Release date: September 9, 2016
In the Bleak Midwinter and Balulalow!
Sung by The Stanbery Singers conducted by Paul John Stanbery.
A great Christmas gift!
More details forthcoming …
Sung by The Stanbery Singers conducted by Paul John Stanbery.
More details forthcoming …
Hello again, Friends.
The first week in April ended with a sad trip to Houston to attend funeral services for my friend Dr. William Mack. Bill is the father of my daughter-in-law, Daniela. He was a delightful man who became a friend when our kids got married. We had just welcomed our granddaughter, Eva, and we took turns assuming grandfather duties as the traveling opera singers traversed the country. I enjoyed talking to Bill on the phone. Sometimes we would call each other for no particular reason, just to visit. Bill was a respected physician and had maintained an active practice even into his senior days. He also battled with some health issues but, in spite of all, he was a lovely person and I will miss him.
If there can be a positive from this trip, it was that I got to be the grandfather custodian of my darling Eva during the various activities of the services. At that time she was just discovering that she could do a wobbly walk while holding on to an adult finger. With her other hand she would point to where she wanted to go and then it was off to the races. The age of discovery and exploration has begun.
The miracle of those three days in Houston was a living testament to the circle of life as we said farewell to one while reveling in the exuberance in the new life of another.
And so it goes…
Greetings everyone! In order to catch up on recent activities, we’re going to go back in time (you can do that in a blog!) and see what’s been happening since spring break started on March 14.
As you know, every spring break I make an annual pilgrimage to Clearwater to check out the prospects of the Philadelphia Phillies. I try to go to as many games as possible, but always the St. Patrick’s Day game where the Phils drag out their greeen unis! It was a nice drive down I 75 to Clearwater and I went straight to the ballpark. The first game was against the cross-town rivals, The Tampa Bay Rays. They looked good – the Phillies did not! Result: loss 5-3!
The next morning I indulged in another highlight of the trip – breakfast at Lennies! This is a bit of Pennsylvania ripped from hallowed ground and replanted right next to The La Quinta Inn (my abode) in Clearwater. It’s hard to describe Lennies, but, suffice it to say that they serve SCRAPPLE! This is an indescribable PA delicacy of rather dubious ingredients, but, to my Pennsylvanis Dutch palate, just heaven!
I walked to the field to see the Phillies take on the cross-state Pittsburgh Pirates. Today, the Phillies were in top form. I think 18 batters came to the plate in one inning! Result: win – a lot to a little!
Usually, I spend Saturday night at Pier 60 on Clearwater beach, but after the game the rains came! I was forced to watch some March Madness basketball in my room.
Sunday morning the weather was again questionable, but I tried to be positive. This was an away game for the Phils, so I drove the fifteen minutes to the home of the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin (that’s Dun-EEEE-din). There was a light rain falling, but a crowd still gathered in hopeful anticipation. After waiting about an hour, the game was cancelled.
I headed north to Valdosta!
A quick review of my new resurgence in posting revealed that I never gave you the details of the Winter TBR (To Be Read) list!
Here you go! Grab one of these at the library, bookstore, or Kindle and read with me!
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is feeling the heat. She’s investigating the death of a senior government prosecutor, David Minton, who has friends in high places. When one of their own is killed, the powers that be want answers fast. But Clarke is puzzled: if Minton died in a robbery as everyone thinks, why is nothing missing from his home? The answer may lie not in what was taken, but in what was left behind at the scene–an ominous note.
Malcolm Fox is feeling useless. Shunned by his colleagues because of his past in the Complaints bureau, he’s been reassigned to a grunt detail, helping a surveillance team–one that trusts him even less than his own boss does–track a notorious Glasgow crime family. Helping Clarke with the Minton case is the only thing that makes Fox feel like a real cop.
Newly minted civilian John Rebus is feeling restless. Being a cop is in his blood and he’s failing miserably at retirement. So when Clarke and Fox ask for his help, Rebus doesn’t need long to consider his options. But before he can get his bearings, a call comes from Rebus’s old nemesis–“Big Ger” Cafferty. Someone just fired a bullet through his front window–and sent him a note identical to Minton’s. The normally unflappable old gangster is on edge, but for the life of him Cafferty can’t figure out who he’s wronged. And the only man he trusts with his life is Rebus.
As the cases collide, it’s up to Clarke, Fox, and Rebus to connect the dots and save their unlikely ally Cafferty, whose past harbors a shocking secret that implicates Minton’s friends in an unspeakable crime. Even Dogs in the Wild reunites crime fiction legend Ian Rankin’s greatest characters in an explosive story exploring the darkest corners of our desires.
Elizabeth George – A Banquet of Consequences
The unspoken secrets and buried lies of one family rise to the surface in Elizabeth George’s newest novel of crime, passion, and tragic history.
As Inspector Thomas Lynley investigates the London angle of an ever more darkly disturbing case, his partner, Barbara Havers, is looking behind the peaceful façade of country life to discover a twisted world of desire and deceit.
The suicide of William Goldacre is devastating to those left behind who will have to deal with its unintended consequences—could there be a link between the young man’s leap from a Dorset cliff and a horrific poisoning in Cambridge?
After various issues with her department, Barbara Havers is desperate to redeem herself. So when a past encounter gives her a connection to the unsolved Cambridge murder, Barbara begs Thomas Lynley to let her pursue the crime, knowing one mistake could mean the end of her career.
Full of shocks, intensity, and suspense from the first page to the last, A Banquet of Consequences reveals both Lynley and Havers under mounting pressure to solve a case both complicated and deeply disturbing.
Well, there’s only sixteen days left to complete the Winter TBR list and, guess what? We’re not going to make it! So, just like last month we made an adjustment on Leap Day (February 29), I’ll adjust the Spring TBR to make sure it can be accomplished by June 21.
Before delving into the Winter TBR progress, a brief note about upcoming travels.
Aija is pulling nanny duty in Boston right now, then she’ll make a short overnight to Baltimore to reunite Daniela and Eva with Alek, before finally returning to the warm climes of South Georgia. Next week, we’re both off to Cincinnati where I will be overseeing a recording session of two of my Christmas choral works, In the Bleak Midwinter and Balulalow, for inclusion on a Christmas CD to be released next year. After three days, we’ll return to Valdosta where I will be on Spring Break! I’ll be doing my annual jaunt down to Clearwater to catch three Phillie spring training games and check out the beach and cuisine of the Gulf coast. My next trip will be to Orlando for the Southern Regional Honors College Conference which I always find exhilarating! In April it’s more nanny chores for Aija and opera trips to Forth Worth (Daniela in JFK) and Pittsburgh (Alek in Rake’s Progress). In May you might find us in Chicago (Daniela in Three Cornered Hat), then in June it’s back to Cincinnati (Alek in Die Fledermaus). Finally, as the summer begins, the fam will once again gather here in our Georgia version of an Italian Villa for another brief vacay. Eva should be walking by then and it will be my goal to keep up with her!
Needless to say, it’s a great life thanks to our brilliant and talented children!
Now, let’s see how the Winter TBR is doing …
I started with Dance of the Bones by JA Jance. Jance has several protagonists all working simultaneously and every so often she has them meet up for a shared adventure. In this tome, my old friend J.P. Beaumont, retired from the Seattle PD works with Brandon Walker, retired Arizona Sheriff. I hadn’t read any of Jance’s books featuring Brandon Walker so this was a new direction for me. Beaumont, on the other hand, is a familiar character and I eagerly anticipated this new story. This tale is basically a cold case assigned to these two retirees who finally do get the right bad guys and release the wronged good guys. It takes place mostly in Arizona. Each chapter has a Native American prologue that I found difficult to assimilate into the ongoing plot. I would also have liked more Beaumont and less Walker, but that’s probably because Beaumont was more familiar. All in all, Dance of the Bones holds your attention, but the tempo of the action is not too quick. A chapter every night before nodding off to sleep is just about right! (No Amazon review from me yet.)
Next I read The Pot Thief Who Studies Pythagoras by Valdostan Michael Orenduff. Full disclosure: I am a friend and colleague with Orenduff’s wife as we both work and teach at Valdosta State University. Michael has a series ongoing featuring the pot thief Hubie Schuze, and this is the first in the series. This book is terrific. Orenduff shows to be a master of the first person narrative. I think he even has me convinced to give it a try with some of my efforts. Schuze is a marvelous character – a protagonist/theif with a good heart and a self-deprecating attitude that is endearing and yet interesting to the reader. The plot moves right along with short chapters/scenes and the plot twists are easy to follow. The method Hubie uses to abscond with a pot on display in the museum in Albuquerque is quite ingenious! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and welcome these characters into my family of personalities of whom I keep track through the years. Well done, Michael – let’s have coffee one of these days!
I am now in the middle of The Grievance Collectors: A Sip of Death by another Valdosta State friend and colleague, Karla Hull. Dr. Hull was interim Provost at VSU when I was granted tenure, for which I will be eternally grateful! This is her first book and, wouldn’t you know, it’s about murders at a mid-sized southern university (hmmmmm). When the book was first published, everyone at the university was reading to see if they recognized any of the characters in the story! So far I’m intrigued by the plot, although it moves a bit slowly at the beginning (despite opening with the first murder on page one!). It seems like the corrupt professors are getting their comeuppances, and our heroine Provost seems to be successfully navigating the turbid waters of academia. I’m only about half way through it, I look forward to what is ahead. If there is a recognizable chubby old bald professor in the works, I’ll let you know. Great first book: I also want to do coffee with you, Karla!
Still on the Winter TBR list is Even Dogs in the Wild by Scotsman Ian Rankin (featuring retired detective John Rebus – there seems to be a theme in my reading!). Then we’ve got a continuation of the Thomas Lynley/Barbara Havers series with A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George. Finally, one of favorite authors in one of his best series, Tim Ellis provides The Kisses of an Enemy featuring the continuing saga of Inspector Jed Parrish and his stepdaughter, detective constable Mary Richards.
I obviouslt can’t squeeze them all in by March 21, so, as I said above, we’ll make an adjustment in the spring list. I’d love you to read some of these with me and drop a comment or two in the reply space below. The azaleas are coming out here in the Azalea City and I wish you all the best for a glorious spring.
Check out the Music page tomorrow for music news! -Jim