Friday, August 7, 2020

Books 11-18

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hardcover The Hunger Games Book
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts.  The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games.  But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature.  Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender.  But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I'm not going to say much about this book except that I really liked it.  I'm sure most people have seen the movie (I haven't) so most people know the plot etc.  I found it to be a real page turner as I kept wanting to know what happens next.  
I'm not going to say anything about books 2 and 3 as it will give everything away.  I recommend that the books are read one after another because the story continues on as if it is one book.  Looking forward to reading Book 4,  The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the prequel.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Hardcover Catching Fire (The Hunger Games) Book

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Cover art

A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs

Conspiracy of Bones: Preview Kathy Reichs' twisty thriller |
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It's sweltering hot in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery for an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations.  She receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a picture of a corpse missing its face and hands.  She's anxious to know who the dead man is and why the images were sent to her.
To discover the man's identity, Tempe must go rogue and work outside the system.  Her new boss holds a fierce grudge and is determined to bar her from the case.  But she bulls forward anyway, even as she questions her instincts and as puzzles accumulate: Was the faceless man a spy? A trafficker? A target for assassination by the government?  And why was he carrying a piece of paper referring to a long-missing child?
With help from a number of law enforement associates, including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-quip ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.
But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes....
It had been quite a while since Reichs had put out a Tempe Brennan book and I was looking forward to this latest one after reading the previous 18 in the series.  While, as usual, this was another great story, I have to say I had a bit of a problem staying focused while reading it.  Tempe is recovering from an unruptured aneurysm, as was the author in real life, and so I felt everything, thoughts and actions, were jumping all over the place.  She is more reckless than usual, this is to be put down to the medical issues.  While Skinny played a huge part in this book Ryan was, for the most part, absent. Because of her relationship with her new boss there is very little lab work and far more police work.  I think I prefer her in the lab.  Hopefully the next book in the series will have Tempe doing what she does best, Forensic Anthropology!

The Tombs by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry

Hardcover The Tombs Book
When an archeologist friend requests their help to excavate a top-secret historical site, the Fargos are intrigued. But they have no idea that their discoveries will set them on a hunt for a prize beyond all imagination.
The clues point to the hidden tomb of Attila the Hun, who was reportedly buried with a vast fortune of gold, jewels, and plunder: a bounty that has never been found.
As they follow a trail throughout Europe, it leads them not to one tomb, but five. The Fargos also find themselves pitted against a thieving group of treasure hunters, a cunning Russian businessman, and a ruthless Hungarian who claims direct descent from Attila himself—and will stop at nothing to achieve his destiny...
It started quite slowly, and picked up a bit as the story unfolded, but it soon became obvious exactly what was going to be happening at every turn. It was way too predictable, and there was no suspense at all making the story really boring after the half way point for me. The characters seemed a little unbelieveable. The good people were too friendly, too helpful, and too nice, which along with the complete predictability of everything, and the unbelievable ease the main characters have in obtaining the most impossible help in an instant, made it obvious that nothing bad was going to happen, sucked all suspense and realism out of the story, and made it a very tiresome effort to get through.
This is the first Clive Cussler book I've read and I see that this book is the fourth in a series.  I would read more but I will try to get the first books and read them first.

Lost Empire by Clive Cussler
Lost Empire (Fargo Adventure, #2) by Clive Cussler
While scuba diving in Tanzania, Sam and Remi Fargo come upon a strange relic belonging to a long-lost Confederate ship, which sets them off chasing the mystery of its origins.  But engaged in the same chase is Mexico's ultranationalist ruling party, who are intent on finding the artifact as well-because it contains a secret that could destroy them.
Through Tanzania and Zanzibar, into the rain forests of Madagascar, and across the Indian Ocean to Indonesia and the legendary site of the 1883 Krakatoa explosion, the Fardos and their ruthless opponents pursue the hunt-but only one can win.  And second place means death.
A fairly decent book but a so far fetched and unbelievable  I just wasn't thrilled with the story and the reason for the bad guys to do what they did.  It didn't hold my interest and found I was losing focus and had to reread bits.  I could really have written the same review as I did with The Tombs.  The ending is very predictable and basically same stuff different day.  I have one more of Cusslers books in the same series.  I'll read it but I don't think I'd get any of the others.

The Au Pair by Emma Rous
Paperback The Au Pair Book
Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.
Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.
Who is the child and what really happened that day?
This is a good mystery.  I kept flip flopping on the 'who done it'.  It kept me interested and found the story had lots of twists and turns.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Paperback Orphan Train : A Novel Book

Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?

As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.

Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship.

I took this review from 'Good Reads' as it seems to sum it up very well.

This is a story about 91 year old Vivian who as a child was orphaned and placed on the "Orphan Train".

Vivian tells her story of being adopted and how she is mistreated throughout her childhood.
Then there is Molly who is 17 and has lived in many foster homes.
Molly must do 50 hours of community service and this is where she crosses paths with 91 year old Vivian.
Vivian lives in a mansion where she has an attic that needs cleaning out.The attic is filled boxes, furniture and memories.This is where Molly does her community service and helps Vivian sort through her possessions.
During this time they discover they have quite a lot in common.
I really enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Before and After Take 2

Peonies  this time last year. 

Peonies this year after one too many heavy rain storms.

Clematis this time last year.

Clematis this year!

Blueberry bushes two years ago when I planted 5 of them.

Blueberry patch this year, all five did not survive over winter.  All pulled out.

 The garden is having a tough time so far this year!!!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Now you see it.....

This is our 40+ year old cottoneaster hedge.
All the dark areas are infested with oyster shell scale.  It's throughout the city.  We've been fighting it for three years but we had to do the only fix that would work.

And now it's all gone!  Because we've had so much rain the eggs haven't hatched yet so we did this just in time.  A couple of our neighbours cut theirs down a couple of weeks ago and they have new growth already.  By this time next year it will probably be a couple of feet high.  It will be easier to shovel the snow this coming winter!!

Thursday, June 25, 2020


First peony bloom of the season!
Yummy Father's Day supper.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Books 6-10

An Indecent Obsession by Colleen McCullough
Image result for an indecent obsession by colleen mccullough 
The mental ward of a military hospital on a tropical Indo-Pacific island at the end of World War II is the setting.  Ward X is a self-contained world for its five remaining patients and their nurse, Honour Langtry.  Not only is it physically isolated; the type of illness it harbors sets it apart from the rest of the hospital.  For Ward X is the "troppo" ward, its inmates soldiers who have broken under the stresses of jungle warfare.
Honour Langtry cares deeply for the five men now in her charge-the ward leader, Neil Parkinson, blind Matt Sawyer, sickly Nugget Jones, the sadistic and amoral Luce Daggett and the severely withdrawn Benedict Maynard.  Each is very different from the others in background, temperament and the nature of his problem, but all are bound together by the routine of their days and-above all-a shared and possessive devotion to their nurse.  The last thing she and they anticipated or want at this late date, with the hospital soon to close, is a new admission.
And when Sergeant Michael Wilson presents himself at Ward X he is instantly an unsettling presence, not only becausr he will upset the delicate balance of the ward but because he is so visibly intact, a man composed and very much in charge of himself.  What is Michael Wilson doing here?  Why is he a patient?
His papers tell Honour Langtry of a violent crisis from which he ostensibly needs to recover, but it is hard to square this with the man she sees and begins to know-though not understand.  Still, after a difficult introduction the other men seem to accept him, and Michael proves o be a pleasant and helpful addition.  The initial disquiet vanishes.  All seems to be well.
But Honour Langtry, so dedicated and professional, so caring yet objective, does not see-cannot see-the devastating consequences of her burgeoning interest in Michael Wilson.  And he, never willing it, becomes the catalyst for jealousy, violence, intrigue, conspiracy, love-and tragedy.
Can't say I would recommend this book.  I found it unbelievable in a lot of ways.  Putting one nurse  with 6 psychotic men a long way from any of the other staff!  I didn't find Honour very believable and found her quite 'pie in the sky'.  The outcome of the men could be believed but not so much the nurse, Honour.

Ice Hunt by James Rollins
Ice Hunt by James Rollins - read excerpt
Buried deep in the earth's polar ice cap-carved into a moving island of ice twice the size of the United States-is the site of a remarkable experiment that blurred the line between life and death.  Abandoned for more than seventy years, Ice Station Grendel-the twisted brainchild of the finest minds of the former Soviet Union-was designed to be inaccessible and virtually invisible.
But an American undersea research vessel, the Polar Sentinel, has inadvertently pulled too close.  And a crew member has seen something alive inside, something whose survival defies every natural law.
As scientists, soldiers, intelligence operatives of two powerful nations, and unsuspecting civilians alike are drawn into Grendel's lethal vortex, no measures undertaken to protect its mysteries will be considered too extreme.  Because the terrible truths locked behind submerged walls of ice and steel could forever alter humankind's future...or destroy it.
I enjoyed this book more than I expected to.  It's the first James Rollins book I've read.  It's full of action and although far fetched in some parts, I still enjoyed it.  I found it a bit drawn out in parts, the story could have had 100 less pages and not  lost anything.  I would read more of this author's books.

The Wingless Bird by Catherine Cookson
The Wingless Bird by Catherine Cookson
Agnes Conway is twenty-two years old as the novel unfolds in December 1913.  With rumors of war rumbling throughout Europe, young Agnes is determined to make a better life for herself.  She works selflessly for her loutish father and dreary mother in the family's candy and tobacco stores, while her pampered younger sister, Jessie,  attends secretarial school.  When Jessie becomes pregnant out of wedlock by one of the town's ruffians, the family's outlook seems sure not to improve.It is only by chance that Agnes comes to meet the high-born, well-to-do Charles Farrier, who offers Agnes a glimpse of a world far different from her own.  When Charles shocks his family and takes Agnes as his bride, Agnes begins to feel that her virtuous life has been rewarded.  But the cruel realities of war and illness cut short Agnes's hard-won happiness, and test her resilience and courage.
This was a very easy read which, while very predictable, I enjoyed it.  Typical WW1 romance.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Leonora Shaw is a crime writer. Ten years ago, following the breakup of a young love affair, she left a school in which up to then she had been very happy, lost touch with all her school friends and now lives alone in a small flat in Hackney, in which she devotes her entire time to writing. Her only relaxation is her daily running, at which she excels.
Then, out of the blue, she receives an e-mail inviting her to the hen party of Clare, who had been her best friend throughout her entire time at school, and whom she had loved and admired in equal measure. The party is to be held in a house situated in the middle of Kielder Forest in Northumberland. The invitation comes from Flo, who now claims to be Clare's best friend. Nora – which is the shortened form of her name by which she is now known - initially decides to ignore the invitation, but out of curiosity reads the names of the other people invited. She only knows one of them, another former school friend called Nina. She decides to do no more about it, but then receives an e-mail from Nina, suggesting that they go together. Reluctantly, Nora agrees.
It wasn't too hard to figure out the 'who done it'. The story dragged in parts but I did find it interesting, although not very suspenseful!

Crossing the Borders of Time by Leslie Maitland
CROSSING THE BORDERS OF TIME by Leslie Maitland Read by Leslie ...
Leslie Maitland , an award-winning former New York Times investigative reporter, 
grew up enthralled by her mother Janine's dramatic stories of last-minute escape from the Nazis in Europe and of her star-crossed love for Roland, a young Catholic Frenchman.  Forced to part in 1942, when Janine, a German Jew, fled to refuge in Cub, the couple had pledged to marry after the war.  But dislocation and Janine's family thwarted their goal.  Later, while starting anew with a dynamic American husband, Janine continues to dream of her lost Roland, until Maitland ultimately set out to find him.  This impeccably researched accont culminates in the daring fulfillment of a vow of love made fifty years earlier in a world torn by persecution and war.
The first half was excruciatingly slow, there's a lot of unnecessary details devoted to dry historical information, taking away from the primary, more personal story.  It’s important information, and I usually do enjoy history, but the author threw in every little tidbit from her research and turned the book into a slog-fest.  The story meandered all around and got lost in annoying details.  It was a struggle. I was lured in by the whole 'reunion after 50 years', but it felt like it took forever to get to that part.  Finally the big reunion -- which might have been a lot more touching if the author's father hadn't been at home dying while she's trying to find mom's lost love. and he has a wife.   Parts were very interesting but far too much of the book was, unfortunately, boring.

This addon is for Suzanne at 'Daily Life at Number 38'.  I read your last post and wanted to leave a last comment to you but it said that Comments on this blog are restricted to team members so I have put my comment here hoping that you will read it if you visit me.
Suzanne I'm so sad to see you go but I'm sure you have very valid reasons for making this decision.  I've read your blog from the beginning and having lived so close to where you are have enjoyed the little memory jogs you have given me.  I will miss you but I wish you and the family all the best and hope you get to your caravan soon. Take care.

Friday, May 15, 2020


First flowers of the year!

Thursday, May 14, 2020