Thursday, June 13, 2024

An Easy Decision Weekly Link Round-Up


It's been a week of rescheduled appointments, a cleaning woman who wants to show up whenever she wants to, and a couple of jaw-dropping letters in the mail. My appointment with the vascular surgeon had to be rescheduled, and so did one of Denis's. In Denis's case, it sounds as though the doctor has decided that surgery is needed to repair the loose screw in the metalwork holding his spine together. Not exactly what we wanted to hear, but I have to admit that we were expecting it.

The jaw-dropping letters were from an insurance company informing us that, on August 1, our premiums would be going up. For Denis, his monthly premium would increase from $82 to $654. (No, I didn't miss a decimal point.) My monthly premium would increase from $43 to $379. For once, the decision was easy: cancel the policies, so we've been dealing with the paperwork for that. I'm still trying to figure out that tremendous jump in the prices!

The heat is on. Shade is at a premium!
Some of you may have heard about our part of the country being under a heat dome. Nothing new about that. Denis and I are keeping cool indoors and only braving the heat for those lovely doctor appointments. 
I'd also like to take a moment to thank a friend for sending me some mail even though one part was a duplicate.
Stay cool an enjoy the links!
►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
►Book Banning & Censorship◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
►Channeling My Inner Elly May Clampett◄
►The Wanderer◄
►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.

No matter how busy you may be, don't forget that quality Me Time curled up with a good book!

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Coffin in the Wall by M.J. Lee

First Line: "Shhhh..." Kevin placed his finger across his lips. "Did you hear something?"
There is fear in the historic city of Chester. Teenage drug dealers are turning up dead, their bodies twisted and mangled by a ruthless killer who then puts them on display. Detective Inspector Emma Christie is put in charge of the investigation, and the Powers That Be want a result, and they want it Now.


Since I am a long-time fan of M.J. Lee's Jayne Sinclair genealogical mysteries, I thought I'd give this new series a try. After all, I don't remember reading a mystery set in Chester, England before. I'm glad I picked up The Coffin in the Wall. It's a promising start to a new series that I will be keeping an eye on.

The City of Chester could be considered a character in the book, but the focus is on DI Emma Christie, the daughter of a legendary police officer who had a 100% success rate. Unfortunately, her father now has dementia and doesn't want to go into a nursing home. As a result, Emma has to deal with an elaborate caregiving schedule that leaves her precious little sleep at the best of times-- and this isn't one of those times.

Emma doesn't feel like she measures up to her father, and her boss's behavior doesn't help. (I wish there would be a few more caring superior officers in police procedurals. It would make a nice change.) She goes everywhere with a ledger in which she writes detailed notes of everything she sees and hears. Emma likes "bureaucratic work... It also meant she was across every inch of the investigation in case anyone asked." This detailed as-you-go narrative aids in her investigation several times, and it also saves her from some of the shark bites from the Powers That Be. 

There are flashes of much-needed humor throughout The Coffin in the Wall, and I liked the characters surrounding Emma: John Simpson the civilian researcher, DC Harry Fairweather, and the pesky journalist who always seems to be underfoot. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, and here's hoping Emma will be able to get a bit more sleep.

The Coffin in the Wall by M.J. Lee
Durrow Publishing © 2024
eBook, 379 pages
Police Procedural, #1 Emma Christie
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

While Miz Kittling Knits: Mr. Bates vs. The Post Office


It's been quite some time since I shared any of my knitting with you. I've had posts about going to the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo and visiting with Daisy and Suzanne that took center stage instead. The lack of crafty posts doesn't mean that I've stopped knitting in the evenings-- heavens, no! I have a backlog of projects to show you, so I'd better get started!

This time I want to share a completed baby blanket.

I'm so used to knitting multi-strand, big-needled-- US sizes 13, 15, 17-- adult-sized afghans that this single-strand, US size 8 needled baby blanket took some getting used to! Knitting it made me realize that a lot of the pain I was experiencing in my thumbs and other finger joints was due to the weight of the all-in-one-piece adult-sized afghans I've been making, so it looks as though I might be concentrating on smaller items from now on. We shall see.

I found the pattern ("Look for Happiness") on Etsy, and used Red Heart's With Love 100% acrylic yarn in a lovely blue-ish purple called "Iris." I've purchased yarn to make more baby blankets that I will be donating to the hospital that's across the street from the clinic where I go every Friday.
(By the way, the yellow afghan underneath the baby blanket now resides in the UK.)
What was I watching while my needles were clacking away?

Firstly, here's a brief synopsis: "One of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history where hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters and postmistresses were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a defective IT system."

Lately, I've been in the mood for films representing "the Little Guy versus The Man." I want to see justice prevail. I don't want to see car crashes, gory violence, or hormones gone berserk. I want to see films about ordinary people prevailing against great odds. 

Let me tell you, did Mr. Bates ever fill the bill! If you haven't watched this, I highly recommend it. If you don't find yourself talking (or even shouting) at the television screen, I'll be surprised. If you visit IMDb's page for Mr. Bates, you'll find more information and some good reviews of it. It's available on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, and PBS Masterpiece.

It is unbelievable what the British government put these poor people through, and one of my friends in the UK told me that no one had really been aware of what was going on until this film was released. Now there is a tremendous hue and cry-- as well there should be.

Okay, now that my blood pressure has been elevated just by typing this, I'd better go sit down and do some knitting. It's been a long time since I've been so worked up over something I've watched on television, and I think I like it. I'm hoping all of you will watch it, too.

Monday, June 10, 2024

The Framed Women of Ardemore House by Brandy Schillace

First Line: The house was enormous.
After losing her job, her mother, and her marriage all in one year, divorced neurodivergent, hyperlexic book editor Jo Jones is happy to inherit a family estate in North Yorkshire and leave New York City behind. 
Jo is used to not fitting in, and she expected her Americanisms and her autism to set her apart in the English countryside. What she didn't expect was finding the body of the estate's caretaker-- a man she'd fired the day before-- dead on the rug in her cottage. Not only is she in potential danger, but Jo is also a potential suspect. 
When a strange family portrait disappears from Jo's inherited manor house, she finds herself on the trail of the missing painting... and a killer.
When I read the synopsis of Brandy Schillace's The Framed Women of Ardemore House, I couldn't resist. A transplanted American in the depths of Yorkshire? A book-loving heroine who just doesn't fit in? A derelict mansion with secret rooms? A neglected garden? A missing painting? A murder? It's as if the author knew all my hot buttons and tried to press as many of them as she could in one book. Was she successful? Yes, she was!
Jo's voice immediately drew me into the story. Her inheritance is an estate that's been vacant since 1908. It's in bad shape, but at least there's also a cottage she can move into. When she first arrives, the solicitor tries to shuffle her off to the cottage and away from the ramshackle country house, but "Jo was standing in front of Wuthering Heights, and no, she did not want to go poke around a cottage." I don't blame her, especially when she goes inside and "...her heart leapt; she'd caught a glimpse of distant book spines. 'It's a library?' she asked."
This book may be Jo's show, but Schillace surrounds her with an excellent supporting cast. There's the lovestruck Welsh antiques dealer, Gwilym; Tula, the innkeeper's wife who's a fellow outsider; and DCI James MacAdams, who "looked like Sam Spade tangled with Columbo and got the worst of it.

The solution to the mystery was something completely different, and I didn't pick up on it although my hindsight showed me where clues had been planted all along the way. I was even suspicious of a character whom I should have been suspicious of, but I couldn't figure out how that person fit in. I love it when that happens!

If you're in the mood for a fun read, by all means, pick up The Framed Women of Ardemore House. The ending is rather open-ended, and I'm really hoping that I'll have a chance to see Jo Jones again. I love her.   

The Framed Women of Ardemore House by Brandy Schillace
eISBN: 9780369747716
Hanover Square Press © 2024
eBook, 355 pages
Amateur Sleuth, #1 Netherleigh mystery
Rating: A
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

On My Radar: Martin Walker's A Grave in the Woods!


Today, I want to talk about a book that I suspect many of you already have on your wish lists. I've been a fan of Martin Walker's Bruno, Chief of Police series since the very first book, and it's hard to believe that the seventeenth will be released in a few months. If I'm lucky, he'll appear at The Poisoned Pen again. I never will forget the time he sat down with Denis and me for a wonderful chat before his event.

Let me tell you more about the book!

Available September 24, 2024!


"When Abby, an American archaeologist, arrives in St. Denis on the heels of her divorce, she hopes to make a new life for herself as a specialist guide for visiting tourists. So when a local British couple discover a grave from World War II on their property, Abby is able to put her training to good use. As it turns out, in the grave are the remains of two German women and an Italian submarine officer who had a big secret to hide. The women are suspected of having had links to the German garrison in Bordeaux during the war. It’s up to Bruno, just recovered from a gunshot wound earlier in the year, to unravel the mystery—and its contemporary relevance. His task is made more difficult by the horrible heat-dome summer, which is raising the temperature for miles around, as unprecedented amounts of rain drench the Massif Central and threaten increasingly dramatic floods

As Bruno drills to the heart of the case, matters get even more complicated when both Abby’s financially distressed ex-husband and a mysterious dashing Italian naval officer arrive, with very different ideas in mind. Once again, Bruno is left to serve the guilty their just rewards, and his friends, some sumptuous Perigordian cuisine.

I love this series for the mysteries, the history, the setting, the food, the characters... need I go on? If you aren't already acquainted with Bruno, I highly recommend these books!

Thursday, June 06, 2024

The Eyes Don't Have It Weekly Link Round-Up


At this writing, Denis and I are awaiting the results of our doctor visits and doing the usual chores around the house. Yawn-worthy news, to be sure, so I'll share a photo of the mail I've recently received.

Those of you who are faithful followers (bless you!), know that I've known about these books for months. I pre-ordered them all, and I've been eagerly awaiting their arrivals. So what happens? Naturally, they all show up at the same time. I need a couple of extra pairs of eyes because I want to read them all simultaneously!

May all the bumps in your roads be as "major". Enjoy the links!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
►Book Banning & Censorship◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
►Channeling My Inner Elly May Clampett◄
  • Galena, the box-loving cat in Lehi, Utah, accidentally got shipped to an Amazon return center in California. (That's okay. I almost packed my dog in one of my suitcases when I was going on a business trip. I learned very quickly to keep checking to make sure he hadn't hidden himself away again!)
  • Rescuers saved 130 beached pilot whales in Western Australia after a mass stranding.
  • 100 weird and wonderful medieval dog names.
  • An extremely rare blue rock thrush spotted in Oregon might be the first ever in the United States.
  • How should Colorado handle its booming moose population?
  • Four zebras escaped from a trailer on a Washington State Highway, and one was still on the loose.
  • The famous "Grizzly Bear 399" in Grand Teton National Park has emerged from hibernation with her four new cubs.
  • In a first, an orangutan healed his own wound using a known medicinal plant.
►The Wanderer◄
►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.

No matter how busy you may be, don't forget that quality Me Time curled up with a good book!

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

A Nest of Vipers by Harini Nagendra

First Line: "Where did all the animals go?" asked Miss Roberts, poking Kaveri with a bony finger.
It's 1922, and Edward, Prince of Wales, is visiting India. Due to rioting in other cities, security has never been tighter in Bangalore. Kaveri Murthy has been busy teaching women to read and solving small crimes that are brought to her attention, but a request for help brings her into the world of jadoo-- Indian street magic-- and a possible plot against the visiting prince.
I really enjoy Harini Nagendra's Bangalore Detectives Club mysteries, but I have to admit that my greatest enjoyment lies in immersing myself in the books' setting. A Nest of Vipers is no exception. 
Did I like trying to figure out what was going on amidst all the magicians, snake charmers, sleight-of-hand, and rope tricks? Yes, I certainly did. I also like the fact that, rather than trying to change his wife and her predilection for crime-solving, her husband, Dr. Ramu Murthy, plays a much larger role in this book. He's not only trying to keep her safe, but he also helps solve the mystery.
Kaveri is a wonderful character. She's a wealthy woman who does not see social status. She has friends from all walks of life and will help anyone-- especially downtrodden women from low castes. She is pursuing a degree in mathematics as well as teaching women to read and, with the help of her mother-in-law, running her household. And speaking of her mother-in-law, I am so glad that she has transformed from the stereotypical hateful witch to a staunch ally for Kaveri.
As I said earlier, I love immersing myself in Nagendra's setting. A Nest of Vipers brought home to me how volatile 1920s India was. Gandhi's writings were not allowed in libraries. Being in the independence movement was incredibly dangerous because there were so many spies on both sides. People could never be sure of whom they could trust. 
When you combine such an incredibly rich, layered setting with a mystery filled with twists and turns and such sympathetic characters, you have a winning series. After reading A Nest of Vipers, I can't wait to see what the next book will bring. If you like historical mysteries, I highly recommend Harini Nagendra. Start at the beginning with The Bangalore Detectives Club. Oh! A word of warning: the food is mouth-wateringly good. You might not want to read these books while you're hungry!   

A Nest of Vipers by Harini Nagendra
ISBN: 9781639366149
Pegasus Crime © 2024
Hardcover, 352 pages
Historical Mystery, #3 Bangalore Detectives Club
Rating: B+
Source: The Publisher

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

A Spring Stroll through the Phoenix Zoo

Denis and I couldn't resist another visit to the Phoenix Zoo. It won't be long before it's too hot to wander around out in the blazing sun. As usual with me, I was just as happy looking at all the blooming plants as I was watching the animals.
Are you ready to stroll? Come along with us!

On the Arizona Trail. Mountain lions (AKA pumas or cougars) are the largest of the big cats that can purr.


I have a feeling that bald eagles know how photogenic they are.

A turkey vulture getting ready for takeoff.

Denis and I both loved the name of this lager.

A stork enjoying a delivery-free day.

This is the first time Denis and I had seen a Madagascar ocotillo in bloom.

This pyramid is Hunt's Tomb, the final resting place of Arizona's first state governor, George W.P. Hunt. Hunt is entombed with his wife Duett and five members of their extended family.

Desert bighorn sheep high up on a hillside

This doesn't look like much from a distance...

... but it is more impressive close up. It's an ironwood tree in bloom.

Lilies always remind me of my grandmother.

This tree was outside the baboon exhibit. Denis and I had never seen it in bloom before.

Very dramatic flowers! When I got home and could look at the photos in detail, I thought the flowers looked like tulips. Guess what? It's an African tulip tree!

The cluster of buds look like a bunch of bananas.

The main reason why we went to the zoo-- a baby flamingo. Our nephew in England called them "flee-moes" when he was little.

Baby flamingo and parents

I kinda like how the fence frames this shot.

Children playing in jets of water, the perfect thing to do on a hot day.

Denis and a sleepy orangutan.

A Jacaranda tree in bloom.

I hope you enjoyed your virtual visit. Just think of what I saved you in sunscreen, hats, and water!