Saturday, June 18, 2016

2016 Books 6-12

Kitty and her Sisters by Maureen Lee

 It's 1950s Liverpool, and the war is a recent memory, although bereavements are still raw and rationing remains in force.  But at the age of nineteen, Kitty McCarthy is determined not to let the past affect her future.  She wants to live a life less ordinary, although she doesn't know quite how to go about it yet.
All Kitty does know is that she doesn't intend to get married and raise children in Liverpool, or follow in the footsteps of her older sisters-mother-hen Claire, easy going Norah, and elegant Aileen.
Then Kitty's resolve is tested when she finds herself with an almost impossible decision to make-and a chance meeting takes her life in an entirely new direction.
I enjoyed this book, as I have enjoyed any other Maureen Lee books that I have read.  The main character, Kitty, is a bit of a rebel, especially for the 1950's.  She seems to go from one shocking (for the times) event to another.

The Melody Lingers On by Mary Higgins Clark
 As an assistant to a famous upscale interior designer, Lane Harmon, mother to four-year-old Katie, is accustomed to visiting opulent homes around the tristate area.  So when she is called to a modest town house in Bergen County, Lane knows the job is unusual.  Then she learns the home belongs to the wife of a notorious and disgraced financier named Parker Bennett.
Parker Bennett was last seen two years ago on his sailboat in the Caribbean before he vanished, along with the five billion dollar hedge fund he managed.  The scandal over whether Bennett was suicidal or staged his disappearance still continues.  His clients and the federal government all want to trace the money and find Bennett, if he is still alive.
Lane is surprised to find herself moved by Mrs. Bennett's calm dignity and faith in her husband's innocence and drawn to Eric, the Bennetts' son, who is similarly determined to prove his father is not guilty.  Lane doesn't realize that the closer she gets to the Bennetts the more she puts her life-and her daughter's life-in jeopardy.
Good fast read.  MGC's books are always in the same vein but I do enjoy reading them as they don't take much brain work and I can get through it really fast.

The Sisters by Nancy Jensen
 Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat Bertie Fischer and her older sister, Mabel, have no one but each other-with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings.  But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong.  A choice made in desperate haste sets off a chain of misunderstandings that will divide the sisters and reverberate through three generations of women.
It's amazing what can happen when someone doesn't deliver a letter when they said they would.  Kept my interest waiting to see what would happen in the end.

The Wonder of all Things by Jason Mott
 On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators. After the dust clears, a thirteen year old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash.  He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds disappear.
Ava has an unusual gift:  she can heal others of their physical ailments.  Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret.  Now the whole world knows, and suddenly people from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to catch a glimpse of The Miracle Child.  But Ava's unique ability comes at a great cost, and as she grows weaker with each healing, she soon finds herself having to decide just how much she's willing to give up in order to save the ones she loves most.
You end up feeling really sorry for all the main characters in this book.  Ava trying to help people but unable to without a huge cost to her.  Wash being her best friend and trying to help her, and Ava's dad who just wants to do the right thing for his family.  It's a good story.

The Piano Maker by Kurt Palka
 On a winter day in 1933, Helene Giroux arrives in a small town on the French shore of Nova Scotia.  She wears good city clothes and drives an elegant car; everything else she owns in the world fits into a suitcase and a trunk in the back seat.  She explores the town , and in the church discovers a fine old piano, a Molnar.  She knows just how fine it is, for her family manufactured these pianos in France for three generations before the Great War changed everything.
Helene attempts to settle into a simple life in the town, and the story moves back and forth in time as gradually she recalls the extraordinary events that brought her to this place.  They include the early loss of her soldier husband and the reappearance of an old suitor who rescued her and her daughter when they were at their most desperate.  Then came the journeys that very few women of her time could even imagine: travels into the forests of Indochina in search of ancient treasures, and finally, and fatefully, to the Canadian north.
For days after her arrival in St. Homais, the locals whisper rumours, but no one knows who she is.  When a town policeman confronts her, past and present abruptly converge and she must face an episode that she had hoped had been left behind forever.
I enjoyed this book and it turned into a did she or didn't she, guilty or innocent.

The Year of Past Things by M.A.Harper
Chef Phil Randazzo, owner of the trendy Tasso Restaurant in New Orleans, and his new wife, Michelle, are as happy as can be after deciding to spend the rest of their lives together.  Phil is pleased that Michelle's kids, Cam and Nichole, want him to be their new father because he wasn't sure if they wanted the position of dad filled after A.P. Savoie, their first dad, died in a car crash.  Savoie was a popular Cajun musician and a one-of-a-kind guy, but his family skills were unique, shall we say, and Phil hopes he can do much better.
But it's hard for Phil to concentrate because weird things are happening:  The cat suddenly has the ability to walk through locked doors and what might be the ghost of Savoie appears at will, haunting everyday objects and inhabiting computer games and TV sets.
Savioe's presence becomes stronger and stronger and the couple ask for help-psychics, exorcists, and local expertise are consulted.  No one can help, try as they might, and not even Chef Phil├Ęs James Beard Award can save him from this ominous ghost.  Phil knows that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, but Phil's not ready to meet his maker yet.  His only hope is that Savoie hasn't already arranged a meeting.
This sure was a weird story, although they do say that strange things like this do happen in New Orleans.  While I didn't give up on the book, I was glad when I finished it.  Not too impressed.

Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber
On the anniversary of his beloved wife's death, Dr. Michael Everett receives a letter Hannah had written him.
In it she reminds him of her love and makes one final request.  An impossible request-I want you to marry again.  She tells him he shouldn't spend the years he has left grieving her.  And to that end she's chosen three women she asks him to consider.
First on Hannah's list is her cousin, Winter Adams, a trained chef who owns a cafe on Seattle's Bloom Street.  The second is Leanne Lancaster, Hannah's oncology nurse.  Michael knows them both.  But the third name is one he's not familiar with-Macy Roth.
Each of these three women has her own heartache, her own private grief.  More than a year earlier, Winter broke off her relationship with another chef.  Leanne is divorced from a man who defrauded the hospital for which she works.  And Macy lacks family of her own, the family she craves, but she's a rescuer of strays, human and animal.  Macy is energetic, artistic, eccentric-and couldn't be more different from Michael.
During the months that follow, he spends time with Winter, Leanne and Macy, learning more about each of them...and about himself.  Learning what Hannah already knew.  He's a man who needs the completeness only love can offer.  And Hannah's list leads him to the woman who can help him find it.
I've never bought a Debbie Macomber book and yet I have read quite a few of them  For me, they are only a step or two up the ladder from Harlequin Romances.  You now the outcome just from reading the dust cover!  This book didn't disappoint,like all her other books, everybody 'lives happily ever after' at the end.  It was a cute story.

Phew, that's all for now!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Garden


Just some of the flowers blooming in the garden today.


This peonie  plant comes up to my shoulder and there are at least 50 blooms.





This is the most flowers the clematis has ever had.



Lots of pansies



 It's a shame this irises only last a few days'


Lots and lots of yellow roses




The hanging baskets are doing really well.  It takes an hour every day just to dead head!







Lots more to come!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Updates

Things didn't go as easy for DIL as first thought.  She was in terrible pain for 2 days so she went to the emergency clinic, they cut the cast as the wrist was so swollen, xrayed again and decided she needed surgery to reset it.  She had the surgery on Wednesday and she came home yesterday.  She feels much better and hopes to be at their sons semi final peewee hockey game tonight.  We'll see her then.  

These are a few picture of the amaryllis with its second set of flowers.  It's even taller than the first set-about 25"- and still no leaves.







Added an update to the previous post about the books.


Bye for now.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

2016 Books, 1-5

The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke

Reality drama Under Suspicion is a smashing success after helping solve an infamous murder with its very first episode.  Now television producer Laurie Moran finally has the perfect topic for the next installment of the cold case series: the Cinderella Murder.  Twenty years ago, beautiful and brilliant UCLA student Susan Dempsey was found dead in the Hollywood Hills the morning after she was scheduled to audition for the lead in an up-and-coming director's new film.  Her car was parked miles from her body, and one of her shoes was missing.  With suspects ranging from tech billionaires to Tinseltown elite, Laurie and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley are certain the sensational case's suspense and drama are perfect for the silver screen.  But is Cinderella's murderer ready for a close-up?
This is the second in a series of books based on the Under Suspicion reality show produced by Laurie Moran.  The story was interesting but rather predictable.  You knew there would be a good outcome.

Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

Professionally, Temperance Brennan knows exactly what to do-test, analyze, identify.  Her personal life is another story.  She's at a loss, wondering how to answer police detective Andrew Ryan's marriage proposal.  But the matter of matrimony takes a backseat when murder rears its head.
Hazel "Lucky" Strike-a strident amateur detective who mines the internet for cold cases-comes to Tempe with a tape recording of an unknown girl being held prisoner and terrorized.  Strike is convinced the voice is that of eighteen year old Cara Teague, who went missing more than three years earlier.  Strike is also certain that the teenager's remains are gathering dust in Tempe's lab.
Tempe has doubts about working with a self-styled websleuth.  But when the evidence adds up. Brennan visits the treacherous backwoods where the chilling recording and unidentified bones were discovered.  Her forensic field trip only turns up more questions-along with gruesome proof of untimely deaths.
While local legend of eerie nocturnal phenomena and sinister satanic cults abound, it's a zealous and secretive religious sect that has Tempe spooked and struggling to separate the saints from the sinners.  But there's nothing' including fire and brimstone, that can distract her from digging up the truth and taking down a killer-even as Brennan finds herself in a place where angels fear to tread, devils demand their due, and she may be damned no matter what.
I have read all of Kathy Reichs books and have enjoyed everyone.  The TV show 'Bones" is based on these books but for some reason I couldn't get into the show.  This is another crazy case for Tempe and it also continues the ongoing saga of her relationship with Andrew Ryan.  As usual, I enjoyed this book.

 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkin


EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night.  Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck.  She looks forward to it.  She's even started to feel like she knows them.  Jess and Jason, she calls them.  Their life-as she sees it-is perfect.  Not unlike the life she recently lost.
UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking.  It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough.  Now everything's changed.  Unable to keep her discovery to herself, Rachel goes to the police.  But is she really as unreliable as they say?  Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved.  Has she done more harm than good?
I'm still in two minds about this book.  The main character, Rachel, just got on my nerves, I wanted, at times, to shake her or slap her, she was so stupid.  She sort of came into her own as the book progressed but I was glad to finish it.  Maybe the movie will be better.


Lost by Gary Devon

From page one, line one-when a twelve year old boy fires a gun at his own head while his little sister looks on-the novel seizes and holds us.
It carries us swiftly into a desperate chase...into a spiral of violence...into the story of a lonely woman who "collects" three small children...into the lives of the children, overwhelmed by their sense of panic and loss...and into the nightmare world of the psychopath (himself a child) whose only companion is the terrifying dog known as "the Chinaman"-as he stalks the woman and her frightened brood, pursuing them across months and miles, leaving behind him a trail of blood, lost in the grip of a murderous obsession.
I really enjoyed this book.  The 'psychopath' was really scary, even though he was only a child, and I wouldn't like to meet The Chinaman on a dark night!

 Remembrance by Jude Deveraux


Hayden Lane, a bestselling romance writer, is a happy young woman-or so she believes.  Certainly her pals might chide her for not getting out more, but writing her novels is time-consuming.  Besides, the tales she weaves of dark intrigues and timeless love are more thrilling than any blind date could possibly be.  For her next book, about lovers whose present lives are complicated by their past lives, she decides to consult a psychic.  When the psychic tells her that in a pat life in Edwardian England, Hayden was a woman named Lady de Grey, she is intrigued.  And when she learns that Lady de Grey was a promiscuous woman who mysteriously disappeared one night, that she was rumored to have poisoned her husband, and that her ghost is said to haunt his home, Hayden is spellbound.
Although the psychic warns her not to investigate further, Hayden must know more.  When she meets a hypnotist at a dinner party-and he promises he won't make her cluck like a chicken-she can't resist volunteering.  But his trick goes wrong, and instead of merely remembering her lifetime as Lady de Grey, Hayden is whisked back to Edwardian times.  The moment she awakens, she faints, due to the unfamiliar sensation of Lady de Grey's extremely tight corset.  But soon Hayden will awaken again, to discover quite a different story about a woman history considered a trollop, a spectacular, brooding man...and the rapturous love that would be hers if she dared open her heart to the most mysterious adventure of all...
This book was kind of silly but fun as well.  It was really light reading but ot kept me reading to the end so I could find out what happened to Hayden.

I guess I should write what I think about the books I read because sometimes the back cover makes it sound really interesting but the book turns out to be crap.  Thanks Sue.

That's all for now.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Oh No!!!

Last night it rained/snowed a little and then, of course, it froze.  This morning the roads and sidewalks were like glass, sheer ice.  Lots of accidents and slip and falls.
I opened Facebook and this is the first thing I saw.
DIL2 left for work this morning, in the dark, before 6a.m.  She got to the end of the block and slipped on the ice and this is the result, a broken wrist.  Fortunately there were other people about and they helped her up and she went back home, got hubby out of bed and off they went to the hospital.  Fortunately, it was a clean break so no pins or plates needed.  She's in a cast for 6 week and, unfortunately, it's her dominant hand and she can't drive.

My sister did exactly the same thing about 6 weeks ago.  She waited a few days before she went to the hospital because she thought she had just sprained/bruised it.  Er,no!!  She has been in a cast for the last 6 weeks and it was her dominant hand and she couldn't drive either.  She said the not driving was the worst part for her.  

By this afternoon it was nice and sunny and no ice in sight!!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Amaryllis

I have the strangest amaryllis plant.  I bought it after New Years, 50% off at the grocery store, paid $4.50.  Before I planted it I thought I would do a little reading up on it.  I read that first I would get lush green leaves and then the flower stalk.

 This is what I got.  This beautiful cluster of 4 blooms.

 As you can see. I didn't get any beautiful, lush, green leaves.  The flowers died back and the info I had said to cut off the dead blooms, but leave the stem.  I left the stem until it turned brown, shrivelled and just fell off.
 This is what happened next.  Another flower stem, it's 17" tall.

 The three leaves to the left are the same ones that have been there right from the beginning.  The tallest one is 3".

 Looks like I will be getting more blooms, but no leaves.  Strange!
It certainly isn't in ideal growing conditions.  It's in a plastic pot, with no drainage holes (it came in the kit).  Our house faces north so it isn't getting much light.  Oh well, no leaves, but the flowers are beautiful!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Books 17-25

This is all the books for 2015

Bad Boy Jack by Josephine Cox


Robert Sullivan is left to raise three year old Nancy and her seven year old brother Jack.  Unable to cope, Robert is driven to abandon his children to those who he believes can provide them with a better life.  However, he quickly has a change of heart and decides to go back for them.  But on the way there, he is involved in a horrific accident.
Unbeknownst to him, Jack and Nancy are placed in the brutal regime of the Galloway Children's Home, where Jack's fierce devotion to his sister and fiery temper land him in trouble.  Clinging together, the two children find themselves at the mercy of the corrupt Clive Ennington, who splits them up and sells Nancy off to the highest bidder.
When Robert begins to recover in hospital he is determined to find and reunite his family.  But he soon begins to realise the terrible consequences of his own cowardly actions.  

A Wing and a Prayer by Lyn Andrews

For Mary Callaghan marriage has brought heartaches and disappointment.  But with it have come joys, the greatest of which are her daughters.  And what Mary wants most for her girls is what she never had-a husband who will offer the security her own hard-drinking, free-spending, brash-talking Jack denied her.
But when Daisy confesses she's pregnant, Mary knows the future looks grim, for the father, rough, irresponsible Sam O'Grady, makes it clear that marriage is a prison from which he's determined to escape.  As Nell watches her sister sink into bitter poverty she begins to question her mother's belief in the sanctity of the vows that bind Daisy into misery.  And as the world around her grows more uncertain, with war more likely by the day, risking all for love seems to Nell a foolish game.  Especially when a marriage based on mutual respect and financial security seems to be presenting itself-along with the prospect of the child for which Nell so desperately longs.

Whistledown Woman by Josephine Cox

On a moonlit night in 1898, Kathleen Wyman lies in labour at Bessington Hall, her husband Edward sure that she has been unfaithful to him.  In his blind jealous rage he later gives away the baby to the gypsy Rona Parrish, summoned to help with the delivery.  Kathleen, frenzied with grief, is soon after locked away in an asylum.
Rejected by her father, the little girl begins her new life with only a valuable brooch pinned to her shawl as a clue to her true origins.  Named after Rona's own mother, the lovely raven-haired Starlena grows up in ignorance of her true parentage and vast inheritance, believing her birthplace to be the beautiful Whistledown Valley.  And Rona, always afraid, stays watchful over the years for any sign that someone might track Starlena down-someone who wishes her harm.

The Marks of Cain by Tom Knox

When David Martinez receives an ancient map from his dying grandfather, the unanswered questions of his orphaned past begin to reveal themselves.  The map leads David into the heart of the Basque mountains, where a genetic curse lies buried-and a frightening secret about the Western world is hidden.
Meanwhile, London journalist Simon Quinn is investigating two violent murders.  Both victims had once been interred in a top-secret Nazi camp-and both came from the same remote region.
From frozen Scottish islands to the Arizona desert, from the graveyards of the Spanish countryside to the heart of colonial Africa, their separate quests will converge to explain the shocking truth of what drives human beings to violence, genocide, and war.

Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

At the age of twenty-nine, Sydney has already been once divorced and once widowed.  Trying to regain her footing, she has signed on to tutor the teenage daughter of a well-to-do couple as they spend a sultry summer at their ocean-front New Hampshire cottage.
But when the Edwardses' two grown sons arrive at the beach house, Sydney finds herself caught in a destructive web of old tensions and bitter rivalries.  As the brothers vie for her affections, the fragile existence Sydney has rebuilt is threatened.

An Irish Doctor in Peace  and at War by Patrick Taylor

Long before Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly became a fixture in the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, he was a young M.B. with plans to marry his sweetheart, Deidre Mawhinney, and settle down.  But those dreams are complicated by World War II and the call of duty.  Assigned to the HMS Warspite, a formidable thirty-thousand-ton battleship, Surgeon Lieutenant O'Reilly soon finds himself face-to-face with the horrors of war, tending to the dreadnought's crew of twelve hundred as well as the many casualties brought aboard.  Also a struggle:  remaining true to his beloved Deirdre despite temptations abroad.
Over two decades later, life in Ballybucklebo is a far cry from the strife of war, but O'Reilly and his younger colleagues still have plenty of challenges on their hands, from an outbreak of German measles, the odd tropical disease, a hard-fought pie-baking contest, and a local father whose muleheaded adherence to tradition is standing in the way of hi son's future.  Now older and wiser, O'Reilly has prescriptions for whatever ails...until a secret from the past threatens to unravel his own peace of mind.


Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

The year is 1803.  Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years, there are now two sons in the Pemberley nursery, and Elizabeth's beloved sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live within seventeen miles.  The ordered, secure life of the great house seems unassailable, and Elizabeth's happiness is complete.
But on the eve of the much-anticipated annual autumn ball their peace is threatened, and old sins and misunderstandings are rekindled when a chaise appears, rocking down the path in the darkness,  As it pulls up, the youngest sister, Lydia, an uninvited guest, tumbles out screaming that her husband, George Wickham, has been murdered.

Guard a Silver Sixpence by Felicity Davis

In 1903, in the mining town of Barnsley, a brutalised wife called Emily Swann lashed out at her violent husband.  Her actions brought tragedy and scandal in their wake.  Her children were ashamed, her family broken apart.
Over one hundred years later her great-granddaughter Felicity, also a victim of physical and psychological abuse, set out to uncover the secret history of her family in the hope it would heal the scars of her own childhood.
As Felicity discovered more about her mum and nan, and was led back to Emily herself, she came to see how these women had all been caught in a damaging cycle, endlessly repeating the mistakes of the past.  And she knew that she, at last, had the power to break free.

Still Life by Louise Penny

Shock and fear shudder through the village of Three Pines when one of their own is found dead in the woods, an arrow wound in her heart.  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache knows that in every Eden lurks a snake-and as he probes the baffling murder of a seemingly innocent woman, the village begins to give up its dark secrets...

The Blue by Lucy Clarke

Lana and her best friend, Kitty, leave home looking for freedom-and that's exactly what they find when they are invited onto The Blue, a fifty-foot yacht making its way from the Philippines to New Zealand.  The crew is made up of a group of young travellers bitten by wanderlust, and it doesn't take long for Lana and Kitty's dreams of sea-bound romance to turn into reality.  Both women fall under the hypnotic spell of The Blue, spending their days exploring remote islands and their rum-filled nights relaxing on deck beneath the stars.  But when one of their friends disappears after an argument with another crew member, the dark secrets that brought each of them aboard start to unravel.

That's the end of the 2015 books read.  Some good, some really good, some not so good.  I think it's about the same number as last year.  I think I'd like to try and increase that number in 2016.