Thursday, May 23, 2019

Breaking Creed by Alex Kava

First Line: Sweat slid down Amanda's back.

It was never Ryder Creed's intention to wind up in the spotlight, but that's exactly what's happened to him and the dogs he's trained for search and rescue, finding cadavers, and sniffing out drugs and bombs. Creed may not like it, but his partner says the publicity's good for their fledgling business.

One job has Creed and his Jack Russel Terrier named Grace searching a commercial fishing vessel off the coast of Florida. They discover that the Colombian cartel's latest shipment isn't drugs-- it's human.

Meanwhile, FBI agent Maggie O'Dell is following the trail of a brutal assassin. She's worked with Creed once before, so when she discovers a hit list with his name on it, she immediately goes into action. Hopefully, she isn't too late...

Last September, I happened to read an article about the top mystery series featuring working dogs, and Alex Kava's Ryder Creed series was on it. I've already sampled the others on the list and thought that it was high time I cracked open Breaking Creed. Boy howdy-- once I did, I didn't want to stop reading!

Breaking Creed has all the hallmarks of a thriller: the breakneck pace, lots of action, multiple locations,  and just the type of loathsome bad guys that made audiences boo! and hiss! in the old silent movie theaters. If that was all it had, it would be a good book, but it has a lot more.

I loved getting to know Creed and seeing the perfect set-up he has for his dogs-- the kennels, the fact that he trains rescue dogs, and that he's building facilities for a veterinarian. I pretended that I was part of the audience in one of those old silent movie theaters when I learned what many of his neighbors were doing, and then there was the pleasure of seeing Creed at work with his dogs. I'm the type of person who believes one of the best things in life is to find oneself in the middle of a romping pile of puppies, so you know I'm thrilled with the burgeoning subgenre of working dog mysteries.

There are some interesting secondary characters as well, like young Amanda and Jason, a vet who served in Afghanistan. Having Maggie O'Dell make an appearance from Kava's other series undoubtedly brought many Maggie fans over, but I'd never read a Maggie O'Dell mystery before. Guess what happened? Now I've added the Maggie O'Dell series to my Need-To-Read list.

What can I say? I'm the type of reader who is disciplined enough to put my book down when it's necessary, but I was enjoying Breaking Creed so much that I read until I finished the book at 5 AM. I'm certainly looking forward to reading the other books in the series, but in the meantime... anyone got a couple of toothpicks so I can prop my eyelids open?

Breaking Creed by Alex Kava
eISBN: 9780698160675
G.P. Putnam's Sons © 2015
eBook, 309 pages

Law Enforcement/Working Dogs, #1 Ryder Creed mystery
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased from Amazon. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

At The Poisoned Pen with Jeffrey Siger!

I must apologize once again for being so tardy with posting my recaps of events I've attended at The Poisoned Pen. It's certainly not because I didn't enjoy myself at them, so don't get that idea! Today I'm sharing the event when the silver-tongued devil himself, Jeffrey Siger, came to town to talk about his latest book, The Mykonos Mob. One of the people attending this event was planning a trip to Greece. She'd never read one of Siger's books, but it didn't take much arm twisting from his fans for her to buy two, and then those who had been to Greece spent the rest of the time suggesting places for her to go. Siger himself came in a little early and added his own suggestions (invaluable, since he lives on Mykonos part of the year).

Without further ado, let's get down to the heart of this post: Siger's conversation with host Barbara Peters and his fans who showed up despite the rain!

Jeffrey Siger with host Barbara Peters
Barbara: Good evening, everybody! Thank you for coming out on a surprisingly rainy and cold night in Phoenix. It was 94° yesterday. This has been the most... you've been on tour all over. Have you been in a lot of bizarre weather?

Jeff: I haven't been to Antarctica yet... [audience laughter]

Barbara: But seriously, around the United States?

Jeff: It was raining badly in Dallas. It was somewhat chilly in Vancouver. But this is a brilliant combination here, I think. [He has a tendency to come here in the summer.]

Barbara: Jeffrey and I were in Vancouver for Left Coast Crime, and, boy, what a gorgeous city! I fell in love with it all over again. I hadn't been there for a number of years.

Jeff: It is beautiful. The people are very nice, too. I really enjoyed it there. I hadn't been to Vancouver. I'd been to other parts of Canada.

Barbara: It's the starting point for a lot of trips to Alaska. A lot of Americans who have been to Vancouver have done so as people on one of these cruises. Anyway! We chatted a lot about your book, The Mykonos Mob.

Jeff: Thank you all for coming here and braving this weather. I appreciate that.

Barbara: This is actually your third book titled Mykonos, although you have books set in other locations. We first met Andreas when he worked on Mykonos.

Available Now!
Jeff: Yes, he was the police chief on Mykonos in the first book, Murder in Mykonos, and the fifth book was Mykonos After Midnight, which explored what I thought was happening to the island. This is the third book in the series although it's book number ten, and it talks about what actually has happened. It's sort of like a trilogy in some sense you might say: his initial time there when he thought it was a lovely place, to his concerns about what was happening, and now to what the result is.

Barbara: Unfortunately, when so much money is funneled into a place from tourism and other things, it becomes attractive to gangster types from other countries.

Jeff: It suffers from the same thing as many exotic places do, especially when you don't have a strong central government. There are other islands in other countries which are basically run by the types you're talking about. Mykonos has the same influences. When you have a gorgeous place where extraordinarily wealthy people come to, it's going to draw the people who want to be there, and it's going to draw the people who feel they can profit off that. In any way that they can. If you're a bad guy, you want to take advantage of people, and that's exactly what's happened on Mykonos.

Barbara: Not just true of the Greek islands. Many years ago, Rob and I took a cruise to Croatia with some friends on this funny little Croatian cruise ship. It was hilarious. In our stateroom, in order to take a shower, you had to pull this sort of curtain around the toilet. [Audience laughter] Then you were standing inside it. And the food was dubious at best. But it was absolutely lovely, and it was right before Croatia was "discovered," and during part of the Greek economic crisis, Croatia picked up a lot of the trade that had gone to Greece.

You're going to be writing about that in your next book, aren't you? -- about what happens when tourism absolutely overwhelms a place and there aren't enough resources and infrastructure to handle it.

Jeffrey Siger
Jeff: Yes, that book is going to play out on an island near Mykonos called Naxos, which is the largest island in the Cyclades. I'm using that as the vehicle for addressing a worldwide problem which is this massive tourism that exists today is trampling over these places that were once virginal.

On one side you have the tourism people who see great money to be made, and on the other side, you have the people who want to protect the pastoral beauty of these places. That's the conflict. There's going to be a murder because I write murder mysteries, but that is the main conflict.

Interesting you should mention Croatia because I had friends telling me that the new hotspot to go to is Montenegro.

Barbara: It's the turnaround right below Dubrovnik which is why a tour of Montenegro is becoming popular. The other place is Stewart Island at the tip of New Zealand because there are now people sailing around there. They told us when we were there last January that the problem with the cruise ship people is that they eat on the ship, they sleep on the ship, they spend money on the ship, but when they come ashore they just overrun everything and they don't actually contribute to the economy. Meantime, the locals have to spend all sorts of resources on policing and cleaning up and all that, so it's kind of like hosting the Super Bowl. It was great for Glendale, but I'm telling you, in Scottsdale, it was more of a pain than a profit.

Available Now!
Jeff: Bingo! That's exactly one of the problems Mykonos is having. You can have five or six cruise ships a day-- 2,000 to 3,000 people plus staff-- and they walk through the streets having been fed and groomed onboard ship and they'll buy very small things. But there are enough of them that people want to cater to them and make some money off of it. As a result, the higher end tourist is turned off and doesn't want to be in town when this happens, so the higher end shops are finding they're losing customers. It's just a cycle that no one is taking control of. It depends on the government. On who's making the decisions. They have to take control.

On some islands-- I believe one of them is Santorini-- they've restricted the number of cruise ships that can come there. I don't know if it's true or not but I've heard that Naxos is trying to ban them completely. But they are a big problem.

Barbara: One of the many interesting things about your books is that Mykonos is really at the forefront of all of this. It's one of the early places that was discovered and that all of this happened to. You have written about it with great prescience. Actually, all of Jeffrey's books, it's so scary, I call him Cassandra because every time he writes about something, it comes true.

Jeff: Funny she should have said that... I never read for my books, but when you talk about "Cassandra things," you're not going to believe what just happened. I wrote this book and it was delivered to my publisher well before October of last year, and it had all been corrected and set up to go. In it, I had described certain key events that were then reported in a newspaper about a week ago. I will read to you the background, the plot points that set up my story. Listen carefully because following that, I will read you the newspaper article that came out just a week ago.

Jeffrey Siger
The subject of The Mykonos Mob is pretty clear from the title. The book opens with the assassination of a mob-linked character who controls the island's protection rackets through his security business there. An operation that ties him into the island's highly lucrative nightclub and drug trade. The hit occurs off-island as the victim was getting into his Mercedes. Shot down by a Bulgarian assassin. And I refer to the seamy side of life in paradise as the world of the night.

This is the newspaper article from a week ago:

'Dateline: Athens. Greek police said a 30-year-old Bulgarian was detained for questioning in the October 31, 2018 murder of a 46-year-old Greek-Australian businessman gunned down outside his home.

'Police officers said they believe the man, whose name was not released in accordance with Greek privacy laws, pulled the trigger outside the businessman's home. The businessman ran a security business but did not have a bodyguard. The shooting happened just as the victim left his home and climbed into his Mercedes Smart car, the killer running up and firing into the driver's window.

'Australian investigators had been looking into the victim, who was linked to a case in that country over the trafficking of $13 million worth of drugs and the attempted murder of an underworld crime boss in Sydney.'

Up to this point, the parallels have been uncanny, but here's the paragraph that blew me away:

Now Available!
'The victim is said to have owned a company offering security services and had recently invested heavily in nightclubs on the island of Mykonos where wealthy customers were routinely gouged and charged hundreds of thousands of euros for champagne and other luxury menu offerings the restaurants offered.'

The article concludes with this observation:

'It was the first major outbreak of violence in three years in the country's underworld, which the Greeks call the world of the night.'

She's been calling me Cassandra for years but never did this happen so much as it just did. There have been subsequent reports that make it even more telling, but I will spare you those. I couldn't believe it.

Barbara: The other thing that Jeffrey does... not only does he link up with things happening currently, but all his books also link back to Greece's ancient past. He's dealt with religious mania and various tropes that come from classical Greece, which I find fascinating. One of the most interesting things about being your editor is, when he sends me the book, I'll say to him, "This is what it was about," and he's surprised.

Jeff: It's true!

Barbara: Your subconscious is just working along.

Jeff: I'm not going to tell you what just happened on Naxos that I'd already written about in the first chapter. I said, "This can't be true!" I don't know what it is! I wish I could pick horses. [Audience laughter]

Jeffrey Siger and Barbara Peters
Barbara: We've talked about the mob and that the bad guys are trying to do something on Mykonos that they shouldn't be, but a lot of this book has to do with Andreas' wife and her desire to forge some kind of career or purpose of her own.

Jeff: Someone has said to me that this book could be subtitled #MeToo Meets the Mob, and I think it's true.

Lila is a very perceptive, very supportive woman in a marriage where she sees herself as a mother and a wife. He is very supportive of her as well. She goes to Mykonos hoping to find a better destiny for herself. I was at a book signing when someone asked me to write a book featuring Lila, and I knew he was right.

What Lila did in growing is she found herself a friend on Mykonos who ingratiated herself into my book without being invited. Her name is Toni, and she is a wisecracking piano player in a gender-bending bar on Mykonos. By day she's essentially a private detective. Together they try to mentor young women who are caught up in the exploitative culture on the island. So you have all the elements here of strong women, and when I was writing the book, I didn't want to do anything to diminish that. This is not a situation in which a man is going to come in on a white horse and save them. They're on their own. I'm really pleased with the way these characters came out. It's like the rebirth of Lila, who was very strong in the first couple of books but then-- not consciously-- faded into the background when other stories took over, so I'm very pleased with this.

Barbara: But they did have children, and that's what she was home doing when they were small.

Available Now!
Jeff: Yes, absolutely, and it's consistent with the role people would play in their lives. Domestic issues and all those sorts of things.

I like the fact that my character does not have a terrible complex or alcoholic problem. He's living a life; that's hard enough without having other things tossed in! He works through everything with his family.

Barbara: But he's also a policeman, so there are police procedural elements in all the books, and he has some interesting colleagues at the cop shop whom I really like and whom we get to know.

Jeff: This is an ensemble production, and each book has another character come to the front. They work together to create the story. They tell me what the story's going to be like. Is this one going to be primarily Kaldis, or is someone else going to jump in? I'm not yet sure who's going to be running the Naxos show, but it will be a fun experience getting there.

Barbara: Jeffrey's wonderful because, being a lawyer, he's used to negotiating, pleasing clients, pleasing editors-- whatever it is. I think we do really well. We have a lot of respect for each other's point of view.

Jeff: Thank you, memsaab. [Audience chuckles]

Barbara: Seriously, wise ass! [Audience laughter] At the end of Devil of Delphi, I violently disagreed with how the fate of one character played out. I really think I was right about that one, it made it a much more powerful book.

Jeff: Do you think I'm going to disagree with you on television? [Audience laughter] The point is, it worked.

Jeffrey Siger
Barbara: His characters are so real that I get just as invested in them as Jeffrey. Because they are real, you want things to play out for them in a meaningful way that is true to them but is also satisfying to everyone else.

Jeff: Let me say this on the record: Barbara is the kind of editor you want for this reason. Through my experience as a lawyer, I'm used to be edited by everybody you can imagine-- senior partners, clients... she doesn't sweat the small stuff. She goes right to the issues that matter and says, "This is not right. This should be changed." And that's what I can deal with. It's not a question of "I want you to change every 'shall' to 'will.' It's a question of "I think you should really look at how this is," and that's what I want as a writer, to have an editor who's going to tell you that. Then you can go back and make it work.

Barbara: One of the great things about Jeffrey's books is how he describes all of the places. Have any of you read Mary Stewart? Okay, so you remember how she would take you to some glorious place like Crete. She had a gorgeous way of describing the landscape. I think you do an exceptional job. If I remember correctly, there was a whole long passage in Sons of Sparta where you're traveling down into that peninsula, and you're reviewing the history and describing the countryside. It's just... really gorgeous.

Jeff: It was Yanni going home. You worry about consistency as an author. You write something, you say this happened here, this is who they married, and then you somehow mess it up later on down the line. In the very first book when I introduced rookie cop Yanni Kouros to his boss, Andreas Kaldis, I said Yanni was from some island. In the sixth book, Sons of Sparta, the whole thing was about Yanni's being born and raised on the Mani, not where I'd said originally. Some astute reader at a signing brought this up. I told him, "You have to understand something. The Mani has a rather seamy reputation. Yanni was just meeting his new boss and didn't want to tell him where he really came from." And they bought it!

Available Now!
Barbara: Pretty slick, huh? [Audience laughter] Instead of saying, "My editor failed to notice and so did I"... I do think that when you read the books, you get this wonderful sense of where we are.

Andreas started out as the police chief on Mykonos and now he's in Athens, but I don' think we made it clear that Lila's family owns a villa on Mykonos. So when she decided to try to figure out what she wanted to do, that's why she went to Mykonos and met Toni there.

Jeff: Yes. Andreas married the daughter of a very prominent family who-- like many rich Athenians-- own a villa on Mykonos. So they went there, Andreas to pursue an investigation and Lila to clear her head. So they went to her home, which is in a beautiful area that overlooks the sea. I disguised it, but the villa actually exists, and there really are these types of places.

What you want to do as a mystery writer, you want to lay out everything that could happen in a way that seems believable. So when you go from that to the improbable, the reader will jump with you.

After a short Q&A session, it was time to hop in the signing line. It's always a treat when Jeffrey Siger is in town; I always try to be there. If you'd like to watch the event in its entirety, here's the link to The Poisoned Pen's Youtube video.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

First Lines: 12 February 2016. DCI Nelson, Well, here we are again.

Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson and Dr. Ruth Galloway both receive anonymous threatening letters allegedly written by the same person. Why would Ruth's former mentor be trying to draw them both back into a murder case from years past? The more Nelson investigates, the more dangerous it becomes for everyone involved.

Elly Griffiths has done it yet again. Am I surprised? Not at all. She's one of the most gifted crime fiction writers I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Most writers either concentrate on crafting the best mystery they possibly can or on creating vivid characters, both in the attempt to keep readers coming back for more. Griffiths does both with style.

In The Stone Circle, there is a mystery that draws the two main characters back into the past. It's filled with excellent misdirection and lots of tension. As the mystery draws closer to its conclusion, readers know something is going to happen, but it's impossible to determine in which direction the threat is going to strike. Along with interesting nuggets of archaeological information, there are perfect drops of humor-- like someone gifting Ruth with a Fitbit or Harry imagining that Cathbad hangs from the ceiling like a bat when he sleeps. When the suspense keeps building, it's nice to laugh occasionally.

As always, the lives of the characters play a huge part in the book. The relationship between Ruth and Harry keeps evolving, and secrets are divulged. One of the things that sets Griffiths' books apart from so many others is the fact that she doesn't forget her secondary characters. Judy, Cathbad, Shona, and Dave are all woven deeply into the rich tapestry of life in this series of books.

The Stone Circle is one of those books that, once I started reading, I didn't want to come up for air until I was finished, and where Elly Griffiths is concerned, that's par for the course. I love reading the Dr. Ruth Galloway books for their mysteries, for the knowledge they impart about Norfolk's ancient past, and for their wonderful cast of characters. This is a series that I highly recommend... and I urge you to start at the beginning with The Crossing Places. You have some marvelous reading ahead of you!

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths
eISBN: 9781328974655
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt © 2019
eBook, 368 pages

Police Procedural, #11 Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Our First Visit to the Wildlife World Zoo, Part One

You never know where good tips are going to come from. The dental hygienist who cleans Denis's teeth (and mine) mentioned the Wildlife World Zoo to him, and when we looked it up, we decided to go see what it's all about.

Its full name is the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park, and it's on the western edge of the Valley off the Loop 303. (The Phoenix metro area has three "ring roads"-- the 101, the 202, and the 303.) There are log flumes, sky rides, trains, restaurants, and a wide variety of critters to see, all spread out over 95 acres. If you work fast, it's still going to take most of a day to really see it all. Denis and I only had a very few hours, and we only managed to see about 45% of it. We're definitely going back-- we've at least got to see the half we missed, and we'd also like to explore at a slower pace!

I'm going to spread my selection of photos out over two posts, one this week and one next week. You might be surprised when I tell you that I took fewer photos this time, but it's all due to a quirk of mine. The very first time I visited a zoo, I was a child, it was the St. Louis Zoo, and almost all the animals were housed in small cages with bars. I still remember with horror the sight of a big male lion pacing back and forth endlessly in his tiny allotment. He was so unhappy! More and more, zoos are becoming sanctuaries for animal species that we seem determined to exterminate in the wild, so I'm thrilled that they're transforming themselves into more animal-friendly spaces. However, I still have a hangover from that long ago day in St. Louis: I do not like taking photos of animals through bars or wire, so you will see very little of that in these two posts.

It was a perfect day for being at the zoo. There were just enough clouds to give us respite from the bright desert sun, and the temperature was down in the eighties. Let's start exploring!

Perfect weather and perfect time of day-- no crowds! (db)

Once you pay for admission and get past the gift shops, you see flamingos. You can just see the wall of a patio across the way. You can eat at that restaurant while watching those beautiful birds! (db)

The eye of the flamingo.

There are scarlet ibises sharing space with the flamingos.

Here you can see part of the log flume ride. (db)

The jacaranda trees were flowering throughout the zoo.

Jacaranda flowers closeup.

From the Aquarium: a honeycomb moray eel and its shrimp buddy.

I forgot to take a photo of the info board on this shark so I'd remember its name. It lives off the coast of Russia somewhere-- and it reminds me of something gone wrong in my Creepy Crawler machine when I was little. Anyone remember those?

A spider monkey that stared at its reflection so long I named it Narcissus.

This is one of the aviary areas, and as you can see, there are plenty of mature trees to provide shade throughout the zoo.

An Addra gazelle.

Snoozing Beisa Oryxes.

The Skyride overhead.

I've had days when taking a leisurely snooze in a mudhole sounded really good. How about you? (db)

I hope this warthog has a good dental plan.

Black-necked Swans.

Little did we know that this African Spurred Tortoise would provide a bit of entertainment on our way out of the zoo.

A glimpse of the train you can climb aboard to travel around the zoo.

That concludes this week's portion of our visit to the Wildlife World Zoo. I hope you enjoyed it and will join us next week for the conclusion!

Friday, May 17, 2019

It's Heating Up on this Weekly Link Round-Up

We had some rain again last week, and it's beginning to make me think that Mother Nature is on some pretty strong meds. Of course, this area has been in a drought for so long (twenty years) that I've forgotten what "normal" is, so maybe it did rain regularly in March, April, and May in the dim past.

It is finally beginning to heat up here in Phoenix, which means that the pool water will soon be perfect for my reading and lounging requirements. I still wish my fairy godmother would install the necessaries for a heated pool, but I don't think she's changed the batteries in her hearing aids for quite some time.

But with the temperatures rising, I find that my reading speed is increasing. (Told you I don't do very well in the cold-- even in what passes for cold here in the Sonoran Desert.) I've taken a look at my reading calendar, in which I list all the advance reading copies I've committed myself to, and it looks like I've finally done something I've wanted to do for a long time: have plenty of free time to read whatever I want to read. If you're lucky, I won't do what I feel like doing right now-- scheduling a long list of working dog mysteries-- because too much of a good thing isn't really all that good, and I don't want to offend any of my cat-loving readers. I'll try to mix it up, but one thing for sure, I'm really looking forward to this!

Before I get too slaphappy with planning my upcoming reading, I'd better head on out to the corral. Those links always need tending. Head 'em up! Moooove 'em out!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄

►Fascinating Folk◄
  • The amazing story of how the adventurous Kolb brothers helped inspire the creation of Grand Canyon National Park. 
  • Jeopardy star James Holzhauer on his children's book strategy. 
  • Molly Ringwald's surprising career path: novel translator.

►The Happy Wanderer◄
  • The Corryvreckan Whirlpool-- legend says a witch conjured the world's third largest whirlpool to protect Scotland from a nasty pirate.
  • How a candy craze almost wiped out the barrel cactus.
  • All it took to clean up this beach was a fish sculpture named Goby.
  • Sesame Street is now a real place.  
  • Rivers of flowers burst into bloom in Holland.

►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, May 16, 2019

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

First Line: She made her skittering, sliding way down the riverbank.

The discovery of the body of a young girl reopens a missing persons case from 1983. Leading the investigation is Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens, who went to school with the main suspects all those years ago. Aurora Jackson was fourteen and tagging along with her older sister and her sister's friends on a camping trip. When she disappeared, no one knew a thing, but her body was found in a location known only by those six friends. DCI Sheens is determined to get to the truth of what really happened that night, and he and his team are going to put in some very long hours before they do.

She Lies in Wait is the debut novel of Gytha Lodge, and it shows tons of promise. With the addition of chapters told from varying viewpoints in 1983, readers are taken deep into the group dynamics of the teenagers. In particular, Aurora's voice made me not only identify with her a bit but also mourn the loss of such a bright young soul. (In my opinion, Aurora and the newest member of Sheens' team, Detective Constable Hanson, are the best characters in the book.) Lodge has crafted a good story with plenty of misdirection and a list of suspects so annoying that it's difficult to choose the one most likely to be the killer. The pace does slow down from time to time, but a bit more editing can take care of things like that.

Although I did like the story, ultimately it was the characterization that let me down. For a character-driven reader like me, that's something that's extremely important. Hints throughout the first part of the book tell readers that DCI Jonah Sheens has a big secret, but when the reveal came, it fell flat. Sheens never did really pique my interest, and although his team does seem to have some interesting members, we're only told what they're like, they never show us by their actions. I would love to see them in action and learn more about them-- especially Lightman.

She Lies in Wait is a very good story, but it's told in a way that never really drew me in-- and if I can't care for the characters, it's very difficult for me to be enthusiastic about the book. But... this is a debut, so I'm interested in seeing where the second book will lead me.

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge
eISBN: 9781984817365
Random House © 2019
eBook, 368 pages

Police Procedural, #1 DCI Jonah Sheens mystery
Rating: B-
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden, Part Two

Last week, I shared half of our visit to the Desert Botanical Garden and left you just as we were getting close to our favorite place to relax, the Patio Cafe. Now it's time to share the rest of our stroll with you.

These virtual tours do have their advantages. You don't have to slather on sunscreen, get your wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and bring along a big bottle of cold water. But we did, so here we go!

The building is the Webster Auditorium. The huge cactus towering over it to the left are cardon cactus. They are the biggest cactus in the world, and they've been here as long as the Desert Botanical Garden has-- 1939.

The cardons were in bloom, too, and the outer layer of those blooms looks and feels like tan velvet.

Cactus flowers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, including pink-tinged white.

The Patio Cafe from our vantage point. To the left, you can buy drinks and food. Note that large pot on the left. There's more than meets the eye going on there.

Squirrels of all sizes live at the Garden.

There was a French family sitting at that table. The youngest son was trying to photograph the wildlife (Tip #1: Don't chase the critters around) while the older son was trying to feed the quail by hand. (No success.) Then the older son relaxed with both arms hanging down almost to the ground. You should've seen him jump when a large squirrel came over for a handout and sniffed his fingers!

Juvenile male Gambel's quail.

We'd been feeding two nursing mothers raw sunflower seeds when I discovered that one of them had her seed cache under that large pot!

Cactus flower

A nice shady bridge. I was heading for the succulent garden.

A rare crested saguaro. There was a hole further down its trunk. You know me. I always check holes.

That's because there's usually something looking out at me!

I loved the name of this cactus. Mother of Hundreds.

Some cactus blooms can be a bit... unsightly.

Garden view.

Multi-tasking: hulling sunflower seeds and cooling her tummy on the ground. (db)

A new prickly pear pad. (db)

Ocotillo blossoms. (db)


Inside the butterfly conservatory. (db)


Golden barrel cactus blossoms. (db)

Huge Madagascan ocotillo-- much different from our native variety! (db)

But I will say that our native variety has much prettier flowers! (db)

Sonoran Desert snowdrifts.  (db)

Well, that concludes our stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden. I hope you enjoyed it because we certainly did!