Showing posts from May, 2023

Murder Under a Red Moon by Harini Nagendra: A review

This is the second book in the Bangalore Detectives Club series and the second book by Harini Nagendra that I have read. The books feature newly wed amateur sleuth Kaveri Murthy. The events of this book take place a few weeks after Kaveri has solved her first case and become well-known as a lady detective in 1920s Bangalore. As the new bride of the local doctor, Kaveri is trying to work out her relationship with her mother-in-law and so when the mother-in-law's cousin, Shanti Sharma, wants to enlist her help in finding out who has been embezzling money from her husband's factory, Kaveri feels she cannot refuse. But when she goes to the factory at the appointed time to meet with Mr. Sharma, she finds him dead. Not only has he been murdered but he is holding a chain belonging to Kaveri in his hands. Obviously, someone is trying to implicate Kaveri in his murder, but why? And who could it be? Has Shanti rid herself of an unwanted husband and set up Kaveri to take the fall? Or coul

Poetry Sunday: The Unknown by E.O. Laughlin

Tomorrow is our Memorial Day, a day to remember those who are no longer with us, especially those who fell in battle. There are, of course, many quite well-known poems that were written for this occasion. This one is perhaps not so well-known but it spoke to me when I chanced to find it in my search for a poem to feature today and so here it is. I hope you find it meaningful. The Unknown by E. O. Laughlin I do not understand...     They bring so many, many flowers to me– Rainbows of roses, wreaths from every land;     And hosts of solemn strangers come to see My tomb here on these quiet, wooded heights.     My tomb here seems to be One of the sights. The low-voiced men, who speak     Of me quite fondly, call me "The Unknown": But now and then at dusk, Madonna-meek,     Bent, mournful mothers come to me alone And whisper down–the flowers and grasses through–     Such names as "Jim" and "John"... I wish they knew. And once my sweetheart came.     She did not

This week in birds - #551

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  A Black-throated Sparrow feeding on the ground, photographed during a trip to West Texas.  *~*~*~* Super Typhoon Mawar hit Guam this week, creating devastation over a wide area. *~*~*~* A breakthrough agreement to protect the drought-strained Colorado River was reached this week. *~*~*~* Orcas seem to have finally had it with us humans and they are fighting back ! It started off the coast of Spain and Portugal and the behavior may be spreading . *~*~*~* The current iteration of the Supreme Court seems intent on destroying our hard-won environmental protections . This week it was the Clean Water Act. *~*~*~* The Bahamas are facing an existential threat as the sea levels continue to rise. *~*~*~* It seems that climatologists are finding this hurricane season particularly unpredictable . *~*~*~* Attempting to climb Mount Everest has always been a perilous adventure but this week has been particularly deadly . *~*~*~* I c

The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty: A review

Set in the dying (fictional) town of Vacca Vale, Indiana, The Rabbit Hutch introduces us to four teenagers who share an apartment in the housing development officially named La Lapiniere Affordable Housing Complex but more familiarly known as "The Rabbit Hutch." They are Blandine, Jack, Todd, and Malik, all 18 or 19 and recently aged out of the state's foster care system.  As a bit of an aside, we also get to know of a plan to develop an area adjoining Vacca Vale, a place called Chastity Valley. As a further aside, we learn about a child star from a 1960s sitcom. But always at the center of the story is Blandine, once known as Tiffany. Blandine is a brilliant and talented high school dropout who is fixated on the lives of female mystics and saints. The events of her story take place over five days from July 15 through July 19 in some unstated year. The book is divided into five parts and the various chapters in each part are told from the perspective of one of the charac

Symphony of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb: A review

Bern Hendricks is well known as one of the world's preeminent experts on the music of twentieth-century composer Frederick Delaney. When the board of the Delaney Foundation asks him to help authenticate some recently found music that may be Delaney's lost opera, Red , it is a dream come true for him. He happily gets to work on the project and gets help with it from his tech-savvy acquaintance Eboni. But soon Bern and Eboni begin to uncover information that leads them to believe that Delaney may not have, in fact, composed this music or much, if not all, of the music attributed to him. They discover that it may instead have been composed by a young Black woman named Josephine Reed. It was the 1920s and Josephine was living on the streets of New York and frequenting jazz clubs. In one of those clubs, she met Frederick Delaney. Delaney was trying to establish himself as a musician but it was not going well for him. His music was not making the impact that he hoped for. But once he

Poetry Sunday: May Night by Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale wrote this poem in 1915, but it still feels just as fresh today.   May Night by Sara Teasdale The spring is fresh and fearless And every leaf is new, The world is brimmed with moonlight, The lilac brimmed with dew. Here in the moving shadows I catch my breath and sing-- My heart is fresh and fearless And over-brimmed with spring.

This week in birds - #550

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : A Herring Gull stands in the middle of a duck convention featuring several species. *~*~*~* Does the Ivory Bill Woodpecker still exist? Though thought to be extinct, there is new evidence that its obituary might have been premature .  *~*~*~* There's no doubt that bird flu still exists and is still killing animals. Moreover, it could become the next human pandemic. *~*~*~* A heat dome weather system in western Canada threatens to push temperatures to new record highs and worsen the incidence of wildfires in the region. *~*~*~* A new study assessed the economic burden imposed by fossil fuel companies and found that they owe reparations of $209 billion a year. *~*~*~* Honeybees are essential to the production of healthy crops and to the protection of the environment. *~*~*~* A proposed sanctuary on the California coast would be six times the size of Yosemite . *~*~*~* Recent studies have reached a consensus that

Poetry Sunday: The Crazy Woman by Gwendolyn Brooks

So I went looking for poems about May and this one popped up. I looked at the title and thought, "Hmm...Gwendolyn Brooks wrote a poem about me?" It made me smile. I hope it does the same for you. The Crazy Woman by Gwendolyn Brooks I shall not sing a May song. A May song should be gay. I'll wait until November And sing a song of gray. I'll wait until November That is the time for me. I'll go out in the frosty dark And sing most terribly. And all the little people Will stare at me and say, 'That is the Crazy Woman Who would not sing in May.'

This week in birds - #549

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : An Orange-crowned Warbler enjoys a taste of orange. *~*~*~* "Murder hornets" have a (somewhat undeserved) fearsome reputation but would you recognize one if you saw it? *~*~*~* The iconic mountain lion known as P-22 no longer stalks the hills of Los Angeles but he lives on in the hearts of Angelenos. *~*~*~* Today is World Migratory Bird Day and all across the continent birds are on the move to their summer homes and that includes the smallest of them, the hummingbirds. *~*~*~* "Statistically impossible" heat waves are becoming more of the norm every year. *~*~*~* The profits of the four highest-polluting investor-owned companies in the world - Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and BP - are almost inconceivably large . *~*~*~* Many outdoor brands are phasing out "forever chemicals" in their products ahead of an expected ban of the substances.  *~*~*~* This beauty is the aptly named Yellow Warbler

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware: A review

  I read this book about a week ago and when I finally sat down today to write a review, I found that I could barely remember it. That's probably not the best recommendation for a book that I have ever made. Now, in my defense, I must say that I was sick during this period and so that could have affected my perceptions and memory. Still... The Woman in Cabin 10 introduces us to Lo Blacklock and I hate her already just on the basis of that name. Lo has a somewhat faltering relationship with a boyfriend and one night while he is away from their apartment, the place is burgled and she is attacked. This, for obvious reasons, leaves her in a somewhat fragile state.  Lo is a journalist who works for a travel magazine and her new assignment is to spend time on a cruise ship, the Aurora , traveling in the North Sea. The weather is pleasant. The ship's cabins are plush and luxurious. There are only a few guests and they are all elegant and jovial. So not exactly a sentence to hard labo

Poetry Sunday : It Is Not Always May by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

May has arrived. The queen of months - maybe the most perfect month of the year, so let us rejoice in it and enjoy it while it lasts. It is not always May by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - No hay pajaros en los nidos de antano. Spanish Proverb -  T he sun is bright,--the air is clear,   The darting swallows soar and sing. And from the stately elms I hear   The bluebird prophesying Spring.  So blue yon winding river flows,   It seems an outlet from the sky, Where waiting till the west-wind blows,   The freighted clouds at anchor lie.  All things are new;--the buds, the leaves,   That gild the elm-tree's nodding crest, And even the nest beneath the eaves;--    There are no birds in last year's nest!  All things rejoice in youth and love,    The fulness of their first delight! And learn from the soft heavens above    The melting tenderness of night.  Maiden, that read'st this simple rhyme,    Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay; Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime,    For oh, i

This week in birds - #548

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The warblers are passing through. This Black-throated Green stopped for a drink and a wash at my backyard fountain.  *~*~*~* It seems if it's not one thing it's another when it comes to challenges to the continued survival of the endangered California Condor . The latest is an outbreak of avian flu . *~*~*~* And speaking of condors, a place called Molok Luyuk, or "condor ridge" in the Patwin language, may soon become a federally protected area if California environmentalists and the Yocha Dehe Wintun tribal nation have their way. *~*~*~* Climate change is contributing to the melting of glaciers in the Alps and that is a threat to the biodiversity of invertebrates in the alpine ecosystem. *~*~*~* Partisanship has thwarted Congress's attempts to curb the use of "forever chemicals" but some states are attempting to fill the breech. *~*~*~* The Wollemi pine is one of the world's oldes

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto: A review

  This book was an absolute joy for me to read. Vera Wong is a wonderful character and I wholly identified with her, although I suspect I lack her talent as an investigator. Vera is a teashop owner in San Francisco. It is not a popular teashop and in fact is rather dilapidated and without much charm but Vera takes pride in it nonetheless. She is a sixty-year-old widow with one grown son whom she rarely sees. Vera lives above her teashop and one morning when she goes downstairs she finds the dead body of a man in her shop. The man lies with his arms outstretched and in one hand she finds a flash drive. On an impulse, she takes the flash drive and puts it in her pocket, and only then does she call the police.  The dead man had obviously been murdered and Vera is quite convinced that she will be more capable than the police of discovering his killer. After all, she reasons that it must be someone who comes to her shop and so all she has to do is be alert and investigate her customers and