Steve Robinson writes Jefferson Tayte genealogical
mysteries. The Lost Empress is his fourth in the series, but does
stand alone. A foggy night in 1914, the Empress of Ireland sinks in the
St.Lawrence River. It crossed the ocean from England. Cover blurb – When
genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress’s
victims, a British admiral’s daughter named Alice Stillwell, he must travel to
England to understand the course of events that lead to her death.
As an expert tracker, Tayte unravels truths about a maritime
tragedy, pre-WWI espionage, and Alice’s life. Plus he’s caught up in solving a
present day murder too. In The Lost Empress, the author takes us
back and forth in time in various chapters. We meet Alice, a
strong-willed young woman, who is entangled in a kidnapping and ransom plot.
Being the daughter of an admiral presents her with opportunities that cause her
a lot of grief. Alice’s story part of this book is strong and well written. As
the story builds toward her boarding the Empress, intrigue grows.
Meanwhile, the Jefferson Tayte part of the book has
various interesting parts, but also aspects that bog down the action. I
found him to be a tad preachy and ponderous at times. I found I zoomed
through his chapters to get back to Alice. Ultimately, bits all tie together in
a very satisfying ending. I won’t give anything else away. The Lost
Empress is a quick breezy read. It was a book club selection but I’m
not sure how much there is to discuss. If you are going on a cruise, look out
for spies on the upper deck!
Simon Spier (a charming Nick Robinson) is seventeen and
considers himself a “normal” teen who’s fortunate. He’s got great friends
(Katherine Langford, Logan Miller, et al), wonderful parents (Josh Duhamel and
Jennifer Gardner), a sister he enjoys, teachers he likes, and plans for the
future. But. There’s always a but. He’s got a secret and it’s really starting
to bother him more and more. He is gay and it’s getting harder to hide it. He’s
known since junior high age. He dated girls but the spark wasn’t there. Now
Love, Simon is a sweet movie with a nice
message about being true to yourself. This does not hammer the issue over your
head. It’s not trying to convert anyone. The movie shows a really nice kid who
just wants to live his life, not make a big deal out of it, but be able to move
on and find true love. Throw stereotypes out the window – he dresses on the
preppy side, but just like every other kid shopping at the Gap or wherever. He
likes current music, movies, and his best friend is female. He doesn’t want to
change the dynamic of his life. Posted on an anonymous “facebook” like
school page, another young man nicknamed “Blue” basically says the same thing –
“I’m gay, but it’s a secret and my life is like a ferris wheel full of ups and
downs.” Simon starts emailing Blue and feels a connection.
Slowly, Simon deals with his secret, deals with a cyber
bully issue, deals with hurt friends, tells his folks, and goes through a
miserable period. So, will he find “Blue”? Will his friends accept him
again? How are his dad and mom? Love, Simon is a bit Hollywood
neat – ties up a lot of issues in less than two hours. But it’s a refreshing,
funny, and well done movie. Good acting and a good message for anyone. Root for
Simon. You do have to be true to yourself before you can move on in any aspect
I'm always preaching to support local theater. Here's a reason why - just a really nice afternoon spent listening to Stephen Sondheim tunes from his various Broadway Shows. Onstage Bedford did a nice, thoughtful production. This is the last weekend to see it. Four of the five vocalists were quite decent. One young woman was a tad "pitchy" but that's being nit-picking. She gave it her all, as did the others in the show.
I found that hearing the Sondheim tunes in independent scenes, rather than in his complete shows, I really heard the words and had some different interpretations. Maybe a tad deeper. His music is "tough" in my opinion. You don't come out humming like a Rogers & Hammerstein musical. Sondheim is darker - explores a lot of the human psyche.
Good show, no seat has a bad view, worthy sound, and worth my twenty dollars!
Check out local talent in your area. These folks are working hard for your entertainment
My father - dapper dude back in the day. No doubt he was driving a car with huge fins
My mom - what can I say - no wonder she hooked my father
So, I've been digging in the the archives - not a lot of history pictures, but this is fun for a Monday moment. What's funny is my dad has shrunk and lost hair, but his face has not changed. He truly looks sorta the same at 86 and still attempts dapper. Fashion pride - it does kill him to not wear fitted slacks and decent shoes these days.
Let's all start the week with some pride - accessorize in some way...or slap on some decent shoes!
Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly is
another winner in his long line of Harry Bosch novels. You just can’t go wrong
with this author’s character, plot, and writing. He has just the right twists
and turns to lead to a satisfying ending. Harry has his flaws, but he
also cares so much about detective work. He’s retired, but still helping
independently part-time. His intensity, thought process, and persistence are
what make up a great detective. You want him on your side.
Two pharmacists were murdered in a robbery. Sifting through
clues leads Bosch into “the dangerous world of prescription drug abuse.”
Undercover work proves eye opening and dangerous for Harry.
Meanwhile, an old case haunts him – “a killer on death row
claims Harry framed him”.
Cover blurb – the Two cases wind around each other
like strands of barbed wire. Along the way, Bosch discovers that there are two
kinds of truth: the kind that sets you free and the kind that leaves you buried
Two Kinds of Truth is fast paced and true to
form. Once again a very satisfying read from Michael Connelly.
I had mixed emotions going into A Wrinkle in Time.
I’d read the book by Madeleine L’Engle and really liked it (read as a girl and
recently with an adult perspective – it is a classic for a reason). I had also
read so-so reviews, but the previews, to me, looked promising. Drum roll
results – I give it a B-/ C+. I believe Ava DuVernay, the director, had
grandiose plans and she did okay. But there are a lot of buts – like at times
the movie felt slow. I was ready to tesseract (space/time travel) into some new
scenes. I’m not going to discuss story line – read the book to experience
a lot of grand ideas about science, and girls, and confidence, and empowerment.
I will say that Storm Reid, our heroine Meg, is quite good.
I look forward to seeing her in more projects. She seemed “real”. As for the
fairy godmothers of sorts – Reese Witherspoon was annoying, Mindy Kaling did
not have much to do, and Oprah played Oprah. Her Mrs. Which is supposed to make
pronouncements and help Meg see her strengths, etc. I was very conscious
that it was Oprah on the screen doing her Oprah thing well, and when was
Dr. Phil going to show up? That’s a problem. The younger brilliant
brother, Charles Wallace (Derie McCabe) was too winsome and precocious. I kept
thinking of the kid who plays Young Sheldon on television and I felt he would
have been better in the role. See, I had time to think about this random
stuff while watching the movie.
But then some of the stuff would work, and I was certainly
rooting for Meg to find her Dad (Chris Pine), to get confidence in herself, to
realize that everyone has issues (even the mean girls in school), and to get
out of her rut. I was happy with the final results and a lot of the special
effects were cool. For my matinee dollars, I was entertained. However, I think
this is a movie many will be happy to snooze through on Netflix on a Saturday
night. Your own microwave popcorn is cheaper than the theater. So, I’ve saved
you some dollars. Use them to buy the book and read it!! That’s the Wrinkle
in Time to explore.
oldies but goodies. Last Monday I featured my maternal grandparents. Now I'm featuring my dad's side of the family. His father died when he was young, so my grandmother (Julia Crowther) raised him (middle picture). His older sister kept track of him too. (she's far right in the bottom picture)
These pics were probably late 1970s, early 80s
Tuesday is my aunt's birthday - 92. She's sharp and clever as ever. Had to move out of her home, but still darn independent at the senior living facility.
so, I should have written some book reviews, but I haven't. Work is "killing me". I get home and do not want to type a bunch. Thus, I'm giving you some happy filler Friday from our lives.
For Valentine's I adopted a penguin in Ray's name. Isn't he cute? The Fort Worth Zoo has a nifty program - for a very reasonable fee, you adopt a penguin. In return, you get a stuffed penguin doll, a certificate, and a really nice picture. See below
See the family resemblance. Admittedly, our Rockhopper is a tad more dapper than Ray. However, so far he's behaving well and is not messy- yes, he lives at the zoo. However, I'm sure he's being fed regularly, gets a good night's sleep, and enjoys his habitat. We'll go visit him in the spring.
Meanwhile, adoption is the way to go to support your local zoo. Check it out and be a part of your community. Zoos work hard to help wild life, do research, and save animals on this planet.
Happy Friday and weekend......I swear I'll type those book reviews!
Quick Monday moment.
But first, back up to Friday - glorious day. Worked hard and we all got early dismissal - "just because it's too pretty out there". I came home and our new diving board had been installed. The pool project is complete. New stone coping, new plaster, new board. Now we need some warmer weather. It was darn pretty out, but I'm not a polar bear swimmer. Instead I raked gobs of leaves - our live oak is shedding its winter coat and green is popping out all over.
Saturday - leaf project was done. Now on to my painting project in my pretty room (i.e. reading, no TV). New furniture arrived. I had put primer on my accent wall. Now what color....our house leans toward muted colors. Time for a Wow! moment. I went with "Exotic Sea". Sure pops, doesn't it?
So, guess I'm good for another twenty years (rather lazy, not big on tons of changes here)
Clear blue water under the diving board, blue exotic sea on the wall........I"m not feeling blue. I'm spring energized. Happy start to the week.
Last time I was in PA, I dug through some old photo albums. I'll share some pics through this year.
Here's one of my long gone Nana and Pop-Pop, my maternal grandparents - Elmer and Clarissa Shutters. Originally poor farmers from Indiana. I believe my grandmother did graduate from high school. He might have made it through eighth grade. Just solid, down home folks who worked hard, moved to PA, made a living, raised four kids - Lee, Jane, Juanita (my mom), and Richard - and were awesome grandparents.
My memory is him holding my hand as I skipped down the sidewalk. He ambled along and wore suspenders. She wore a house dress with an apron. And there was always candy in a bowl, that grubby little fingers could choose (even between meals!)
I hope you have some hazy good memories of grandparents.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.