Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Anne Cleeland

I have recently discovered Anne Cleeland's New Scotland Yard Mystery Series.

From Booklist: "Chief Inspector Acton of Scotland Yard, a British lord, and his protégée, first-year Detective Constable Kathleen Doyle, an Irish redhead of humble origins, definitely rate readers’ attention. Doyle’s gift for reading people makes her invaluable to the veteran inspector, yet she struggles to keep her coveted entry position and build on her meager education by using multisyllabic words she’s researched and practiced to enlarge her vocabulary and impress Acton. Their growing bond is deftly depicted by Cleeland as Acton quietly offers a loan to Doyle, who is trying to make ends meet. From pride and professionalism, she declines, but the telling incident lingers powerfully for her, just as this entertaining pair will linger in readers’ imaginations, making them want more."

As sometimes happens, I stumbled onto this series by receiving an advance eGalley of the third in the series through netgalley.com.

Before reading it, I read a little about the series and decided to give the first one a try.

I was hooked. Immediately hooked.

And now, after reading all three, I am completely and totally smitten with the series and I can't wait for the fourth one (even though the third one hasn't even been released yet).

The novels are different from anything else being written right now. I have found them to be refreshing and bright.  The characters - lead AND supporting - are all a bit off-center, odd and thoroughly engaging. I enjoy Cleeland's sly wit and her knack for dialogue. This is a series I hope to still be reading years from now.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ramona DeFelice Long

From Ramona's webpage: 

 "Ramona splits her times as an author, editor, instructor, and all-around literary cheerleader. She lives in Delaware but likes to traipse off to writing conferences, poetry readings, author talks, and the monthly flea market at the firehouse. Her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Her favorite food is Crème Brulee. She once had a dog named Marcie and still misses her. "

And she has a wonderful blog, which I've only just discovered.

I love sharing blogs I find fun and interesting just as much as I love sharing books.  As it happens, Ramona is now in the process of sharing books from her own personal library that she has found to be "insightful, intriguing, or illuminating about women."  Check it out - 'tis lovely!!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Pat Browning, rest in peace, my friend

My heart is broken.
I have just learned of Pat Browning's death.
I met Pat at DorothyL, and we became fast friends.
We kept up a correspondence for more years than I can remember, 
exchanging cards, exchanging encouragement, and laughing at the 
craziest things.
I loved Pat Browning.
She was smart and funny and one of the best writers I ever had the 
privilege of reading.
She was a world traveler and could make us feel as though we had 
traveled right along with her whether it was seated at the Captain's 
table on one of her many cruises, or riding along next to her on a 
camel's back.  
She graced us with her presence here often over the years, 
and I was always sure she would be back to share more stories 
with us.  
Even after moving into the rehab facility in California, I was sure 
she'd be back, and that she would finish the book she was working 
Pat encouraged me in everything I did and stuck by me when 
things didn't go quite as planned.
She was as proud of Whimsey: A Novel as I was.
I will miss her more than I have words.

But, we can still scoot over to her blog and read some of her work and almost feel as though she's still right here with us -

September 3, 1926 - February 2, 2015

Patricia Lucas Browning was born September 3, 1926 in Weleetka, Oklahoma to Frank and Willa Lucas. She grew up in rural Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma A&M College in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1949. She then taught English and Journalism in Sapulpa and Cleveland, Oklahoma high schools.

Patricia lived in Hanford, California from 1956 to 2005 when she moved to Yukon, Oklahoma until 2013. She then lived in California until her death in Hanford on February 2, 2015.

Browning was married to Leo Cokely from 1957 until his death in 1983. She was married to Clarence Edward Browning from 1986 until his death in 2003.

Browning's professional writing credits go back to the 1990s when she was a stringer for The Fresno Bee while working full time for nearly 20 years in the Hanford law office of Rosson and Pearson. Her globetrotting in the 1970s led her into the travel business, first as a travel agent, then as correspondent for TravelAge West. In March 1986 Browning became Manager of the Hanford Improvement Association. In the 1990s, Browning signed on fulltime as a newspaper reporter and columnist, first at The Selma Enterprise and then at The Hanford Sentinel. Her feature writing won several awards at both newspapers.

She self-published a mystery entitled "Full Circle", which was later re-issued and renamed, "Absinthe of Malice". At the time of her death, she was working on a second book.

Browning is survived by her brother Tom Lucas (Cristal) of Norman, Oklahoma, sister-in-law Jeanelle Lucas of Norman, Oklahoma, sister Beth Ridle (Louis) of Juneau, Alaska, Sister-in-law Ginger Lucas (Frank) of Akron, Pennsylvania, stepsons Gordon Browning (Jane), Jerry Cokely (Barbara) cousins, Tim (Kim) McElhannon of Visalia, CA; and numerous nieces and nephews. Burial will be in Erick, Oklahoma.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

and it continues . . . More about Harper Lee and "Go Set a Watchman"

The speculation regarding the Harper Lee novel, "Go Set a Watchman" continues.

Those who are absolutely sure Ms. Lee is being taken advantage of are sticking to their guns.

In my most humble opinion, I have to say, this makes me sad.

It makes me sad because I honestly feel as though she's being diminished by many who take to heart things they've seen written.

Things like, "she's deaf, blind and frail."

"She's had a stroke."

Failing, I think, to give the benefit of a doubt.

Nelle Harper Lee may very well have had a stroke in 2007, but I'd like to remind folks that not all stroke victims are totally incapacitated after a stroke and are quite able to continue making lucid and valid decisions.

And, there are most certainly degrees of "blind," "deaf," and "frail."

Again - does blind and deaf mean incapable of rational thought and decision?  I don't believe it does.

Frail?  Honey, again - frail?  okay?  HOW frail?  Does frail mean the brain has stopped working?

If I were Harper Lee, truth be told, I'd be damned insulted.

And to believe that she has been cut off from all her friends by this attorney?  Wouldn't the facility in which she's living be aware of this?  Wouldn't they be obligated to look into these allegations?  

And if they're part of this conspiracy, wouldn't all this stuff in the news be enough to alert authorities and family (and yes, she "does" still have family - regardless of those who think she doesn't) enough to investigate these elder abuse charges people are tossing out?

Maybe some of these "friends" who are so worried weren't as close to Ms. Lee as they'd like us to believe.  I mean, that is a possibility, isn't it?  Just as much as the possibility that Ms. Lee is being forced to ignore them all.

Here's the most recent article, which I found to be of interest.  Although, please don't assume I'm trying to change anyone's mind - heaven forbid!  But if you're following the story, I think it might behoove us all to follow, and perhaps open our minds, to both sides of the story.


Before you go saying to me, "but, she said . . . "  Maybe she did, maybe she didn't.  Did she say it to you?  If not, don't bother me with it.  I've read everything you've read, I promise you.  And maybe she did say some of those things.  Have you ever changed your mind about something you once said?  Circumstances have a way of making things look a little different than they once did.  At least, that's my experience.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lavina by Mary Marcus

I requested and received an Egalley for this book from netgalley.com.  And I am ever-thankful.  It's one of the most beautifully written books I've read.

Mary Marcus' "Lavina" is a portrait of the shame of the times when Martin Luther King, Jr. was fighting to bring dignity and basic human rights to black citizens.  It's a stirring novel of courage and heartbreak.

Sadly, as reading this perfectly written book, I paused to wonder just how far we've truly come.

I can't recommend it highly enough.  If there were 10 stars available to give at review sites rather than only 5, ten is what I'd give it.

Disclaimer:  an electronic arc of this book was provided by NetGalley.com.  No review was promised and the above is my unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Harper Lee

From author Mark Childress, posted on his Facebook Page:  

Folks, for those of you who have asked, I am only a slight acquaintance of Harper Lee and not a friend, though she has been kind to me at various junctures in my career. I have not read her new book and have not seen her in years.

I trust my longtime friend and international agent Andrew Nurnberg (I'm his OTHER client from Monroeville), who saw her just a couple weeks ago and reports that she is "feisty and fiery" and delighted about the publication of her "new" old book. Here is a statement he released yesterday:

"There will inevitably be speculation regarding Harper Lee as she has lived a very private life," he said. "She was genuinely surprised at the discovery of the manuscript but delighted by the suggestion to publish what she considers to be the 'parent' to 'Mockingbird.' I met with her last autumn and again over two days in January; she was in great spirits and increasingly excited at the prospect of this novel finally seeing the light of day."

Andrew tells me the novel is "really fine." So I think folks can quit worrying so much.

Meet Nelle Harper Lee's attorney - the woman who found the "new" manuscript - http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2015/02/04/meet-the-lawyer-who-found-harper-lees-new-novel/

I found this interview with an Alabama historian, and friend of Harper Lee's to be quite interesting -- http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/02/new_harper_lee_book_totally_le.html

Note:  More about this story from the NYT  here:  http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/books/harper-lee-author-of-to-kill-a-mockingbird-is-to-publish-a-new-novel.html?referrer&_r=0.  

The below article was copied From BBC News -

I am so excited I can hardly stand it!

I adore Harper Lee and have read everything I have ever been able to find written about her.

This after I was swept off my feet, like millions of others, after reading To Kill a Mockingbird many, many years ago.

I wrote her a fan letter some years back and almost fell over in a swoon when I received a short, elegant note back from her. It's one of my most prized possessions -


There's more to the story.

I also received this note

I'm not sure why I got two notes, and the only thing I can guess, is that Ms. Lee was perhaps answering fan mail and somehow sent me two.  Whatever may have been the reason, I was thrilled. 

And still am.


Reading this bit of news about a new Harper Lee novel being found and published has tickled me to death.

And yes, I do plan on reading "Mockingbird" again before the new Harper Lee is released. How 'bout you?

Harper Lee to publish Mockingbird 'sequel'

To Kill a Mockingbird is among the most beloved novels in history

An unpublished novel by Harper Lee is to finally see the light of day, 60 years after the US author put it aside to write To Kill a Mockingbird.

Go Set a Watchman, which features the character Scout Finch as an adult, will be released on 14 July.

Lee wrote it in the mid-1950s but put it aside on the advice of her editor.

"I thought it a pretty decent effort." said Lee in a statement. "I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years."

Set in the fictional southern town of Maycomb during the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman sees Scout return from New York to visit her father, the lawyer Atticus Finch.

According to the publisher's announcement: "She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father's attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood."

To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961

Lee's editor persuaded her to rework some of the story's flashback sequences as a novel in their own right - and that book became To Kill a Mockingbird.

"I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told," the author revealed.

The manuscript was discovered last autumn, attached to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird.

"I hadn't realised it [the original book] had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it," Lee continued.

"After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication."

Harper Collins plans an initial print run of two million copies.

To Kill a Mockingbird was published in July 1960 and won a Pulitzer Prize. Two years later it was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck.

Lee has rarely spoken to the media since the 1960s and is unlikely to do any publicity for her "new" book.

'Extraordinary gift'

In a statement, Harper Collins' Jonathan Burnham called Go Set a Watchman "a remarkable literary event" whose "discovery is an extraordinary gift to the many readers and fans of To Kill a Mockingbird".

He said: "Reading in many ways like a sequel to Harper Lee's classic novel, it is a compelling and ultimately moving narrative about a father and a daughter's relationship, and the life of a small Alabama town living through the racial tensions of the 1950s."

Go Set a Watchman will be published in the UK by William Heinemann, the original UK publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Tom Weldon, of parent company Penguin Random House, said its publication would be "a major event".

"The story of this first book - both parent to To Kill a Mockingbird and rather wonderfully acting as its sequel - is fascinating," he continued.

"Millions of fans around the world will have the chance to reacquaint themselves with Scout, her father Atticus and the prejudices and claustrophobia of that small town in Alabama Harper Lee conjures so brilliantly."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Talking about Pop-Up Books

Today's my day to play as "Oh, Kaye!" at Jungle Reds, and I'm chatting about pop-up books.  I hope you'll drop by!