Saturday, January 13, 2024

So so cold!!!!

 We have just received a Critical Civic Emergency alert!!       After days and days of frigid temperatures and extreme cold, resulting in high power demand, this has placed the Alberta grid at a high risk of rotating power outages this evening!!  We are asked to immediately limit our electricity use to essential needs only.  We have turned off everything we can, got extra blankets and flashlights at the ready-and hope we don't need them!!

We haven't been out of the house since Tuesday as it is so cold.  We have wonderful neighbours who shovel all our snow, including the driveway, for us. I just had to shovel a path from the deck to the garage to plug in the vehicle! Hopefully it will have warmed up a little by Monday as we have appointment Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Books 47-53

 The Shell Shop by Cindy Nichols

One missing shell. One quirky family. One chance to save the Shell Shop. Julia and her husband started the shell shop in the Florida Keys decades ago, before their now-grown children were born—he sold the rare shells he found on diving trips around the world and she raised their kids among the balmy breezes and waving palm trees. But John died in a diving accident and now it’s all up to Julia. Her adult kids are busy with their own lives, and Julia has to dig deep to figure out a way to keep the shop—and her home—afloat. When a world-famous shell collector expects a rare shell that her husband promised to deliver, can the Montgomery family rally together and figure out the method to John’s madness? Find the shell John died trying to find and keep the shop in business? 
This is a cozy mystery so it's pretty obvious what is going to happen-probably in the next book.  I did enjoy the story.

Black Ice by Brad Thor

The new Cold War is about to go hot.
#1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and #1 Publishers Weekly bestselling author Brad Thor is back with his most intense thriller yet.
Scot Harvath is having his best summer ever. With a cottage on the fjord, a boat, and his beautiful girlfriend Sølvi, he’s got everything he could possibly want. But out of vacation days and long overdue back home, America’s top spy has a decision to make—return, or submit his resignation.
When his deadly past comes calling, though, he’ll be left with no choice at all.
Leaving his favorite Oslo café, Harvath watches as a ghost climbs out of a taxi—a man he killed years ago, halfway around the world. How is he still alive? And what is he doing in Norway?
In a race against time that will take him high above the Arctic Circle, Harvath will be tested in ways he has never imagined and pushed to a limit few human beings could ever endure.
If he succeeds, he’ll walk away with everything. If he fails, the United States and its allies will be at the mercy of one of the world’s most dangerous actors.
I really enjoyed this book.  Lots of action, pretty ruthless in parts and a good story.

Private Island by  M. J. Hardy

Only the invited get to stay.
Only the lucky ones get to leave.
When Katrina Darlington lost everything, she turned to a stranger for help.
Desperate and grieving, she trusted the hand of friendship and travelled halfway across the world to a very private island.
Blue skies, blistering sunshine, and luxury on a scale way beyond the average person’s means.
The perfect place to start again, surrounded by warm and friendly people who have your best interests at heart.
Or not!
Catalina Island is paradise hiding a sinister secret.
Will Katrina become just another one of its victims, and after having lost everything, discover she still has even more to lose?
Desire creates lies and deception, but is having it all worth losing your humanity?
Were the people you trust most in the world the ones you should have feared all along?
It’s time to find out.
When you lose everything, the only thing left to find is yourself.
This book was kind of weird and scary at the same time. The ending wasn't expected so that's always good!

The Serial Killers Wife by Robert Swartwood

How far would you go to save your child?
Five years ago Elizabeth Piccioni’s husband was arrested for being a serial killer. Her life suddenly turned upside down, she did what she thought was best for her newborn she took her son and ran away to start a new life.
Now, living in a quiet part of the Midwest with a new identity, Elizabeth is ready to start over. But one day she receives a phone call from a person calling himself Cain. Cain somehow knows about her past life. He has abducted her son, and if Elizabeth wants to save him she must retrieve her husband’s trophies — the fingers he cut off each of his victims.
With a deadline of one hundred hours, Elizabeth has no choice but to return to the life she once fled, where she will soon realize that everything she thought she knew is a lie, and what’s more shocking than Cain’s identity is the truth about her husband.
I didn't finish this book so I won't count it into the years number.  I just couldn't deal with a four year old child blindfolded, tied down and a bomb strapped to his neck. This is all revealed about 100 pages in so I'm not giving anything away.

Death at Hazel House by Betty Rowlands

Years ago, Sukey was hoping to become a detective but life took a different turn. Now she’s happy to be involved with the local police force, as long as she still gets to work the occasional murder case...
When Sukey arrives to photograph the body of Lorraine Chant, the beautiful wife of a wealthy businessman, she’s baffled. At first, it looks like a botched burglary, as the huge family safe has been left wide open and empty. But why does Lorraine’s rich husband claim nothing was taken? And what is he not telling the police?
Deciding to do a little investigating of her own, things take a darker turn for Sukey when she is set upon by a shady figure. What do they think she knows? As Sukey finds herself in the firing line, can she expose the true killer before it’s too late?
We the readers know more of what is going on than the characters do.  It's interesting how they discover what is going on and there are a few surprises.  There is the typical love line but that will be explored infuture books.

Saltwater Cove by Amelia Addler

Second chances...and the secrets that sabotage them. At 48 years old, Margie Clifton never expected to be starting her life all over again. But when her brother gifts her a property on San Juan Island, that’s exactly what she decides to do. After all, it’s the perfect place to start a new business venture, provide a second home for her adult children, and recover from her nasty divorce. And if her new life happens to involve the town’s gruff and ruggedly handsome Chief Deputy Sheriff? All the better. The last thing Hank Kowalski wants is an emotional entanglement. It’s only been two years since his beloved wife passed, and there’s no way his daughter is ready to accept him dating anyone new. Still, there’s something about Margie’s quiet strength and beauty that draws him in, making him wonder if maybe a fresh start—and possibly a new love—is exactly what he needs in his life. But Margie is harboring a secret—a dark one that threatens to destroy the new life she’s worked so hard to build. Can Margie and Hank find the courage and faith to overcome all that stands between them? Or will their second chance at happily ever after be lost forever?
Well this was interesting.  Lots of twists and turns and a scumbag ex husband. all seems to be sorted out until, of course, the next book comes out!!

The Downstairs Neighbor by Helen Cooper

From her downstairs apartment in suburban London, Emma has often overheard the everyday life of the seemingly perfect family upstairs–Steph, Paul and teenage daughter Freya–but has never got to know them. Until one day, she hears something that seizes her attention: Freya has vanished and the police are questioning Steph and Paul about their life. Do either of you have any enemies? Anyone who might want to harm or threaten you?
The effects of Freya’s disappearance ripple outward, affecting not just her parents, but everyone who lives in the building, including Emma and local driving instructor Chris, who was the last person to see the teenager before she went missing. Each character’s life is thrown into sharp focus as devastating mistakes and long-held secrets are picked apart and other crimes come to light–including a child gone missing 25 years before, and a shocking murder–that make clear that the past never stays where we leave it, and that homes can be built on foundations of lies.
I liked this book but it took a long time to tie everybody together, and the events of the past to the present. there was lots of deception, family secrets people making terrible choices.  I would read another book by this author.

The Resistance Girl by Jina Bacarr

Two women. One heartbreaking secret.
Paris, 1943.
Sylvie Martone is the star of French cinema, adored by fans and on the good side of the Nazi officers who swarm the streets of Paris. Chosen as one of Goebbels’ select few, she is torn between her duty to her country and her desire to survive.
As she walks the city arm in arm with an SS Officer, her fellow Parisians begin to turn against her. But Sylvie has a secret - one she must protect with her life.
Paris, 2020.
Juliana Chastain doesn't know anything about her family history. While her mother was alive she remained very secretive about her past.
So when Juliana discovers a photograph of a glamorous French actress from World War Two amongst her mother's possessions, she is in shock to find herself looking at her grandmother - especailly as she is arm in arm with a Nazi Officer...
Desperate for answers, Juliana is determined to trace the journey of her grandmother. Surely there is more to the photograph than meets the eye?
But as she delves into Sylvie's past, nothing can prepare Juliane for the tales of secrets, betrayal and sacrifice which she will uncover.
This was a really good read. This is the story of a grand daughter desperately trying to find the truth about her grandmother during WW11 and whether she was a nazi sympathizer. 

Well, that's the final group for 2023.  There were some really good and some not so good books read.  Far fewer books than last year but still a decent number I think.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Books 40-46

 The Orphanage by Lizzie Page

Shilling Grange Orphanage, England, 1948. She was their only hope. Now they are hers. A gritty, heartbreaking and unforgettable story of love and hope in the darkest of times.
Clara Newton is the new Housemother of Shilling Grange Orphanage. Many of the children have been bombed out of their homes and left without families, their lives torn apart by the war, just like Clara’s. Devastated by the loss of her fiancé, a brave American pilot, she is just looking for a place to start again.
But the orphans are in desperate need of her help. Funds are short, children cry out in the night, and tearful Rita tells Clara terrible stories about the nuns who previously ran Shilling Grange. Clara cannot bear to see them suffer, but what does she know about how to look after eight little ones?
Clara can’t get anything right, and then she accidentally ruins Rita’s only memento of her mother. Overwhelmed, she wonders if they’d be better off without her. But she’s not completely alone. Living next door is Ivor: ex-Shilling Grange resident, war hero, and handyman with deep brown eyes. He doesn’t trust Clara and she is fiercely independent, but he has a way with the children. And with his support and the help of other locals, Clara begins to find her way.
As she heals from her grief and adjusts to her new life, Clara wonders if she has finally found her home and family among the orphans. Can she find the strength to fight for them when nobody else will? And dare she open her heart to love again?
Right from the get go you can tell that Clara is a complete fish out of water and she has been taken so far out of her normal routine. She knows nothing as to how an orphanage runs and how can she interact with children who have come from such varied backgrounds full of trauma and loss. The is a heart breaking story but most of it comes right by the end.  this is the first book in a series so there will be more revealed with the children in future books.

The Enchanted Garden Cafe by Abigail Drake

For her sixth birthday, Fiona Campbell’s mother, Claire, made her a peace sign piñata filled with wishes for a better planet instead of candy. When she got her period, her mother held a womanhood ceremony at their café and invited the neighborhood. On her sixteenth birthday, they celebrated with a drum circle.
Fiona grew up trying to keep the impulsive Claire in check, and their struggling café afloat. She plans to move out, but first must find a way to stop a big corporation from tearing down their business and destroying her mother’s livelihood.
Claire thinks karma will solve their financial and legal problems. Fiona prefers a spreadsheet and a solid business plan. The last thing she has time for is Matthew Monroe, a handsome complication who walks through their door with a guitar on his back and a naughty gleam in his eye. But when disaster strikes, and Fiona’s forced to turn to him for help, will she learn to open her heart and find she can believe in something magical after all?
I did enjoy this book from the dizzy mom to the no nonsense daughter.  This is a cozy mystery so we all know the outcome.  It was a very light read with a predictable ending.

Scarlett Feather by Maeve Binchey

They met in cooking school and became fast friends with a common dream. Now Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather hope to take Dublin by storm with their newly formed catering company, aptly dubbed "Scarlet Feather." Not everyone, however, shares their optimism. Cathy's mother-in-law disapproves of both Cathy and her new "hobby," while Cathy's husband, Neil, pays no mind to anything- except his work as a civil rights lawyer. And then there's Tom's family, who expect him to follow in his father's footsteps, and an ambitious girlfriend who's struggling with career dreams of her own. Between friends and families, ups and downs, heartaches and joys, Cathy and Tom are about to embark on the most maddening-and exhilarating-year of their lives...
This is another Binchey book that I'm up and down about.  I like the premise of the story but there were parts that left me quite exasperated!! Some of the different family characters were way beyond belief.

The Girl from Silent Lake by Leslie Wolfe

Her daughter, with emerald eyes and the sweetest smile, is everything to her. Her whole world. “Mommy,” the little girl says, touching her mother’s face with trembling fingers before she’s torn away. “Don’t cry.” Will she ever see her again?
When single mother Alison Nolan sets off with her six-year-old daughter, Hazel, she can’t wait to spend precious time with her girl. A vacation in Silent Lake, where snow-topped mountains are surrounded by the colors of fall, is just what they need. But hours later, Alison and Hazel vanish into thin air.
Detective Kay Sharp rushes to the scene. The only evidence that they were ever there is an abandoned rental car with a suitcase in the back, gummy bears in the open glove compartment and a teddy bear on the floor.
Kay’s mind spins. A week before, the body of another woman from out of town was found wrapped in a blanket, her hair braided and tied with feathers. Instinct tells her that the cases are connected––and it won’t be long until more innocent lives are lost.
As Kay leads a frenzied search, time is against her, but she vows that Alison and little Hazel will be found alive. She works around the clock, even though the small town is up in arms, saying she’s asking too many questions. Then she uncovers a vital clue – a photograph of the blanket that the first victim was buried in.
Just when Kay thinks she’s found the missing piece, she realises she’s being watched. Is she getting too close, or is her own past catching up with her?
With a little girl’s life on the line, Kay will stop at nothing. But will it be enough to get inside the mind of the most twisted killer she has ever encountered, or will another blameless child be taken?
This book was pretty creepy and scary.  It definitely kept me reading!! If you like crime thrillers this is a good one to read.

Where Lost Girls Go by B.R.Spangler

When Detective Casey White discovers the body of a beautiful teenage girl in a white nightgown near the shoreline in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a familiar fear floods through her. Could this be Hannah, her sweet, blue-eyed daughter snatched from home fourteen years ago? But it only takes one look to confirm that the girl with dark bruising around her throat is another family’s tragedy.
Putting her own grief aside, Casey digs into unsolved missing child cases in the area. The victim is Cheryl Parry, one of two little girls taken during a family beach vacation nine years ago. Her sister’s body was found strangled a week later, but someone has been keeping Cheryl alive—until now.
Fearful there may be other innocent lives in danger, Casey and her team work around the clock to trace the material from Cheryl’s nightgown, but hit a dead end and don’t know where to turn. Then, another teenager’s body is found in a nearby pine forest, dressed all in white. It’s suddenly clear that a twisted killer has been hiding in the Outer Banks for years, and he will strike again.
Casey painstakingly combs the forest soil for clues to the killer’s next move, but nothing prepares her for what she finds: a buried charm bracelet exactly matching one that her little Hannah always wore—right down to the broken star charm by the clasp…
This book had a lot of inconsistences in it and I think some of them are, of course, to get you to read the next books in the series.  It wasn't a bad book but the main character makes a lot of stupid mistakes.

The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy

Night after night the beautiful woman walked beside the serene waters of Lough Glass. Until the day she disappeared, leaving only a boat drifting upside down on the unfathomable lake that gave the town its name. Ravishing Helen McMahon, the Dubliner with film-star looks and unfulfilled dreams, never belonged in Lough Glass, not the way her genial pharmacist husband Martin belonged, nor their spirited daughter Kit. Suddenly she is gone and Kit is haunted by the memory of her mother, seen through a window, alone at the kitchen table, tears streaming down her face. Now Kit, too, has secrets: of the night she discovered a letter on Martin’s pillow and burned it, unopened. The night her mother was lost. The night everything changed forever .
This was a pretty good book but the ending seemed so rushed that it really didn't give the story the ending that it should have had.

So here it is January 1,2024 and I'm only just posting this.  I have another post in draft form that will finish up the last of the books I read in 2023.  I hope to get that posted in the next few days.