Friday 29 August 2014

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse August 2014 monthly meeting

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.   Please go to this link if you wish to join in the fun. The Armchair Squid.  

During the month of August I read 10 books, a couple were novellas and disappointing, out of these 10 books, two were not very good (the novellas), three were an OK read, four were quite good reads and one was outstanding which I will review here. 

So my choice to share with other book lovers this month is 

The Murder Stone (A Chief Inspector Garmache Mystery Book 4).

It is also published under the title A Rule Against Murder. 

Approx: 428 pages

Product Review from Google Books:

It is the height of summer, and Armand Gamache and his wife are celebrating their wedding anniversary at an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they’re not alone. The Finney family—rich, cultured, and respectable—has also arrived for a celebration of their own…

As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the Finney reunion…and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. Now it’s up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth long-buried secrets and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines—into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax.

This is the fourth book in the Inspector Gamache series set in and around the village of Three Pines.  This story takes place in a remote hotel on the other side of the mountain from Three Pines called the Manoir Bellchasse where Armand Gamache and his wife are celebrating their wedding anniversary with a few days away.    

The Finney family arrive to stay for a family reunion at this hotel. One of the family members is unfortunately murdered and Inspector Gamache has to admit he is a police officer and brings in his team to help solve the murder. 

Louise Penny’s descriptions of the hotel, the background of the building, the owner, the staff and the paying guests are eloquently described so that you feel as though you are there.  The height of summer, the heat, the thunder storm that happens, the feelings of the main characters and the secondary characters all have equal thought put in to them. 

As usual with a murder mystery there are twists and turns, red herrings to lead you down various paths all written in a believable manner.   The means of the murder is unusual, the how is not revealed until the last few pages when all the threads are pulled together neatly. 
We learn more of the family background of Inspector Gamache and his small team, with prejudices showing up from bigoted people.

A highly recommended read.

Thursday 21 August 2014



Email Denise if you have more questions:

  1. SUBMIT your name to the Inlinkz list below NOW, or direct link on the due date - August 20-22.
  2. CREATE your entry for the monthly theme - August - TAKING CHANCES - 1,000 word limit. 
  3. EDIT your entry then PUBLISH on your blog from August 22.
  4. READ other entries, giving feedback

August Challenge – TAKING CHANCES

Begin or end your story with these words…'There was once a chance I didn’t take.’ If posting photos, let the photos tell the story.

 Here is my entry:

Eleanor gazed at her reflection in the dressing table mirror.  The dust motes had settled on the glass, she raised her hand, gently wiped the offending specks away.  The difference was a more focused, aged face that stared back at her.  Her eyes were still bright, the light burning behind them as fiercely as it ever did.  

She placed her chin in her free hand, she tilted her head this way and then that, the double chin quivered slightly, the tight grey curls caught the sunlight and shone silver in the mirror.  She had celebrated her 80th birthday last year, never thinking in her twenties that she would be this old.  The lined face that looked back at her showed the passage of time, a lived in face, one that had had its fair share of sorrow but also a larger share of joy and happiness. 

 Eleanor attached her pearl earrings to her ears, placed the large string of pearls around her neck using the magnetic clasp, so useful with her arthritic hands, strapped her rose gold watch on, with the larger dial so she could actually tell the time these days, a quick check in the mirror as she moved from the bedroom to the front door to let her granddaughter in.

Hayley embraced her grandmother, kissed her paper thin cheek, inhaling the rose scent of the weathered skin. 

‘You look different today, Nan.  What have you been up to?  You have a glint in your eye.’

Eleanor smiled at the young girl standing in front of her, beckoned for her to take a seat whilst she bustled around the tiny kitchen putting the kettle on to brew some tea.  She placed homemade buns on a plate with an old fashioned cup and saucer for each of them. 

‘Well I have a little secret that I must tell you.  I hope it will be a nice surprise.’
Hayley smiled, her Nan never ceased to amaze her.  She looked around the bright room; her Nan knew how to make a small kitchenette very homely with pictures and a bright tea cosy over the teapot. 

The tea was poured, the buns offered, they munched in companionable silence.  Then Hayley had to ask.  

‘Spill the beans then, Nan.  What have you been up to?’

Eleanor reached down to the magazine rack at the side of the table and withdrew a glossy magazine, one of those that catered for women of a certain age group with cooking recipes, knitting patterns, the agony aunt column, tips of what to wear and of course it always had some short stories in it. 

‘I didn't know you read this type of stuff, Nan.’

‘Turn to page 30, my dear,’ was Eleanor’s reply. 

Smack bang in the middle of the magazine was a printed poem by Eleanor Carter. 

Hayley looked at her grandmother.  ‘Is this yours?’

‘Read it and tell me what you think, my dear.’

Hayley finished reading the article and looked at her grandmother.   

‘I didn't know that.  Do you regret it?’

‘Not one bit of it, I wouldn’t have you if I had made that decision.’

Eleanor gazed at her reflection in the mirror
Too many days had gone past not enough tomorrows
Days filled with joy, days filled with sorrow
There were not many left for her to enjoy she knew
The news was delivered by a sympathetic doctor who
Smiled compassionately and patted her age freckled hand
Touching the engagement, eternity and golden wedding band
Eleanor nodded back at the fresh faced young lady
Smiling with tear laden eyes, she nodded sadly.

The memories came flooding back to a time 40 years ago
A slower pace of living, old tunes remembered on the radio
Her brown hair cascaded down her back, skimming her derrière
It was her pride and joy, her crowning glory, hiding a secret affair
She couldn’t give it up and make this change in her life
She’d said ‘yes’ in a moment of pressure, too much stress and strife
After a night’s sleep she regretted her decision in the morning
Sipping her tea in the conservatory as dawn was breaking
Weighing up the pros and cons and still pondering.

The scent of the honeysuckle flowers wafted in on the slight summer breeze
She shifted her position, hands entwined around her drawn up knees
She hugged the cushions tightly feeling his arms wrapped around her body
Breathing the essence of his thoughts knowing he wants this badly
Running through the options in the harsh light of day, her change of mind
To say ‘no’ to him she’ll rehearse all the reasons that she has outlined
Her main priorities are everything that she would leave behind.

The day wears on; she keeps herself busy making alternative plans
Tears well up as she can’t believe he will understand
At first she was excited and thrilled and had no hesitation to say ‘yes’
Then the doubts and lack of confidence crashed in as she tried to access
Her courage but bravery had abandoned her heart turning it to jelly
The walls were weak but she had her boundary
Somehow she couldn’t find a way to stop the feelings of misery.

The minutes ticked away constantly reminding her of the hour to come
As he walked in the door, throwing down his keys, ‘I’m home!’
The sleek, silky timbre of his voice so sultry with its English modulation
Vowels nicely rounded in that most elegant way of elocution
She looks long and hard in the mirror, sees the consequences of her action
She could do this but she’s afraid of the messy complication
It should be easy to turn this dilemma into joy without aggravation.
She grips his hand ever so tightly, looks him in the eye, Oh my darling Ben,
I can’t come with you when your firm sends you to work in England.

Eleanor knew she couldn’t make the break
All those years ago - there was once a chance I didn't take.

Word count: 1,000

Tuesday 19 August 2014


Here are the guide lines for this week's WWBH for which we have two photographs to construct our short story.

1) Use the two photos in your story.
2) Keep your word count 500 or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday night to link up your story.
4) Use the Blue Link to add your story at: Leanne's, Debb's, or Tena's websites.
5) Have fun, don't stress, and let those creative juices flow!

Here is my story:


Isabelle breathed a sigh of relief as she slotted the edge of the frame into place; the last painting of her father’s was now ready.  It had taken her a few weeks to get everything organised and ready in time for the launch of her father’s retrospective exhibition.   

The paintings had been stored in the attic of his ramshackle and tumble-down thatched cottage in the depths of the countryside.  No matter how many times she had asked him if she could bring them down as she was caring for him during the last months of his life he always refused.  There will be time enough he had told her.  Time enough for you to dispose of them when I am gone.  Now you need to talk to me and play backgammon and cribbage all day long and cook my meals.

Isabelle was a bit taken aback until Florence, her dad’s neighbour, dropped in one afternoon for tea and to give her a bit of respite.  Florence told her that her dad didn't think his work was good enough to be seen by anyone else while he was alive.  Charlie suffered from low self esteem about his work or his hobby as he preferred to think of it.  

Along with her tears when her father passed away came the fear of what she might find in that elusive space under eaves of the roof.  Florence helped her bring all the canvasses down; together they sorted them into sections, landscapes, still life, portraits, animals etc.  Charlie had been quite the artist.  It was such a shame that nobody had the chance to see these paintings.  The two ladies looked at each other and had the epiphany that they would organise an exhibition. 

Several months later, a lot of late nights, worry and stress, everything was coming together and the date was fixed.  The Town Hall Assembly Rooms were booked, an opening night with wine and nibbles, invites to a few local dignitaries to attend, the local press would be there, then the exhibition would continue for a week.  

The next hurdle was what to wear. Isabelle and Florence wanted to project the right image, business like but not too severe, colourful but stylish, nothing in either of their wardrobes quite fitted the bill. 

Wednesday afternoon they travelled in to town to pay the deposit for the Assembly Rooms, as they left they decided to go for a pre-celebratory glass of wine and to de-stress on the issue of their attire.  On leaving the hostelry they turned left out of the door. Florence nudged Isabelle.  The shop window across the road displayed two outfits, complementing each other in colour with matching shoes.   

The old fashioned bell jangled as they opened the door, they both gasped as they took in the two outfits.   They fitted them like a dream, it was as though their fairy godmother had waved a magic wand and Florence and Isabelle could go to the ball.

Word count: 496