I have just been reading about this Week In Flowers blogging challenge brought to you from Cathy at Words And Herbs. I recently enjoyed taking part in the #AlphabettyBlooms challenge over on Twitter and what better way than to keep the lovely colours of summer going with this new challenge. Starting today and ending on December 6th.
Each day post one or two pictures of flowers to brighten up the winter days for those of us living in the northern hemisphere. Then drop your blog link into Cathy.
For my first day I bring you these bright Anemones, which I grew for the first time this year. About half germinated, but the ones that did were worth the effort.
Festival Of Death: An Edinburgh Mystery is a complex satirical character-driven story which loosely revolves around three themes: The Edinburgh Arts Festival, several murders and the city’s gay community.
Jez believes he is a cutting edge arts director; his current piece The Works has drawn an eccentric group together. He likes to control people including his current girlfriend Jude, but much of Jez’s life is made of illusion and delusion.
I congratulate the author for bringing this complex mix together; there were a lot of parts with twists and turns, evoking humour, shock and sadness.
The story had a large number of characters and the narrative skipped back and forth between those involved with Jez and the police force who were trying to solve the murders. The author’s portrayal of the police seemed inclined to poke fun at them, a little; perhaps it was to try to lift the darker side of the book?
This wasn’t an easy book; firstly the dark and seedy side of Edinburgh was highlighted which was in line with the story, but it may not suit everyone. Next I found the author’s choice to reflect the strong Scottish accent in much of the dialogue hard work—although there is a glossary of words at the front of the book— I still struggled with the dialogue throughout the book; just a suggestion of the dialect would have given the same idea.
The writing style was also a challenge as the author ‘tells’ us the story rather than ‘shows’ us which made it exhausting in a whole book. It meant no break in the pace, no time to form empathy with any of the characters and no chance to feel part of the story. Overall, a rethink of the presentation might have made it an easier read.
While Edinburgh parties through its famous International Festival, two local gay men are found near Calton Hill, viciously beaten, dead. DC Deborah Keane, is a woman who embodies the new Edinburgh, and she is one of the team of investigating officers. The team is led by DI William Alexander, a man who embodies the old Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, a successful avant-garde theatre director, Jez Teival, is discovered dead in bed in his south Edinburgh flat, shortly after his new production opens at The Pleasance Theatre to wild acclaim. His unconcious girlfriend lies on the floor beside him. The obvious cause of death is a twisted game gone wrong, until DC Keane discovers links in a chain of events, inspired to look a little closer.
A Counterfeit Wife is book one of The Sirens series of Georgian historical romances.
Set mainly in Yorkshire, this book tells the story of an impoverished Marquis and his rash decision to remedy the problem. The new Lord Pickering has inherited a title but his predecessor left the stately coffers empty. He needs a wife with a large dowry as soon as possible. A swift marriage is arranged with Pickering only meeting Miss Whittington on the eve of their wedding.
Lady Pickering is happy to throw herself into her new life; she’s not what Pickering was expecting at all and she soon wins his heart and is welcomed by the villagers. Repairs to the house, estate and village begin. Lord and Lady Pickering slip into an easy relationship and there is plenty of detail of the era woven cleverly into the plot to keep the reader interested.
Few romances in this genre occur without a problem that needs to be solved and this one is no different; I shan’t say more and spoil the story. However, I just want to say how much I liked this romance, which surprised me in places in the way the characters acted in challenging situations; this made it refreshing to read. Well done!
Trevor Gaines, the Marquess of Pickering, falls in love with his wife. The catch? The woman is an impostor. Desperate for money, he arranges a fast marriage with the wealthiest dowry in England. Not until after the wedding does he realize he married the wrong woman.
J’non Butler is a maid accompanying her mistress for an arranged marriage. When her mistress elopes with another man, J’non marries the marquess, posing as the man’s contracted bride.
This is the love story of Trevor and J’non as they defy convention and find passion in their bed of lies.
Peace, Joy and Love: Christmas in Africa is a short book at just 90 pages which looks at how Christmas is celebrated in many of the African countries. It also contains photos from Terry’s travels.
Author Terry Lister has enjoyed solo travel through many of Africa’s nations and in this book he draws together some of the ways Africans celebrate the festive period.
Many of the countries featured are among the poorest in the world, yet what struck me most was the value they put on singing and family gatherings as opposed to the commercialism that has an overwhelming hold on Western society at this time of year. There were many lessons to be learned especially with differing religions celebrating together. However, not all countries acknowledge Christmas. It was good to see the differences across this vast nation.
For some living in highly developed societies, Christmas is a time of exorbitant expense and sheer panic. Children are suddenly acutely aware of their conduct, and parents subconsciously feel pressured to tackle pricey wish lists.
But in Africa, Christmas is a little different, especially depending on the country you decide to visit.
Terry Lister’s experiences and research gives the reader a glimpse into the customs and practices of more than 13 African nations, delivering an educational taste of the traditional foods and common rituals. Vibrant photographs display the cultural variety and demonstrate the ways in which unlikely communities work together to make the season a festive time for all, including the most impoverished.
There are lessons to be learned and adventures to be had within the pages of this literary travel treasure. Explore Christmas in Africa and prepare to walk away challenged on the concepts of what it really means to have peace, joy and love during the holiday season.
Well that’s another month almost finished. The year seems to be racing to the end. This week I’m bringing you photos from my indoor flowers and just a couple from the garden.
First picture is of this Begonia flower. This is an offshoot of a rescue plant from last year. Neither plant has really impressed me, the stems and leaves break off easily and they are often miffy about my watering. However, this one is now producing some lovely flowers.
Photo two is of one of the purple African Violets (I have pink ones too) The thick leaves got some sunburn during the drought, but they are recovering now.
The third photo is of something slow growing and fun. Lithops or Living Stone plants grown from seed. I had six seeds in the pack. Five germinated, I lost two, but these three now look a little more lively. I have included a photo of the seed packet for you to get a better idea of what they might grow into.
Fourth photo is of the changing colours of the garden Beech hedge.
Fifth photo is of the buds on the Camelia which are forming.
Lastly some of my baby Poinsettia are now ready to produce their red flowers. The leaves have turned red quicker than previous years. I’m hoping to get a Poinsettia with different coloured leaves to experiment with next.
Thank you for joining me for this #SixOnSaturday post. I hope that you enjoyed it. Jim is now our host for this gardening meme and you can find his blog here where you will be able to catch up with links from all the other folks who take part.
Here’s the link to Jim’s post for this week where you can see others who is taking part.
The Summer Of Festivals: Song Of The Druids is book one of a fantasy story based around an island said to be the home of banished druids.
Nineteen-year-old Alyosha Kamenev has a secret; drawn to the druid island and desperate for answers, he borrows a boat and sails to the island where he hopes to find some help.
The island is a place of horrors and a mix of strange people; some with magical skills, others living a pre-technology life. Alyosha’s journey follows a quest style popular in many fantasy tales, although it is fairly slow-paced with pockets of action. The world building works well to a point, but there are a lot of characters to keep abreast of and I struggled to keep images of everything in my head.
One thing which bothered me was how large the island appeared, with days passing in travel yet only a small portion of the island being traversed. Perhaps I missed a space illusional element, like stepping inside Dr Who’s Tardis, but I imagined a small island which could be covered in a couple of days.
This is an okay story, there are lots of good descriptive passages, but the story and characters didn’t really grab me as much as I had hoped.
Nineteen-year-old Alyosha Kamenev has lived in Isle Meridian off the coast of South Carolina since he was eight years old. Having fled as a refugee from his home country of Enriya after an invasion by neighboring Russia, he eventually learns to call a life in the tropics his own. Despite having the bright white hair of his people, Alyosha integrates fully into the culture of the Meridians, even moving in with his best friend, Loren Merrik, and his family during their middle school years.
When infidelity rattles the dynamic of the Merrik family and sends them down divergent paths from one another, Alyosha finds himself suffering from instability once again. Matters are complicated further when he has a lethal encounter with Loren’s uncle, Maiser Vance, which may or may not be responsible for a sharp decline in his health.
Now lonely and sick, Alyosha attempts the irrational to resolve the effects of the illness by pursuing the only clue left behind by Maiser — a single piece of paper written in a dead language of the Celtic Druids, and Isle Meridian’s sister island, All Saints Island, where the Druids have lived in isolation for over two centuries.
Barcelona Like a Local: By the People Who Call It Home (Local Travel Guide)
A pocket-sized hardback book approx. 13.5cm x 18cm; this would easily fit inside a travel bag.
5 different Barcelona residents, all with a background in writing, have helped write this book so that you can visit this city and enjoy it the ‘local way’.
There are small maps of the different districts and lots of information about eating, drinking, transport, arts, culture etc.
Known as Barna by the locals, this book will show you that there’s more to the city than sun, sand and sangria. How about Tapas in Sant Antoni? Or try one of the Orxateries and Xocolateries (no coffee, no alcohol, think chocolate and nut drinks) cafes which are unique to Barcelona.
If you still want the beach, then the locals know of some good hidden spots which they share with you.
For just £12.99 this book is a little gem for those wanting a city break or a longer holiday exploring this vibrant place.
Keen to explore a different side of Barcelona? Like a Local is the book for you.
This isn’t your ordinary travel guide. You won’t find La Sagrada Familia and La Rambla in these pages, because that’s not where Barcelonans hang out. Instead, you’ll meet the locals at art studios, family-run bodegas and old pharmacies hosting jazz nights and that’s where this book takes you. Turn the pages to discover:
– The small businesses and community strongholds that add character to this vibrant city, recommended by true locals. – 6 themed walking tours dedicated to specific experiences such as vintage shopping and beautiful beaches. – A beautiful gift book for anyone seeking to explore Barcelona. – Helpful ‘what3word’ addresses, so you can pinpoint all the listed sights.
Compiled by five proud locals, this stylish travel guide is packed with Barcelona’s best experiences and secret spots, handily categorised to suit your mood and needs.
Whether you’re a restless Barcelonan on the hunt for a new hangout, or a visitor keen to discover a side you won’t find in traditional guidebooks, Barcelona Like A Local will give you all the inspiration you need.
Looking for another guide to Barcelona? Explore further with our DK Eyewitness or Top 10 guides to Barcelona.
About Like A Local:
These giftable and collectable guides from DK Eyewitness are compiled exclusively by locals. Whether they’re born-and-bred or moved to study and never looked back, our experts shine a light on what it means to be a local: pride for their city, community spirit and local expertise. Like a Local will inspire readers to celebrate the secret as well as the iconic – just like the locals who call the city home.
Zanshin is book six and the final story of the fantasy adventure tales in the Rahki Chronicles.
These stories feature a band of people who have links to tribal and spiritual animal elements, in various settings in modern-day America.
Mia is the leader of her tribe that investigates the death of an old friend, which leads them to the myth of a Ghost Cat. A revolution in their society is threatening all the tribes, but Mia and her team guard against attacks while following clues. Magic and fantasy are mixed with tribal stories and traditions. They travel to Utah and then to Mexico following the legends surrounding the Ghost Cat.
I began my journey with this series almost four years ago; the stories have been thoughtful and are different from many others which involve Native American themes. There is a martial arts sub-theme as well as animals and their spirits which different members associate with.
This is a steady series which is best read from book one, so that the reader can understand the world and how the story develops. However, if you have an interest in myths and animal spirits then do give it a try.
Life hasn’t been all chocolate and rainbows since Mia Rayner reclaimed her warrior heritage.
Her clan did survive the latest battle, but a revolution now looms on the horizon. A friend’s murder will reveal an old enemy hiding in the darkness and even Nadya’s faith will be shaken by ghosts of the past.
Mia must find the strength to stand alone even if it means breaking the bonds of family.
Can any hope remain for the Kiaranast Tribe after love is sacrificed and blood is spilled?
Set in the heart of Europe, Vienna is steeped in history and culture. It makes a great holiday or short break destination and is on many people’s travel wish list.
This non-fiction travel guide has the city covered for you with maps of the city quarters, places to visit, what to see, eat and drink, even things off the beaten track and what to do in the ‘great outdoors’; it doesn’t all have to be about the vibrant city centre.
If your trip is only short, the book has various ‘must see’ places highlighted and there are plenty of practical tips on getting around. There’s even ideas for places to visit if you make Vienna your base and you want to travel further afield. Packed with beautiful coloured photos of Vienna, this was easy to read and it inspired my plans to visit this part of Europe soon. Very good; would recommend this.
A cornucopia of culture, Vienna puts art, music and theatre at centre stage.
Whether you want to explore the stunning gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, gaze at Gustav Klimt’s masterpieces at the Belvedere or cycle along the Danube embankment, your DK Eyewitness travel guide makes sure you experience all that Vienna has to offer.
Steeped in imperial splendour, Vienna delights at every turn. From Roman ruins at the foot of the Hofburg to the tallest tower of Gothic Stephansdom, the city’s landmarks are a testament to its rich history. And no list of Vienna’s treasures would be complete without its engaging museums and world-famous classical music.
Our newly updated guide brings Vienna to life, transporting you there like no other travel guide does with expert-led insights and advice, detailed breakdowns of all the must-see sights, photographs on practically every page, and our hand-drawn illustrations which place you inside the city’s iconic buildings and neighbourhoods. We’ve also worked hard to make sure our information is as up-to-date as possible following the COVID-19 outbreak.
-our pick of Vienna’s must-sees, top experiences and hidden gems -the best spots to eat, drink, shop and stay -detailed maps and walks which make navigating the city easy -easy-to-follow itineraries –expert advice: get ready, get around and stay safe –colour-coded chapters to every part of Vienna, from Stephansdom Quarter to Schottenring, Hofburg Quarter to Belvedere Quarter -our new lightweight format, so you can take it with you wherever you go
Sandra has been reading Easy Street by J Gregory Smith.
Easy Street is the third book in the Reluctant Hustler series featuring Kyle Logan. Kyle did not set out to do what he does, but inherited a ready-made ‘business’ from his former partner, Ryan. By helping out desperate people with no one else to turn to, he is able to call in favours when he needs assistance. As this is the third book in the series, the team are well established and need all their combined skills to defeat the criminal elements they are up against.
While it is always satisfying when the bad guys get their comeuppance, the best thing about this story is the characterisation. They are an unusual bunch of misfits, but they work well together. Fortunately, they have skills and a plan to extricate themselves from the serious situation they find themselves drawn into and hopefully stay alive. Set in Philadelphia, Easy Street is a fast-paced, tense and extremely violent story, but the black humour and banter between the characters takes the edge off.
Although you could probably read Easy Street as a standalone, I decided to read the books in order (I don’t like starting a series in the middle if I can help it). I found it well worth taking the time to read Quick Fix and Short Cut as I understood the characters and backstory a lot better as a result. I really enjoyed this book and hope there will be a fourth one before too long.
Walking the Tightrope Nearly two years after the death of his friend, Ryan, Kyle Logan finds himself the unlikely leader of a group of misfits who operate outside the law as they target crooks and scammers. In the past, Kyle had to rely on his friend’s shady contacts just to survive violent competitors and complete prior deals. Now he’s starting to realize that these connections earn him power and respect but also drag him deeper into the life. Every favor he receives comes with strings and cutting those strings usually involves fresh obligations. In order to help others who have nowhere else to turn, Kyle sometimes works with criminals like the Philly Irish Mob but he tries to avoid getting involved with the gangster’s more intense activities. When not running his hustles, Kyle has taken the opportunity to leverage his connections to finance and acquire a legitimate (if dull) import facility at the Port of Philadelphia. The port represents a great opportunity to rebuild his life but he’s about to learn the hard way that shady friends come with enemies who see Kyle as one more obstacle to be crushed.