Friday, February 16, 2018

The Messy Desk Weekly Link Round-Up

This past week has had Denis and me doing major desk clearing, and it's pointed out one of our rare differences. I lay no claim to being a fastidious housekeeper. In fact, you might say that I consider dust to be a protective coating in many cases. My aim has always been to keep things picked up: I figure if all the surfaces are uncluttered, visitors probably won't be led to whipping out their white gloves.

So...when it comes to our office, my desk is usually pretty tidy on top. The top of Denis's desk normally looks like a dumpster. As I said, we both spent a few hours cleaning up our desks, and now his looks really nice and mine looks like I haven't done anything. That's because my cleaning involved all my file cabinet drawers. In the photo to the left, you can see one of the best purchases I've made in quite some time: a collapsible canvas wagon. In the bottom left corner, you can also see a paper shredder that holds a 13-gallon kitchen trash bag. (I mean business when I shred!)

As you can see, that wagon is loaded. Those file cabinet drawers held receipts and manuals for things I hadn't owned or even used in almost a decade, old medical insurance policy descriptions... the list is endless. Three hanging file drawers were condensed into one-- I can't believe the space I have now. (And it would be nice if I didn't rush into filling it all back up again....)

Now that I've got all that tidied up, I'd better get to work on our income taxes. Oops! Some of those links heard me. I'd best mosey on out to the corral first.

Head 'em up! Mooooooooove 'em out!

►Books, Movies & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
  • How a rare Roman mosaic was lifted from the ground.
  • Ancient Roman graves were uncovered by a Palestinian in his backyard after a heavy rainfall.
  • The Tudor manor house that was home to the Archbishop who helped Henry VIII become head of the Church of England has gone on the market for £1.3 million ($1.8 million). (Yes, it has a library.)
  • The gold treasure lost at sea in an 1857 shipwreck is now on display.
  • The discovery of a 10,000-year-old crayon points to a colorful Mesolithic life.

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄

►I ♥ Lists◄
  • Nine places where you can still see wheel tracks from the Oregon Trail. (I walked along the Oregon Trail in Nebraska with my grandfather when I was ten. There are probably cookie-cutter houses on the spot now.)
  • I love this art! Vintage seaside posters capturing the golden age of travel in Britain and Australia sold for $510,000 at auction in New York City.
  • Nineteen of the best Western books of all time.
  • If you do 19/29 of these things, then you should own a library.
  • Twelve literary pick-up lines you should never use at a bookstore.
  • The ten nicest things to do for book lovers.

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Righteous by Joe Ide

First Line: Isaiah was seventeen years old when his older brother, Marcus, was killed in a hit-and-run.

It's been ten years since Isaiah Quintabe's brother was killed in a hit-and-run, and Isaiah ("IQ") is as determined as ever to find the driver of the vehicle. But the bills do need to be paid, so he and his sidekick Dodson take a case in Las Vegas where Chinese gangsters are after a young DJ and her boyfriend. If IQ doesn't find the two first, the gangsters will kill them. Impatiently waiting in the wings is the love of IQ's life who just happens to be the DJ's sister. What Isaiah doesn't know is that-- through all the twists, turns, and treachery of this case-- he's going to be led straight to the mastermind behind his brother's death.

For many readers, the world of Joe Ide's Isaiah Quintabe might as well be on another planet. Isaiah is a brilliant young man who lives in the 'hood-- the East Long Beach section of Los Angeles. He helps the people who live there by taking on cases that the police won't bother with, and he gets paid in a variety of ways: homecooked food, a live chicken, whatever people can afford. In Righteous, Ide's character-- known by everyone as IQ-- is the voice of the 'hood; he tells the truth, and he tells it straight out, often in very poetic language.

In a way, the hate felt good. You were righteous, godlike, the dispenser of justice. Hate dispelled your fears and forged every disappointment, setback, loss, humiliation, and failure that ever happened to you into one massive steel sledgehammer of rage, poised to obliterate, and for one brief, purifying moment, give you relief.

Even though IQ's world may be alien to many, it is populated by characters that jump off the page. There's Dodson, a young man of dubious abilities who nevertheless wants to advance from being IQ's sidekick to a full-fledged partner. Fortunately, Dodson has moved in with the kickass Cerise who will help keep him on the straight and narrow. A favorite of mine is Deronda ("I'm not impulsive. I just make up my mind fast.") who's not waiting for her shapely behind to lead her to fame and fortune. No, not Deronda. She has a food truck now. One of the most interesting is Manzo, who sees that the way his gang has always conducted business is going to kill them all. He's trying to make changes, but there are members like Ramona who are so deep into the life that they can't see anything else.

There are characters who want something better and are willing to sacrifice and change to get it, and there are those who seemingly have all the advantages-- like DJ Janine and her boyfriend Benny-- who are traveling full-throttle down the highway to hell. Yes, I do love Ide's characters. They make me think, and they make me feel.

But the author isn't just a wizard who creates marvelous characters. He knows how to construct a plot that keeps you guessing, and he knows how to keep it moving fast. I probably wouldn't survive very long in Isaiah Quintabe's world, but I certainly do appreciate Joe Ide letting me visit.

Righteous by Joe Ide
ISBN: 9780316267779
Mulholland Books © 2017
Hardcover, 336 pages

Private Investigator, #2 IQ mystery
Rating: A
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

First Line: Few people would look kindly on my reasons for marrying Philip; neither love nor money nor his title induced me to accept his proposal.

The only reason why Emily accepted the proposal of Viscount Ashton was to escape the clutches of her overbearing mother, so when he died on safari after only six months of marriage, she felt very little grief. But during her two-year period of mourning, Emily has discovered that Philip was a very different man from the one she thought she had married.

In her desire to learn more about her husband, she finds herself in the British Museum, and it's there that she uncovers a dangerous secret about stolen artifacts. It's not long before Emily finds herself trying to juggle the attentions of two suitors while trying to solve a crime that might have caused her husband's death.

I've known about Tasha Alexander's mysteries for quite some time now, and I finally made the time to read the first one in her Lady Emily series. It added a great deal of poignancy to the story to have Emily slowly fall in love with her husband after his death, but what I enjoyed even more was how Emily fought for what was best for her despite the machinations of her mother and of Victorian society. Emily was not the first wealthy woman to realize that-- in that day and age-- it's often better to be a widow than a wife.

The mystery about stolen artifacts was an interesting one even though I did find the villain easy to identify. (But then, I've had more experience in deduction than young Lady Emily.) All in all, And Only to Deceive reminded me of the books of romantic suspense I read when I was in my teens-- books written by authors like Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Dorothy Eden. However, even though this book is well-written and has an admirable main character, the story as a whole lacked any spark that would induce me to continue reading. Since the series now contains ten books, it's obvious that there are many readers who've had a much more positive reaction. Ah well. It happens sometimes!

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander
ISBN: 9780061148446
Harper © 2006
Paperback, 321 pages

Historical Mystery, #1 Lady Emily mystery
Rating: C+
Source: Paperback Swap 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Cat of the Baskervilles by Vicki Delany

First Line: "The footsteps of a gigantic hound!"

The West London Theater Festival is about to start and even though he's long past his prime Sir Nigel Bellingham is set to star in their production of "The Hound of the Baskervilles." Well, he is until he's found dead at the bottom of a cliff after attending a fundraiser. With the mother of Gemma Doyle's best friend Jayne firmly in the police department's crosshairs as the prime suspect, Gemma has her work cut out for her to find the real killer.

I'm pleased to say that Gemma is back to her slightly abrasive, blunt self in The Cat of the Baskervilles after a slight digression into the land of cookie-cutter cozy heroines who are nice beyond the realm of possibility and would never say anything outrageous aloud. I like the fact that Gemma has a bit of an edge to her personality every bit as much as I like her breaking and entering outfit, her set of lockpicks, and the fact that she's OCD about the stock on the shelves of her Sherlock Holmes Bookshop.

I'll even repeat myself about the resident cat who hates Gemma with a passion: Moriarty would be licking his whiskers in a land far, far away if I were Gemma, and Gemma's dog Violet would be the four-legged resident ensconced in the bookshop. There's only so much hissing and shredded skin that I'm willing to put up with.

Gemma's friend, Jayne, surprised me a bit in this book. She's quite demanding and very good at ordering Gemma around-- but then her mother is a suspect in a murder investigation. That might make me a bit bossy, too.

As you can tell, I do enjoy the characters in Vicki Delany's series-- even Uncle Arthur who's yet to make an appearance because he's too busy globetrotting. (Not bad for a man in his nineties!) But this series isn't just about a finely-tuned cast of characters. There's a good mystery to solve as well and color me smug when I picked up on a clue that even the sharp-eyed Gemma didn't. Did that mean that I had the mystery solved ahead of time? No, but I still gave myself a bonus point for noticing it.

Delany's series is among my favorite cozies for its cast of characters,  the bookshop setting, and the investigations. It also doesn't hurt that I smile every time I recognize the stock in Gemma's shop. When you read this author's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mysteries, you're not only reading good mysteries, you're being given recommendations for others, too!

The Cat of the Baskervilles by Vicki Delany
eISBN: 9781683314721
Crooked Lane Books © 2018
eBook, 304 pages

Cozy Mystery, #3 Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Favorite Childhood Reading Perch

Many of you know that I spend many hours during the summer seated in the shady end of my swimming pool reading one good book after another. What you don't know is that my favorite reading spot when I was growing up was as high up in an apple tree as I could get and still be comfortable. I do wish Mom had taken a photo of me up in the tree because I had a much better perch than the little girl in the graphic above.

The yard of the house we rented was not blessed with trees-- lots of shrubs like lilacs, forsythia, and honeysuckle, but no trees. The neighbors to the west of us didn't want children climbing the trees they had, and they had some beauts.   (*sigh*) However, the neighbor to the east had a big apple tree, and he didn't mind if I took up residence there. I was such a tomboy then, and every tree I met was made to be conquered. This apple tree was excellently situated because Mom could look out a window to check on me if I'd been quiet too long, and I also had a splendid view of neighborhood comings and goings without being seen myself.

Cathy the Tree-Climbing Bookworm
You see, I didn't just climb up that tree to read; I also indulged my imagination in those high branches. Sometimes my perch was the crow's nest of a pirate ship. Sometimes I was a World War II sniper in a bell tower. Or I could be an Indian scout keeping an eye on soldiers. I think there was only once that I was a damsel in distress. Being helpless just wasn't my style. I was the one who always led the charge and emerged victorious, dontcha know!

Sometimes I'd take a Thermos up in the tree with me, but usually not. I did take a small satchel with at least two books, a spiralbound notebook, and a pencil. If I wanted to be decadent, I'd take an old pillow, too. The trunk and a large branch formed a seat with its own backrest; there was another branch a couple of feet in front of me where I could stretch out my legs instead of letting them dangle, and there was a broken branch in just the right spot to hang my provisions... er... satchel. (Well, sometimes I did purloin some of Mom's homemade Toll House cookies!) If I had a particularly good book and stayed up in the tree for a long time, that pillow was handy for easing my bony behind. As long as I had my chores done, Mom didn't mind so I could spend hours up in the tree, only coming down when Mom needed me or when friends showed up to play or when it was time to jump on my bike and head to the Dairy Isle for an ice cream cone.

As you can see, my reading-in-the-great-outdoors preference is one of long standing. How about all of you? What was your favorite reading spot when you were a child? This inquiring mind would love to know!

Friday, February 09, 2018

A Sweet Smelling Weekly Link Round-Up

My trip to the Phoenix Zoo last week brought back some cherished memories. When my mother and I bought this house here in Phoenix many years ago, my grandparents drove cross country from central Illinois for a visit during our least favorite month-- February. (Well, it used to be my least favorite month.) I made sure to spend all of one day with each of them, doing things that that particular grandparent (and I) enjoyed doing together. For my grandfather, it was the All Arabian Horse Show in Scottsdale. When we finally left the show, pulled up in the drive, and staggered into the house, I think neither one of us wanted to see another horse for at least a day or two, but we certainly did have fun.

Sweet acacia in bloom
The day I spent with my grandmother was completely different. We spent the day visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West and then hours and hours at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Wandering the paths of the garden, we came across these beautiful trees filled with little bright yellow powder puffs of blossoms that butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds loved... and the smell was divine. My grandmother and I both fell in love with these trees, and when we visited the gift shop, we discovered that they were selling packets of sweet acacia seeds. I bought one.

Almost forty years later, my sweet acacia tree blooms faithfully each Sonoran spring, in late January and early February. Whenever I smell that fragrance or see those yellow pom poms, I smile, and I think of my grandmother-- which is exactly what I did the whole time I was at the Phoenix Zoo last week.

But enough of Memory Lane! I'm heading on out to the corral. I've got some mighty restless links this week. Head 'em up! Moooooove 'em out!

►Books, Movies & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
  • The void in the Great Pyramid may contain a mysterious throne carved from a meteorite what was described in ancient texts.
  • Previously unknown drawings by the Dutch master Van Gogh have been identified.
  • Archaeologists could be close to finding the tomb of King Tut's wife
  • A study suggests that a salmonella outbreak may have caused the deaths of 15 million Aztecs. If it's true, a 500-year-old mystery has been solved.
  • A Scythian prince's sprawling tomb has been found in the "Siberian Valley of the Kings." 
  • Archaeologists are racing melting glaciers to rescue Iron and Bronze Age artifacts that have been exposed by climate change.

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • Wildlife burned in those horrible California fires are recovering with their wounds wrapped in fish skin.
  • Alaska's earthquake caused Nevada's endangered desert pupfish to spawn.
  • The release of bison in Yellowstone has launched a criminal investigation.

►The Happy Wanderer◄
  • The next time Denis and I are down in Bisbee, we're definitely going to the new Get Lit Bookstore in Sierra Vista.
  • Divers claim to have found a historic 1838 shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina.
  • I've been checking out Google Arts & Culture and was fascinated by the Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum in Seoul, Korea. I can see why this particular exhibit is called Threads of Splendor.
  • Researchers have found a chunk of North America stuck to Australia.

►Fascinating Folk◄

►I ♥ Lists◄

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!

Thursday, February 08, 2018

A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn

First Line: There was a crowd but none of them mattered.

Still recuperating from injuries she sustained in her last case, Inspector Agnes Lüthi is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, visiting the world's premier watch and jewelry trade show with a colleague. Another friend-- Julien Vallotton-- is also there and is looking for her. Vallotton was a friend of Guy Chavanon, a master watchmaker. Chavanon recently died, and his daughter does not think his death was accidental. Shortly before his death, he had boasted that he had discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and his daughter believes someone killed him for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate, not understanding how secretive-- and ultimately dangerous-- the world of Swiss watchmaking is.

This is the second book in Tracee de Hahn's Agnes Lüthi series and like the first book, Swiss Vendetta, the setting of Switzerland in A Well-Timed Murder is particularly well done. I also enjoyed learning about the history of watchmaking, and Lüthi still has her well-developed eye for the telling detail as well as her ability to put all those clues together.

The beginning and the end of this book flowed smoothly and certainly kept my interest, but A Well-Timed Murder, to an even greater degree than the first book in the series, suffers from "too much middle" when the pace drags and the story begins to lose its focus. I'm in a quandry. I truly enjoy the setting and the main character, but I do not like reading a book where I find myself wanting to skim through the middle third. Will I read the next book? I do not know.

A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn
eISBN: 9781250110022
Minotaur Books © 2018
eBook, 347 pages

Police Procedural, #2 Agnes Lüthi mystery
Rating: C+
Source: Net Galley

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

The Undertaker's Daughter by Sara Blaedel

First Line: What do you mean you shouldn't have told me?

Although her father deserted her and her mother when Ilka was a child, when the forty-year-old school portrait photographer learns of his death, she is reminded that she's never really come to terms with that long ago rejection. It seems her father left her something in his will, and against her mother's dire warnings, Ilka flies from Copenhagen, Denmark to Racine, Wisconsin to find out what her legacy is. Has her father bequeathed her something that proves he really did love her after all?

Arriving in Racine, Ilka learns that her father left her a funeral home swimming in debt. All she wants to do is to go through her father's things, get the business ready for a quick sale, and go home. But then she stumbles into an unsolved murder and a killer who seems to be very much on scene, and her plans begin to change.

I hadn't read very many pages of The Undertaker's Daughter before I began forming an intense dislike for Ilka, the main character. She must be a prime case of arrested development: her mother knows Ilka's father better than Ilka ever will, but she hares off to Wisconsin like a bratty teenager because her mother couldn't possibly know anything. She's full of plans on what she's going to do once she gets there, but what does she actually do? Locks herself in her room, ignoring everyone all the next day, and when the person on the other side of the door finally gives up and shoves papers underneath, does she read them? Heavens no. She just signs them and shoves them back. Big mistake for the forty-year-old teenager.

She can't make up her mind what she's going to do. Is she going to go back to Copenhagen? Is she going to stay? Is she going to sell the business? Is she going to run it herself? I think the final straw for me was when she had a complete mess on her hands yet showed more interest in a date with someone she hooked up with on Tinder. My list of things that annoyed me about Ilka could go on for a day or two.

With my strong adverse reaction to the main character, you'd think I wouldn't have enough of my brain cells left to pay attention to the mystery. The mystery surrounding the cold case and the corpse in the cooler would have been far more engaging if the book hadn't been mired in page after page centering on the whiny Ilka. This is the start of a new series and ends on a cliffhanger. I don't think I need to tell you whether or not I'll continue with it. If you give The Undertaker's Daughter a try, I certainly hope you get much better mileage.

The Undertaker's Daughter by Sara Blaedel
Translated from the Danish by Mark Kline.
ISBN: 9781455541119
Grand Central Publishing © 2018
Hardcover, 336 pages

Thriller/Suspense, #1 Undertaker mystery
Rating: D
Source: Amazon Vine 

The Girl on the Dragon's Back

For those of you who read the title of this post and thought that I had something to tell you about a new Lisbeth Salander mystery, I apologize. As you were. This is all about one creature and one little girl that I met at the Phoenix Zoo last week.

I've always been fascinated by the Komodo dragon, the largest living lizard in the world. Local people in the dragons' native habitat call them "land crocodiles," which might be why Komodo dragons also make me nervous. When I saw that the Phoenix Zoo had one, I had to go take a look.

Unfortunately, the Komodo dragon saw me coming and hid behind the boulders in its enclosure. No matter how long I waited or tried to hide, it wouldn't even stick a nostril above those rocks. I finally gave up and left.

Then it was Denis's turn to take a look, and-- wouldn't you know it?-- that blasted lizard scurried right out and posed for him!

Komodo dragon posing for Denis

Komodo dragon head, closeup

While the lizard was posing for Denis, I was outside admiring a beautiful statue.

Komodo dragon statue

Closeup of statue...note the little girl in the background

A mother and her little daughter had joined Denis at the window, and the little girl seemed appropriately impressed, and spooked, by the large creature. But when she saw the statue, the little girl lit up and ran right toward it.

Sometimes an imaginary dragon is better

This dragon was much more to her liking, and she climbed right up on its back. Running her hands down the neck of the statue, she demanded that her mommy take her photo... so I took one, too.

Sometimes imaginary dragons are much more fun-- and much safer-- than the real ones.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Forty Dead Men by Donis Casey

First Line: Scott Tucker, constable for the town of Boynton, Oklahoma, was glad to have his deputy back.

World War I is over, and Alafair Tucker is overjoyed. Her oldest son, George Washington ("Gee Dub") Tucker is home from the battlefields of France. But she seems to be the only one in the family who senses that Gee Dub has changed. He's restless and spends his days on horseback, roaming the countryside.

One rainy day, he is rejected when he tries to help a skittish woman he finds walking along the road. Undaunted, he goes home to fetch Alafair. He doesn't know anyone who can refuse his mother when she's determined. Once she's dry and warm at the farm, Holly Johnson admits that she's come all the way from Maine to find her husband, a soldier she married before he shipped to France. When Holly's husband turns up shot dead, Gee Dub is arrested for his murder. Now Alafair is well and truly involved. She will let no one harm her son or put him in prison. No matter what she has to do.

It's always a stellar day when there's a new Alafair Tucker mystery to be read, and Forty Dead Men continues this tradition. Donis Casey is a master at crafting book titles that grab a reader's attention and imagination, and once this newest title is explained, most will feel a little chill run down their spine.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is woven deftly into this story in which life on the farm for most of the Tuckers seems completely unchanged by the war. Gee Dub is having difficulties dealing with his experiences fighting in France, and the appearance of a lone woman trudging down a dirt road in the rain gives him focus, a quest. If he can fix what's wrong with Holly, perhaps he can fix what's wrong with him.

It's no surprise that the mystery is a good one in Forty Dead Men, and I happen to think that Holly's runaway husband is one of Casey's best bad guys even though readers never get to see him alive. (Some men's deeds certainly live on past their deaths.) But more than the mystery or the fascinating history that can be learned throughout this remarkable series, it's the cast of characters that keep me coming back for more. Alafair and her husband, Shaw, have ten children. Most of them are grown and have (or are starting) families of their own. Alafair could retire from sleuthing and have many choices among her children for her replacement. Just give her the grandbabies to keep an eye on.

In many of the series I read-- no matter how much I love them-- it feels as though the characters are put in a box and set on a shelf in the closet until it's time for the next book. Not so with Casey's Alafair Tucker mysteries. The Tuckers are so busy getting on with their lives that each book feels as though I'm sitting at Alafair's kitchen table for a cup of coffee and a "catch up" chat. These characters are so alive they practically jump right off the page, and aren't those just the sort you want to read about?

Mysteries to make you think. Tidbits of history for you to learn. Characters that will have you laughing, crying, feeling proud, or getting upset. All this and much more await those who pick up one of Donis Casey's Alafair Tucker mysteries. They are something very special.

Forty Dead Men by Donis Casey
eISBN: 9781464209406
Poisoned Pen Press © 2018
eBook, 217 pages

Historical Mystery, #10 Alafair Tucker mystery
Rating: A
Source: Net Galley

Monday, February 05, 2018

A Trip to the Phoenix Zoo

When Denis and I decided to go to the Phoenix Zoo this past Thursday, I took a look at my stash of photographs... and almost fell out of my chair. I couldn't believe that it had been almost ten years to the day since the last time we'd been there-- all the more reason to head right on over there!

Thursday was a gorgeous spring day, nothing but blue skies, sunshine, and temperatures right at 80°F/27°C. When we first arrived, there were plenty of visitors, but by the time we left, the place had emptied out quite a bit which made it much more relaxing. There was quite a bit of construction being done with many animals being taken off exhibit. Although I missed seeing them, I think I'd want to be moved away from all that racket, too.

The air was filled with the smell of sweet acacia-- one of my all-time favorite scents. The oil of the sweet acacia is used in perfume, and an added bonus is that it doesn't make me sneeze. Now I'll take you on a photographic meander through the Zoo. If you'd like to see any of the photos in their original size, just click on one of them, and a new window will open automatically in order for you to do so. Now... Follow me, please!

Phoenix Zoo entrance in the bright Arizona sun.

Bald Eagle

Seeing this bald eagle in a cage on the Arizona Trail portion of the zoo reminded me of the first time I'd ever been to one. It was a school field trip, and we went to the St. Louis Zoo. This was in the mid-1960s, it was an old zoo, and most of the animals were warehoused in small rectangular cages. I absolutely hated it. Zoos have changed quite a lot since then, thank goodness. The logical part of me knows that zoos are necessary, and in some cases, they are the only reason why some animals still exist, but it hurts my heart to see them caged up.

Resident of Stingray Bay

One of my favorite parts of the zoo is Stingray Bay where you can pet the rays. Several seemed to be fascinated with my rings, and it tickled when they came up and gummed my fingers.

He found a quiet spot.

A branch of the blooming sweet acacia tree.

A napping burrowing owl

A black-necked stilt

What I call the Egret Tree.

I wanted to call this bird Kevin because it reminded me of the bird in "Up."

Flamingos don't stand 24/7, you know!

Pelicans. You there, Nigel? (From "Up" to "Finding Nemo.")

A baboon catching some Zzzzs.

The sun was fierce, so the shade was welcome!

I found all the flowers as interesting as the animals.

The colors of nature.

A grackle & a flamingo having a lunchtime conversation.

A fairy duster bud.
A fairy duster bloom with its adoring fans.

Carousel. I should've taken a photo of the hummingbird seat!

I hope you enjoyed your visit to the Phoenix Zoo. Don't be surprised if I take you back again in the future!

Friday, February 02, 2018

A Wild Hair of a Weekly Link Round-Up

I don't know about you, but I get "wild hairs" to do things. (I'd love to know how that phrase came about. It certainly was well-used when I was growing up in central Illinois.) When these fits come upon me, I've learned that the best thing I can do is to go with the flow-- especially if they have anything at all to do with cleaning. I did have a bit of a cleaning wild hair that I followed up on recently, but the wild hair that flabbergasted me was the one I had to photograph. Take a look at what I've been making....

What month is it???

Yes, I'm making Christmas decorations, and I'm really enjoying it. I'm telling myself that I'll be ahead of the game come next December, but what surprised me is the fact that Denis likes my big Christmas mugs filled with happy faces and Christmas greenery. Anything that makes him smile is okay by me! Of course, I can also say that using these mugs, floral picks, jingle bells, snowmen, Santa, and floral foam is creating more space in my storage bins in my craft room... and you know what happens when a crafty yarnaholic happens to have empty storage bins....

Before I start making plans to fill 'em up, I'd best mosey on out to the corral. I have some links with restless leg syndrome. Head 'em up! Mooooooooove 'em out!

►Books, Movies & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • Chips, a US Army hero dog during World War II, has received a posthumous medal.
  • Are rats innocent of spreading the Black Plague?
  • Something tells me you'll enjoy these photos of Ingo the dog and his owl friends.

►The Happy Wanderer◄

►I ♥ Lists◄

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!

Thursday, February 01, 2018

The Somme Legacy by M.J. Lee

First Line: Three hours from now, he might be dead.

Former police detective turned genealogical investigator Jayne Sinclair is commissioned by a young teacher to look into the history of his family. Outside of a few names, he has only two bits of information to give her: a medallion with purple, white and green ribbons, and an old drawing of a young woman. Jayne has to work fast because there is a time limit on this investigation-- the young teacher wants to know if he is the heir to a fortune that is about to become forfeit to the Crown.

Even though her marriage is crumbling before her eyes, Jayne is compelled to investigate and finds herself mired in the trenches of World War I-- all because of one brave woman forced to live most of her life in an asylum. And it doesn't take her long to realize that there are people who don't want these secrets brought into the light.

As much as I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Irish Inheritance, The Somme Legacy is even better. This second book makes for compulsive reading. Not only does it have a moving love story, in its dual timelines (1916 and 2016) the author gives us a real taste of life during World War I both in the trenches and in hospitals and homes away from the front lines. The history of the suffragettes is also touched upon, and Lee successfully manages to weave all this history into his story without dulling it or slowing the pace. He also creates some memorable characters. Rose will stay with me for a long time, and Herbert Small and the Russell family are the sort of villains that readers love to hate.

Rose's life as a suffragette and as a woman forced to live out her life in an asylum is the beacon in The Somme Legacy. As Jane learns Rose's story, she refuses to give up her search for the truth-- Rose's truth-- that everyone refused to believe a century ago. Rose's plight also shows how having a person declared insane can completely change the dynamics of a family with lasting effects even a century later.

Jayne's investigation is fascinating. Yes, readers learn about inheritance laws in the UK, but it's how she methodically works to track down the missing documents she needs that draws readers ever deeper into the story. Her job is an extremely difficult one because-- unbeknownst to her, an obstacle course has been deliberately set up so that she will fail. With my sympathies firmly for Rose, M.J. Lee certainly had me cheering on Jayne Sinclair as she works against the clock to prove Rose was right.

Jayne's background as a police officer helps her in more ways than one-- even providing a needed bit of humor now and again. With this second book being even better than the first, I can't wait to get my hands on the third-- The American Candidate!

The Somme Legacy by M.J. Lee
Amazon Digital Services LLC © 2017
eBook, 376 pages

Amateur Sleuth, #2 Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery
Rating: A
Source: Purchased from Amazon.