Showing posts from August, 2022

What Jonah Knew by Barbara Graham: A review

Are rebirth and reincarnation really a thing? That is the issue at the heart of Barbara Graham's debut novel, What Jonah Knew . The Jonah in question is a seven-year-old boy who inexplicably seems to have memories of a twenty-two-year-old musician named Henry who had disappeared without a trace seven years earlier.  Henry had been playing a gig with his band Dog Radio in the small town of Aurora Falls just before his disappearance. And then he became a statistic - one of 650,000 Americans who go missing every year. In the years following his disappearance, Henry's mother Helen had searched without success for answers.  That same year in that same small town, Jonah was conceived by his mother, Lucie. And when Jonah is seven, his parents decide that the family will spend the summer in that town. That's when strange things begin happening. Jonah begins having night terrors and insisting that he has another mom and a dog. Helen has a dog named Charlie who was actually her son H

Poetry Sunday: Late August by Margaret Atwood

I went searching for a poem for late August and there it was! Margaret Atwood had provided the perfect words to describe the season.  Late August by Margaret Atwood Late August— This is the plum season, the nights blue and distended, the moon hazed, this is the season of peaches with their lush lobed bulbs that glow in the dusk, apples that drop and rot sweetly, their brown skins veined as glands No more the shrill voices that cried  Need Need from the cold pond, bladed and urgent as new grass Now it is the crickets that say  Ripe Ripe slurred in the darkness, while the plums dripping on the lawn outside our window, burst with a sound like thick syrup muffled and slow The air is still warm, flesh moves over flesh, there is no hurry

This week in birds - #515

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : House Finches are regular visitors to my bird feeders. *~*~*~* Here's a plea by songwriter Carole King to protect our forests from logging . Simply letting them be costs nothing and has many benefits. *~*~*~* The extreme fire season in Australia in 2019 and 2020 sent smoke twenty miles into the air and damaged the ozone layer , causing major warming. *~*~*~* As severe drought has all but dried up some rivers in Texas ancient dinosaur footprints have been revealed , footprints dating to more than 100 million years ago. Here are more pictures including a video of the prints. *~*~*~* Bird flu has killed at least 700 Black Vultures at the Noah's Ark sanctuary in Georgia. *~*~*~* Record-breaking drought has caused some rivers in China, including parts of the Yangtze, to dry up. An unprecedented heat wave in the country has wilted crops, sparked forest fires, and caused major cities to have to dim their lights. *

Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier: A review

I have not previously read anything by Jennifer Hillier so I went into this not really knowing what to expect, but I was captivated by the story early on. The characters were interesting and I thought the writer did a good job both of introducing them and then of developing them in order to advance the plot. And what is that plot? The television celebrity husband of a woman named Paris Peralta is found dead in their bathtub. His femoral artery has been sliced and he has bled out in the tub. Paris is beside the tub, covered in blood, and holding a straight razor which is obviously the weapon that was used to cut the victim. She knows how this looks and that she will likely be charged with murder. That is worrisome, of course, but what worries her more is that now her past will be exposed. It is a past that she has worked very hard to keep hidden. Meanwhile, Ruby Reyes who the media had dubbed "The Ice Queen," had spent twenty-five years in prison after being convicted of a sim

The Two-Bear Mambo by Joe R. Lansdale: A review

There are twenty-six books in Joe K. Lansdale's Hap and Leonard series dating all the way back to 1990. Two-Bear Mambo is the third book in the series, published in 1995. I've not read any of the others and just decided on a whim to read this one. The series is set in the fictional town of LaBorde in East Texas, an area I'm somewhat familiar with. Hap and Leonard are described as amateur investigators and adventurers. Hap Collins is a White working-class laborer who spent time in federal prison back in the day when he refused to be drafted into the military during the Vietnam War. He believes in non-violence and does his best to avoid conflict. Leonard Pine is a gay, Black Vietnam vet with some serious anger issues. He has no tolerance for racist and/or gay slurs. He is quick to anger and doesn't really understand Hap's more passive approach to life. These two opposites are the best of friends.  In this entry, Hap's ex-girlfriend Florida Grange, who is also Leo

Poetry Sunday: As imperceptibly as grief by Emily Dickinson

Summer is beginning to wind down although we still have several more weeks of potential triple-digit temperatures here in Southeast Texas. But already I can feel a difference in the air when I sit outside on my patio in the late afternoon. Moreover twilight creeps in earlier and earlier every day. The days are getting shorter, the surest indication that autumn is, in fact, on its way. Emily Dickinson observed that summer passes into fall with "A courteous, yet harrowing grace" which is almost imperceptible at first. As imperceptible as grief.  As Imperceptibly as Grief by Emily Dickinson As imperceptibly as grief   The summer lapsed away, —   Too imperceptible, at last,   To seem like perfidy.   A quietness distilled,   As twilight long begun,   Or Nature, spending with herself   Sequestered afternoon.   The dusk drew earlier in,   The morning foreign shone, —   A courteous, yet harrowing grace,   As guest who would be gone.   And thus, without a wing,   Or service of a keel,

This week in birds - #514

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Just about anytime I look out a window, I'll see at least one of these guys in my yard - the ever-present White-winged Dove .   *~*~*~* The top environmental news in this country this week has been the dangerous heat wave that has affected much of the continent. It may just be a preview of our future as much of the U.S. will be part of an extreme heat belt by the 2050s. And as extreme heat becomes our norm, gardeners are looking for ways to help their gardens survive and flourish . *~*~*~* Europe also is enduring a scorching summer that is putting a strain on its energy systems. *~*~*~* The president this week signed an energy bill , one aim of which is to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. *~*~*~* "Forever chemicals" may soon be less than forever chemicals as scientists are making progress on a method of breaking them down. *~*~*~* Mexico is fighting for its share of the water from the Colorado River, w

A blast from my blogging past

We have recently been watching and enjoying the "Joe Pickett" television series on Paramount+ which led me to reminisce about when I read and reviewed the first book in that series. It was eleven years ago and I liked the book quite a lot and subsequently read the others in the series. Here is that review. *~*~*~* Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C.J. Box - A review August 29, 2011 I was introduced to the writing of C.J. Box through my local library's Mystery Book Club.  Open Season , the first in Box's Joe Pickett series, was the club's selection for reading in June. Although I didn't get a chance to read it in time for the meeting, the discussion of it made me curious and I put it on my to-be-read list. I'm glad I finally got around to it this week. Box has created an enormously appealing character in Joe Pickett. A Wyoming game warden, Joe is a devoted family man with two young daughters and a pregnant wife when we first meet him. He and his family are a

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2022

I admit that I completely forgot about Carol Michel's meme Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this month. It was only after I started seeing other bloggers' posts that I remembered, so I grabbed my camera and ran outside to record what is blooming in my garden this month. It didn't take long because there is not much there. Only the toughest of the tough plants can still manage to produce a few blooms when the temperatures hover around 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day and the few puffy clouds have forgotten how to drop their moisture. Here then are the hardy few that still brighten my garden and provide sustenance for the butterflies. ( If some of them look wilted, it's because they are. The pictures were taken when it was 96 degrees and felt like 103 .)   The native butterfly weed is impervious to heat and drought. And the old standard, petunias, can match the Asclepias for toughness. Justicia 'Orange Flame.' Purslane, of course, in pink... ...and yellow. Blue plu

Poetry Sunday: An August Cricket by Arthur Goodenough

Sitting on the swing in the backyard, listening to the song of a cricket in the shrubbery next to my little pond, I thought, "Someone should write a poem about that cricket who is completely undaunted by the heat." And, sure enough, someone already had!  An August Cricket by Arthur Goodenough When August days are hot and long, And the August hills are hazy, And clouds are slow and winds also, And brooks are low and lazy. When beats the fierce midsummer sun, Upon the drying grasses; A modest minstrel sings his song To any soul that passes. A modest, yet insistent bard Who while the landscape slumbers; And Nature seems, herself asleep, Pours out his soul in numbers. His song is in a tongue unknown, Yet those, methinks, who hear it Drink in its healing melody Renewed in frame and spirit. His life is brief as is the leaf To summer branches clinging! But yet no thought of death or grief, He mentions in his singing. No epic strain is his to sing;— No tale of loss or glory;— He has

This week in birds - #513

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :                               White Pelicans preen next to Galveston Bay. *~*~*~* The fact that the Climate Bill actually managed to pass in both houses of Congress is little short of a miracle. It's less than what environmentalists were hoping for, of course, and, in fact, some groups believe it will do more harm than good . I guess they would have preferred nothing. *~*~*~* It's not exactly concerning our earthly environment but the pictures of our larger galactic environment from the Webb telescope are nothing short of spectacular.  *~*~*~* Even as the climate bill was being debated, word came that our planet's Arctic region is heating up much faster than had been predicted. *~*~*~* This is the American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week . It is the Newell's Shearwater ('A'o) , a Hawaiian specialty. The species is listed as critically endangered, with less than 10,000 remaining in the

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager: A review

Shades of "Rear Window," the classic Hitchcock movie. In this case, instead of looking into a neighboring apartment, a woman spending time at her family's lake house in Vermont passes her days by watching her neighbors in The House Across the Lake . Her neighbors are Tom and Katherine Royce and Casey Fletcher becomes somewhat obsessed with them. Tom is a tech mogul and Katherine is a gorgeous former model. Casey has retreated to her lake house to escape the bad press she was recently receiving in New York. She is a successful actress who was widowed when her husband drowned in that very lake. She is attempting to assuage her grief with alcohol. Her viewing of - some might say spying on - her neighbors is fueled by a plentiful supply of liquor.  A fateful change in her relationship with those neighbors comes when Casey saves Katherine from drowning in the lake. It is the beginning of their friendship, but as Casey gets to know her better, she learns that Katherine's ma

Horse by Geraldine Brooks: A review

Geraldine Brooks has written a fictionalized account of the life of a record-breaking thoroughbred named Lexington who lived in pre-Civil War Kentucky. It is an account of the horse's life and the life of the enslaved groom named Jarret who loved and cared for him.  Jarret was just a boy himself when he was first given the care of the new foal as his responsibility. The boy and the horse formed an unbreakable bond that saw Lexington through a long series of record-setting victories in races throughout the South.  In those years, a young itinerant artist was hired to paint Lexington's picture. Those paintings were quite successful and helped the young artist to make his name as a professional. When the war began, the artist took up arms for the North, and in that role, he would encounter the horse and his groom one more time.   A hundred years later, a gallery owner in New York became obsessed with an equestrian painting from the nineteenth century, a painting of unknown provena

Poetry Sunday: In August by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I am not a fisherperson, although I freely admit that I like eating what that person catches. But the fish that I enjoy most are the ones in my aquarium and in our little goldfish pond. I find it pleasant and restful to watch them. If I did fish, I think August would be a good month to do it. Goodness knows it's too hot to do much of anything else.  Paul Laurence Dunbar evidently enjoyed fishing or at least he understood those who did. And it seems that he may have understood their propensity to... um ...exaggerate about their catch. He also understood the need for some libation to fuel one's angling efforts. Since he was a poet, he expressed all of that poetically. In August by Paul Laurence Dunbar When August days are hot an' dry, When burning copper is the sky, I'd rather fish than feast or fly In airy realms serene and high. I'd take a suit not made for looks, Some easily digested books, Some flies, some lines, some bait, some hooks, Then would I seek the bays a

This week in birds - #512

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  A Long-billed Curlew searches for his dinner in a field populated with Laughing Gulls . *~*~*~* The big news in the environment on this continent this week has been the heat wave that has affected more than 80 million Americans in the central and eastern states. The hot weather will continue for the next several weeks , with only the Southwest and Alaska forecast to have cool or average temperatures. *~*~*~* Are we truly headed toward a climate meltdown on the planet and is it too late to prevent a global catastrophe? *~*~*~* This tiny green sea turtle, after being rescued on a Sydney beach,  pooed nothing but pure plastic for the first six days after it was brought in, startling evidence of the damage that is being done to the ocean environment.  *~*~*~* The High Plains of Texas have plenty of wind and they are home to more than 11,000 wind turbines , but, sadly, the state's transmission network is incapable of m