Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Good,The Bad and The Ugly!

This is the harvest so far.  Two cherry tomatoes!!!
There are lots of tomatoes on the plants, just a long way from being ready. 
I planted a total of 16 zucchini seeds and this is the result.  Pathetic.  I should be picking them by now.  Instead I'll be pulling this lonely little plant and putting it in the compost bin.
The green and yellow beans are doing really well and I'll be picking them in a fw days.
 Romaine lettuce is doing really well.
 More beans.
 These are the very sad pattypan squash.  They did really well.  Lots of flowers which all shrivelled up and died.
 I cut this clematis down to about 12 inches at the beginning of May and now it's about 10 feet tall and covered in flowers.
 Made some very delicious cheese and Italian spice scones today.  This is my moms recipe via my sister.  They were so good hot from the oven.
We have had so many days in the low to mid 30sC  that I think a lot of the plants suffered because of it.  

Friday, July 7, 2017

Books 8 -12

As Time Goes By by Mary Higgins Clark
Book As Time Goes By: A Novel by Mary Higgins Clark

Delaney Wright is perched on the precipice of stardom after she's given the plum assignment of covering a high-profile murder trial.  But it's her growing desire to locate her birth parents that consumes her thoughts.
Betsy Grant is at a crossroads after longtime lawyer suggests taking a plea deal for the murder of her wealthy. Alzheimer's-stricken husband.  Betsy maintains her innocence, and the suggestion of a plea deal is as jarring as it is unimaginable.
Alan Grant can only sit by as his stepmom prepares for trial for the murder of his father.  His inheritance hangs in the balance, as his ex-wife, children and ever-mounting bills continue to suffocate his existence.
The reappearance of Alvirah Meehan, the lottery winner turned journalist, helps to round out the vibrant world of Mary Higgins Clark's latest thriller.

This is a typical Mary Higgins Clark book.  It's very light reading, predictable and always has a happy ending.  I think the only reason I keep buying and reading her books because I've read everyone (51) of her books!  There were a few twists and turns in this book so you weren't 100% sure of 'who done it' to fairly close to the end.  I'll continue to read her books, as long as she keeps writing, she's 89, because they are easy, pretty mindless reading.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Image result for the handmaid's tale book
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead.  She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read.  She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.  Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge.  But all that is gone now....Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing.  The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and literary tour de force.
I found the first 100 pages or so quite slow and boring but it did get better as it went on.  There are so many unanswered questions that even though it was written in 1985 it is screaming out for a book 2.  Apparently Margaret Atwood is considering it-over 30 years later!!!  I have recorded the tv series so I'm looking forward to watching it and seeing how far it wonders from the original.

White Fire by Preston & Child
Special Agent Pendergast arrives at an exclusive Colorado ski resort to rescue his protegee, Corrie Swanson, from serious trouble with the law.  His sudden appearance coincides with the first attack of a murderous arsonist who-with brutal precision-begins burning down multimillion-dollar mansions with the families locked inside.  After springing Corrie from jail, Pendergast learns she made a discovery while examining the bones of several miners who were killed 150 years earlier by a rogue grizzly bear.  Her finding is so astonishing that it, even more than the arsonist, threatens the resort's very existence.
Drawn deeper into the investigation, Pendergast uncovers a mysterious connection between the dead miners and a fabled, long-lost Sherlock Holmes story-one that might just offer the key to the modern day killing as well.
Now, with the ski resort snowed in and under savage attack-and Corrie's life suddenly in grave danger-Pendergast must solve the enigma of the past before the town of the present goes up in flames.
After reading the book I found that this book is #13 or so in a series.  While they can be read independent of each other there is obviously a relationship between Corrie and Pendergast that has developed in the previous books.  This was an interesting read with the connection with Arthur Conan Doyle thrown in who had heard the story of the grizzly bear and the miners.  Unfortunately I found Corrie a rather annoying, immature, and impulsive character.  Some of the decisions she made were so stupid and beyond belief that it took something away from the story.

Downfall by J.A.Jance

A puzzling new case has just hit Sheriff Joanna Brady's department, demanding every resource she has at her disposal-as well as help from neighboring law enforcement agencies and the Feds.  The bodies of two women have been found at the base of  a nearby peak, known to Brisbee locals as Geronimo.  Is this a terrible accident, a case of murder/suicide, or a double homicide?
The investigation takes a bewildering turn when Joanna discovers that one victim was a local teacher and minister's wife, while the other was a brilliant microbiologist working towards her Ph.D.-two vastly different women with seemingly no connection to link them.
As Joanna and her team methodically hunt down answers, they begin to uncover a knotty web of sordid secrets and evil lies-clues that take the valiant sheriff down a winding and dangerous road that leads shockingly close to home...and close to a desperate and determined killer.
I enjoyed this book.  It was an easy read and a twist at the end kept you guessing until close to the end.

The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad
Frank Rath thought he was done with murder when he turned in his detective's badge to become a private investigator and raise a daughter alone.  Then the police in his remote rural community of Canaan find an '89 Monte Carlo abandoned by the side of the road, and the beautiful teenage girl who owned the car seems to have disappeared without a trace.
Soon Rath's investigation brings him face to face with the darkest abominations of the human soul.  With the consequences of his violent and painful past plaguing him, and young women with secrets vanishing one by one, he discovers once again that even in the smallest towns on the map, evil lurks everywhere-and no one is safe.
This was an interesting murder/mystery and there were many twists and turns in the story.  Some of them seemed irrelevant to the story but were thrown in for whatever reason.  The ending was a bit of a jaw dropper which pretty well guarantees a sequel.

That's it for now, I seem to be pretty slow on the reading this year.  I'm sure I've read more than 12 by the middle of the year in the past.  At this rate I'll definitely have to live to past 100 to read all my books.

Bye for now.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Back yard

Peonies-3 days ago

Before any flowers came out I counted over 120 buds.  About half are in bloom now but we have had a couple of days strong winds so they are bowing down quite a bit now.

Rogue daisies.  I pull them out every year, and every year they manage to come back somewhere else.  Where they are now isn't a bad spot so I might let them stay!

Pansies that come up every year but I didn't plant them.  Seeds must have blown in from somewhere.

This is the deck at the back of the sunroom. Hanging pots of petunias and geraniums, alyssum, million bells and other stuff.

Another view of the deck.  Garry calls it my retreat.  It's very private.

 Other side of deck with BBQ, more hanging pots and pots of petunias and lobelia and alyssum.To the left is the patio with table and chairs and a raised bed with tomato plants, green and yellow beans and zucchini.  I've replanted the zucchini as they didn't come up and the second set isn't up yet either.

 This basket is so full.  It's all petunias, purple with white spots.

 This is all pansies and is really full.  Very pretty.

 Lilies coming up. hosta and  can't remember the name of the little pink ones. 

 More lilies coming up. another hosta ,pink groundcover and crocus that didn't flower this year.

Big clump of irises and chives beside them.

It has been so windy, but it doesn't feel as hot with the wind.  We have been in the mid to high 20's.  Yesterday in Phoenix, Arizona and Vegas Nevada it was 49C and in Yuma Arizona it was 50C!!!  I can't imagine being in that kind of heat and lots of people there don't have air conditioning!
Will have to take more pictures when more things flower.
Bye for now.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Snow is Gone!!!

Just to show that the snow does disappear eventually, although it could snow again before the end of the month.  The pictures below are all my plants ready to go out.  They are forecasting a couple of nights down close to zero so will wait until the end of the week to do my pots.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

books 4-7

The Martyr's Curse by Scott Mariani

Ex-SAS major Ben Hope has found sanctuary in a remote monastery in the French Alps.  But wherever Ben goes, trouble is not far behind.
When a team of merciless killers slaughter the innocent monks, Ben's revenge quest draws him into a bewildering mystery of stolen treasure, deception and murder.
As he works to unravel the clues he is confronted with a terrifying reality that threatens to cruelly reshape the future of humanity.  What is the significance of an ancient curse dating back to a heretical burning?  What are the real ambitions of the enigmatic 'Army of the Prepared'?
I thought this was a great book, it kept you reading and wanting to know what happened next.  I just found out that this is one of a series of 14 books all centered around Ben Hope.  I think each one can be read independently but it would help to read them in order to follow the trial of Ben.

The Hatmaker's Heart by Carla Stewart

For Nell Marchwold, bliss is seeing the transformation when someone gets a glimpse in the mirror while wearing one of her creations and feels beautiful.  Nell has always strived to create hats that bring out a woman's best qualities.  She knows she's fortunate to have landed a job as an apprentice designer at the prominent Oscar Fields Millinery in New York City.  Yet when Nell's fresh designs begin to catch on, her boss holds her back from the limelight, claiming the stutter she's had since childhood reflects poorly on her and his salon.
Nell's gifts can't be hidden by Oscar Fields' efforts, however.  Soon an up-and-coming fashion designer is seeking her out as a partner for his 1922 collection.  The publicity leads to an opportunity for Nell to make hats in London where she sees her childhood friend, Quentin, and an unexpected spark kindles between them.  But thanks to her success, Oscar is determined to keep her.  As her heart tugs in two directions, Nell must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for her dream, and what her dream truly is.
I thought this was an interesting book, telling the reader lots about the millinery trade.  I felt very annoyed, at times. with Nell with the crap she took from her boss, but I guess that was how it was in the 1920s.  The ending was quite predictable.  But overall I did enjoy this book.

The Ice Child by Camilla Lackberg

Image result for The Ice Child by Camilla Lackberg
It's January in the peaceful seaside resort of Fjallbacka.  A semi-naked girl wanders through the frozen woods.  When she finally reaches the road, a car comes out of nowhere.  It doesn't manage to stop.
The victim, a girl who went missing four months ago, has been subjected to unimaginably brutal treatment-and Detective Patrik Hedstrom suspects this is just the start.
The police soon discover that three other girls are missing from nearby towns, but there are no fresh leads.  And when Patrik's wife stumbles across a link to an old murder case, the detective is forced to see his investigation in a whole new light.

This is a review I found on
“Enter Demetrius and Chiron with Lavinia, ravished; her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out.”
This gruesome line comes not from The Ice Child but from Shakespeare’s goriest and rarely performed tragedy, Titus Andronicus (Stage direction, Act 2, Scene 4). The mutilations inflicted on Victoria Hallberg at the start of The Ice Child differ slightly in kind but not in brutality. Having been missing for four months, she wanders through a wood in the freezing cold, wrapped only in a red blanket. It is her bid for freedom and it does not last long. When she reaches the road, she is hit by a car and this time her injuries are terminal. The full extent of her pre-crash injuries is then shockingly revealed by the post-mortem.
Like watching Titus Andronicus, it is fair to ask how much of this unpleasantness the readership audience is prepared to stomach.
Crime fiction comes in various degrees of nastiness. A genre that deals primarily in murder is never likely to be an entirely comfortable read. But the spectrum is wide.
These days we would regard Agatha Christie as a lightweight and Michael Connelly, say, as a significant step up in nastiness. But both of these writers seem to be more interested in character, motive and procedure than in the grim details of death. The hugely popular Camilla Lackberg is much further towards the Titus Andronicus end of the spectrum.
This is a book that deals with a singularly nasty group of people in a pretty unpleasant way. I confess that it was not entirely to my taste.
The Ice Child, like most of Lackberg’s work, is set in the small Swedish town of Fjallbacka and, as in previous novels, features Detective Patrik Hedstrom and his crime writer wife Erica Falck.
Victoria Hallberg is not the only girl that has gone missing but her discovery in such a brutalised state provides the first clues in the inquiry. Running parallel to this is Falck’s research for her latest “true life” crime book which features a woman, Laila, imprisoned for murder and for keeping a child in conditions of extreme cruelty. Falck is determined to discover what really went on in the now-abandoned house where the crimes were committed. Slowly but surely, the two apparently unconnected storylines begin to merge.
The Ice Child by its nature challenges our complacency about evil, particularly in an age that rightly or wrongly is determined to find social and psychological explanations rather than to acknowledge that evil might exist as an entity of itself. “The girl looked so happy and innocent, so unaware of the evil that existed in the world. But Laila could have told her all about it. How evil could live right next to what was good, in a community where people wore blinkers and refused to see what was right in front of their noses. Once you saw evil up close, you could never close your eyes to it again. That was her curse and her responsibility”. 
Fans of Camilla Lackberg, and they are legion, will have followed the relationship of Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck over several books now but I have to say that I found their characterisation one of the weaker elements. Patrick in particular seemed altogether too weak and vapid to be a lead investigator despite the obvious incompetence of his superiors. The best of a bad bunch, possibly.
Lackberg also makes heavy demands on her readers in terms of keeping track of a very large cast of characters. Written in fairly short episodes, the book jumps from scene to scene quickly, necessitating the retention of a large number of names and plot strands. This is not to imply that the book is badly plotted, it isn’t, just that the technique for delivering the plot is demanding. Keeping track can be tough – a book best read in large doses, I feel.
Finally, it is always difficult to comment on the quality of writing in a translated book because it is not easy to tell whether the weakness lies with the author or the translator but, whichever, the result here is less than exciting. I found much of it rather flat.

The above pretty well sums up how I felt about the book.  There were so many characters and the story kept jumping from one to the other and it was hard to keep track of them all.  I didn't now that the author was so prolific in her writing of so many other books with the same main characters.  It finally came together in probably the last 30 pages.  I was glad to get it finished and I don't think I would read another of this authors books.
The Width of the World by David Baldacci
Image result for the width of the world
This is it.  Vega Jane's time.  She's been lied to her whole life so she breaks away from Wormwood, the only home she's ever known, in search of the truth.  She battles horrors to fight her way across the Quag with her best friend, Delph, and her mysterious canine, Harry Two.  Against all odds, they survive unimaginable dangers and make it through.
And enter a new world that's even worse.  Not because deadly beasts roam the cobblestones, but because the people are enslaved and don't even know it.  It's up to Vega, Delph, Harry Two, and their new comrade, Petra, to take up the fight against a foe that's unrivaled in savagery and cunning.  Not only are the lives of Vega and her friends on the line, but her triumph or failure will determine whether a whole world survives.  Or not.

This is the third book in the Vega Jane series, and I'm sure there will be a fourth.  It's a very easy read and remains interesting and exciting from start to finish.  Relationships are developing more so there are different elements to the story other than battling the enemy.
I found that this book had a lot of similarities to some Harry Potter books.  I guess given the subject of the Vega Jane books this isn't unusual.