Books

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.


Friday, May 7, 2021

Books 7-13

 Midnight in Broad Daylight by Pamela Rotner Salamoto


This is the true story of a Japanese American family that found itself on opposite sides during WWII.  An epic tale of family, separation, divided loyalties, love, reconciliation, loss, and redemption. 
After their father's death, the Fukuhara children-all born and raised in the Pacific Northwest-moved with their mother to Hiroshima, their parents' ancestral home.  Eager to go back to America, Harry and his sister, Mary, returned there in the late 1930s.  Then came Pearl Harbor.  Harry and Mary were sent to an internment camp until a call came for Japanese translators, and Harry dutifully volunteered to serve his country.  Back in Hiroshima, their brothers, Frank and Pierce, become soldiers in the Imperial Japanese Army.
As the war rages on, Harry. one of the finest bilingual interpreters in the United States Army, island-hopped across the Pacific, moving ever closer to the enemy-and to his younger brothers.  But before the Fukuharas would have to face one another in battle, the U.S. detonated the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, gravely injuring tens of thousands of civilians, including members of the Fukuhara family.
Alternating between America and Japanese perspective, it captures the uncertainty and intensity of those charged with the fighting, as well as the deteriorating home front of Hiroshima-never depicted before in English-and provides a fresh look at the events surrounding the dropping of the first atomic bomb.
This was an excellent read, seeing both sides of a Japanese American family. Having two brothers in the Japanese Imperial Army and one brother in the U.S. Army during WWII.  Parts of the story were heartbreaking, especially for the part of the family that lived in Hiroshima.  Definitely would recommend this book.

War Girl Ursula by Marion Kummerow
Berlin 1943: Compassion is a crime.
A prisoner escapes. A guard looks the other way.
Why does Ursula Hermann risk her life and brave the Gestapo to save a man she barely knows?
Ursula has always lived the law, never broken the rules in her life.
That is until the day she finds escapee British airman Tom Westlake and all the right she’s worked so hard to maintain goes wrong...
He runs.
And she does nothing to stop him.
Torn with guilt about what she did, Ursula battles with her decision when suddenly Tom returns, injured and pleading for her help.
This is her opportunity to make things right.
But shadows from the past tug at her heart, convincing her to risk everything, including her life, in order to protect a man from the nation her country is fighting. As they brave the perils and dangers of the ever-present Gestapo, will Ursula find a way to keep Tom safe?
Or will being on the opposite sides of the war ultimately cost both of them their lives?
 
It would appear this is book 1 in a series of 11
 Ursula works at the prison in her hometown and is becoming disillusioned with the Nazi system and propaganda.  She begins to see with her own eyes the violence, and cruelty to certain segments of its own population,
 When British bombers launch an attack on the prison and 4 prisoners escape  Ursula's life changes in ways she could never have foreseen. She becomes  caught up in the planning and execution of Westlake’s efforts to get him out of Germany back to England. 
Her sister Anna is able to provide moral support to her as she gathers the courage over her terror and anxiety of what she is doing.  As this is book one in a series the ending is quite startling which, of course, makes you want to read the next one!

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs
In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits a charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco.  She also becomes the caretaker for her grandfather, who grew up in the historic building that houses the store.  Grandpa Andrew struggles with memory loss, and Natalie wants to sell the building to pay for his care.  There's only one problem-her grandfather owns it outright and refuses to sell.
Reluctantly, Natalie takes over the shop and hires an ex-Marine from Georgia, Peach Gallagher, to help with repairs.  Peach's young daughter, Dorothy, is a bright light during Natalie's long days, and even manages to connect Natalie with Trevor Dashwood, a handsome celebrity novelist who takes an interest in Natalie's small bookstore.
To Natalie's surprise, her time of mourning is full of revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop's walls, to uncovering the truth about her family, her future, and her own heart.
I did enjoy this book although it was pretty predictable.  I loved the storyline though about trying to save the bookshop.  The history of the store kept me interested but i was disappointed in the ending.  I thought it was rushed and didn't really tell what happened.

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown
It's been a year since Billie Flanagan-a Berkeley mom with an enviable life-went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail.  Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot.  Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie's death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.
But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive's emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie's past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife.  Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?
Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth about Billie-but also about themselves, learning in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see.  
This was an interesting story.
The daughter begins “seeing” her mother in some sort of hallucination or waking dream. The husband begins to discover his wife was telling him lies. No one seems to know who the “real” Billie Flanagan was. The whole premise of the book is how much do we really know those we love.  Along the way, Olive and Jonathan encounter people from Billie’s past while also trying to move forward with their lives.  The ending was a surprise, but not really!

Search for Her by Rick Mofina
At a truck stop near Las Vegas, fourteen-year-old Riley Jarrett vanishes from her family's RV , turning their cross-country dream of starting over into a nightmare.
Investigators have their work cut out for them.  The massive, bustling truck plaza in the desert is the perfect place for someone to disappear-or be taken.
Detectives pursue every chilling lead as all eyes fall to the newly blended family with a tragic past.  With the clock ticking down on the likelihood that Riley's alive, suspicions run deep.  Everyone-from Riley's mom to her stepdad to her stepbrother and her ex-boyfriend-has something to hide.  And their secrets could prove deadly.
There was so much going on in this family that it was almost distracting to the disappearance of the daughter.  Parts of it dragged but the ending was a bit of a surprise.


Sarah's Child by Linda Howard

A tragic accident took everything that mattered to Rome Matthews-his wife, Diana, and their two little boys.  And it robbed Sarah Harper of her best friend.  In the two years after the tragedy, Sarah wanted nothing more than to reach out to Rome.  But she knew it was vital she stay away, guarding the secret she had kept from him and Diana all those years-that she was in love with her best friend's husband.
But now Rome needs her.  He wants to lose himself in the passion he feels for Sarah.  Knowing he is trapped by a grief that won't let go, and desperate to help him escape his pain, she willingly gives him what he so desperately craves.  Though another woman will hold his heart forever, Sarah agrees to be his wife, knowing that everything has a price, including love.  It is a price she is willing to pay, but one that will demand all of her courage and her heart.
Then something totally unexpected rekindles her hidden hope that a marriage of convenience will become a union of love.  Now it all comes down to her husband.  Will Rome keep fighting his own growing need for a women who dares him to believe there are second chances in life...or will he give in to the power of love and miracles?
This was a frustrating read, to say the least.  How any woman would put up with what this man put her through is beyond belief!  She allowed herself to be a complete doormat and was so grateful for any little scrap he threw her way.  Regardless of the ending, how anyone would stay in this kind of relationship is pretty sad.

House of Birds by Elizabeth Tettmar
Carla Foster has been caring for her great-grandmother, Lottie, for seven years.  When Lottie dies Carla is alone in the world, her mother dead and her father unknown.  She finds she has a large inheritance, and, unexpectedly, the old gatehouse deep in rural Norfolk which had been Lottie's first home.  Determined to solve the mystery of her unknown father Carla begins to trace the history of the Foster women.  Moving from Norfolk to London we follow the lives of each of the women in turn: in 1913 a traumatic event leads Lottie to flee her home and build a new life for herself in London; Charlotte, Lottie's daughter, embittered by her mother's past, makes a tragic misalliance until she discovers the love of an American airman; and Charley, Charlotte's daughter, beautiful and rebellious, falls for an artist who must paint her into his life.  
I enjoyed this book following the 4 generations of the Foster women.  From Lottie being in service at the big mansion to her great great granddaughter coming to terms with the history.












Thursday, April 22, 2021

 After the comments on my last post I thought I would fill out the story a bit.

I am one of five siblings, second in the pecking order.  When my older brother and I were probably about 7 and 5 my parents were thinking of going to Australia.  That was when you could go for 10 pounds.  Apparently my grandparents made such a fuss about us going to the other side of the world and never seeing us again that my parents relented and said we wouldn't go.  Add three more kids to the mix and the subject came up again, this time to go to Canada.  

My dad had been a policeman for 20 years and my mum did piecework sewing from home.  She made everything from baby dresses to suede coats to tents!!  My brother and I spent many evenings sitting on the living room floor turning out dozens of collars and miles of piping with a knitting needle to poke the corners and end out, always worried we would poke the needle through the end and my mum would have to make another one.  She always said that the reason she did the sewing was so that the family could go on a holiday every year-which we did.  The last holiday was to Hasting.  We had a big army tent which we pitched in a farmers field.  My youngest brother was 6 weeks old!!!

At that time in Manchester (1965) my parents didn't think there was much of a future for the five of us and we would have a better life and more opportunities if we went to Canada. After going through all the hoops to emigrate off we went.  We brought two tea chests full of household goods and in my Dad's passport, that I still have, it said that he had 60 pounds!!

The friends that we were coming to lived in Calgary.  My parents original plan was to go to Edmonton but when my dad started corresponding with his friend he suggested we come to Calgary where he and his family lived.  We decided to do that.  The only reason we took the train to Edmonton was because it didn't go to Calgary.  He came up to Edmonton and picked us all up and we drove to Calgary.

It was pretty cramped quarters at their house as there were 11 of us in the house but my parents were very grateful that we were able to stay with them.  A few days after we got there my dad went to an employment centre and got a job at an iron foundry. It was hard work and long hours but we needed money so we could move into our own house.  It wasn't long before we were able to do that, and about a year later my parents bought a house-something they would never have been able to do if we had stayed in England.

My older brother had finished school in England so he decided to take an apprenticeship for a trade.  I was going into my last year at grammar school in England but I was put with my age here which meant I had to do another 3 years.  I was not a happy camper.

Not long after my dad got a job with the Provincial Government as a social worker/investigator.  He stayed with that job until he retired at 55. At that time my parents moved to British Columbia where the house they bought overlooked the Okanagan Lake.  My sister had moved to British Columbia when she finished college and has been their ever since.  As my parents got older they decided to move back to Calgary as they felt there was more support for them here.  All siblings have married and have children.  My sister is the only one that doesn't still live in Calgary.

I don't think there were any regrets about coming to Canada.  About 3 years later my dads sister, husband and 2 kids followed in our footsteps and came to stay with us until they got settled here.

That turned out to be longer than I thought it would be but I hope you enjoy reading it.




Monday, April 19, 2021

55 and counting


 55 years ago today my parents, three brothers, 1 sister and myself got on The Cunard Carinthia and sailed away to a new life in Canada.  What a journey.  We went from Manchester to Liverpool where we got on the ship shown above. Looks so small compared to the ocean liners we see today.  We sailed up to Scotland where more people boarded.  Off we set for a 5 day trip across the Atlantic Ocean.  Five days turned into 7 as we had terrible weather and the ship, at some point, got a broken rudder.  My mum was sick from the minute we got on the ship until the minute we got off!!  
We were all happy to get off in Montreal.  We then had a 2 day 3 night train trip to Edmonton.  All we saw was snow and trees, snow and trees, an occasional frozen lake and some tumbled down shacks.  We were all pretty anxious as to what we had come to.  It seemed like we never saw any towns or cities.  Maybe we passed through them during the night.
We finally arrived in Edmonton and were met by a friend of my dads he had been in the police with.  He and his wife had been in Canada a few years.  We stayed with them until my dad got a job and then we moved to our own house.