Books

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Books 33-37

 The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

When high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School.  In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed.   Miraculously, she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma.  When Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family's Connecticut farm, they discover that the effects of chaos are not easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.
I was so glad when I finished this book.  It was 700+ pages that would have been much better if it had been under 400 pages.  I felt my eyes glazing over in parts, willing myself to get this damn book finished.  

His First His Second by A.D. Davies


Meet Detective Sergeant Alicia Friend. She’s nice. Too nice to be a police officer, if she’s honest.
She is also one of the most respected criminal analysts in the country, and finds herself in a cold northern town assigned to Donald Murphy’s team, investigating the kidnap-murders of two young women—both strikingly similar in appearance. Now a third has been taken, and they have less than a week to chip away the secrets of a high-society family, and uncover the killer’s objective.
But Richard—the father of the latest victim—believes the police are not moving quickly enough, so launches a parallel investigation, utilising skills honed in a dark past that is about to catch up with him.
As Richard’s secret actions hinder the police, Alicia remains in contact with him, and even starts to fall for his charms, forcing her into choices that will impact the rest of her life.
 
I definitely enjoyed this book, it kept me engrossed to the end. It's quite a complex detective story set in Leeds, Yorkshire.  Various plots going on at the same time with several interesting characters. Lots of twists and turns and quite surprising at the end.

The Seclude Village Murders by Shelly Frome


From a small secluded village in Connecticut to the English Countryside, readers are taken on a roller coaster of events and quirky characters as amateur sleuth Emily Ryder tries to solve a murder that everyone thinks was an accident.
For tour guide Emily Ryder, the turning point came on that fateful early morning when her beloved mentor met an untimely death. It's labeled as an accident and Trooper Dave Roberts is more interested in Emily than in any suspicions around Chris Cooper's death. For Emily, if Chris hadn't been the Village Planner and the only man standing in the way of the development of an apartment and entertainment complex in their quaint village of Lydfield, Connecticut, she might have believed it was an accident, but too many pieces didn't fit.
As Emily heads across the pond for a scheduled tour of Lydfield's sister village, Lydfield-in-the-Moor . . . she discovers that the murderer may be closer than she thought.
The above blurb pretty well says it all.  Lots of quirky characters and unbelievable happenings.  It was a quick read, which was good, but I don't think I'd read another book by this author.

One by One by Ruth Ware

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn't sound like the worst problem in the world.  Especially when there is a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company.  Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers...each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.
I sole this short review from Goodreads as it really says it all. I did enjoy the book, maybe because of the setting and how everyone was trapped.
The story seems to move along quickly in some ways but slowly in others. There is a lot of reflection on Erin's part, as she tries to understand the dynamics of the guests and how frumpy Liz even fits in with the rest of the company employees. There is some action but then there is sitting around, as people wonder if they are ever going to be rescued. At some point we know "who done it" and have to see if they are going to do it again. 

Pieces Of Her by Karin Slaughter
Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura.  She knows Laura has spent nearly her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle, Georgia; she knows Laura's never wanted anything more than to lead a quiet, normal life; she knows Laura's a kind, beloved speech pathologist; she knows Laura's never kept a secret.
But Andrea's life is upended when a visit to the mall is shattered by an act of horrifying violence that reveals a completely different side of Laura-a cool woman who calmly faces down a murderer.  It turns out that before Andrea's mother was Laura, she was someone completely different.  For nearly thirty years she's been hiding from the woman she once was, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her.  But now she's been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.
To save her mother, Andrea embarks on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother's past.  Andrea knows that if she can't uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for her mother-or her.
At the diner Andrea sees a side of her mother she's never seen before. So does the rest of the world as cell phone video goes viral.  Before she knows what is happening Andrea is on the run with only a list of instructions her mother gave her to follow. The story flips back and forth between 1986 and present day, 2018. The life that Laura led in 1986 was very different to 2018 but it may be catching up to her now.  A good read. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

It must be that time of the year again!

 












All the decorations at one of the malls.  They also put up a huge Christmas tree.  It must be 30 feet high, but it was only half way assembled when we were there.
We've had real deer on our street everyday this week and my next door neighbour told me that she had a bobcat on her deck looking through her kitchen window a couple of days ago.  There have been reports of several in the neighbourhood lately.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Nothing New

 So here it is, November 1st, -11C and cold.  It snowed on Friday so we will probably have snow on the front lawn (faces north) until May!!  It never gets the sun, and we look at the houses across the street and not a trace of any snow.  

Halloween yesterday.   We saw quite a few kids on the street, don't know where they were all going but we only had 10 come up to the house.  No little ones, all about 10-13, all very polite and in costume.  There were no events at the community centres or the shopping malls, maybe they were going over to the school grounds, no idea.

One of the houses in the cul-de-sac across from us had a party Saturday night.  We counted 11 cars there.  So much for the rule of only two fully vaccinated households can come together with a maximum of 10 people!!


Monday, September 6, 2021

Books 21-32

 Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin


Being a cop is in John Rebus's blood.
So when he's asked to help with the investigation into the death of a senior lawyer whose body was found alongside a threatening note, Rebus doesn't need long to consider his options.
Apparently this is the 20th book in the John Rebus series. It stands on its own so you don't need to have read the previous 19.  I did enjoy this book.  For the most part it kept you guessing right to the end, although you did get inklings as to what was going to happen. I would definitely read other books in this series.

Read Wine by L.C.Turner
Book 1:  Friend and Foes

Book 2:  Snowglobes and Secrets

Book 3: Cupcakes and Killers

Book 4. Wine and Revenge

Book 5. Lawyers and Liars

These are the 5 books in a series.  I read these books on my ereader. 
The stories follow the adventures and romantic lives of three friends who open a bookstore/wine bar/ coffee shop.  They stumble upon dead bodies and, of course, feel the need to solve the crimes.  Easy, quick reads.
Bonus Book
Book 6. Switched Up

Same author as the above 5 books but the story is not related.  This is about a woman who decides to go on holiday after her divorce and finds a gold Buddha in her luggage.
All 6 books were very light reads, great for summer easy reading.  

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Sage Singer is a baker.  She works through the night, preparing the day's breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother's death.  When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage's grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship.  Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can't.
Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shameful secret and asks Sage for an extraordinary favour.  If she says yes, she faces not only moral  repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well.  With the integrity of the closest friend she's ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she's made about her life and her family.  In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths to which we will go in order to keep the past from dictating the future.

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner

A young mother, blond and pretty, vanishes from her South Boston home, leaving behind only one witness-her four year old daughter-and one suspect: her handsome secretive husband.
From the moment Detective Sergeant D.D.Warren arrives at the Joneses' snug little bungalow, instinct tells her that something is seriously off with the wholesome image the couple has worked so hard to create.
With the clock ticking on the life of a missing woman and a media firestorm building, D.D. must decide whether Jason Jones is hiding his guilt-or just trying to hide.  But first she must stand between a potential killer and his next victim--an innocent child who may have seen too much.

I was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon  

Russia, July 17, 1918:  Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a basement where they face a merciless firing squad.  None survive.  At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.
Germany, February 17, 1920:  A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled from a canal in Berlin.  Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to a hospital, where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with horrific scars.  When she finally does speak, this mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.
The questions swirling around Anna Anderson's past and the mystery of Anastasia Romanov's fate chart a saga that spans half a century.  
This was a very interesting read and I have to say I had not heard about Anna Anderson.   The book is based on the true story of Anastasia and Ann with a lot of fiction thrown in to add to the story.
It drove me crazy how the backwards and forwards of the story was told, although that is explained by the author at the end of the book.  I do agree with the separation of the Anastasia/Anna story  but I would have preferred a more chronological timeline.


The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game.  They've mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style-but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.
Invited to participate in an escape room challenge as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high-rise building, eager to prove themselves.  But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they're caught in a dangerous game of survival.
Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free.  But as the game begins to reveal the team's darkest secrets, they realize there is a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they've committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder.  As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?
This was a fast read which I enjoyed.  I found myself wanting to find out what happened next.  The best part is watching the revenge, although unrealistic, play out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Uninvited Visitor


 This guy came visiting on garbage day to DS#2 house in West Vancouver B.C.  It isn't unusual to have bears in their neighbourhood and because of this everyone has bear proof locking garbage cans.  Someone down the street didn't lock theirs and so the bear rummaged in there and found a peanut butter jar and brought it to sons patio and proceeded to  lick it clean.  He then came over to the kitchen window and looked in at son at the sink and then ambled off down the creek at the bottom of the yard!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Books14-20

 Stranded in Provence by Susan Kiernan-Lewis

This appears to be a series of 9 books.  I read these first three as ebooks on my phone.
Book 1-Parlez-Vous Murder?
"My name is Jules Hooker. I have lived through a few crappy moments in my life—and with a name like Hooker, you can just imagine—but nothing, nothing, compares to the two intensely and world-shatteringly crappy things that happened to me this last June.
Three, I guess, if you count Gilbert.
After my boyfriend dumped me on the day I thought he was going to propose, I’d have to say two other really bad things happened last June. The first would have to be the dead body I discovered in the rental house in France where I went to get over being dumped.
The second—and very possibly I should have led with this—was the dirty bomb that exploded over the Riviera throwing me and everyone else in France back to the 1950s.
So now I’m stranded here—trying to make a living by solving murders the old fashioned way — without help from DNA, databases, CSI crime labs or the police.
And I’m doing it in France.
Where I do not speak the language.
During the apocalypse.
Sound like fun?"
 

Book 2-Crime and Croissants
Jules Hooker is doing her best to adjust to the new normal of a world without electricity, electronics, cars or the chance to return home. Stranded in the charming but provincial village of Chabanel wasn’t terrible until Jules discovers Aix-en-Provence and decides that the big city lights—even when they’ve gone out in the apocalypse—are much preferable to the countryside.
Of course with a big city comes big city crimes and when a fellow American is accused of murdering a popular pastry chef in Aix, Jules knows she has to help.
Unfortunately tracking a dangerous killer when you don’t know the language—or the French people themselves—soon has Jules bumbling into one dangerous situation after another.
All the wonderful pastries aside, will this be lights out for Jules too?
 

Book 3- Accent on Murder
Trying to learn a foreign language can be murder--especially when your French tutor is strangled to death hours after your last lesson and your best friend is arrested for the crime.
Normally that wouldn't be a problem for stranded super sleuth and intrepid expat Jules Hooker except she just got her ONE chance to go back to the US and sticking around to help a pal means she's back to being stranded in a foreign country with no lights, no language skills and no real future.
Will she give up her chance to go home?
Will she continue to step on the toes of the handsome village police chief in order to help free her friend?
And finally, will Jules find out who the murderer is before the killer decides to permanently eliminate one very pesky very stubborn American sleuth?
Decided to review these three all together.  They were very easy reads, lots of silliness, doubt I'll read the other 6 books unless they show up free as ereaders.  Jules goes from one dangerous situation to another, always dressed in her designer clothes, shoes and purses.  She always manages to survive and solve the crime.  These books don't require much thought but they are an easy quick read.

Ransom by Danielle Steel
Outside the gates of a California prison, Peter Morgan is released after four long years and vows to redeem himself in the eyes of the young daughters he left behind. Simultaneously, Carl Waters, a convicted murderer, is set on the path of freedom with him.  That night, three hundred miles south in San Francisco, police detective Ted Lee comes home to a silent house; for twenty-nine years, he has been living for his job-and slowly falling out of love with his wife.  Across town, in an exclusive Pacific Heights neighbourhood, a mother tries to shield her three children from the panic rising within her. Four months after her husband's death. Fernanda Barnes faces a mountain of debt she cannot repay, a world destroyed, and a marriage lost.
Within weeks, the lives of these four people will collide in ways none of them could have foreseen.  For Fernanda, whose life had once been graced by beautiful homes, security, success, and stunning wealth, the death of her brilliant, brooding husband was already too much to bear.  She simply couldn't imagine a greater loss, until a devastating crime rocks her family to its core-and brings Detective Ted Lee into her life.
I had read a few Danielle Steel books years ago and decided they weren't for me.  This book was a pleasant surprise.  I quite enjoyed it, especially the last 100 or so pages.  It was pretty gripping towards the end.  The conclusion was mostly predictable but over all pretty good.

A Factory of Cunning by Philippa Stockley


A French noblewoman steps onto the gloomy, fog-chilled London docks.  It is not a triumphal arrival scene, but one to fit its purpose.  "Mrs. Fox" turns out to be both running from a scandalous past and bound on a secret mission to act as an instrument of revenge against Earl Much, a debauched British aristocrat who has devoted his long life to collecting priceless objects d'art and ruining young women.  Mrs. Fox is intent on rising in Georgian society, trading upon her considerable power of wit and seduction, and banking upon the credulity and appetites of men.
Using letters and journal entries readers are taken speeding through grand estates and country seats, and deep into London's back-alley stews and bawdy houses, all places where vice leads and virtue lags.  Mrs. Fox is irresistibly shrewd and delightfully self-serving, she pinpoints weakness and pounces.  Her letters to a confidant blister the society they expose, one in which all parties are either pursuing or being pursued and innocence goes to the highest bidder.  Mrs. Fox and her rival Earl Much know what is at stake here; their version of the war between the sexes leads to a blazing battle to the finish.
I have to say that the best part of this book was what was written on the dust cover!! It turned out to be dull and boring.  It was written in the form of letters which didn't help in the flow or predictability of the story.  Sorry I persevered and finished it.  I would not recommend it.

You Went Away by Timothy Findley
It's 1942, a time when anything is possible-though everything seems impossible.  A dashing, romantic young R.C.A.F. pilot captures the searching hearts of a married woman and her eleven year old son-while her philandering, hard-drinking husband jeopardizes his own Air Force career.  This is the home front, where war can offer hope for reconciliation, for the possibility of forgiveness, even after loss and betrayal.
It is a time defined by laughter and sudden death-a time that tests a couple's love and a family's bonds.
This is a sad story taking place in Ontario Canada during WWII.  It's a story of a selfish, alcoholic husband, a daughter that died, a son trying to grow up and a wife trying to save a dead marriage.  I would hope that today the wife wouldn't put up with this unfaithful husband and absent father. 
 
Always Something There to Remind Me by Beth Harbison


Two decades ago, Erin Edwards was sure she'd already found the love of her life:  Nate Lawson.   Her first love. The one with whom she shared everything-dreams of the future, of children, plans for forever.  The one she thought she would spend the rest of her life with.  Until one terrible night when Erin made a mistake Nate could not forgive, leaving her to mourn the relationship she could never forget or get over.
Today, Erin is contentedly involved with a phenomenal guy, while maneuvering a successful and exciting career and raising a great daughter all on her own.  So why would the name "Nate Lawson" be the first thing to enter her mind when her boyfriend asks her to marry him?
In the wake of the proposal, Erin finds herself coming unraveled over the past, and the love she never forgot.  The more she tries to ignore it and move on, the more it haunts her.
Well, I found this story pretty unbelievable. 
Present day is a 37 year old woman with a teenage daughter.  Her boyfriend proposes to her and immediately all she can think about is the boyfriend, first love, she had when she was 15 years old.  She is totally obsessed with this guy as if she is still 15 years old!  They broke up 23 years ago! OMG.
At age 15, not surprisingly,  she was extremely selfish and immature and at 37 nothing much has changed.  She says she didn't treat the teenage boyfriend well and she's doing the same thing with the present day boyfriend.  She comes across as extremely needy and desperate.  As the story progresses it is hard to comprehend what she ends up doing, but you'll have to read it to find out.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Bambi

 This was such a surprise this morning to see this very tiny guy run across our front lawn.  Now I have to confess that this picture is not the actual fawn I saw.  He was too fast so I stole a picture from google images as he looked exactly the same.  As you would know by my blog we have lots of deer in our neighbourhood and have had for many years but I have never seen one this young.


He went to the neighbours yard and hid behind a bush on their lawn.  This next picture is an actual picture of him.  The neighbour phoned 'Fish and Wildlife' and they said that mom would come back for him probably in a couple of hours.  Apparently she puts the fawn in a safe place and then she goes away to eat.  When she comes back. several hours later, she will then feed the baby.  Obviously the little one didn't stay where she put him as he was running around and found a new hiding place. He probably got in trouble when she finally found him for not staying put where she put him.  The fawn was gone by supper time so I hope they were reunited and went off to a new hiding place.