Thursday, June 11, 2015

Backyard today

My backyard is looking pretty nice at the moment.  I was too late to take pictures of the purple/black irises, allium and a few others as they have finished flowering already.  Sadly the flowers don't last very long.

 This is a beautiful Martha Washington geranium.  I got 3 of them and this is the darkest shade.
 First time I have bought a hanging pot of strawberries.   There are lots of flowers and quite a few berries but I don't think I'll end up with $8.00 worth!!
 Solar lilies.
 These are my solar lilies and they look gorgeous when they are lit up at night.
 My one and only flower on the clematis.  There should be a lot more in a week or so.
 This is a wind spinner that my BFF gave me for my birthday last year.  Very little wind today so it was barely moving.  Yesterday it was very windy and I thought it was going to take off!!
 This is my peony plant.  As you can see, it is huge.  I'm 5'7' and it comes up to my shoulder!  There are approx. 75 buds and will be gorgeous when they all open.  The flowers are white.  I'll have to remember to take a picture when it is in full bloom.  Sadly these flowers only last a few days.
 This is my blueberry bush.  I've had it for about 5 years.  The most berries I've had is 10!  This year it has shot up, the branches are 8-10 feet high.  All the white is fuzz (not bugs) which are turning into leaves.  No sign of any flower buds.  If there are no berries this year I'm going to dig it out and put something else in it's place.  It's too bad as I love blueberries.
 The rhubarb is growing like mad and is ready to pick.
 Two tomato plants coming along nicely.  They have a few flowers.  In the front pot are pattypan squash.  The red things are plastic spoons that I stick in to show where I planted the seeds.
 More squash.  I think these are either green or yellow zucchini.
 Persian yellow rose.  There are over 200 buds on here.  
 Very pretty pansies.
 Lots of petunias, lobelia and other bedding plants.
 Another Martha Washington geranium and more petunias and lobelia.
 Striped hosta and I can't remember the name of the ground cover.
 I think this is pink dianthus.
 Blue/mauve iris.
 Flowering succulent
 White iris.  Very dainty.
That's most of what is flowering in the backyard today.  I'll have to remember to take more pictures when things are further along.

Bye for now.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

2015 Books 1-7

An  Irish Country Doctor
An Irish Country Village
An Irish Country Girl
An Irish Country Courtship
A Dublin Student Doctor
An Irish Country Wedding
Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor
by Patrick Taylor

This is a series of books about the life of an Irish country doctor.  They are fictional but all based in truth.  The author, Patrick Taylor, was an Irish country doctor, from Bangor, who now lives in Canada.  I think he has written 10 books in the series, so far, but I have only read seven of them.  I'm keeping my eye out at the book sales for the other three.
I found these books very interesting because in the early seventies I lived in Belfast, N. Ireland for a couple of years.  The stories take place, mostly, in a fictitious village, just outside Belfast, called Ballybucklebo.  Many of the places mentioned in the books are very familiar to me, as well as the Irish way of life, as the main parts of the books take place in the sixties.
Fingal O'Reilly is the main character in the books and they cover from when he was a student doctor in Dublin through to him taking on a junior partner many years later in Ballybucklebo.

These books are very light reads and would be good summer reads.  Even more interesting if you are familiar with N. Ireland.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Last of the 2014 Books 25-30

Sail by James Patterson & Howard Roughan

Only an hour out of port, the Dunn family's summer getaway to paradise is already turning into the trip from hell.  The three children are miserable-and not shy about showing it.  Katherine Dunne had hoped this vacation would bring back the togetherness they'd lost when her husband died four years earlier.  Maybe if her new husband had joined them it would all have been okay.  Suddenly, a disaster hits-and it's perfect.  Faced with this real threat, the Dunnes rediscover the meaning of family.  But this catastrophe is just a tiny taste of the true danger that lurks ahead-somewhere out there, someone wants to make sure that the Dunne family never leaves paradise alive.

Live to see Tomorrow by Iris Johansen

Raised on the unforgiving streets of Hong Kong, Catherine Ling was pulled into the Agency at the age of fourteen, already having accumulated more insight and secrets than the most seasoned professionals.  If life has taught her anything it is not to get too attached.  But there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang.  When Luke was kidnapped at the age of two, it nearly broke her.  Now, nine years later, her son has astonishingly been returned-and Catherine vows never to lose him again.  But when her job pulls her away from home, she relies on the brilliant and deadly Hu Chang to safeguard Luke in her absence.
Erin Sullivan, an American journalist with mysterious ties to Hu Chang, has been abducted in Tibet.  If Catherine doesn't agree to spearhead the CIA rescue mission, she knows that Hu Chang himself will go-a possibility she can't risk.  But the job grows more complicated when Catherine meets Richard Cameron, a supposed ally who's clearly not telling all he knows.  Their attraction is immediate, but Catherine isn't at all sure that he can be trusted.  If she's going to rescue this journalist with a story worth killing for, she'll need to keep Cameron very close.  From the treacherous landscape of the Himalayas to the twisting back alleys of San Francisco the clock is ticking for Catherine and those she loves most.  At every turn she faces a ruthless enemy who is determined to keep the truth buried, even if it means that none of them live to see tomorrow.

Susannah's Garden by Debbie Macomber

When Susannah Nelson turned eighteen, she said goodbye to her boyfriend, Jake-and never saw him again.  She never saw her brother, Doug, again, either.  He died unexpectedly that same year.
Now, at fifty, Susannah finds herself regretting the path not taken.  Long married, a mother and a teacher, she should be happy.  But she feels that there is something missing in her life.   Not only that, she's balancing the demands of an aging mother and a temperamental twenty-year-old daughter.
Her mother, Vivian, a recent widow, is having difficulty coping and living alone, so Susannah goes home to Colville, Washington.  In returning to her parents' house, her girlhood friends and the garden she's always loved, she also returns to the past-and the choices she made back then.  What she discovers is that things are not always as they once seemed.  Some paths are dead ends.  But some gardens remain beautiful....

Open Secret by Deryn Collier
On a fall day in Kootenay Landing, a local man abandons his van at a remote border crossing and disappears into the bush.  Hours later and miles away another man, known to be a small-time drug dealer, is shot in the forehead along a popular hiking trail.  On the surface, the two incidents seem unrelated.  And yet the two men have been best friends since elementary school.
As Bern Fortin works alongside police constable Maddie Schilling to connect the two cases, they discover secrets with roots buried deep in the past.  Why did Gary Dowd disappear?  Who shot Seymour Melnychuk?  Why was Dr. Sinclair already on the scene?  Who really controls the hills and forests around Kootenay Landing?
Amidst the chaos of the case, a reporter shows up, asking questions about Bern's military past.  Everyone has something to hide, and no one in Kootenay Landing seems willing to talk.  But Bern Fortin is well aware that no secrets can remain buried forever-not even his own.

The Liverpool Basque by Helen Forrester

In the early years of this century, many Basques left their homeland in the Pyrenees, between France and Spain, to seek a better life in the New World.  Most passed through the great port of Liverpool on their way.  The family of little Manuel Echaniz stayed.
The Liverpool Basque is the story of Manuel's childhood and coming of age in the teeming streets of the Mersey docklands.  It is a story of poverty, comradeship, hardship and generosity.  Brought up by women while the men are at sea, Manuel grows up with a fierce pride in his heritage and a powerful will to survive in an era of deprivation and unemployment.  Against all odds, he gets himself an education of sorts, and sets off on the long voyage of his life.

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

Suppose you come to pick up your daughter from her job-and find that no one has heard of her and she's never worked there.  If she hasn't been working all day, what has she been doing?
Tim Blake's teenage daughter Sydney is staying with him while she works a summer job at a hotel.  But when one day she fails to arrive home from her shift and the staff at the hotel say they have no Sydney Blake working there, he begins to see his life going into freefall.
What could have made her step out of her life without leaving a trace?  Only one thing convinces Tim that the worst hasn't already happened-the fact that some very scary people seem just as eager as he is to find her.
The question is: who is going to find her first?

That is the end of all the books I read in 2014.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Many,Many Books 7-24

Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy

The lives of the residents of Chestnut Street are revealed in this collection of stories. 
Bucket Maguire, the window cleaner, who must do more than he bargained for to protect his son.
Nessa Byrne, who's aunt comes to visit from America for six weeks every summer and turns the house-and Nessa's world-upside down.
Lilian, the generous girl with a big heart, and the fiancé not everyone approves of.
And Melly, who's gossip about the neighbours lead to trouble in the form of the fortune teller, Madame Magic...

All For You by Sheila O'Flanagan

When Lainey Ryan awakens to the sound of torrential rain on her best friend's wedding day she isn't a bit surprised.
As TV's favourite weather forecaster, she'd already warned Carla what to expect.  But what she doesn't forsee is that her own life is about to hit a stormy patch.  With a string of failed relationships behind her, surely history isn't about to repeat itself with her beloved Ken?
To add fuel to the fire, her estranged mother announced that she's returning to Dublin.  A famously strident feminist, Deanna has always been dismissive of Lainey's choices-particularly in men-even though she's had very little contact with her over the last thirty years.  And Deanna's lectures are the last thing Lainey needs now.
Yet is there more to her mother than she knows?  Uncovering some long-concealed family secrets, Lainey begins to reassess her life.  Is the happy-ever-after she's always dreamed of really what she wants after all?

Things We Never Say by Sheila O'Flanagan

Abbey Andersen is the last person to go looking for change.  Yes, it's tough that she barely sees her mother these days-but in San Francisco she has great friends, a steady relationship, and a job she enjoys.  If she has regrets, she's dealing with them.
When Abby is contacted by Irish lawyer Ryan Gilligan, she discovers that everything she believed about her roots is a lie. She travels to Dublin to find out more-but she's scarcely off the plane when she's plunged into a new crisis.  One that will change everything not just for Abbey but for the family in Ireland who had no idea that she even existed.
Now Abbey has to make a choice that will affect everyone she knows.  How can she be sure she makes the right one?  And can life ever be quite the same again?

Spadework by Timothy Findley
On a summer evening in Stratford, an errant thrust of a gardener's spade slices a telephone cable into instant silence.  The resulting disconnection is devastating.  With the failure of one call to reach the house, an ambitious young actor becomes the victim of sexual blackmail.  The blocking of a second call leads tragically to murder.  And when a Bell Canada repairman arrives to mend the line, his innocent yet irresistible beauty has explosive consequences.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan
If your looking for some angst-free fiction with a West Indian setting, this is a brash, sparkling fairy tale about a hard-charging black professional woman who brings a little tropical paradise home with her.This novel tells women it's okay to let go, follow your heart, take a chance and fall in love, even if that love comes from a place you'd least expect.

The Prodigal Wife by Marcia Willett
The Keep-that beautiful ancient family home where the Chadwick family has lived for generations-is still a haven from the heartbreaks and storms of life.  Jolyon Chadwick, a famous television presenter, takes his new girlfriend, Henrietta, home to meet his extended family-and also to meet Maria, the mother who deserted him and his father many years ago, and who has now reappeared and seems to want forgiveness-although his father, Hal, now married to his cousin and childhood sweetheart, feels a lingering guilt about Maria and wants them all to be friends.  And Henrietta, still vulnerable from the breakup of her own parents' marriage, is not sure whether she can move on.

 Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs
 The bones of three young women are unearthed in the basement of a Montreal pizza parlor, and forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan has unsolved murder on her mind as she examines the shallowly buried remains.  Coming up against a homicide cop who is convinced the dead have been entombed on the site for centuries.  Tempe perseveres, even with her own relationship with Detective Andrew Ryan at a delicate turning point.  In the lab, the clean, well-preserved bones offer few clues.  But when Carbon-14 dating confirms her hunch that these were resent deaths, despite the antique buttons found near the bodies, Tempe's probing must produce answers quickly to stop a killer whose grisly handiwork has seen the light of day.

 Marrying the Mistress by Joanna Trollope
Merrion Palmer was Judge Guy Stockdale's mistress.  His Honour's totty, as the Clerk to the Court so succinctly put it.  Guy had been having an affair with her for seven years, and neither Laura, his wife of forty years, nor his two grown-up sons, knew anything about her.  Guy and Merrion enjoyed a blissful, uncomplicated relationship in stolen moments in Merrion's Bayswater flat, but to the rest of the world Guy seemed to be the model husband, father and grandfather,
Now the time had come for Guy to move on.  Conscious of the passing years, of the wasted opportunities, he didn't want to keep Merrion a secret any more.  He wanted to share her with his family, with the world.  He wanted, dammit, to marry her.  And he was quite unprepared for the painful storm which followed.

Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie 
Nell Dysart's in trouble.  Weighed down by an inexplicable divorce and a loss of appetite for everything, Nell is sleepwalking through life until her best friend finagles a job for her with a shabby little detective agency that has lots of potential and a boss who looks easy to manage.
Gabe McKenna isn't doing too well, either.  His detective agency is wasting time on a blackmail case, his partner has decided he hates watching cheating spouses for money, and his ex-wife has just dumped him...again.  The only thing that's going his way is that his new secretary looks efficient, boring, and biddable.
But looks can be deceiving, and soon Nell and Gabe are squaring off over embezzlement, business cards, vandalism, dognapping, blackmail, Chinese food, unprofessional sex, and really ugly office furniture, all of which turn out to be the least of their problems. Because soon there are murders.  And shortly after that, Nell and Gabe start falling in love...

Daddy's Gone A Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark 
What was Kate Connelly-a tall, glamorous CPA-doing in her family's antique furniture museum when it exploded into flames in the middle of the night?  Why was Gus, a disgruntled retired employee, with her?  Now Gus is dead, and Kate lies in a coma, unable to explain the tragedy's mysterious link to a decades-old missing persons case.  Nor to warn her sister what could happen next.  In this dazzling and suspenseful mystery, Mary Higgins Clark presents readers with a fascinating cast of characters-one of whom may just be a ruthless killer.

Friends and Lovers by Helen MacInnes 
When Oxford student David Bosworth takes a holiday job tutoring a family in Scotland, he meets and falls in love with Penny Lorrimer.  But Penny comes from a rigidly respectable Edinburgh family, and in 1932 such girls were not supposed to fall in love with penniless students from the wrong kind of family...

The Codex by Douglas Preston 
"Greetings from the dead," declares Maxwell Broadbent on the videotape he left behind after his mysterious disappearance.  A notorious treasure hunter and tomb robber, Broadbent accumulated over a half a billion dollars' worth of priceless art, gems, and artifacts before vanishing-along with his entire collection-from his mansion in New Mexico.
As a final challenge to his three sons, Broadbent has buried himself and his treasure somewhere in the world, hidden away like an ancient Egyptian pharaoh.  If the sons wish to claim their inheritance, they must find their father's carefully, concealed tomb.
The race is on, but among Broadbent's treasures is an ancient Mayan codex that may hold a secret far more important than the wealth of riches among it, and Broadbent's sons aren't the only ones after it.

Fair Haven by Joann Ross 
Erin O'Halloran has witnessed the atrocities of war firsthand.  But when she travels to Western Ireland to attempt to save a dying friend and mentor, she faces her greatest challenge yet.  And when she happens to meet the love of her life, matters become unexpectedly complicated.
After spending years capturing war's horrors in his camera lens, photojournalist Michael Joyce escapes to his Irish family's farm, yearning to shut out the world.  But fate has other plans for him-including unbidden feelings for Dr. O'Halloran and the unexpected rewards of fatherhood.
Surrounded by Ireland's magic, Erin and Michael begin to see nightmares replaced by dreams.  But it will take more than one miracle before they discover the answers to their deepest questions...the ones they had never dared ask.

Fear in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope 
Following a string of disastrous house-sitting assignments, and an equally troubled personal life, Thea Osborne is understandably apprehensive about her latest commission: a wintry month in an isolated house with only an assortment of animals, including her loyal spaniel Hepzie, for company.
With the summer lushness of the Cotswolds turned icy grey, Thea spends her first few days exploring the beautiful hamlet of Hampnett, meeting some of the locals.  But then the weather turns extreme, and so do events.  When she stumbles across a man lying dead in a snow-covered field, Thea finds herself once again at the heart of a mystery...

A Whisper in the Dark by Linda Castillo 
Until now, no one has suspected the truth about down-to-earth bookseller Julia Wainwright.  But the arrival of six threatening letters indicates someone has discovered her secret-and wants her to pay for her sins...
Ever since he accidentally killed a fellow cop, John Merrick has been tormented by the mistakes of his past.  Now, called upon to repay a favor, he will do anything to keep Julia Wainwright safe.  To do that, though, he'll first have to figure out what the gypsy-eyed beauty is hiding...
As the threats escalate, Julia and John must find a way to trust each other.  Because if they don't, a twisted stalker will make sure all the gruesome things he's promised will come true...

The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy 
A secretary's silent passion for her boss meets the acid test on a business trip...An insecure wife clings to the illusion of order, only to discover chaos at the hands of a house sitter who opens the wrong doors...A pair of star-crossed travelers take each other's bags, and then learn that when you unlock a stranger's suitcase, you enter a stranger's life...In their company are more journey's of hope and discovery-unforgettable slices of life.

Dead Wrong by Mariah Stewart 
It was inescapably chilling, as if the murderer was methodically working his way down a page torn from the phone book.  The three victims brutally killed in their own homes had one thing in common:  They were all listed as M. Douglas.  The fact that Mara Douglas is next on the list has her jumping at shadows, until FBI agent Aidan Shields shows up to make sure she doesn't become the fourth victim.
Aidan has been out of commission since an undercover operation went bad more than a year ago.  Back on the job, his razor-sharp instincts are returning.  But it will take all of Aidan's wits to stay one step ahead of the elusive killer who has engaged him in a deadly game-a game in which Mara's life is the prize.  A game only one can win...

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 
When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty, Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six.  Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future.  Henry and Clare's attempts to live normal lives are threatened by a force they can neither prevent nor control, making their passionate love story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.  This is a story of fate, hope and belief, and more than that, it's about the power of love to endure beyond the bounds of time.

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen 
Present day:  Julia Hamill makes a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil-human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner Maura Isles, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder long ago...
Boston, 1830:  To pay for his education, medical student Norris Marshall has joined the ranks of local "resurrectionists"-those who plunder graveyards and harvest the dead for sale on the black market.  Norris now finds himself the prime suspect in a series of grisly murders.  Joined by a sardonic young man named Oliver Wendall Holmes, Norris sets out to prove his innocence and track down a maniacal fiend-part of the dark mystery reaching across centuries to the present-day world of Julia Hamill.

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy 
Baby Frankie is born into an unusual family.  Her mother is desperate to find someone to take care of her child and she doesn't have much time.
Noel doesn't seem to be the most promising of fathers but despite everything, he could well be Frankie's best hope.
As for Lisa, she is prepared to give up everything for the man she loves; surely he's going to love her back?
And Moira is having none of it.  She knows what's right, and has the power to change the course of Frankie's life...but Moira is hiding secrets of her own.

I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark 
Five years after watching his father get brutally gunned down, eight year old Timmy Moran is still haunted by a killer's piercing blue eyes.  His mother, Laurie, is troubled by the man's threat as he fled the scene:  "Tell your mother she's next, then it's your turn..."
As the producer of a true-crime television show, Laurie is no stranger to murder.  Her new series will feature the twenty year old unsolved case of a socialite who was found suffocated in a bed following a graduation gala for her daughter.  The sensational murder made news nationwide.  Reopening the case in its lavish setting with the cooperation of the fatal night's surviving guests.  Laurie is sure to have a hit on her hands.  But when filming begins, it becomes clear her subjects are hiding secrets...small and large.

Phew, 18 books.  Some were really good, some not so much.  We'll see what the next batch has to offer!