Friday, May 28, 2010

Rotten to the Core by Sheila Connolly

I was given this book by a friend. It is the second in a series and I'd like to get the first one and then read the 3rd one. The first one is called One Bad Apple. Her newest one is called Red Delicious Death and she is now working on a 4th, as yet unnamed but still in the Orchard series.

I have accepted that this is my kind of book. One that I can read in a week or less cause it grabs me. 

Meg Correy has inherited a family orchard and farmhouse from her family which has inhabited the land for over 100 years. She's a financial type who lived the business life in Boston, rented apartment with no real home care experience.  All of a sudden she has a house and barn that is badly in need of repairs and an orchard full of apple trees which, thank goodness, the local university has been using for teaching horticulture to students. But even though the orchard has been cared for she needs to learn all about looking after it because now that it's hers it will be her responsibility.

Of course there is the handsome neighbour who just happens to need some space so is fixing up the barn for her to make into an office/work area for himself. And what would one of these books be without a murder?

The book begins with her finding a body in her Spring House. He appears to have been poisoned. The police aren't getting far so Meg takes it upon herself to learn as much as she can about poisons found/stored on the farm and about the person's life in general, including motives for killing him. Lots of people are glad that he's dead (isn't that sad?) but every lead she follows dead ends with a solid alibi. We don't find out who the murderer is until the end of the book and it's like an Alfred Hitchcock novel. You'd never even expect it.

Not saying any more. Just saying that it's a fun read and I will be reading her other two books.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Charles I by Jacob Abbott

I downloaded this book in MP3 format from It is by the same author as Mary Queen of Scots. I wish he'd written a book on her son James VI who became King of Scotland on her death when he was only 13 months old. He then also became James I of England on his aunt Elizabeth I's death. Since she had no children James was first in line for the crown of England. However there is a bit about him at the beginning of this book.

James was baptised Catholic because of Mary's religion but was brought up reformed protestant of Scotland. He married Anne of Denmark and they had 6 or 7 children but only 3 lived past infancy. Henry was the oldest and expected heir to the throne. Charles was his second son and was quite ill as a child. Charles was paid little notice and, as a matter of fact, when the family left to move to London when James was crowned King on Elizabeth's death, Charles was left behind in Scotland because he was considered too delicate to make the journey.

Many Scottish people were considered to have the gift of "second sight". A man who claimed to have this gift came to visit James in Scotland and bowed down to Charles who he declared would be the next King, not Henry. His prediction came true when the stronger Henry died as a child and Charles was the one who ultimately became King.

This story is amazing. I had no idea of the turbulance surrounding Charles I. If he wanted funds and parliament didn't agree with him he would parogue the house and rule himself levying taxes to raise the monies he wanted. This happened a number of times during his rule. His wife was a Catholic and the British Protestants felt that Charles was bringing the Protestant Church too closely in line with the Catholics. He travelled to Scotland with the Archbishop of Cantebury tried to reform the Scottish Presbyterians and this created the Bishops Wars.

There were two Civil Wars during his reign. In the second war he was captured and eventually beheaded, accused of high treason. The monarchy was disolved and Oliver Cromwell ruled England for 11  years before the monarchy was restored and Charles II was placed on the throne. 

There are just too many incidents to even begin to mention them here so it would be best to download the book - it's free - and listen to it for yourself. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

THREE DAY ROAD - Joseph Boyden

I love cozy mystery books but I've decided to join a book club and add some more thought provoking books to my reading library. I've always had a second deeper book going but my urge to read them isn't always strong and it's a struggle to get through them. With a book club it's required that I read the book before the next month's meeting so it gives me incentive.

This book is about two Cree friends who sign up to fight in World War 1. The story is told in 2 first person accounts. Xavier has returned from the war wounded and addicted to morphine and relates his story in flashbacks as his elderly aunt paddles him from civilization back home to an area near James Bay. Her stories are interesting. She lives in the old ways and has much to share about her culture. Many of her stories are of her childhood and of the indian medicine she is famous for among the different clans.

The book is quite graphic in parts,  however the interspersing of the two first person accounts softens the horrific story of what the war was actually like. I found myself wondering how any man could have come back from that war sane enough to live a productive life, to not have the memories destroy him. It's also interesting to see what abilities the Cree bring to war. The ability to sneak up quietly on the enemy as they would animals in the forest. The ability to "smell" the enemy. The ability to lay quietly for hours at a time which enables them to become expert snipers.

Elijah was brought up in a residential school and I find his morals and beliefs are very far removed from Xavier's. In my mind it could be because Xavier was raised by his aunt, felt loved, and was taught morals perhaps without even knowing it. Elijah being brought up in a residental school had none of the benefits of a close relationship with an adult to guide him.

Elijah loves to hunt and kill. He's told by a group of Frenchmen to start collecting evidence of his kills because there is another indian who is perhaps more famous than himself for sniper kills who is able to prove it. Xavier hates killing. He does work in conjunction with Elijah because of his same abilities to move quietly and lay still but he is his sight man. At one point he prefers to work in the mud burying the dead of the Canadians rather than kill.

Throughout the book Elijah's main purpose is to become famous for what he does. For Xavier all he wants to do is return home.

The three-day road also refers to the journey between life and death and I was constantly wondering if Niska (the aunt) was taking Xavier on this life to death journey or if it literally took three days for her to return Xavier to his home from civilization.

A great read. Amazing for a first book.