6 Beauties From My Hampshire Garden For This Week’s #SixOnSaturday Gardening Meme #GardeningTwitter #InMyGardenToday #Flowers 🌺🌹🌷

A sprinkle of rain on multiple days and a good spot of sun mean lots of flowers in my garden and out in the countryside everything looks lush and green.🌳🌳

Six On Saturday – Let’s Go!

First photo goes to one of the Anemone from the mixed bulb pack which I started off on Feb 12th by soaking the corms. They didn’t all grow, probably only half the pack, so I’m not sure if soaking was a good thing, but I do like to experiment!

Second photo goes to the purple Rhododendron, I have two in this colour.

Third photo is of my red Rhododendron. This one isn’t as happy as the purple ones and may be suffering from competition for water from nearby shrubs.

Fourth photo is of the pretty Oxalis (Regnelli – I think) This pops up in the beds and pushes through the foliage.

Fifth photo is of one of the roses that we inherited with the garden and lovely orange yellow with pinky red brush strokes.

Final photo is another rose, this one has been beaten-up by a broken fence panel in the past and has to fend for itself when the beech hedge unfurls, but it is a lovely colour.

Thank you for joining me for this #SixOnSaturday post. I hope that you enjoyed it. If you would like to know more about this hashtag, read founder Mr Propagator’s post here also find him on Twitter here.

Happy gardening

Rosie

Links:

  1. Flowers Friday – Camassia Quamash

I ‘have grown very fond of the clever Sinhalese police inspector’, says @LizanneLloyd with her review of historical #Mystery Break From Nuala by @harrietsteel1

Today’s team review is from Liz. She blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Liz has been reading Break From Nuala by Harriet Steel.

I have read almost all of the Inspector de Silva Mysteries and have grown very fond of the clever Sinhalese police inspector and his delightful English wife, Jane. This mixed marriage ought to encounter disapproval, but the sensible and likeable couple are usually greeted with friendship. Sometimes, however, Shanti De Silva is patronised by senior British police officers because Nuala is seen as a backwater.

Expecting to enjoy a peaceful holiday in a luxury hotel, the couple find themselves in a typical Agatha Christie setting. First a nightwatchman is found dead, then Elodie Renaud, a famous diver, staying in a bungalow in the hotel grounds, is struck down with symptoms of severe food poisoning along with her film team. Soon after Shanti befriends Helen Morris, a charming teacher, on holiday with her demanding Aunt Edith, the young woman disappears under mysterious circumstances. Not only does Inspector de Silva feel he must investigate, but bravely, his wife Jane takes an active part in trying to discover where Helen might be. The local police believe she has been murdered by a local fisherman but there several likely culprits among the hotel guests.

The book is set in an uneasy time and place. It is 1940 but Ceylon is not yet involved in the war.  People feel guilty at their pleasant lives while there is suffering in Europe. There are vivid descriptions of life in Galle,

“Stalls selling an assortment of fruit, vegetables, tin pots and pans, trays of snacks and brightly coloured drinks were set up along the road. Women haggled over wares while groups of men loitered in the shade of palm trees gossiping and chewing betel. In some places, de Silva noticed beggars crouched on the ground, scrawny arms outstretched and hands holding battered tin cups.”

I enjoyed seeing Shanti and Jane working together to solve the mysteries and events became increasingly thrilling. Like the earlier books, this novel would make a wonderful episode in a TV series.

5 stars

Desc 1

It is autumn 1940, and Inspector de Silva and his wife Jane are looking forward to a well-earned holiday. But their hopes of a relaxing break in the picturesque city of Galle beside the Indian Ocean are dashed when death, mysterious illnesses, and a missing guest cast a gloomy shadow.
As they’re drawn into the investigation, the mystery deepens. Is there a villain amongst their fellow guests or further afield? The search for answers will lead them into great danger that has repercussions far beyond the island of Ceylon.

AmazonUK AmazonUS

A Police Officer’s #Memoir. Black, White, and Gray All Over by Frederick Reynolds, reviewed by @OlgaNM7, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Olga. She blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Olga has been reading Black, White, and Gray All Over by Frederick Reynolds

This is a memoir, and as far from fiction as one could imagine. In fact, it is so full of facts and data that it can become overwhelming at times. The sheer number of events, of characters (well, not really characters, but real people: relatives, friends, neighbours, infantrymen, police officers, detectives, criminals, victims, local authorities, politicians…), of dates, of cases… make the book overflow with stories: sometimes those the author, Frederick Douglass Reynolds, participated directly in; others, stories providing background information to the situation or events being discussed or introducing some of the main players at the time of the action. I think anybody trying to recount even a small amount of what happens in the book would have a hard time of it, but anybody interested in the recent history of Compton law enforcement and local politics will find this book invaluable.

The author goes beyond the standard memoir, and although his life is the guiding thread of the book, he does not limit himself to talking in the first-person about his difficult childhood, his traumatic past, his petty criminal activities as a gang member in his youth, his time as a Marine Corps Infantryman, his less than stellar experience with personal relationships (until later in life), his allergy to compromise for many years (to the point of even refusing to get involved in the life of one of his children)… This well-read and self-taught man also offers readers the socio-historical-political context of the events, talking about the gangs, the rise of crack cocaine, the powerful figures moving the threads and holding authority (sometimes openly, and sometimes not so much), and he openly discusses the many cases of corruption, at all levels.

There is so much of everything in this book that I kept thinking this single book could become several books, either centring each one of them on a particular event, case, or investigation and its aftermath (for example. although Rodney King’s death didn’t take place in Compton, the description of how the riots affected the district makes readers realise that history keeps repeating itself unless something is done), or perhaps on a specific theme (as there is much about gangs, racism, corruption, the evolution of police roles and policing methods, violence in the streets, LA social changes and local politics, drugs…). Another option would be to focus on the author’s life and experiences growing up, on his personal life (his difficulties with relationships and alcohol, his PTSD…), and later his career, but perhaps mentioning only some of the highlights or some specific episodes, and with less background information about the place and its history (although some brief information could be added as an appendix or in an author’s note for those interested in knowing more).

This is a long book, dense and packed with a wealth of data that might go beyond the scope of most casual readers, but there are also scary moments (forget about TV police series. This is the real deal), heart-wrenching events (the deaths of locals, peers, colleagues, personal tragedies…), touching confessions (like the difficulties in his relationship with his son, becoming grandad to a boy with autism and what that has taught him), shared insights that most will find inspiring, and also some lighter and funny touches that make the human side of the book shine. Although Reynolds openly discusses his doubts, and never claims to be spotless, more upstanding, or better than anybody else, his determination to get recognition for his peers fallen in action, and his homage to those he worked with and who kept up the good fight clearly illustrate that his heart (and morals) are in the right place.

Most people thinking of reading this type of memoir are likely to know what to expect, but just in case there are any doubts, be warned that there is plenty of violence (sometimes extreme and explicit), use of alcohol, drugs, and pretty colourful language. 

I recommend this book to anybody interested in the history of policing in LA (particularly in Compton) from the 1980s, gangs in the area, local politics, corruption, and any major criminal investigations in the area (deaths of rappers included). It is also a book for those looking for an inspiring story of self-improvement, of managing to escape the wrong path, and helping others do the same, and it is a book full of insights, inspiration, and hope.

I wonder if the author is planning to carry on writing, but it is clear that he has many stories to tell yet and I hope he does.

Desc 1

From shootouts and robberies to riding in cars with pimps and prostitutes, Frederick Reynolds’ early manhood experiences in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s foretold a future on the wrong side of the prison bars. Frederick grew up a creative and sensitive child but found himself lured down the same path as many Black youth in that era. No one would have guessed he would have a future as a cop in one of the most dangerous cities in America in the 1980s—Compton, California. From recruit to detective, Frederick experienced a successful career marked by commendations and awards. The traumatic and highly demanding nature of the work, however, took its toll on both his family and personal life—something Frederick was able to conquer but only after years of distress and regret.

AmazonUK AmazonUS

3 #Horror Novellas. Terry Reviews Undead by Mark Brendan, For Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT.

Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Terry has been reading Undead by Mark Brendan

3.5*

In the first of these horror novellas, a man falls foul of the Spanish Inquisition and finds himself on a curious island where he comes under threat from unhuman terrors.  The second tale is about a necromancer in the eighteenth century, and the final one about some members of Napoleon’s forces stationed in Northern Africa, who are looking for a way out of their situation.


All three stories are highly inventive, and I very much enjoyed some aspects of all of them.  My favourite was the last one, about the French deserters; this one really kept my attention and I was engrossed.  The atmosphere of the time was so well written, and I particularly liked the early scenes at the site of the battle.  I also liked the sections of the first one where the hero is a galley slave. The stories are fairly gory but not unnecessarily so; it worked.


I felt that the book, as a whole, could have done with a better copy editor/proofreader, as there were a few wrongly used/spelt words and many punctuation errors, mostly missing vocative commas.  The content editing is fine; the stories flowed well and were told in a way that kept my attention. It was just the incorrect punctuation and other errors that should have been picked up, that distracted me.  Also, I felt that on several occasions the dialogue was too modern for the relevant periods in history.  Not horrendously so, but I think an experienced copy editor could polish them up to something first rate.

Desc 1

A collection of the author’s previously published pulp horror novellas, gathered for the first time in a single volume, Undead features three macabre tales of blood, terror and the living dead. In the first story, Exuma, a convicted seventeenth century heretic is shipwrecked along with his galley slave companions on a mysterious Caribbean island, where worse things than the surviving guards haunt the shadows. The second, The Worm at the Feast, is a darkly comedic, Gothic account of the life and misdeeds of an eighteenth century alchemist, who is also by turns a murderer, grave robber, bandit and necromancer. The final tale of historical horror, Temple of the Hyena, follows the exploits of a crew of deserters from Napoleon Bonaparte’s army in Egypt, lured into the deep desert by an ancient treasure map that promises riches beyond their dreams of avarice.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

‘Watson brings the medieval stronghold of Berwick-upon-Tweed to life in dark and beautiful ways’. Jenni reviews Dark Hunter by F. J. Watson. #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Jenni. Find her here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading Dark Hunter by F J Watson.

Historian F.J. Watson brings the medieval stronghold of Berwick-upon-Tweed to life in dark and beautiful ways in her haunting debut novel, Dark Hunter: A Town Under Siege. A Killer Within. Set physically in a city just a stone’s throw away from the modern boarder between Scotland and England, and positioned temporally only three short years after the disastrous Battle of Bannockburn, Watson brings all of her skill as a historian to bear in recreating the peril, and paranoia, that comes with being an Englishman defending King Edward II’s claim to Scotland in this particular time and place. The ongoing attrition with the Scots is a losing battle and the men at Berwick know that, even as they send reports and pleas back to their king for support across the course of the novel.

In the midst of this throng, a murder takes place. The beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant is stabbed to death and left outside the city walls, with no clear motive for her death, or obvious culprit, in sight.

Raised for the church and a life of quiet scholarship, only to be pressed down a martial path when his older brother dies suddenly before the novel begins, the responsibility for solving this murder falls squarely on the shoulders of Squire Benedict Russell. As the novel unfolds, Ben must grapple with his faith in God, his belief in those around him, and his understanding of where the myriad lines of good, evil, loyalty, and logic lead him. Answers are almost always complicated, and endings are rarely clean in the 14th century, and Ben’s experiences as he searches for the truth alongside Lucy, younger sister to the murdered girl, reflect that.

From the bells used to mark the time, to the mud of the streets, to the way his fellow squire, Will, treats the girls working in garrison’s kitchen, Watson’s extensive experience as a historian of this time and place shine in the little details. This is no sanitized view of the medieval period, there is rot here, and cruelty, even as there is beauty and cleverness and a protagonist who is only searching for the truth.

Beautiful in spite of the darkness, unflinching in its portrayal of the complicated dynamics within a wartime border town, and full of strongly drawn characters, Dark Hunter is a satisfying mystery sure to please fans of crime thrillers and historical novels alike.

5/5

Desc 1

The year is 1317, and young squire Benedict Russell has joined the English-held garrison of Berwick-upon-Tweed after the spectacular Scottish victory at Bannockburn three years earlier.

Serious and self-doubting, he can’t wait for his time there to come to an end. Living on the disputed territory between Scotland and England is a precarious existence, and as the Scots draw ever closer and the English king does nothing to stop them, Benedict finds himself in a race against time to solve the brutal murder of a young girl and find the traitor who lurks within Berwick’s walls.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

‘Every single one of us has an unlimited source of potential for personal growth’. @ShelleyWilson72 reviews #SelfHelp The 7 Questions by @theNickHatter

Today’s team review is from Shelley. She blogs here https://shelleywilsonauthor.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Shelley has been reading The 7 Questions by Nick Hatter

This was the statement that hooked me in to The 7 Questions – ‘Every single one of us has an unlimited source of potential for personal growth – and the way to tap into this is not through following rigid advice or rules: it’s by asking the right questions.’ I’m not the kind of girl to follow rules, and if you ask my parents they’ll tell you I always ignored their advice and did my own thing! Okay, so this might have been true in my teenage years, but as an adult I still resist.

Following my own self-help journey has allowed me to ask important questions and reflect on the choices I’ve made over the years, and an opportunity to learn more about myself is always welcome.

I’ll start by saying The 7 Questions is one of those books you read from cover to cover and then dip in and out of when necessary. I found myself revisiting certain chapters when something in my day-to-day life triggered me. The author’s belief that self-awareness is key to our personal transformation is clearly evident in how he writes and what he shares.

As the title suggests, this book is divided into 7 chapters (questions) with ‘growth action’ sections at intervals throughout each chapter that helps you review and take action on what you’ve learned.

My personal favourite question was ‘Am I Running Away From Anything?’ (Chapter 3) as this was where I had a few revelations of my own.

Hatter’s conversational tone lets you explore additional questions and prompts without fear of judgement – something I realise is a fear of mine! The book takes you on a journey of self-discovery using the author’s knowledge and skills as a life coach to guide you through every step. It’s easy to follow and the growth actions are fabulous for reinforcing each lesson.

I especially liked the Challenging Catastrophising Exercise at the end of the book and have used this on a few occasions (and shared it with my daughter who is living away at University).

If you want to understand yourself better then I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy of The 7 Questions by Nick Hatter.

Desc 1

Do you feel stuck in bad habits, or wonder why you procrastinate, or why you keep repeating old patterns? You might not realise the answers you need are already within you.

Every single one of us has an unlimited source of potential for personal growth – and the way to tap into this is not through following rigid advice or rules: it’s by asking the right questions.

In THE 7 QUESTIONS, award-winning life coach Nick Hatter offers a toolkit that you can apply time and again for more clarity and continuous self-awareness whenever you feel you’ve lost direction in life. Each question will prompt you to search within yourself and address the bigger picture – from how you formed your opinion of yourself to whether your beliefs are serving you – and ultimately improve your self-esteem, confidence and emotional intelligence when the loss of a job, relationship or loved one brings you low.

Drawing on vivid examples from the cutting edge of psychology and the author’s personal experience, THE 7 QUESTIONS will help you discover your own unique answers.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

A drop of rain was as welcome as the flowers in May. #SixOnSaturday #GardeningTwitter #mygarden 🌺🌞🌼

Wednesday gave us a small drop of rain to quench the thirsty plants and ground. I had buckets and bowls out to save as much as I could. I have also stopped using the dishwasher for a while and am saving all the grey water for the garden. Now, on to this week’s gardening six.

First photo goes to a stunning new-to-me Dahlia with the wonderful name of ‘Sunshine’. I planted up my dahlia’s a bit too soon and they enjoyed the warmth in my conservatory, hence some early flowering. Now to keep the slugs and snails away from them.

Second photo is of the Rock roses, the pink ones are now blooming, the earlier white ones can be seen in the background.

Third photo is of the Spiraea. Not a plant I knew the name of before this week. I saw it in a background shot on Granny’s blog post last week and remembered that I had one. When I checked, it was flowering.

Fourth photo goes to the Ox-eye daisy which is just coming into bloom. This is new to my garden this year.

Another new ‘wild plant’ is this Jacob’s Ladder. Both this and the Ox-eye are part of my wild plant project.

Last photo goes to another dahlia, one I can’t find the name of. I bought it last year in a collection from Sarah Raven, but I threw away all the details and can’t quite find a match on her website.

Thank you for joining me for this #SixOnSaturday post. I hope that you enjoyed it. If you would like to know more about this hashtag, read founder Mr Propagator’s post here also find him on Twitter here.

Happy gardening

Rosie

Links:

  1. Emma http://thepinkshed.co.uk/
  2. Notes from the under-gardener.
  3. Welsh poppy success for Graeme.
  4. Colours are bursting in Ontario.
  5. Rhubarb and sparrows in Ireland.
  6. Celebrating 5 years of SOS with Mr P.
  7. Plug plant chat with Noelle.
  8. Adrian’s got a great display of Rhododendrons.
  9. Check out all the wonderful plants in Jim’s garden.
  10. It’s Autumn in Jane’s garden.

‘A fun, entertaining series’ @CathyRy reviews Cosy #Mystery Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End by @DaveAhernWriter

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End by David Ahern.

Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End, the fifth instalment of this popular series, finds Derry O’Donnell and her fellow thespian and good friend, ex Navy Seal, Bruce, left to pick up the pieces when the rest of the cast desert the touring production they were involved in, without paying. Not only that, they made off with the box office takings leaving Derry and Bruce with the hotel and bar bill for everyone.

Luckily Derry has her alter ego, Madame Tulip, to fall back on, so while Bruce searches for a job, Derry dons her Madame Tulip costume to tell fortunes at a charity event to help work off their debt. Derry’s uncanny gift is the result of her being the daughter of the seventh son of a seventh son. Madam Tulip is the character created by Derry and her friends and transforms her into an elegant, mature lady who has a natural affinity with Tarot and crystals, which helps her clients to find answers to their questions.

As a result of being forced to stay on, Derry and Bruce get caught up in a mystery and a crypto currency puzzle involving an inheritance. And who, if anyone, was responsible for the death of a talented stone mason. Derry and Bruce are on the case although it’s anything but straightforward.

This is a fun, entertaining series, due in no small measure to Derry’s parents, Jacko and Vanessa, and their one-upmanship antics, which always frustrates Derry as she is in the middle, implored by both sides to make the other see sense. The characters are well developed and their relationships and interactions believable. Derry has grown more comfortable and self assured in her role as Madam Tulip, especially since she stopped telling fortunes at celebrity events and parties as it seemed to lead her into the sort of company she’d much rather not keep.

The character driven plot has enough suspects for confusion, cryptic clues to a puzzle, danger and a great setting.

Desc 1

On the private island of a wealthy banker, a young and talented stonemason falls from a cliff. A tragic accident? Or murder?

The dead man’s sister is obsessed with justice and will stop at nothing.
A glamorous French widow and her heart-throb son are certain they have been cheated of their legacy.
A daughter is bequeathed an island mansion beyond her means.
An enigmatic letter hints at a hidden fortune.

After the collapse of her theatrical tour, actress Derry O’Donnell must work to pay her way in a West of Ireland village. As Madam Tulip, she tells fortunes for a local charity only to be drawn into a maze of mystery and intrigue.

Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End is the fifth in the Madam Tulip series of mystery-adventures, in which out-of-luck actress Derry O’Donnell finds the promise at the End of the Rainbow may not be what it seems.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

‘Early 14th Century territory wars between Scotland and England’. @TerryTyler4 reviews #HistoricalFiction Dark Hunter by Fiona Watson.

Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Terry has been reading Dark Hunter by Fiona Watson

This novel’s background is factual; it centres around the early 14th Century territory wars between Scotland, led by Robert the Bruce, and England with its ineffectual King Edward II.  

Squire Benedict Russell has joined the English-held garrison of Berwick-on-Tweed, but soon finds that his attention is taken up by the murder of a young woman from a good family; he is given the task of finding her killer.

Rather than the murder mystery, it was the setting and the era that made me choose the book, as I love reading about both Plantagenet history and wars, and have been to Berwick several times. I did guess the identity of the murderer early on, but this did not matter because, for me, Benedict’s sleuthing activities came second to the book’s greatest strength: the intricate detail about the people and how they lived, their customs, beliefs, every day life, all woven so seamlessly into the narrative, which flowed so well. I’ve rarely read a piece of historical fiction that put me so much in the place and time.

There are a lot of characters, many with similar names so I admit to getting a tad confused at times.  I didn’t know which were real and which were fictional; a short ‘afterword’ might have been useful, so that the reader could discover which fictional characters were based on actual historical figures, etc, and what happened afterwards (though I did hit the internet for more information after I’d finished the book!).

F J Watson must surely be something of an authority on the history of the town; I’d say this book is a must-read for anyone who lives in Berwick and is interested in its past.  Fascinating; one of those novels that makes you want to go back in time and see it all. 

Incidentally, I discovered on my first visit to Berwick that most consider themselves staunchly English, to the extent that some pubs and shops have the English flag in the window, though everyone I spoke to behind bars and shop counters had a Scottish accent!

Desc 1

The year is 1317, and young squire Benedict Russell has joined the English-held garrison of Berwick-upon-Tweed after the spectacular Scottish victory at Bannockburn three years earlier.

Serious and self-doubting, he can’t wait for his time there to come to an end. Living on the disputed territory between Scotland and England is a precarious existence, and as the Scots draw ever closer and the English king does nothing to stop them, Benedict finds himself in a race against time to solve the brutal murder of a young girl and find the traitor who lurks within Berwick’s walls.

AmazonUK

Dual #Autobiography The Backpack Years by Stefanie And James Wilson.

The Backpack YearsThe Backpack Years by Stefanie Wilson

3.5 stars

The Backpack years is a dual autobiography from the authors of this book and is about their early adult years spent travelling in Asia, Australia and parts of Europe.

It begins a couple of years into the 21st century with separate accounts of how Stef and James came to be backpackers and where they met. Following chapters detail their times together and their struggles with work, relationships and travel.

The book is written in alternate chapters from Stef and James, so at times there is an overlap of a situation or a tale. These are the memoirs of two young people making their tentative steps into adulthood and all the frustrations and responsibilities that a life as a couple brings.

As a memoir about an important era in their lives, I believe that this works well and I’m sure that close family and friends may well enjoy reading this as it will fill gaps in their knowledge of the couple.

However, if you picked this up for its backpacking and travel content, do remember that events took place 15-20 years ago. I’m not sure that I was the right audience for this book, I enjoy armchair travel, but some of the things that these young people saw and took part in made me quite sad.

View all my reviews  on Goodreads

Desc 1

Part travel, part romance, part failing at life, The Backpack Years intertwines two memoirs, charting Stef and James’s six-year journey from happily wandering to miserably settled and back again.

Straight-laced Stef left America to study abroad in Spain, letting loose and falling head over heels for two things: a handsome local and travel. Travel won out.

James had a future in England he felt he’d already destroyed. Fueled by debt and a deteriorating relationship with his father, James fled to Australia and found something better.

After language mishaps in France and a topless night in Tenerife, an awful offal job in Warrnambool and a kidnapped manicure in Bali, Stef and James meet at an Irish pub in Sydney.

Though their adventures are pulling them in different directions, they ditch the single life to forge a path together.

Can the two navigate their way through red-tape, relocation, miscommunication, and a last ditch, make-or-break trip to try to save their relationship, or will this be their last adventure as a couple?

Spanning thirteen countries and four continents, The Backpack Years is a story about how far we’re willing to go to be with the one we love.