dubai A few years ago, The United Arab Emirates blocked BlackBerry email and text messages because the government said it was too difficult to adequately monitor electronic communications.  So, what was a citizen in the City of Gold to do?   Unknown-1

Not to worry, said the BlackBerry creatives.

BlackBerry Leap addresses the needs of those who require a smartphone that safeguards sensitive communications while keeping them productive.

The global leader in mobile communications is a raving-good problem solver. Today, Emiratis who want to get things done use the powerful and secure BlackBerry Leap. For a killer price. But here in New England, that other kind of blackberry, my favorite, is free for the foraging.blackberry   The Plant-Lore and Garden-craft of Shakespeare is for the lover of poetry, gardening, and quaint, out-of-the-way knowledge.5e81881579a0d783bb-0 Take blackberries, for instance. I learned that colonists called the bramble bushes “lawyers” because the stiff sharp thorns grab hold of you and don’t let go until they’ve drawn blood. That didn’t stop colonists from plucking all the fruit they could. The berries were so delicious that folks overlooked the thorns and gave the plant the name, not of the cane, but of the fruit.  redbrandy1 Blackberries and other lush fruits of summer, like ripe tomatoes, are sensuously evocative of the past.  I’m sixty-something, holding an armload of Costoluto Genovese Heirlooms and then, suddenly, I’m eight, in the garden with my grandmother. The smell of tomatoes, ripe and warm, conjures up random memories that I’ll never find on a high-tech BlackBerry.

American actor Gregory Peck (1916 - 2003) stars as lawyer Atticus Finch in the film 'To Kill a Mockingbird', directed by Robert Mulligan, 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

But there are literary memories in bits and bytes on my e-reader. Some are of Atticus Finch ~ memories, I think, about to be revised. The NYT printed this warning.

The depiction of Atticus in Watchman makes for disturbing reading and for Mockingbird fans, it’s especially disorienting.

672654-c3cbcb60-28f8-11e5-b51a-609e8c108313 Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s new novel, hooked me from the start. I’m on that train, swaying and rolling across Georgia, heading for a familiar balcony seat in the Maycomb courthouse. 

Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open.

-Atticus Finch

The sequel-written-before-its-prequel, extensively reviewed and hermetically sealed, will be released at midnight. 673049-7a51f5d2-291a-11e5-b51a-609e8c108313 Authorities in Lee’s native Alabama say the reclusive writer “made it quite clear” she wanted the book published. In spite of press releases, I still wonder if Harper Lee really wanted it to be published before her death. Thoughts?

For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

Lee’s book has some stiff sharp thorns and I don’t doubt that they’ll grab hold of us and, yes, draw blood. But, as with blackberries, I plan to overlook the thorns and enjoy the fruit.


With berries or bruschetta, on page or screen,

will you read Go Set A Watchman?

or listen to Reese Witherspoon?

Toni 7/13/15


That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


This was one memorable day.


Every March, Bookmania and the Martin County Library System showcase the best literary talents from around the country. As soon as the author/book list comes out, I start reading.


Today, thirteen talented authors talked about their books in a full-day event of presentations, panel discussions, and book signings. 10917843_889057731126993_5835719999515293469_n


New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides told a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age.

Ice.  You remember ice.  Or maybe you are still in the midst of it.  But not ice quite like this. Sides’ book is a pack-ice sprawl of history and storytelling that’s unforgettable.



In the Kingdom of Ice:The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeanette recounts the harrowing and icy journey of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters on a mission to discover the North Pole.  Author Hampton Sides is, well, masterful.


The story of Captain George De Long who sailed into unknown seas and was trapped in pack ice for two years is riveting. With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In the Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.


An electric debut novel about inheritance, belief, and the tender relationship between a son and his ailing father, High as the Horses’ Bridles is the story of Josiah Laudermilk, who as a 12-year-old preaching prodigy, delivered an unplanned sermon describing a strange vision that ultimately defines the rest of his life. Decades later when Josiah (now Josie) is grown and has long since left the church, he returns home to care for his father Gill. Memories of the past overwhelm him at every turn and he’s completely unprepared for what he finds.

This is Scott Cheshire’s first book. It’s both human and divine. Don’t take my word for it. Colum McCann and Claire Messud (and many many others) agree. Cheshire is writing about where he comes from ~ as a child preacher, a Jehovah’s Witness, steeped in the faith’s apocalyptic visions.


Cheshire is a sincerely nice guy. I could listen to him all day.

The title? It’s from the Book of Revelations.

Historical novelists, Patricia Harman (The Reluctant Midwife) and Mary Doria Russell (Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral) were on the panel with Cheshire.


Looking for an addicting mystery series?

Cara Black, Murder on the Champs de Mars, does tons of research in France and her books are vibrant, living, breathing adventures.  She told us she loves maps, riding the bus, and getting it right. Boy, does she.

Her character, Private Investigator Aimée Leduc, takes on a personal investigation for a poor French Gypsy boy.

Authors Lisa Black, Close to the Bone, and Lis Wiehl, Lethal Beauty, joined Cara Black on the mystery panel. 

After lunch and plenty of time for schmoozing with the authors, the great new writers took the stage.  And stole the show.


18815488What an enchanting and moving debut novel. 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas features three unforgettable characters and their unlikely connection.


Spanning India in the 1970s to New Mexico in the 1980s to Seattle in the 1990s, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is a winning irreverent novel about a family wrestling with its future and its past.

Livings Dog

In Jack Livings’ rich story collection, The Dog, a wealthy factory owner—once a rural peasant—refuses to help the victims of an earthquake until his daughter starts a relief effort of her own; a marginalized but powerful Uyghur gangster clashes with his homosexual grandson; and a dogged journalist is forced to resign as young writers in ‘pink Izod golf shirts and knockoff Italian loafers’ write his stories out from under him.

The final panel talked about their Hollywood encounters, that slippery slope from book to film.  I learned that books have about 80,000 words, screenplays a mere 20,000.  The authors agreed that books are ‘reconceived’, not reproduced, on the screen.


Joseph Kanon, author of The Good German, wrote and sold his dramatic saga of intrigue and love set against the tumultuous backdrop of Berlin in 1945. It follows Jake Geismar, a former Berlin correspondent for CBS assigned to do a series of articles on the American occupation of Berlin, as he tries to find Lena, the German mistress he left behind, and stumbles into a dark underworld of corruption. The Warner Bros. film, directed by Steven Soderberg, was released in 2006 and stars George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, and Tobey Maguire.


Laura Lippman (her husband is the brilliant mind behind The Wire and does she have stories to tell!) wrote and sold Every Secret Thing, a riveting story of love and murder, guilt and innocence, adult sins and childhood darkness. It’s the tale of a terrible event that devastates three families, after two young girls discover an unsupervised baby on an empty street. The cast includes Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, and Danielle Macdonald.


Peter Swanson wrote and optioned The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, an electrifying tale of romantic noir, with shades of Hitchcock.

I can’t wait for the next Bookmania.  Maybe some authors I know will be there. Meet Nancy and Patricia and Art. I put their names in the suggestion box. Imagine, it might just be the formation of the first link to their next memorable day.


 Toni 3/22/15

*The Sunday Coze returns.






Yes, time has flewn.

It’s August 16.  The Season is underway.



August 12th, aka the Glorious 12th, is the official opening of the British Grouse Hunting/Game season. glorious12th_2639040b

In pre-industrial Britain, wild birds graced many a table. Seagulls, vultures, small songbirds, ducks and geese were all carved with “earnestness of purpose”.

Readers of the anonymously-written book, The Perfect Gentleman, or Etiquette and Eloquence, learned plenty of fowl verbs.



Carving as science. And manners. If you used the wrong term in relation to carving the bird, it was considered to be an unpardonable affront to etiquette.

A primer:

You rear a goose, fract a chicken,



sauce a capon, unbrace a mallard,


dismember a heron,


disfigure a peacock, display a crane,


untach a curlew,



unjoin a bittern, allay a pheasant, wing a quail, and mince a plover.



The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.

Oscar Wilde was firmly committed to the pursuit of pleasures in posh circles, but unlike our anonymous writer, felt some things were too important to be taken seriously.



Wilde wrote a play, The Vital Importance of Being EarnestA Trivial Comedy for Serious People.  The comedy of manners was a wild success. As was the movie, hundreds of years later, starring the devotion-worthy Colin Firth.

I wonder if Wilde read The Perfect Gentleman. If he did, he probably skipped this chapter.  His take on the English country gentleman and the hunt? The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.

Toni 8/16/14