Thursday, September 22, 2022


 Last week we learned that there will be some changes on the bus route we regularly use. For years it has technically been a Bus Eireann route but it was operated by a local company, McGeehan's Coaches. Everyone is familiar with PJ, the regular driver. Indeed, we used to know him from when we lived in Killybegs and at the start of our time in Dungloe (pre-pandemic), because we used that bus all the time. We even did most of our move from Killybegs to Dungloe on that bus. When we moved here and got on the bus for the first time, PJ said hello, asked how we'd been and what we've been doing. Then he asked, 'Are you moving, by any chance?' He's a nice guy. Today when he found out we were going to the library, he said he'd drop us off at the top of the town, thus saving us a few minutes walk. Since we got there a bit later than usual (road works) and only had about half an hour before the bus left to come back, this was welcome. He knows where to look for the regulars who climb on the bus from the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, getting a ride to a grocery store. For these people, there are not even any corner shops for them to get some groceries--there aren't even any corners, just a long winding road with the ocean, sheep, cows, hills, and beautiful scenery on either side. Without this bus, things would be a lot harder for them.

Now things are changing, though. Bus Eireann has decided they no longer want to contract the route out and will run it themselves. There is no one who is happy about this. There is concern that they will be unreliable and cancel the route without notice on individual days or altogether or that they might change things in some way. There is also an expectation that the people driving this route will not be as friendly as PJ and might not stop for those people along the side of the road. Needless to say, it's been the talk of the bus for a week and speculation about what will happen is running wild. There has also been an air of sadness and even some stress among the regulars.

Today on the way back, PJ stopped to pick up an older lady out front of her house. She placed her free travel pass on the reader and said to him, 'We're losing you, I hear.' PJ replied that today was his last day. 'This is for you,' she said as she handed him a gift wrapped package and thanked him for the years of driving her around. This is so rural Donegal. 

She sat next to someone she knew and they were talking about the change that starts next week. She was saying how we all know the drivers now and we won't when Bus Eireann takes over. Another guy said that he doesn't think they'll last a month and will give the contract back to McGeehan's. Wishful thinking? I think there is also a feeling that McGeehan's and the drivers are local and are more trustworthy than the national and impersonal Bus Eireann. I am curious to see how things play out. As for PJ, he's hoping for a week off next week before he finds out what his new territory will be. He's been driving this route for 5 years so maybe the change won't be all bad for him. Hopefully things will go better than expected for all of us who ride the bus, too. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Life of Crime

This is an entertaining and informative history of the many facets of crime fiction and the people who wrote/write it. Edwards does a fine job of intertwining the lives of the authors, the cultures in which they lived, and their work. The result is this very readable history of the genre and the subgenres within it. 

We see the evolution of the genre and how authors were inspired by the work that preceded them. I found some new-to-me authors to look for and very much enjoyed reading about more familiar ones. As is to be expected, I was more interested in some chapters than others--simply a matter of personal taste and preference. I found even the chapters about the kinds of crime fiction I am not interested in quite interesting. The book is very well-written and I loved the inclusion of radio dramas in the book--I'm a big fan of old radio mysteries. I am not a watcher so was less interested in the discussions of visual adaptations, although I found it interesting that Hollywood adaptations ruined the characters for some authors.

Most chapters begin with an anecdote from an author's life, which I found fascinating. For anyone who wants to research any topic in more depth, the book includes a select bibliography, an index of titles, and an index of names.

If you're at all interested in crime fiction of any kind, I highly recommend this book.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Not Buying It

  Last night, Bill was listening to the radio feed of the Boston Red Sox game on the Major League Baseball site. It was an early game so I was not yet in the other room listening to something else--at least not for the first half of the game. At every break they play the same old commercials. One of them was about how the time has arrived to welcome fall with a houseful of new furniture. I was reminded of ads on the radio here, heard during our first few months in Ireland, about how there was still time to have a new kitchen installed before Christmas.

Who knew? All this time I've been doing quite a good job of welcoming autumn and celebrating Christmas and not once did this involve new furniture or a new kitchen. Ah, marketing. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022


 We walked down the lane to drop off our glass for recycling and came across these two having a lunch date on a dandelion.
They were quite into their food--did not move as I came in closer and took their picture.

I'm still not used to things as they are now. When we would go to recycle glass in Bunbeg, we walked a mile and a half down a busy road and had to shout at each other to make ourselves heard if we tried to have a conversation. It was like a speedway. Now we walk down a country lane, chatting in normal voices and listening to birdsong. It's a lovely walk. Today the sky was a bit dramatic.
It's not as cool as I would like, but I am starting to feel the stirrings of an autumnal vibe. This makes me so, so happy. It's been chilly enough at night to close one of the windows, to wrap up in a shawl in the mornings and evenings, and to put my wool blanket on the bed. I might have to take it off again a few nights hence, but for now, I'll just be happy about it.

I hope your day is filoled with good vibes, too--whatever that means for you.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Dickens and Christmas

This is a fascinating and sometimes myth-busting account of Charles Dickens and how his work impacted both his own life and the culture at large. He was among those who were drivers of the cultural changes that led to the way we celebrate Christmas and the ways in which it is marketed to us. The book includes excerpts from the work of Dickens and others and contains photos and illustrations.

Lucinda Hawksley does a good job of intertwining the parts of Dickens' personal life that inspired his Christmas writing--and while the book mentions his other work, some of which was being written at the same time as the Christmas stories, she does focus on the Christmas work. A Christmas Carol was the first of these stories and not only did it change the way Christmas was viewed, but the popularity of it profoundly changed his own life too, in ways both good and bad. There's a lesson in unintended consequences there.

The book is well-written and an enjoyable read.

Monday, September 12, 2022

A Christmas Carol Gone Wrong

 Murder at the Theatre Royale
The perfect murder mystery for Christmas 2022
by Ada Moncrieff
published by: Random House UK, Vintage on 13 October, 2022
ISBN 9781529115314

It's 22 December 1935. Agony aunt Daphne King works for a newspaper but wants to use her journalism skills on the crime beat. Her boss isn't keen on the idea and wants her to stay where she is--she's good for the bottom line. She solved the case of a kidnapped contessa and ever since circulation has gone through the roof. However, he needs someone to fill in for a guy who has become ill, so he sends her to the premiere of a play--A Christmas Carol--being staged by a formerly well known playwright. So it is that Daphne is there at the dress rehearsal when the leading man, in his role as Ebenezer Scrooge, drops dead. Inspector Marklow soon arrives and decides it was probably heart trouble. Daphne thinks otherwise and it doesn't take her long to ruin Marklow's pre-Christmas plans. Daphne and her new friends are soon on the hunt for the killer.

I was interested in this book because of the connection to Christmas and A Christmas Carol. I do love a Christmas cozy! As it happens, that was pretty secondary to the plot and was almost an afterthought in the story, although winter weather did play a small part. I enjoyed the book anyway, but it wasn't what I expected.

I was a bit confused for a while, because it was clear that Daphne knew Marklow pretty well and that there had been other cases before this one. Some reference was made to these cases, which made me think this was one of a series, but I was unable to find any other books with this character.

This was a fun read. I liked Daphne and her new friend Veronica quite a lot. I enjoyed the way Daphne grew in confidence as she went along and was determined to get her boss to change her role at the paper. She is also fond of wordplay as I am, so I found myself chuckling at some of her comments. The mystery was a good one and the ending was not predictable. The author tended to move into the future quite a lot, writing things like, 'For years, Daphne would remember this moment as a turning point...' Sometimes she would use this device to let the reader know about the future selves of some of the characters. I don't know if this will be a series. It seems like it would lend itself well to that and it would be interesting to see how Daphne evolves and grows over time. If you like cozy mysteries, this is a nice way to spend a few hours.

It may be published as A Stage for Death in the US--I have seen it reviewed under that title.

I received a free advanced reader's copy of the e-book in exchange for a fair review. I thank NetGalley and the publisher.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Just Hanging Out

 These guys are hanging out at the Harvest Fair this weekend--listening to some music, having a bite to eat, and enjoying a nice, cold beverage while they greet people coming into town.

It's supposed to rain on the parade tomorrow, so they might as well take advantage of the sunshine while they can. Not sure how those pumpkin heads will do in the rain! 😃😉

Friday, September 9, 2022


 Marple: Twelve New Stories
by Agatha Christie; Naomi Alderman; Leigh Bardugo; Alyssa Cole; Lucy Foley; Elly Griffiths; Natalie Haynes; Jean Kwok; Val McDermid; Karen M. McManus; Dreda Say Mitchell; Kate Mosse; Ruth Ware
ISBN 9780008467319

Love. I’ll just start there. I loved Miss Marple as soon as I was introduced to her. I don’t remember what book it was, but I could not get enough of the character. I have always wished that Agatha Christie had written more Marple stories. I enjoy Poirot, but do wish that instead of the huge number of novels and short stories featuring him, there were more with her. Still, I read all the Miss Marples and kept wishing. Now comes this wonderful book, in which 12 contemporary writers have created short stories featuring Jane Marple. The love continues.

I loved this book. I was unsure how I would feel about it at first, thinking I might be disappointed, but not reading it wasn’t really an option and it became clear almost immediately that I needn’t have worried. It was a joy to read about Jane’s new adventures, some of which took place around the time as the original stories and some that were set in the future. In one story, Miss Marple is involved with the young adult granddaughter of her nephew, Raymond West! That would put her well into her 100s, but that’s OK. 

The stories were well-written and stylistically varied. As with any collection, I had favourites—the ending of the last story was fabulous! Some stories placed Jane in entirely new places with new people, while some unfolded in more familiar settings with familiar people. It was fun to hang out for a while with Sir Henry Clithering and the Bantrys again. Some stories made reference to some of Miss Marple’s original cases, but it is not necessary to have read the originals to enjoy this book. 

I felt that all of the authors stayed true to the essence of the character. That’s not to say that these stories were indistinguishable from the stories Christie wrote—there were subtle differences. But that’s to be expected and did not in any way detract from my great enjoyment of the book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

I received a free e-galley in exchange for this unbiased and fair review. I thank NetGalley and the publishers, HarperCollins UK.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Higher and Faster

 After some heavy showers over the past day and a half, this quiet Sunday morning finds the river next to us running higher and faster than it has been. It sounds wonderful! 
I am curious to see what it's like in winter when we get more days with more heavy rain--if we get such days, that is. Who knows what to expect now.

On the downside, part of the main road between us and Letterkenny is washed out due to flooding. Looks like some people are stuck in their homes as a result. Hopefully this will not last long. I don't think anyone was injured. Thank goodness for that!

Whatever the weather in your neck of the woods today, hope you are having a great one!

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Martha Miller Cozy Mysteries (Books 1 and 2)

 Daggers at the Country Fair (Martha Miller Book 2)
by Catherine Coles
ISBN 9781804150733
This is the second book in the Martha Miller series. Having read and enjoyed the first book, I was thrilled have an opportunity to read this one. I quite enjoy the series so far and I look forward to reading more.

In this book, Martha is invited to open a country fair in a village called Winteringham It so happens that the vicar in this village has been a dear friend Luke, the vicar of Westleham and a person who is developing a complicated relationship with Martha. Martha, Luke, Lizzie the dog, Ruby (Martha’s sister) and a couple of friends take the train to Winteringham and prepare to spend a few days there. Because the village inn does not allow dogs, Martha, Lizzie, and Luke stay with the vicar, his wife, and their baby in the vicarage. Martha is nervous about her role opening the fair, but once that’s done, she can relax and simply enjoy herself—or so she thought.

She doesn’t have much time to relax, because she is soon drawn to look behind a tent where she finds the vicar’s niece dead. There could be no doubt that she was murdered. The doctor and the village constable are inept and make things worse, so Ruby calls in her boyfriend, a Scotland Yard detective. The vicar of Winteringham asks Luke and Martha to investigate and in spite of her misgivings and the potential for tension between the two vicars, who are old friends, they agree.

This is a very enjoyable cozy mystery that also deals with important themes. As with the first book, I like reading about Martha’s growing self-awareness and growth. She grows more comfortable within herself as she tried new things and steps out of her comfort zone. The issues raised in this book are current even though it’s set in 1947, showing that they are not new. We’ve been grappling with them for a long time. The mystery is interesting and well plotted. The case is solved in a satisfying way, although I thought the book itself ended rather abruptly. That could just be my own personal taste, though. I can see why the ending would work. Maybe I just wanted it to go on a bit longer! Hopefully in the next book, the characters will be picking up where they left off in this one.

I thank the publisher, the author, and Net Galley for an advance e-copy in exchange for this fair and unbiased review.

Here is a review of the first book in the series, which I don't think I posted here at the time I read it.

Poison at the Village Show (Martha Miller Book 1)
by Catherine Coles
It's 1947 and Martha Miller feels like an outsider in the village of Westleham ever since her husband left for work one day and vanished, leaving her destitute. She expands what was her victory garden, gets some chickens, and welcomes her sister, Ruby, as a lodger to make ends meet. She suffers from the gossip going around the village suggesting that her husband might just be found under her potato patch. When the town comes together for the first village show since the war began, Martha hopes that her plum gin will be a hit with those in attendance because it could provide her with an additional income stream. Things don't go according to plan when after the toast, the chairwoman of the show committee, clutches at her throat, turns pink and purple, and drops dead. Martha must work to clear her name.

This was an enjoyable read. I'm a big fan of cozy mysteries, with their villages full of quirky characters and amusing situations. This book had those things. I liked the characters and the village. Since it's labelled as the first in a new series, I know I can look forward to more and I will happily read on. I am interested to know what happens to the characters. I thought a strong aspect of the book was Martha's growth as she dealt with some of her issues of shame and isolation and accepted some things about her upbringing and her marriage. She learned that she was not as alone as she thought, and expanded her thinking about why others might behave as they do. The ongoing evolution of her relationship with her sister was also done quite well.

I had a minor quibble with the fact that one person remained a suspect far longer than was logical or plausible (to avoid spoilers, I will say no more), but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. It was a lovely way to spend a stormy afternoon!

I received an advance e-galley of this book from NetGalley, Boldwood Publishing, and the author in exchnage for a fair review. I thank them.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Amused and Happy

 I went to the pharmacy this morning to get my second booster. As I was sitting off to the side waiting to be called into the little room, an older woman came in. She had one of those walking frames with wheels and a seat that folds up and down. She sat down and was talking to everyone. She must be some kind of town celebrity or something, because people were going up to her and saying, 'Hi, Mary! How've you been?' and engaging in general chit-chat. If someone did not see her, she called out to them and waited for them to come over. It's a small place, so one way or another, everyone in the store was spotted and either went over on their own or were called over to have an audience with Mary. She seemed quite happy sitting there. As people left and she had no one else to chat with, she looked around. Her eyes fell on me. 'Hello,' she said. 'Hi,' I replied. 'I don't know you, do I?' she asked. 'No, I just moved here,' I told her. 'Oh, is that what it is,' she commented. And then I was called in for my jab. I went in smiling, amused at the whole scene.

I got Moderna this time, after getting Pfizer/BioNtech for the first three jabs. I must say that I am surprised to not be in bed with an upset stomach by now, feeling achy and shivering. After I came home, we went off to veg man and I strained some yogurt I'd made, trying to get tasks completed before the expected side effects kicked in. So far, 9 hours later, I am still waiting. I've had chills a few times, my arm is tired and the upper arm muscle hurts when I use it. I've felt a bit off all day, but nothing like what I've experienced after previous jabs. So I'm grateful for that. 

Another thing that makes me very happy today is the fact that it is meteorological autumn! Hurray! I'm enjoying the seasonal colour I see around me when I go outside.

in person, the pinkish ones are a much deeper burgundy colour

I hope your day brings happiness and moments of amusement, too.