become?  You dig deep into the soil as you tug and pull and tear out the roots.  The shadows scatter and weeds rot like bad fruit.  

You step out of the shadows into the truth. Heat warms your face, the sun reveals the soil to grow on. No need to explain.  No need to deny.  No more silence. No more lies. You choose respect.   You choose truth.  You are entitled to have your say without being dismissed by those who don't feel the same way.   You raise your voice in praise, no longer constrained.  

Join me for another round of Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks

I'm hosting another round of Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks.  This year's theme is mysteries and we'll be armchair traveling around the world again.  Lots of interesting places on our itinerary from the Silk Road to the old Roman Roads,  across glaciers and seas, climb the Alps, explore the Middle East as well as trek through the Sahara desert.  We'll be doing  another spelling challenge using flowers this time with Blossom Bookology.  Plus a special Mystery Road trip around England, cohosted by Sandy and Amy from Well Trained Mind.  Lots of fun in store.  Come join us. 

52 Books Quilt

Misty eyed! Just received a most thoughtful gift in the mail from Sandy, a friend in my 52 books group. Beautiful handmade quilted wall hanging. It’ll look great above my desk in the kitchen!

A to Z Poetry: Knots

Knotted Roots - Courtesy of Reannadale


We tie ourselves in knots
from the silly to the fraught.
How dare he! How dare she!
Is it all for naught?

He said, she said, they said.
Does it really matter when blood is shed?
They divide and sway and are blind to the truth.
We sing, they yell, we cry, they take up the call,
Then use it as an excuse to get rid of the uncouth.

Frayed nerves and shattered limbs,
gray hairs and lights are dimmed.
Scattered among are those with just causes.
Fearful of those who don't obey laws
and tangled up believers whose thinking has flaws.

We are raw, they are to blame.
We are free, they have no shame.
His story, her story, which one is right?
There is so much wrong when they think with might.
They mash, they wail, they flee out of sight.

They distract, they dissemble
They argue semantics and fail to assemble.
They break apart words and leads people to tremble.
and causes nothing except breakdown of symbols.

They think to hide it away.
But no matter what you say,
While reason is rephrased and displaced,
We'll never forget upon which our stories are based. 

My truth, your truth, their truth
Will never be the same
If they work hard to defame and 
all go down in flames. 
We tie ourselves in knots
from the silly to the fraught.
How dare he! How dare she!
Is it all for naught?

~R.L. McCormack~

Happy 20th Anniversary to Us

The stained glass windows of the little red brick church glistened in the morning sun.  Rain clouds started to gather in the sky and cast shadows across the fields surrounding the building.  I was hidden in the church hall, dressed in my wedding gown, surrounded by my sisters.  The photographer put us through our poses and disappeared back into the church.  

Everyone had arrived, except for John’s grandmother and his great aunts.  Evidently his uncle had gotten lost with the matriarch of the family.  We had to wait, didn’t we?  I paced, as more clouds bloomed.  Five minutes turned to fifteen, then twenty. This was before we all carried cellphones. John’s older brother finally came out and said I didn’t have to wait anymore as his poor brother was getting more nervous by the minute.  Let’s get the show on the road.

 Just as I exited the hall, it started to sprinkle.  My sisters gathered up my train and we dashed for the church foyer.  Fortunately I’d worn flats.  I took a couple minutes to settle, then placed my hand in the crook of dad’s arm and nodded at my brother in laws.  They reached out and pulled open the double doors.  My heart flip flopped as I took in the pews full of friends and family.  

I hadn’t thought I known enough people to fill up a church, even a small one.   One of those horrible fantasies you get during the stress filled days of planning.  What if no one shows up?  Dad walked me up the aisle, kissed me and guided me to my hubby to be.  I gave John a quick kiss and in his nervousness, he asked “are you supposed to do that yet?”  I giggled, relaxed and stepped up to begin our new life as husband and wife. 

John’s cousin, a catholic priest and Father Dan, the very Irish pastor of our church performed the mass and the ceremony.  Old friends, the two riffed off each other telling jokes, putting us all at ease.   John’s relatives arrived midway, much to everyone’s delight and their embarrassment.    My sister forgot to hand me John’s ring during the blessings of the rings.   

Once I realized what had happened, I said ‘wait you forgot John’s ring.’  

Father Dan waved his hand with a smile and said “Oh, it’ll take.”   And it did! 

Flash Friday: Jacob and Abby

Abby glanced at the sleek, burgundy Spider Ferrari and tried not to drool.  “Honey, why don’t you ever buy me anything like that?”

“Come on Abby. Seriously?”  

“Don’t you love me?”

Jacob took her hand and pressed it to his heart. “Every day, babe and then some.  For what it’s worth, if I could afford it, I’d buy you a dozen.  But you know, it’s a good thing I don’t have to show how much I love you by buying expensive things.”

“How about little things?” Abby kissed him softly on the lips.

“That goes without saying. Why just this morning I bought you this.” Jacob pulled a small box out of his pocket. “Last night at Parker’s, I came across this small trinket I thought you’d like.”

“Maniac. No doubt it’s something for you to enjoy as well.  Only a guy would buy his woman a trinket from the hardware store.”

“Parker’s happens to have some very fine items.  Stop your complaining and open it.”

On the verge of whining for no good reason, she shut up, opened the lid and laughed.

“See I knew you’d like it.”

“Oh thank you darling.  Just what I always wanted. A drill bit.”  Abby pulled it out to find a note and a little red square with a silver button on top.  She unfolded the note which read ‘very clever and very dear, the answer is oh so near.”

“What does it mean, near?” She looked around, then back at the note. X’s and O’s lined the edges of the paper along with a compass rose in the middle of the page, pointing north.  “You and your puzzles.”

“You’ve missed zero so far and the answer is right in front of you.” Jacob grinned and planted his hands in his pockets.

Thursday First Lines: The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed?  Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts?  Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms?  Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?  What do we ever know that is higher than that power which, from time to time, seizes our lives, and reveals us startlingly to ourselves as creatures set down here bewildered?  Why does death so catch us by surprise, and why love?  We still and always want waking. We should amass half dressed in long lines like tribesman and shake gourds at each other, to wake up; instead we watch television and miss the show.  (pg 73) 

Wednesday hmmm! Not quite granite, not quite mud

A friend mentioned Ursula LeGuin's essay, Being Taken for Granite, which is included in her book - The Wave in the Mind. It struck a chord as we've been having minimal success lately with our building project.  I'm not quite granite, but don't think I'm quite mud either. Thinking about what that means.

Being Taken for Granite 
Ursula Le Guin

Sometimes I am taken for granite. Everybody is taken for granite sometimes but I am not in a mood for being fair to everybody. I am in a mood for being fair to me. I am taken for granite quite often, and this troubles and distresses me, because I am not granite. I am not sure what I am but I know it isn't granite. I have known some granite types, we all do: characters of stone, upright, immovable, unchangeable, opinions the general size shape and pliability of the Rocky Mountains, you have to quarry five years to chip out one little stony smile. That's fine, that's admirable, but it has nothing to do with me. Upright is fine, but downright is where I am, or down wrong. I am not granite and should not be taken for it. I am not flint or diamond or any of that great hard stuff. If I am stone, I am some kind of shoddy crumbly stuff like sandstone or serpentine, or maybe schist. Or not even stone but clay, or not even clay but mud. And I wish that those who take me for granite would once in a while treat me like mud.

Being mud is really different from being granite and should be treated differently. Mud lies around being wet and heavy and oozy and generative. Mud is underfoot. People make footprints in mud. As mud I accept feet. I accept weight. I try to be supportive, I like to be obliging. Those who take me for granite say this is not so but they haven't been looking where they put their feet. That's why the house is all dirty and tracked up.

Granite does not accept footprints. It refuses them. Granite makes pinnacles, and then people rope themselves together and put pins on their shoes and climb the pinnacles at great trouble, expense, and risk, and maybe they experience a great thrill, but the granite does not. Nothing whatever results and nothing whatever is changed.

Huge heavy things come and stand on granite and the granite just stays there and doesn't react and doesn't give way and doesn't adapt and doesn't oblige and when the huge heavy things walk away the granite is there just the same as it was before, just exactly the same, admirably. To change granite you have to blow it up. But when people walk on me you can see exactly where they put their feet, and when huge heavy things come and stand on me I yield and react and respond and give way and adapt and accept. No explosives are called for. No admiration is called for. I have my own nature and am true to it just as much as granite or even diamond is, but it is not a hard nature, or upstanding, or gemlike. You can't chip it. It's deeply impressionable. It's squashy.

Maybe the people who rope themselves together and the huge heavy things resent such adaptable and uncertain footing because it makes them feel insecure. Maybe they fear they might be sucked in and swallowed. But I am not interested in sucking and am not hungry. I am just mud. I yield. I do try to oblige. And so when the people and the huge heavy things walk away they are not changed, except their feet are muddy, but I am changed. I am still here and still mud, but all full of footprints and deep, deep holes and tracks and traces and changes. I have been changed. You change me. Do not take me for granite.

Monday Meander: Gratitude


Whatever be the depth of woe
Along the path that I must go,
I'll sing my song—
My song of joy for all the love
That's lavished on us from above,
And count no loss of treasure-trove
When things go wrong.
I'll sing the sunlight, and the bright
Soft smiling stars that gem the night;
For gifts of good
That God hath spread along my way,
The lilt of birds in tuneful play,
The harvests full and flowers gay,
The whole day long
I'll sing my song
Of gratitude!

~John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922), "My Song" (October Twenty-sixth), The Cheery Way: A Bit of Verse For Every Day, 1920

Sunday Salon Chit Chat

Yikes! There are only two week and a half weeks left to our summer break and we haven't accomplished 1/4 of our to do list, nor did we manage to take off somewhere and explore.  I need one of those - stop the world, I want to get time off buttons. A Tardis would actually do quite nicely.   Yes, I've been watching way too much Doctor Who.

Another sleepless night since my body has now decided it doesn't like Bel Air's Chipotle Panini's. Maybe it's the Chipotle sauce?   I've been dragging all day and managed to get out to the grocery store. Otherwise, have lazed around, reading.  I'm almost finished spelling out Sardonyx and have X left. I ordered Jeff Vandemeer's Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy which will arrive in a couple days.  Meanwhile I'm reading Seanan McGuire's first book - Discount Armageddon in her InCryptid series.  Delightful light paranormal read which is just what I needed right now.

It's book week 33 in our 52 Books Quest and this week I highlighted a new to me American Poet - Alfred Corn.

This next week's goal is to do an all court press to finish outlining curriculum for 12 grade.   Writing goals are to continue posting every day and begin the 30 day writing challenge on the 15th.


A to Z Poetry: Just

I'm back to playing with Oulipo's. The constraint:  Book must have a J in the title.  Not very original, but let's see how it works out. 

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
A Jerk, A Jihad and a Virus
Just One Damned Thing After Another 
Just So Happen

Just Listen
Journey from the Land of No
Just a Little Lie

A Kind of Justice
Just Between Us
Just One Golden Kiss
Just Say Yes

Is it Just me. 
Just Friends
Just a Cowboy
Just my Type

Just Like That 
Juliet Immortal 
Jumping Through Fire 
Journey to the Center of the Earth 

Jump the Cracks
Jeweled Fire 
Joy of Life
Jewels of the Sun

Just One Look
Just Like  A Man
Just Me in the Tube
Just Take My Heart