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April 25, 2012

This morning we looked out the window and saw several chipping sparrows and several white throated sparrows.  We had seen one of each earlier, but today there were several of them.  The chipping sparrow will go to the feeder, but both species are ground feeders.

Also on the one feeder we saw a male goldfinch in his brilliant yellow summer plumage.

Since our last entry we have had yellow-shafted flickers on the lawn, some doing the flicker dance. We have seen mallards and wood ducks on the pond.  One morning we had the hermit thrush, and while driving we spotted two night-hawks.

Here are pictures of the albina Junco and the Eurasian Collared dove mentioned last week.

Eurasian Collared dove Eurasian Collared Dove Albina Junco

What I'm Reading Now: 12 April 23

Dead by morning--Beverly Barton

Only one this week... it's been a little busy.

Dead by morning is the second in Barton's "Dead by..." trilogy. (Review of the first one, Dead by midnight, is here, although here it's reviewed under the original title, Time of death.) Maleah and Derek (introduced in Dead by midnight/Time of death) are reluctant partners in tracking down a killer targeting the agency they work for. Derek is a profiler; Maleah was engaged to the first victim of the serial killer whose signature is being copied. As their styles clash and their attraction builds heat, the pressure builds up on Griffin Powell, owner of the agency. It's not just Powell agents who are threatened; it's their loved ones. I enjoyed the romance, even though I could see it was inevitable, and the suspense was well-done. Barton lets you get well-acquainted with the characters before they're killed, a trick that makes you believe they won't actually die-- surely she wouldn't put that kind of effort into creating cannon fodder, would she? The brilliant thing is that because of the buildup, they're not just cannon fodder; you care, and you understand at a more instinctive level the other characters' shock, horror, anger, and fear. Be warned: it ends with a cliffhanger, so make sure you have access to Dead by nightfall  as well.

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What I'm Reading Now: 12 April 17

The pure in heart-- Susan Hill
Through the fire-- Shawn Grady (didn’t finish)
Murder at the Laterne Rouge-- Cara Black (didn’t finish)
What angels fear-- C. S. Harris
Trail of the Spellmans-- Lisa Lutz

I'll be brief, since I'm running low on energy and I'm already late in posting.

The pure in heart is the second Simon Serrailler mystery. DCI Simon Serrailler is still trying to recover from the serial killer case in his small cathedral town a year ago (in The various haunts of men). It's affecting his personal life, too, and the sudden grave illness of his mentally handicapped sister isn't helping. When a young boy on his way to school is snatched, he tries to bury himself in his work, but the emotional load of a missing-child case is hardly what he needs. Hill does a wonderful job of making the various pressures on Simon and his family real and complex; she doesn't downplay the effects of violent death and crippling uncertainty. My only complaint is that the story wasn't tied up neatly, so I'll have to wait for the next one for some closure.

I have no real criticisms for Through the fire or Murder at the Laterne Rouge. They were reasonably well-written, with interesting settings. I suspect I had too much going on to give them my full attention. If your taste is to Christian fiction in the mystery/suspense/mild-romance genre, you could do worse than Through the fire. If you're intrigued by the seedy underbelly of Paris, definitely hunt up Murder at the Laterne Rouge.

I picked up What angels fear on a patron's indirect recommendation. She didn't say I should read it; she just went ahead and ordered every other book in the series. Coming from her, that's a rave review. So I read the first in the series. A lovely actress is murdered in a chapel in London. Sebastian St. Cyr, the Viscount Devlin, is accused of her murder, but he has no faith in what passes for due process in 1811, and determines to clear his name or die trying. St. Cyr is an odd sort of hero, one who claims to be completely selfish, but is seen to follow a much more altruistic path. He is also occasionally too good to be true, as he easily evades capture, charms every suspect into telling him the truth, has unusual tawny eyes, and even has near super-powers in night vision and hearing. (I'll give Harris a pass on that last, as there is apparently some sort of genetic abnormality that endows its bearers with enhanced night vision, sensitive hearing, and yellowy-brown irises.) Anyway, it was good fun.

I read Trail of the Spellmans a few weeks ago. Izzy Spellman is facing changes. She's avoiding ex-boyfriend number 13 (who's not really an ex-boyfriend yet, but Izzy believes in efficiency), her brother David has had a complete personality change, her sister Rae is avoiding the family PI business, and her parents are even weirder than usual. Then things really start going bad. Izzy might suddenly be the most normal person in the family. I've enjoyed all the Spellman documents (this is number 5) in all their goofiness, and I applaud Lutz's choice to keep her characters growing and changing. I'm very curious to see where she takes us (and the Spellmans) next.

(...so, this is me being brief, is it? Scary)