Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Summary: 15 February 2015

When I returned home from this week's trip, I noticed how much the gasoline prices have gone up. Prices here in Texas are around $2.15 or so per gallon. While that's tremendously lower than the $3.80 prices of last summer, it sure was nice to have gas be well below $2 per gallon for a while. We'll be heading out on a quick road trip this next week, and it's going to cost us a little bit more than we had originally planned. But, we have a new hybrid automobile which means the overall cost will still be much less than the last trip we took.

Where I've been reading

I returned to Toronto this week. It was REALLY cold, so I was lucky that the hotel had underground parking and I was only outside as I walked from the parking lot to the entrance of my customer's building. I didn't see it snowing, but on Wednesday, I had to brush about 6 inches of snow from my car before I could drive back to my hotel. Fortunately, it was soft, fluffy, dry snow and I didn't have to do any scraping at all. And, although there was snow on the car, it was a relatively mild day—very important because I didn't have any gloves! Thursday was a lot colder, so I just stuck my hands into my coat pockets and hurried indoors as quickly as possible.

Also, although it was Friday the 13th, nothing really bad happened. My flight from Toronto to NYC was delayed so late that I would not have been able to make a connection to Dallas and I would have been stuck in New York overnight, so the lovely gate agent at American Airlines reworked my reservation and got me onto a direct flight to Dallas. I had to hang around the Toronto airport for an extra three hours, but that wasn't a terrible inconvenience—after all, I had BOOKS with me.

What I've been reading: Completed this week

Book Cover: Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace by M. C. Beaton Format: eBook
Source: borrowed from Sanger Public Library via Freading
Completed: 13 February


Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace is the third of the Poor Relations series that Marion McChesney Gibbons published in the early 1990s under the name Marion Chesney. She has used a number of pen names in her career and is best know for her Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raisin mystery series. With the re-issue of a number of her books in eBook formats, they have now been identified with the author name of “M. C. Beaton” instead of the original name.

In this episode, the former aristocrats who own and operate the Poor Relations Hotel are again without sufficient funds to keep the business going. With no prospects for increasing their income from honest means, they decide that one of them must visit a wealthy relative and pilfer objects to be sold. When Mrs. Budley draws the short straw, the plan is complicated by the fact that she's been cut off from all her relations. So, they cook up the scheme of sending her to the home of a wealthy but aged and totally dotty Marquess where she'll pretend to be a remote cousin. Unfortunately, when she arrives, she discovers that the Marquess had died and his young nephew has assumed the title.

I'm thoroughly enjoying this series. Although it's listed as a romance, it's so far from the typical romance novel and the characters are simply delightful. Filled with humor and humanity, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Poor Relations series.

Book Cover: Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson Format: audiobook
Source: purchased from Audible
Completed: 13 February


In the second of the Peter novels by Barry and Pearson, Skank has led Captain Nerezza to Molusk Island (aka Neverland) looking for starstuff last seen there. Molly and her father have taken the chest full of starstuff back to England. The mysterious Lord Ombra is annoyed to find the magical substance gone, and reveals his ability to control people by stealing their shadow. When the crew sets sail for London to kidnap Molly and offer her in exchange for the starstuff, Peter overhears the plan and is determined to warn his friend. He and Tinker Bell stow away on the ship. In London, Peter finds Molly and she introduces him to her suitor, George Darling. The three join up to outwit Lord Ombra and keep the starstuff out of the hands of The Others.

I can't praise Peter and the Shadow Thieves—actually ALL of the series—too highly. The story is exciting, the characters are outstanding, and Jim Dale is a magnificent reader of the audio edition. I've already purchased book #3, and I'm eager to start listening to it.

Book Cover: Blanche Among the Talented Tenth by Barbara Neely Format: eGalley
Source: review copy from NetGalley
Completed: 13 February


Blanche has moved to Boston from North Carolina. School friends of her kids have invited them to spend the summer at a coastal resort in Maine. Blanche joins them there for a couple of weeks, freeing the hosts to take a short “couples” vacation. The resort is a popular location for the rich and elite in the African American community. At the core are the Insiders whose families founded the resort and who own their cabins on the property. Outsiders are transient visitors who stay in the Amber Cove Inn. In addition to this divide, Blanche is confronted with the deep prejudice held by the light-skinned against those with very dark skins.

Just before Blanche arrives, one of the Insiders is killed when her radio falls into her bathtub. The victim was detested by everyone except her husband, and there's a possibility that she was murdered. Blanch joins forces with Mattie to find out exactly what happened and why.

This is the second of the Blanche White mysteries. As I read the first one, I was challenged to think about my attitudes toward persons of color and those who perform essential but menial work. In this second book, the reader is exposed to a form of racism which exists WITHIN the African American community. Interestingly, having just finished reading Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace where the prejudice was based on aristocracy vs those “in trade”, it was really easy to see that the social ranking seems to be a human practice—spanning time, country, and race.

What I've been reading: In progress

Book Cover: Hyperion by Dan Simmons Book Cover: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow I'm making progress in two of the books I started last week. I'm still reading Dan Simmon's award winning Hyperion. It's one of the February group reads selected by the Flights of Fantasy group at Goodreads. And I keep reading the one book loaded onto my cell phone when no other books are at hand. Right now, that book is The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow, a steampunk mystery.

This Week on the Blog

Travel gives me some extra time for reading, but since it keeps me offline, I don't get as many posts uploaded to the blog. Looks like I need to build up a small backlog of posts which can be added to the site when I know I'll be away from the Internet. Check out my review of the first two books in the Blanche White Mysteries.

  1. Take Control of your TBR Pile Challenge
  2. Stacking the Shelves (22)
  3. Review: Blanche White Mysteries


And, as usual, I'm linking up with The Sunday Post, hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on the blog, showcase books and things received. Share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead.


  1. I'm adding the Poor Relations series to my TBR series as I have enjoyed her Agatha Raisin series (and I didn't realize that this was the same author- nice to know!). I can't wait to check them out! I also have The Iron Wyrm Affair on my TBR list. I will be watching for your thoughts on that one!!!

    1. Hello Samantha & thanks for stopping by. The Poor Relations is a fun series. I haven't started reading the Agatha Raisin series, but several friends have recommended it.

  2. Just added the Poor relations series to my to-read list, I'd never heard about it before. Everybody talks about snow in the US but here in Burgundy, I'm still waiting for it ! Have a great week ;)

    1. Cool! I hope you enjoy the Poor Relations as much as I have. We rarely get snow here in Texas, but my travels have taken me northward. Next trip, though, I'm heading to Las Vegas. I don't expect to see ANY snow there.