Your house is a very very very fine house.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

–William Morris


Found the good.

Find the GoodFind the Good by Heather Lende

Heather asked me for a blurb for this book last May. I warned her that I almost never do blurbs because, well, I suck at them. She sent me the book and that evening I emailed her thusly:

Take your pick. Or chose none at all:

“A beguiling evocation of small-town life, and death.”

“The perfect book club book.”

“This goes right on the Christmas list for every member of my family.”

Picked it up at the post office this afternoon, came home, sat down, read it in one sitting. I want to move to Haines, and I want you to write my obituary, too.


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“It’s the girl world in my head, where I go when I’m annoyed with Carter, or just men in general. There are five shoe stores per capita, nothing has any calories, and all the books and movies end happy ever after.”

–Nora Roberts, Happily Ever After


The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects – 6

WARNING: Spoilers spoken here.

Blood Will Tell cover

6 – The moose

P1000789 copy

This was a tough one, for me as well as the fans, vide Megan’s thoughtful comment here. (I also loved Jodie’s comment here.)

But in the end, the votes have it and I agree, it’s the moose. Moose is food, and without food there is no survival. There have been times when Alaska moose have been stricken with disease which drastically reduced the food supply for local tribes, forcing draconian decisions for mere survival (see Two Old Women by Velma Wallis). Google the definition of subsistence sometime. The important words there are “at a minimum level.” As in you aren’t quite starving, you’re just hungry all the time. The food supply is everything, from bowhead whale to walrus to caribou to bear, and moose, and when you’re hungry everything else that doesn’t manage to get out of the way first. Marty’s right, the issue is subsistence. moose

A visitor said, “Do you see a lot of moose around, then?” and my friend Dan said, “They’re like mice.” I think that was the year his brother Dave shot one from the deck of his house (relax, legally, he lives way outside the city limits and it was hunting season). Yes, they’re everywhere, including my front yard, which is where these pictures were taken. They are this year anyway. Next year may be a different story.

Just remember, to many Alaskans these pictures don’t say “How pretty.” They say “When’s dinner?”

Next month, an object from Breakup, the seventh Kate Shugak mystery. Please put your suggestions for said object in the comments below, and thanks!


Sir Robert Carey returns for a seventh glorious outing

A Chorus of InnocentsA Chorus of Innocents by P.F. Chisholm

O frabjous day! Here we are on horseback again, galloping ventre a terre over the Debateable Lands between England and Scotland circa 1592. Yes, Sir Robert Carey returns for a seventh glorious outing, and I am delighted to report that this time we get to spend some quality time with Elizabeth Widdrington, Sir Robert’s love. The book begins on the Scottish side of the border with the murder of a minister and the rape of his wife, heavily pregnant with their first child. She finds her way to her friend, Elizabeth, in England, and Elizabeth, in spite of the inevitable repercussions from her abusive but for the moment conveniently absent husband, rides off to find the killers, if she can. In so doing she puts herself most grievously at risk from far too many people far too eager to make a buck off the kidnapping and murder of an English noblewoman on the wrong side of this very fraught and fluid border.

There is plenty of action here (Elizabeth herself kicks ass! Squee!), and as always the scene Chisholm sets is a veritable time travel portal you step through the instant you turn to the first page

It was surprising and the older one thought a little shocking that there were so many kirks, and not all of them burnt or in ruins like in the Low countries. Some old Catholic churches had been torn down and a new one put up, but more often they were just altered with the heads of the saints knocked off and the paintings whitewashed. Not every village had a kirk, by a long way, but a lot did.

Find me a better description of post-Reformation Scotland, do, but what I found most fascinating was Elizabeth’s inner dialogue over her situation. We get to see her first meeting with Sir Robert

Their eyes had met. Their bodies had known their business and kept a distance, but their eyes…

She is married to a man she doesn’t love who positively hates her and delights in showing her how much with his fists (and a nice reveal as to why). She is in love with Sir Robert (as who isn’t) and he loves her, too, but she is an honorable woman and she won’t cheat. She does have some revolutionary thoughts on women and society and religion that are wonderfully revealing of that time and place and even more revealing of her own intelligence. She is a worthy match for Sir Robert.

And of course there is that wonderful Chisholm voice, as in

She had liked Jamie Burn; he was a good man, perhaps a little hot tempered, perhaps a little intolerant, but he had started a school for the children of the village and his sermons were only an hour long.


“…There’s a street called Cheapside where they have shops with great plates and goblets and bowls of gold and siller in the windows and nought but a couple of bullyboys and some bars to keep them.”

”Where’s London exactly?” asked Bangtail, with the slitty eyed look of a Graham with a plan.


There was nothing wrong with killing somebody for money, of course, but killing one of your own surname for an outsider? That was disgraceful.

Sergeant Henry Dodd is back

And moreover the moon was behind more clouds making the night pitchblack, so Dodd sighed, brought the hobbies into the shelter so no one would ask why they were there and rolled himself up in his cloak across the door opening and hoped no one would wake him because burying people took time and was a lot of effort.

and meet Mr. Anricks, a tooth drawer and a pursuivant (aka spy) for Sir Robert Cecil, and Young Henry with his unfortunate spots, and all the boys in Minister Burn’s choir, especially little Jimmy Tait. The book finishes with a marvelous set piece of derring-do involving enough arms and ammunition for the siege of Stalingrad, and the last line will leave you with your heart in your mouth. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil, but oh! I can’t wait for Number 8.

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