What I'm Reading Now: 12 July 30

The short version: nothing. I haven't finished a book at all this week-- too many other things on the go. I did get my hands on a few titles I've been waiting for, so I hope to have something interesting here for next week.

In the meantime, I have a different recommendation for you. If you're going to be anywhere near the Manitou Opera House this weekend, go to the Candlewick Players production of the Count of Monte Cristo. I saw it this past Saturday, and it was a great show. Sure, it's an amateur production, and there are occasional problems with audibility, but that's minor. The acting is excellent, the script (an in-house adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' novel) is thoroughly faithful to the book, the stage set is quite impressive, and the plot is twisty and intertwined enough to satisfy the most rococo mind. (When you go, watch for the drunken tailor Caderousse (played by Altona's Matthew Wall) in the back corner of the dance sequence in Act I - that by itself was almost worth the price of admission.) You'll hardly be aware that the play runs three hours, not including intermission. Whether or not you already know this story of betrayal, revenge, and redemption, you'll enjoy it.

What I'm Reading Now: 12 July 23

Bloodroot- Susan Wittig Albert
Broken Harbour- Tana French
Stories behind the best-loved songs of Christmas- Ace Collins
More stories behind the best-loved songs of Christmas- Ace Collins

Ghosts complicate everything, almost as much as family ties do. China Bayles thought she'd left both behind, but her until-recently-estranged mother calls her back to the family plantation in the South to help cope with Aunt Tullie, and China feels she has no option. She welcomes some renewed relationships, but Aunt Tullie's health seems to be a smokescreen for some deeper and more disturbing issues. And the ghosts? they haven't gone away at all... In Bloodroot, Albert does a wonderful job of weaving hauntings and history into present-day, leaving just enough paranormal ends untied while still answering all the questions about the missing deed and the missing man. Bloodroot is somewhere in the middle of Albert's China Bayles series, and while it stands alone quite adequately, I'm also intrigued by the characters and want to find out more about them.

Tana French has once again pulled together an old mystery, a new one, and the gradual breakdown of an Irish cop, all to make a haunting story that I had to finish. Kennedy values control and order above all- it's what makes him the stellar cop he is. This case, a family murdered in a ghost estate on the remains of a vacation spot called Broken Harbour, threatens to undo all his ideas of order. The evidence is equivocal, and there may not be a reason for these killings that anyone can discover. Kennedy's own history at Broken Harbour, and the wild card in his life, are breaking down his control, and both his family and his career are suddenly at risk. The book was beautifully written, and the plot twists were gut-wrenchingly unexpected. The story is intense, gripping... and highly recommended. It's not a fun read, but it is very very good.

I've been slowly getting into planning for Christmas. No, I'm not rushing things - if there will be a choir program this year, we need to have music ready by mid-October at the very latest, which means deciding on it at least two weeks before that (a month would be preferable), and because ready-made programs don't always work out that well for our situation, we have to allow time for tailoring an existing program or writing an entirely new one. So... yes, I'm reading two books by Ace Collins on the background of Christmas songs. Collins gives the story behind the writing or recording of an assortment of Christmas classics ranging from "Good Christian Men, Rejoice" to "Blue Christmas." Collins presents some interesting facts and side notes, and I found the stories behind the traditional carols quite intriguing.

Birds of Reinland

Hi All,

Just a note to tell why we haven't posted for a while.  The summer season is a very slow one for birders.  We did make a trip to Fort Whyte but were somewhat disappointed.  We did see broods of geese, with the youg almost fully fledged.

Since things are so slow, we will not be posting anything more for a while. We hope to be back on in fall when the migrrating bids stop over for some rest and food.

Happy Birding.

Werner and Marlene

What I'm Reading Now: 12 July 16

Overture to death-- Ngaio Marsh

Does anyone really care who plays the opening music for the parish theatricals? Someone does-- or why else does the pianist die three notes into her dramatic Overture to death? It's obviously murder, but which of the two women who were fighting for the opportunity was the intended victim? Chief Inspector Alleyn and Inspector Fox are called in to find out what a box, Twiddletoys, an anonymous letter, and an onion have to do with a case of murder, and how deep the undercurrents of love and jealousy run in a small English village. I quite enjoyed Overture to death, and have every time I've read it-- the whole mechanism of the murder is far-fetched, but Marsh realizes this, draws attention to it, and then explains it away neatly. The characters are interesting (if a little period-piece), and Alleyn has become a rounded and intriguing human being as well as an excellent detective.

Just a side note: I now have the complete set of Ngaio Marsh Diamond Anniversary editions, and I still like them a lot. Someone asked if I was now going to start collecting a uniform set of Dick Francis. I don't think I will; I haven't found an edition that I like well enough to track down all the various titles. I consider that there are thirty-eight such titles. This does not include his autobiography or his collaborations with his son, which I don't like as much.