The Winter Read Is in Full Bloom!

Greetings!

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

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