Friday, March 19, 2021

Books 1-6

 The little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer-after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris?  Sarah is sure she's in for the experience of a lifetime-days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch snow fall over the Eiffel Tower.  Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.
But her expectations cool faster than her caf√© au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light-she's a fish out of water in Paris.  The customers are rude, her new coworkers are suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he'll ever put her first over his busy career.  As the holidays draw near, Sarah's determined to get the shop-and her life-back in order and make her dreams of a fairy-tale Christmas in the city of love a reality-no matter what.
I did enjoy this book for a light, fluff read. It's definitely 'chick-lit' close to the level of a Harlequin romance. It was interesting to read about parts of Paris as a local instead of a tourist. A book about a bookstore is always a great pick for a book lover. Sarah finds out very quickly that the daily running of a bookstore in Paris is very different from small town Connecticut.  I have to say that for a lot of the book Sarah does come across as pretty clueless and naive.  There is a prequel at the end of the book which, I feel, would have been better at the beginning of the book.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

France, 1916. Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe while her adored husband, Edouard, fights at the front. When their town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, she is forced to serve them every evening at her hotel.  From the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie's portrait-painted by her artist husband-a dangerous obsession is born, one that will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision.
Almost a century later, Sophie's portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before his sudden death.  After a chance encounter reveals the portrait's true worth, a battle begins over its troubled history.  As the layers of the painting's shadowy past are revealed, Liv's world is turned upside down all over again, and her belief in what is right is put to the ultimate test. 
The Girl You Left Behind is the story of Sophie Lefevre who is living in occupied France 1916, and Liv Halston who lives in modern day London 2006. These two women are connected by a painting, a portrait of Sophie painted by her husband Edouard, called "The Girl You Left Behind"
I loved the historical story of Sophie and her husband Edouard. The modern day story of Liv and Paul  seemed to have lost its focus for such a large amount of time that it almost took the focus away from the girl in the painting who was  the star of the book and the reason why everything was set in motion.
From the beginning I wasn't sure what Liv was fighting for or why. Her need to hold on to this painting felt selfish and silly, especially when giving it up could have solved many, if not all, of her financial concerns.
I would suggest reading Honeymoon in Paris first since it sets the scene for this book, although it did change my opinion of both Liv and Paul.
Having said all that I did enjoy the book.

A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray
Boadicea battled the Romans, Nancy Astor fought in Parliament, Emmeline Pankhurst campaigned for female suffrage. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became a pioneering physician in a man's profession. Mary Quant revolutionised the fashion industry.
Britain has traditionally been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men and its monarchs.  It's high time that it was defined by its women. In this unique history, Jenni Murray tells the stories of twenty-one women who refused to succumb to the established laws of society, whose lives embodied laws of society, whose lives embodied hope and change. Famous queens, forgotten visionaries, great artists and trailblazing politicians-all pushed back boundaries and revolutionised our world.  In Murry's hands their stories are enthralling and beguiling; they have the power to inspire us once again.
I received this book as a gift, it's not one I would have bought myself. It reads like a cross between condensed Wikipedia entries and personal admiration from the author.  There was quite a range, from queens to suffragettes to fashion icons.  I have to say there were several women I had never heard of and found my eyes glazing over at times.  It would be a good read for girls in British (for the most part) high schools to read.  One thing that can be taken away from this book is that we should appreciate the freedoms women now enjoy, thanks in part to some of these women and that shouldn't be forgotten.

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centre for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot.  The authorities are desperate to save the doctor who's vanished into thin air.
One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast-followed by another seconds later.  One of Atlanta's busiest and most important neighborhoods has been bombed-the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.
Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner, Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene-and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives.  When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre-putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves.
Apparently this is book 9 in a series but it easily reads as a stand alone.
To say this book is action packed is an understatement. 
After Sara is abducted we are introduced into a world of evil where a seemingly charismatic leader shows his true self as being a racist, pedophile, extremist and domestic terrorist. The story also covers biological warfare, white supremacy, rape, antisemitism and child murder.  
The story is basically about Sara trying to sabotage what is going on at the camp and Will trying to rescue her.
I did like this book and would definitely read more of this series and others by this author.

The Monuments Men by Robert M Edsel

At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe.  The Fuhrer had begun cataloging the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: the "degenerate" works he despised.
In a race against time, a group of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others-called the Monument Men-risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.  Focusing on the period between D-Day and V-E Day, this acclaimed book follows six Monument Men on their impossible mission to save the world's great art from the Nazis.
Though this is a fascinating, largely overlooked, part of history this book felt like a chore to get through it. The work of the Monument men, and others, to find and return these treasures, at least to the country of its origin, is huge.  I think it's safe to say that before this book and the movie based on it, very little of this work was known. It was difficult to keep all the Monument men clear in your mind as to where they were and who was helping them.  For the history alone it is a good read but I think watching the movie might help to keep things more clear and organized in your mind.

Balancing Act by Joanna Trollope

Susan Moran is a success.  She founded and runs her own pottery company, and now her three daughters are all involved in what has become a highly profitable family business.  Susie is justly proud of her family and her achievement-and has no intention of letting things change.
But nothing can stay the same for ever. Susie's daughters find themselves increasingly at odds with their wonderful, creative, determined mother.  And when Susie's estranged father arrives to build bridges with a family he has never known, their lives are turned upside-down.
Everything is changing and Susie's world will never be the same again.  In wanting to preserve her business, will she lose something much more precious?
This was a nice light read after The Monument Men. I thought that Susie was a very selfish, self centered person and the epitome of an absentee mother.  It's quite amazing that the 3 daughters and her husband put up with her as long as they did, especially as it was supposed to be a 'family' business.  Big changes afoot, especially when Susie's father shows up.  The ending was quite predictable.  On a review site someone said that this book could be the beginning of a series where there were different books featuring individual daughter and the long lost father.  I thong that would be a good idea as the book seemed to end with very little being resolved.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

They came back

 The deer came back today.  Haven't seen them for ages.  There were 3 of them but I couldn't get a picture of all 3 together unless it was a picture of their rear ends or the mailboxes prominently featured.  So I just picked this one guy as he was looking at me.

Thursday, February 25, 2021


 Yesterday was the first day that people over 75 could book an appointment for the covid vaccine.  We had been hearing for days that the system had been tested over and over and there should be very few glitches. ROFLMAO 

 As DH falls into that category I was ready at 8a.m. when it was to be operational.  I had my cell phone, the landline, my laptop and an ipad at the ready.  On the dot of 8a.m. we hit the phones and the computers.  The phones were giving busy signals immediately and the web sight kept crashing.  Refresh, refresh, refresh. I did manage to get to the form that you have to fill out on the website 12 different time and almost at the end it crashed every time and that took forever to get back to that point. Spent from 8a.m until 6:30pm (with a 11/2hr. break to go and get my cortisone shot in my hip) to finally book an appointment on line.  He gets his first shot on Saturday and the second one April 7th.  What a fiasco!  Thank goodness it's done so we didn't have to go through the same crap again today!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Pancake Tuesday

 When we realized it was pancake Tuesday we decided to have pancakes for supper.  DH loves potato pancakes and he remembered that we had bought this box from a German deli a while ago.  We decided to give them a try as I really didn't want to be bothered making them from scratch.  We had them with brown sugar sausages and were pleasantly surprised, they were really good!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Where did the time go?!!

Thirty years old today!

One minute a sweet little girl!
The next a beautiful young lady

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Books 27-31

 Against a Darkening Sky by Lauren B. Davis

Wilona, the lone survivor of a plague that has wiped out her people, makes her way across the moors to a new life in the village of Ad Gefrin.  Tehre she is apprenticed to Touilt, a revered healer and seeress. She blossoms under Touilt's tutelage and will one day take her place, but as an outsider, she is viewed with suspicion by all except Margawn, a warrior in the lord's hall.
When the king arrives, proclaiming a conversion to the new Christian religion, Ad Gefrin becomes a dangerous place for Wilona and Touilt as the villager's embrace the new faith and turn against the old ways- even as Wilona's relationship with Margawn grows.
Wilona's fate becomes intertwined with that of Egan, a monk sent to Ad Gefrin as part of the Christian mission; both will see their faith and their loyalties tested.Torn between her deepest beliefs and a desire to belong in a confusing, changing world, Wilona must battle for survival, dignity and love against overwhelming odds.
I have to say that the first few chapters were quite a drag to get through and I almost gave up on this book.  But I persevered and I'm glad I did.  It turned into quite a fascinating read about how two worlds are colliding and how they come out the other side.

While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt

The McBride House lies on a remote Scottish island, isolated and abandoned.  A century ago, a young widow and her son died mysteriously there.  Last year a local boy, visiting for a dare, disappeared without a trace.
For Zoe Adams, the house offers an escape from her failing marriage.  But when night falls, her peaceful retreat is disrupted-scratches at the door, strange voices-and Zoe is convinced she is being watched.
The locals tell Zoe the incidents are merely echoes of the house's dark past.  Zoe is sure the danger is all too real-but can she uncover the truth before she is silenced?
This story is a psychological thrillers/ghost story.
The main character is self-destructive, who keeps putting herself back in a dangerous situation over and over again and takes no responsibility for her own actions and decisions.
I found it irritating at times that you have a woman who keeps going right back to the place where she's most likely to get killed, and she does it over and over again. Eventually, it turns out, there are some reasons for her doing this. 
It's hard to figure out if the mystery is in her mind or is the McBride house really haunted.
I liked half the ending, and the other half felt like it could have been a part of the plot and that the whole book would have actually worked better if we'd had this information all along. There was so much more drama to the story that we hadn't known about, and it would have been more interesting if we had that information instead of getting it tossed in as a last minute twist.

The Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

Morgan Fletcher feels like she's just another foster kid in a long line of foster kids moving through her current family's house.  Set on revbelling, Morgan dives into a plan to spray-paint the local retirement home.  When the cops show up, her friends hang her out to dry, and Morgan is sentenced to perform community service.
Elizabeth is a resident at Boreal Retirement Home where Morgan is cleaning up the mess she made.  Elizbeth's mind is still sharp and she perceives things few others do.  When her late father's journals are discovered after an abandoned sailboat washes ashore. Elizabeth seizes the opportunity to piece together the mysteries of her childhood.
With Morgan's help. Elizabeth delves into the diaries-a journey through time that brings the two women closer together.  Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed-to the remote and mystical landsc are connected to each other and to the isolated island in ways that are at once heartbreaking and healing.ape of Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth's father served as lighthouse keeper and raised his young family in the years before and during World War II.  As a complex web of secrets unravels, Elizabeth and Morgan realize that their fates are connectedto each other and to the isolated island in ways that are at once heartbreaking and healing.
I enjoyed this book. There are two storylines, past and present, that are intertwined, unbeknowst to Morgan and Elizabeth.The book is mostly about two sisters love through the years but there are many secrets that unfold towards the end of the book.  I did find it confusing at times and took some thought to figure out what really happened. I would definitely recommend this book.

The Arc of the Swallow by S.J. Gazan
On the same day as her mother's death biology Ph D candidate Marie Skov learns that her mentor Kristian Storm has been found hanged in his office.
Although the death is widely regarded as a suicide, Skov is skeptical.  She knows that Storm has been on the verge of publishing a contoversial new discovery about vaccination, and she doubts that he would have taken his own life before unveiling the most groundbreaking work of his career.
Skov joins forces with former police detective Soren Marhauge, who shares her suspicions about Storm's death.  Together, they learn that Storm's on-site work in Guinea-Bissau was marred by intimidation, sabbotaged data, and the suspicious death of another scientist.  They also learn that in his final days, Storm suspected that he was being followed, by a blue Ford with tinted windows.
Skov and Marhauge must skirt the law and dig dangy deep beneath the surface of the ruthless pharmaceutical industry to protect Stormerousl's scientific legacy as well as uncover the truth about his untimely death.
I have to say that my eyes were glazing over for the first third of this book.  The only reason I kept reading is because I hate to give up on a book.  It did get better but not enough to recommend this book as a good read, I was glad to get it finished.  Too many characters and different storylines jumping all over the place.  Hard to keep everybody straight.

Gone Daddy Gone by Cheryl Bradshaw

A single moment is about to change Sloane Monroe's life forever...
On an early winter morning, college student Shelby McCoy walks the quiet, snowy path back home. A tree branch snaps in the distance. Then another. A man is there with her, following close behind, whispering her name. She looks back, sees him gaining on her, and runs. Who is this man, and why is he carrying a gun?
I enjoyed this book, it had great, fast paced action filled with lots of twists and turns.  I liked the characters and the mystery of who the killer was, had an interesting twist you didn’t see coming. 

That's all the books read for this year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Anniversary and Snow!!!

Today is our anniversary and the first time in 36 years that we haven't gone out with our friends, who share this anniversary, for dinner.  All thanks to Covid!!  Instead we got to stay home and we made nachos for dinner!  It was really good! 

We had over 2 feet of snow over the last 24 hours!  Thanks to great neighbours and our granddaughters husband we didn't have to do any of the shovelling.  We are very fortunate. 

I think we are guaranteed a white Christmas!!!