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 Star2.com
“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.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Garden


Well, I've been to so many blogs that have posted pictures of all their flowers coming up and they are planting seeds so I thought I would show you my garden too!
Now you may have to use your imagination a little but everything is there, we just can't quite see it yet!!

 First of all this is my raspberry patch that will be loaded with berries before you know it!
 This is the front of the house.  Under both windows are thick, dense orange tiger lilies and the two bushes on either end are golden elders.  Oh, the snow on the lawn is about 4 feet deep.

 This is at the side of the house.  At the far end is a huge clup of mauve irises and at this end are white irises.
 Still at the side, this bed has deep purple irises and lots of tulips.
 This bed is on the other side and has yellow, pink and red roses and a huge white peony.
 Beside the shed is the half barrel with my rhubarb.

As you can see, when the snow is all gone (maybe the end of May) I'm ready to start planting into all my pots.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my garden as much as I enjoyed seeing all of yours!!!! lol

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2017 Books 1-3

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard-their secret hiding place-in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
This was a really good book.  I didn't know anything about this part of WWII history.  Parts of it were heart breaking and I couldn't put the book down.  Highly recommend this book.

To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman


Josie, Perri, and Kat have been best friends since third grade-the athlete, the drama queen, and the popular beauty.  Growing up in an affluent suburb of Baltimore, they enjoy privileges many teenagers are denied.  But on the final day of school one of them brings a gun with her.  And when the police break down the door of the high school girls' bathroom, locked from the inside, they find two of the friends wounded, one of them critically....and the third is dead.
This is a pretty good story but I found it a little difficult keeping track of all the characters because of all the flipping back and forth to different time periods.  The conclusion was a little different than expected.  

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

Police analyst Annabel wouldn't describe herself as lonely.  Her work and the needs of her aging mother keep her busy.  But Annabel is shocked when she discovers her neighbourès decomposing body in the house next door, and she is appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed the womanès absence.  Annabel sets out to investigate, despite her colleaguesè lack of interest, and discovers that such cases are frighteningly common in her hometown.
A chilling thriller and a hymn to all the lonely people whose individual voices haunt its pages. It shows how vulnerable we are when we live alone, and how easily ordinary lives can fall apart when no one is watching.

This book was very different and really makes you think about living alone and therefore dying alone.  It kept my interest and made me want to keep reading to see what would happen.






Wednesday, February 8, 2017

'This seems fitting right now..
#moresnowtonight'

Update

Just got home from seeing the specialist.  All good news at the moment.  She is very pleased with the healing so far.  She said it is so good that instead of going back in 2 weeks I don't have to go back for a month!!!  Just keep putting the silicone cream in the divot and  keep it moist.  So I'm very pleased with that.

We have so much snow there is nowhere to shovel it to.  In my header picture the snow is now higher than the hedge!!  Apparently we haven't had this much snow since 2008!! Youngest son and grandson went out of town (3 hours south) to a hockey tournament on Friday night.  The town then got over a metre of snow dumped on them Friday night and Saturday.  The highways were closed and they didn't get home until Tuesday-instead of Sunday!  Grandson thought it was great-hotel with a swimming pool and missed 2 days of school. Son not too impressed-2 more days on the hotel bill, 2 days of work missed and a hair raising drive home when the roads were finally opened on Tuesday!  But they got home safe and sound so that was the main thing.
It's actually supposed to get above zero in a few days instead of endless days of -30C.  Then we'll be complaining about all the water and flooding!  Can't win.
That's it for now.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Yesterday

Not exactly one of my better looks!!!!
This all started out as what appeared to be a little paper cut on the outside of my left nostril.  This then became what I thought was a little pimple.  In the space of 4 weeks it got bigger and it was rock hard like there was a grain of rice under the skin.  
Because of Christmas etc I didn't get to my doctor until Dec. 28th.  I told her that I didn't want to wait (weeks?) to see a specialist I wanted her to cut if off that very day, so she did and sent it away for analysis.
It took 2 weeks for the results to come back and to my absolute shock it was skin cancer!! 
I was then referred to a specialist to have Mohs Microscopic Surgery.  So that is where I was yesterday!!
I get to take this lovely dressing off this afternoon, apply some special silicone ointment and put on a much smaller dressing.  I'm a little apprehensive to see the damage as they said the tumor went deeper than first thought. 
 We are trying to take a natural healing process for this.  I couldn't have stitches as there was no extra skin so stitches would have pulled my one nostril up and out of shape-lovely!!  This process takes more work and time but the scarring will hopefully be minimal.  I go back to see the specialist in a week.  If it is progressing as she feels it should then I just continue on with the same process.  If it hasn't progressed adequately then I will have to have a skin graft that they will take from in front of my ear-this will result in a bumpy scar on my nose.  We will have to wait and see.
Some of my shock at having skin cancer is that I DO NOT go out in the sun if I can help it.  I'm not a sun worshiper at all.  What I did learn though is that the sun damage that causes skin cancer. for the most part, happened before the age of 20.  Well, as I was born in 1951 I don't think there was any such thing as sunscreen back in those days.  I remember my mum putting Nivea cream on us so we wouldn't burn.  No sunscreen there.  
I think parents today are much more aware of the damage the sun can do and usually slather their children with sunscreen-thank goodness.
I am supposed to rest at home for 3 days, which is good because that's how long I have to put a similar dressing on.  After that, all being well, I don't have to put a dressing on,just the silicone cream.
So I hope to do some reading, which is what I was doing from 3 to 5 this morning.  Hard to turn the brain off so didn't get a very good sleep.  Will just take it one day at a time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Last of 2016 books read, 21-26

The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
'I could kill them for what they've done to me.'  I said those words.  And I meant them at the time.  But what would you do, what would you say if your husband was accused of something terrible and the accuser is someone you trusted with your life?
That doesn't mean I wanted this to happen.  I didn't want anyone to get hurt.  And I didn't want to be scared that every knock on the door is going to be the police, coming to take me away.  What's going to happen to my children?  What's going to happen to me?

I really enjoyed this book.  It had so many twists and turns.  You think you have it all figured out and then something else happens to make you rethink the whole thing!

Collusion by Stuart Neville
Northern Ireland's Troubles may be over, but Detective Inspector Jack Lennon of the Ulster police force is caught up in the sectarian violence that persists on Belfast streets.  Now an assassin stalks the city, tying up loose ends for a vengeance-driven old man.  Lennon unravels a conspiracy that links mob bosses and former Republican terrorists to prominent politicians.  When he touches too close to the truth, Lennon finds himself on a desperate quest to stop the killer and save his young daughter.

I really enjoyed this book.  It really helped that I had lived in N. Ireland for a couple of years in the early '70s and therefore understood the conflict and now the area.  Quite gory in parts but very exciting too.

More Bitter Than Death by Camilla Grebe & Asa Traff
In a Stockholm apartment, five-year-old Tilde watches from under the kitchen table as her mother is brutally kicked to death.
Meanwhile, in another part of town, psychotherapist Siri Bergman and her colleague Aina meet their new patients-a group of women, all of whom are victims of domestic violence.
From Kattis, who was beaten by her boyfriend and lives under the constant threat of his return, to Malin, the promising young athlete who was attacked by a man she met online, and from Sofi, the teenager abused by her stepfather, to Sirkka, an older woman who had a troubled marriage-each woman takes her turn to share her story in the safety of the sessions.
But as the group gets closer, it is not long before the dangers lurking in the women's lives outside invade the peace with shattering consequences.  And somehow, the fate of young Tilde is intertwined with that of Siri and the other women, so that what started out as the search for peace will swiftly turn into a tense hunt for a murderer.

This was quite a thrilling, suspenseful story.  Quite scary in parts and kept you wanting to read on.


An Irish Doctor In Love and at Sea by Patrick Taylor
Long before Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly started looking after the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, young Surgeon Lieutenant O'Reilly answered the call of duty and served his country in World War II.  Fingal wants to marry his beloved Deirdre and live happily ever after, but first he must hone his skills at a British naval hospital before reporting back to the HMS Warspite, where, as a ship's doctor, he faces danger and hardship upon the high seas.  With the Battle of Britain underway and German bombers a constant threat, the future has never been more uncertain, but Fingal and Deirdre are determined to make a life together...no matter what tragedies may be ahead.
Decades later, the war is long over. Content to mend the bodies and souls of his patients in Ballybucklebo, O'Reilly still faces changes and challenges aplenty.  A difficult pregnancy, as well as an old colleague badly in denial about his own serious medical condition, test O'Reilly and his younger partner, Barry Laverty, even as their shared practice undergoes an upheaval or two.  But even with all that occupies him in the present, can O'Reilly ever truly let go of the ghosts from his past? 

This is another O'Reilly novel that shifts back and forth between his wartime experiences and his everyday life, in the present, in Ballybucklebo.  Very enjoyable light reading.


The Lake House by Kate Morton
On a summer evening in 1933, Eleanor and Anthony Edevane's beautiful country home in Cornwall has been opened for a grand party.  But while fireworks bring the night to its finale, they discovered that their eleven-month-old son, Theo, has vanished from his crib.  Despite a thorough police investigation, no trace is found and, in their devastation and despair, Eleanor and Anthony close up the house and move to London with their daughters-Deborah, Alice, and Clementine-never ti return.
Seventy years later, Alice Edevane is still living in London, and is a formidable writer of bestselling mystery novels.  When she received a letter out of the blue from a young police detective, Sadie Sparrow, asking questions about the unsolved case, Alice is drawn back into the past and to the truths locked away in the Lake House.

Ths was another great story by Kate Morton.  I enjoyed it and would love to be able to go inside that house and explore.

Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo
A rainy night, an Amish father returning home with his three children, a speeding car hurtling towards them out of nowhere.
What at first appeared to be a tragic but routine hit-and-run accident becomes personal for Chief of Police Kate Burkholder when she discovers that the victims are the husband and children of her childhood friend Mattie.  The Amish woman and he may be n's youngest son clings to life in the intensive-care wing of a hospital, unable to communicate, and he may be the only one who knows what happened that night.  As Kate delves into the case, she comes face-to-face with her Amish past and memories of growing up with Mattir, an extraordinary beauty whom trouble has always followed.  Then the investigation takes on a more sinister cast as evidence reveals that nothing about the crash was accidental.  Is there something Mattie's not telling her?
Desperate for answers, Kate begins to suspect she is not looking for a reckless drunk who fled the scene, but instead finds herself on the trail of a stone-cold killer living amid the residents of Painter's Mill.  It is a search that takes her on a chilling journey into the darkest reaches of the human heart and makes her question everything she has ever believed about the Amish culture into which she was born.  Will Kate discover the truth before the murderer claims another victim?  Or will this case-this killer-have her taking her last breath?

I enjoyed this book too.  Another mystery that keeps you guessing.

Not a bad last group of books to finish off the year with.  It would appear that I average between 25-30 books a year.  That's not very many as I have hundreds of books still to read.  I hope I read more this year.