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!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Christmas Already!!

 I put the tree up two days ago!  First time it's been put up in November!  Already received a couple of Christmas cards in the mail and a Christmas gift from one of the neighbours!!

The view outside is very similar to my header picture.  The deer are moving from lawn to lawn following the sun around. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020



Eight different patterns, eight different colours.  48 squares in all.  The colours in the picture above are pretty close but the individual ones below are pretty far off.  Couldn't get good light so this is the best I could do.  Just glad to have it finished!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween!!

 Some people really go all out!  These pictures are of one house at the end of our street!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Books 19-26

 Missing Justice by Alafair Burke

Missing Justice (Samantha Kincaid, #2) by Alafair Burke

Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid is back at work after an attempt on her life and a promotion into the Major Crimes Unit. When the husband of Portland, Oregon, city judge Clarissa Easterbrook reports his wife missing and Samantha is called out on the case, she assumes her only job is to make the district attorney look good until the judge turns up. When the police discover evidence of foul play, however, Samantha finds herself unearthing secrets in Clarissa’s professional and private lives — secrets that not only Clarissa, but others, wanted to stay hidden.
The police department is committed to building a case against the man they believe is responsible, but Samantha continues to pursue an investigation into her own unanswered questions.
When her search for the truth leads her to corruption at the highest levels of the city’s power structure and the lingering personal tolls of a crime that occurred decades ago, Samantha realizes that her quest for justice could cost her not only her job but her life.
I didn't realize that this was the second book in the Samantha Kincaid series.  There were little snippets in this book that referred to the first book which explained a few things about Samantha. It was an enjoyable read although, at times, there was a little too much legal jargon.  It illustrates the struggle she faces to succeed in her new position, to be taken seriously in a male dominated office.  To stand up to her dad, her bosses and the police officers she works with.  It doesn't help her that, at times, she is pretty reckless. What starts out as a very cut and dried case turns out to be anything but!  

The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz
When Mikael Blomkvist needs to identify who died with his phone number in his pocket and whose last words spelled danger for important people, there's only one person who can help: Lisbeth Salander-the fierce, unstoppable girl with the dragon tattoo.  But Lisbeth has vanished.  She's sold her apartment in Stockholm.  She's gone dark.  No one knows where she is, and no one is aware that at long last she's got her primal enemy, her twin sister Camilla, squarely in her sights. In the end, it will be Blomkvist-in a moment of unimaginable self-sacrifice-who will make it possible for Lisbeth to face the most important battle of her life and, finally, to put her past to rest.
I guess it's unfair to compare the last books by David Lagercrantz to the books by Stieg Larsson. For me they just don't measure up to the first three, but if you are going to continue the Millenium series I feel they have to measure up.  Lisbeth is the main character in the books and her presence was very lacking in this book.  There was so much of the book dedicated to the Mount Everest expedition and not enough on Lisbeth.  I have read that this is the last book in the series and maybe it isn't.  We'll have to wait and see!!  

Dreamless by Jorgen Brekke
Dreamless (Odd Singsaker, #2) by Jørgen Brekke
A promising young singer has been murdered, her body found in a forest clearing during a snowstorm.  Her corpse has been elaborately, gruesomely staged-her larynx cut out and an antique music box placed carefully atop her body.  The music box plays a mysterious lullaby that sounds familiar but that no one can quite place.  With the blizzard overtaking  the city, Chief Inspector Odd Singsaker of the Trondheim Police Department is called in to investigate. The snow has, alas, all but wiped out any clues that the crime scene might hold.
When another young girl, also known for her melodic singing voice, suddenly goes missing while out walking her dog.  Singsaker fears the worst.  In the course of the investigation, he uncovers a connection between both cases and a centuries-old balled called "The Golden Peace."  This obscure ballad, written by a mysterious composer in the seventeenth century, promises the deepest, sweetest sleep to the listener.
With his own personal life in turmoil, Singsaker must somehow find the connection between the victims, the killer, and the ancient lullaby.  Somewhere, buried in the history of the ballad and its composer, is the detail that might help Singsaker find both the latest missing girl before time runs out and the elusive killer who will stop at nothing to get his hands on this perfect lullaby.
This book tells two stories,  alternating between 1767 in Trondheim, Norway, and current day Trondheim, connected by an old lost ballad.  I didn't realize this is the second book  in a series when I read it but it stands on its own just fine.  The ending makes it quite obvious that there will be another book. It was quite gruesome in parts but gives a good idea what the murderer is wrestling with.  It was a good book and I wouldn't mind reading the next book.

The Cavendon Luck by Barbara Taylor Bradford

It is 1938 in England, and Miles and Cecily Ingham have led the family in bringing the Cavendon estate back from the brink of disaster.  But now, with the arrival of World War II, Cavendon Hall will face its biggest challenge yet. It is a challenge that will push the Inghams and Swanns to protect one another and the villagers, and reveal their true capacity for survival and rebirth.
This is the third and last book in a series.  I haven't read the first two but I don't think it really mattered, although it was difficult at times to sort out all the characters.  I found that the book was a lot of fluff about rich, beautiful people.  Given the subject matter I found it too idealistic and gave the impression that everything will be okay because we are Inghams and Swanns. Hardly realistic!!

The Real Katie Lavender by Erica James
At 30, Katie Lavender thinks she is better than most when it comes to dealing with life's surprises.  But when she gets a request to visit a solicitor, she's not expecting the dramatic turn her life is about to take.  There, she receives a letter from her deceased mother that changes everything she ever knew about herself.
I enjoyed this book. It was a very easy read and I read it very quickly. This is the story of a rich, disfunctional family that gets turned on its head when Katie arrives. Of course, it all turns out well in the end!!

Killing Me Softly by Bianca Sloane
On a bitterly cold January evening, Tracy Ellis went for a jog along Chicago’s snowy lakefront and disappeared. Her body was discovered days later, her beautiful face bashed in with a rock. Police determine her brutal death to be a mugging gone wrong and drop the matter into their cold case files.
Over a year later, Tracy’s sister, Sondra, still can’t come to grips with what happened. She throws herself into her work as a documentary filmmaker to try and forget the cruelty of her sister’s death. However, a chance encounter with a man from Tracy’s past rips the wound open and sends Sondra on a desperate search for answers about the secrets from her sister’s life that may have led to her death.
As Sondra struggles to uncover what happened to Tracy, she’s launched into a tangled web of deceit and danger that put her on a collision course with life and death…
I really enjoyed this book.  It had some pretty gruesome, disgusting parts that gave you a look at a real abuser.  It had many twists and turns that really kept my attention.  Even though there was a bit of an incling the ending was quite surprising to me.  Definitely would recomend this book.

A Daughter's Choice by Cathy Sharp

Kathy Cole refuses to stay at home with her bitter, drunken father and instead is determined to do her bit for the men in the Great War by trainiHe doesn't initially take much notice of the young, innocent athy and she knows it's wrong to think of Tom as anything other than a friend, especially as she's promised to Billy Ryan back home in the East End.
However, Kathy and Tom find themselves thrown together and they become closer than they should.  But when the war is finally over, Kathy makes a life-changing decision with disastrous consequences...
This was an easy read.  Lots of things happening to Kathy but she seems to come out okay even though she makes some terrible choices. I did find it interesting though.

The Winter Sea by Di Morrissey
Escaping an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfactory job, Cassie Holloway moves to the little Australian coastal town of Whitby Point. There she meets the Aquino family, whose fishing business was founded by their ancestor, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant, some ninety years before. Life for Cassie on the south west coast is sweet as she sets up a successful restaurant and falls in love with Giuseppe's great grandson Michael. But when the family patriarch dies, a devastating family secret is revealed which threatens to destroy her dreams. Cassie's future happiness now rests with her quest for the truth.
This book tells two stories, one from the past and one in the present, that share a long buried connection. Starting in Italy in1906 and moving to Australia in 2011. The timelines ultimately intersect revealing a family secret with implications affecting the present day.
I found it an easy and enjoyable read and wouldn't mind reading another book by this author.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Annika, Bunnies & Birthdays


Annika, GD#2, has just started her training to become a primary care paramedic.  At the ripe old age of 19 she is already a qualified EMT (emergency medical technician).  We are very proud grandparents!!

This bunny has been a frequent visitor to our back yard.  He is still small enough to squeeze under one part of the fence, but not for much longer I wouldn't think!!

We had a delicious meal out for our birthdays.  First time in a restaurant since February.  There were plexiglass dividers between the booths and all staff wore gloves and masks.  We went in the afternoon rather than the evening so there would be fewer people.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

UK Goodies

 DS#2 went to London on a flight and brought me another batch of goodies!!

This is just the top layer of the box, lots of other goodies underneath.
He left on a flight to Hong Kong this afternoon-14 hours.  They have very strict covid protocol when you go there.   He had to have a covid test 48 hours prior to the flight.  Another one when they land.  They are taken to the hotel and given a key card to open the hotel room.  This card is programmed to only open the door once so you can't leave your room as you won't be able to get back in.  If you are found outside your room you are ARRESTED!!!  So you have to stay in your room for 16 hours and then they come and take them back to the airport to get on  their flight home.  They sure don't fool around over there!

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.