Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

Garden of Lamentations is the newest release in Deborah Crombie’s British mystery series featuring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. The first book in the series was published in 1993 and with this book there are now 17 books in the series. When the books started, Gemma James was a Sargent reporting to Duncan Kincaid. In that first book, A Share of Death, the reader also learns that Gemma is a single parent with a young son. Duncan is divorced or almost divorced (I don’t remember – it was a long time ago!)

I would suggest that you start at the beginning of the series and read the books in order. The characters grow quite a bit in the series. If I have any quibble about the latest book, it is that you really need to remember what happened in the prior book. The last book, To Dwell in Darkness, came out in 2014. I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember a lot about books that I read three years ago. If I had known, I would have re-read the last book again prior to reading Garden of Lamentations.

I enjoyed the book. The Deborah Crombie books have twists and turns and interesting characters. There is not only the “who done it” part of the mystery but the story also tells what is going on in the main character’s lives. In the same spirit as Elizabeth George and P.D. James, you get to know the characters; you don’t just read for that book’s “who done it.”  I think the characters in Crombie’s books are far more normal. I like the series from the other two authors but I think Crombie’s characters, Duncan and Gemma, are more normal and warm.

In this book, Gemma is working on the murder of a young nanny. The young girl’s body was found in a shared private garden behind the house where she was employed. At the same time, Duncan finds that his supervisor who had been off on leave is back and he tries to see him. He was told the man was not in but soon after received an anonymous text setting up a meeting. While fairly sure the text is from his old supervisor, Duncan has some misgivings about going to the meeting. Upon arriving, he finds his previous supervisor. They have a very short conversation that Duncan feels is unsatisfactory. Duncan finds out the next day that the man was brutally attacked after leaving the meeting. The situation leads Duncan to believe there is something is not right with Scotland Yard and he and his prior associates start investigating the issue.

Facebook Followings

If you like Elizabeth Berg and Louse Penny, I suggest that you follow them on Facebook. They have lovely posts. I liked their books but now since I have been following them, I like them even more. When I read Elizabeth Berg’s posts, I just think we could be best friends. I know that is silly but her posts resonate with me. If you are unfamiliar with Louse Penny, she is a Canadian author of the Inspector Gamache series. I dare you to read the first book in the series, Still Life, and not be drawn in. Her writing is wonderful and the world of Three Pines is hard to leave.

100 Days

My 100 days of not shopping will be ending next week. I have not been completely successful but I did stop myself many times. I am now thinking about the next 100 days. What goal will I pick for them? Have you been inspired to try something new or change a habit lately? Let me know in the comments. I could use some inspiration.

Thanks for reading!

 

The Amazon links above are affiliate links that if used could bring me a commission.  As I have said before, I have yet to make a penny with these.  I think you need to know that I still hold out hope that someday I will make at least a penny.

 

 

 

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Dinner with Edward – A Story of an Unexpected Friendship

Dear Fellow Reader,

I thought that I would surprise you this week with a book that is not a mystery nor is it part of a series. Dinner with Edward was a delightful surprise. I seem to have a “collect them all” mentality. In terms of books, this means that I tend to have many books to read on my eReader at all times. I often don’t remember why I have a particular book or where I got it. I don’t know what originally drew me to this book.

Edward loved his wife, Paula. They had been married for 69 years. When she died shortly before her 95th birthday, he wanted to die with her but she told him that he had to continue living. His daughters feared that he would give up on life. His daughter Valerie had a friend who was living in New York with her husband and little girl. Valerie suggested to her friend Isabel that she have dinner with her father.

Isabel was at her own crossroads. She had moved to New York with her family for a fast-paced newspaper job. Isabel and her husband had lived all over the world following wars and other stories. While Isabel was working in New York, her husband, a Canadian citizen, could not work. He hated living in New York. He was unhappy and she was unhappy. The relationship was wearing out and Isobel wonders if the relationship had lasted as long as it had because they had chased stories all over the world. Now that they were settled down, their problems could not be denied.

“I don’t know if the temptation of a good meal did it for me, or if I was just so lonely that even the prospect of spending time with a depressed nonagenarian seemed appealing. It was probably a combination of loyalty to Valerie and curiosity about her father that propelled me to Edward’s door a couple of months later. I could never have imagined that meeting Edward would change my life.”

That was the first of years of dinners with Edward. Edward was a phenomenal cook and he taught her to cook and he guided her though hard times in her life. His dinners were always amazing meals. Edward would go specialty shopping for the ingredients all over New York City. While the dinners and cooking were important it was their discussions about life and love that helped Isobel.

While there is some information about cooking, it is much more about the relationship that she developed with Edward and how he helped her and how she was there for him. Edward would be a lovely addition to everyone’s life. He was there when Isobel needed him and as she learns, he was there for others also.

This book is not going to change your life but it will be a nice addition. A pleasant story for you to read and enjoy.

Goodreads update

Did you sign up for the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge? Are you keeping up with logging in the books you have read? I have really been trying to keep it up this year. I had set my goal and then decided that I really wanted to read more this year. As of right now, I have reached 40% of my goal. Which is not bad, especially when I have rejected a couple of books so far this year. If you have not done it yet, I urge you to sign up. If nothing else, it does help to keep track of the books you have read. You might surprise yourself with how many books you have read. Also, we can be Goodreads friends!

Happy Spring!

Thanks for reading!

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Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth

eReaders – everyone is doing it…

Dear Fellow Reader,

Do you know where you get your reading ideas? I frequently forget how I heard about a book. Sometimes they are best sellers, sometimes they are older releases that someone suggested, and sometimes they are books that came across as sale books on BookBub that sound interesting. (I receive a daily email with eBooks that are on sale. You can sign up at www.bookbub.com.)

I do remember how I came across this week’s book. It was on BookBub as a sale eBook. The description was interesting and so I followed the link and read about the book on Amazon. I was intrigued. The Grey Mask was originally published in 1928. The author is British and (I almost hate to bring this up as you may be sick of my love for mystery series.) it is the first book in a series. There are 32 books in the series and the series was written between 1928 – 1961. There are 32 (!) of these books and I have never heard of them before. I feel so dense!

Now for my next surprise. I went to see if it was available on eBook from the library. It was available but there was a line! Not a bad wait but a wait none the less. So, the book is 89 years old and there is a line of people waiting to read it. Now, I just had to read this book. After a few weeks, I received notice that I could check out the book.

There are two things that I want to tell you about the book right away. The first is that if I didn’t know the book was so old that I would not have realized it. There are a few words here and there that I was unfamiliar with but that can sometimes happen with books by British authors. These books (Okay, I have read 2 so far.) are ageless.

The other thing is that I am not sure that I have read a mystery of this style before. Miss Silver is the detective in the series. I know more about her from reading the book description than I do from reading the books. According to the description on Amazon, Miss Silver is a governess turned detective. Most of the story is told by the character who hires Miss Silver to investigate a problem. While Miss Silver has people out making inquiries and seems to have connections, the person who hires her continues to investigate on their own interspersed with meetings with Miss Silver.

Patricia Wentworth, author of Grey Mask. She was born Dora Amy Elles.

In Grey Mask, Charles Moray has returned to England after an absence of four years. He had left when Margaret, his fiancé, broke off their engagement a week before the wedding. He left without receiving an adequate explanation as to why the engagement was broken off. While he was gone, his father died and he inherited the family house. Upon his return, he went over to the house one evening and found  a clandestine meeting taking place. He eavesdropped and felt that something needed to be done about what he heard. He was reluctant to go to the police because Margaret was involved. A friend of his recommended that he see Miss Silver.

Charles finds himself more and more tangled up in the web woven by the man in the grey mask. With the help of Miss Silver, the mystery is solved.

I have enjoyed the first two books in the series. They are interesting studies of human behavior and they present interesting mysteries with not completely predictable endings.

Have you heard of these before? To me, they are an undiscovered gem.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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Tightropes and Teetertotters by Lisa Pennington

Dear Fellow Readers,

Apparently I need to start this review off with a disclaimer. It seems that the government feels you need to know that I was given this book to review. The fact that I have been given this book to review might in some cases indicate a prejudice on my part to review the book favorably. It seems to me that either you like the book or not – and in my case, if I don’t like the book, I generally don’t review it.

I do have a prejudice. I think it is really hard to write a book and when someone works that hard and gets published, I am loath to say that a book isn’t’ very good. In my view, which is not universal, it is better to just not say anything. Since I can pick which books I review, I generally don’t review books I don’t like. Why would you want to hear about a book I didn’t like? I think it is much more fun to tell you about books I found that I like so that you have something you might want to read.

Almost enough about me…

I was asked to review this book by a group that represents Christian authors. This is the second book they have offered to me for review. Silly me, I did not realize that the books were all Christian based books. My religious/spiritual background is not the same as the authors of the books I have been asked to review. There is a strong Biblical basis for this book.  I think that even if your background is not the same as the author, that you will still find valuable insights in the book.

 

Tightropes and Teetertotters is a book to help you find balance in your life. I found the book to be interesting and I feel that it offers insights that are helpful. It is written in a conversational style with the author using examples from her life to illustrate points she is making in the book.

The book opens with a chapter on balance and what it is and then moved into a chapter explaining that the letters in “balance” will be used throughout the book to help you reach your goals.

 

Begin

 Assess

Learn

    Account

 Notify

  Change

  Endure

Her methodology is that when you find yourself out of balance, you need to begin to get yourself back in balance, figure out why you are out of balance, and then use the Bible to learn what will help you. While you are making corrections, you need to have a way to measure if your changes are working and you need to share your problem with someone so that they can hold you accountable. The last two steps are to make the change and have patience to work toward your goal.

“Asking the right questions provides learning opportunities that help us uncover what God is teaching us as well as what God is doing through us.”

The subsequent chapters each discuss an area of your life that can be out of balance and suggest ways to help make adjustments. Some of the areas include marriage, motherhood, your home, friends, money, gossiping, and moods. You could read through the entire book or just pick the section for where you feel you need help. I would suggest reading through the whole book and then keep it as a reference for when you need to visit it for guidance for a specific area of your life.

The author’s conversational tone and examples really make the book. I thought it was a little slow at the beginning but overall I enjoyed the suggestions and references. The author is the mother of 9 children so you definitely feel she has the experience to help you try to find your personal balance. She is encouraging and offers realistic expectations of what those changes can mean to your life.

“Not everyone will get on board with your new lifestyle, and that’s got to be okay with you. You don’t want to live to impress people or make them happy. You live to please God and He wants you to have financial freedom…”

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

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Cost Cutting – Another Update

It has been just about two years since I wrote about things we had done to cut costs and the things I had found out. This included cutting our attachment to cable TV, reducing the phone bill, and reducing our alarm system bill. In case you missed it, it turned out that getting the phone and alarm system bill reduced only took a call saying that I was going to drop the service and go somewhere cheaper for them to make cuts to our bill. (That was just irritating – why did I have to call to get the bills lowered if it was available so easily?)

In the meantime, we have now moved. As part of the move, we cut a bit more and found some other good deals.

CABLE TV

We still do not have cable TV. We do pay for Hulu and Sling TV. In case you are not familiar with it, Sling TV is a service that offers three packages of cable TV channels. We have a package ($20/ month) that provides ESPN and HGTV and many other channels. We subscribed so that we could watch more football games. When we subscribed, they had a deal that if you paid for three months in advance, they would send you a ROKU. We paid for three months and got the ROKU. The subscription to Sling can be dropped and restarted at any time. I fully anticipate that we will drop it outside of football season. While I was thrilled to have HGTV at first, I find that I don’t watch it now. I am not thoroughly sold on Sling. I had some problems with the audio not working from time to time. It is also very slow to load which can be irritating.

We just don’t watch TV very often anymore. We do put on the news each night and we try to watch CBS Sunday Morning. Other than that, we don’t really turn it on much. We watched some award show on Fox and saw all the commercials for their shows. We decided that we were not missing anything.

PHONE SERVICE

We switched to Vonage. It is an internet based phone system and the monthly charge is just under $19 per month. It has been fine. I don’t know that it is any better or worse than AT&T. The nice thing was that we got it right before we moved and it can go anywhere with us. You just need to plug into the internet. We could probably get rid of Vonage but honestly, I prefer to talk on a headset rather than a cell phone. The problem with it is that if the internet is out, you don’t have phone but that seems to be the same thing if you have your internet, phone, and TV bundled. Overall, that was a good monthly savings. If you would like to switch to Vonage, let me know and I will give you a referral code. I think we both get a discount.

CELL PHONE

This is my latest and greatest find. We had been with Verizon for years. In fact, we had always been with Verizon. Our phone bills went up and down depending upon how many of us there were on the account but it had gotten down to just the two of us. We had an account with two phones and 3 GB of data. Our bill (after a discount from my husband’s work) was like $141 per month. I had called and they blew me off about finding a lower cost.

If you are stuck on iPhones, then this will not work for you. We have always been android phone users. Our contract with Verizon ended in December. We were used to getting a new phone every two years and Silent Sam was having lots of problems with his phone. We needed new phones. In the past, we could get a deal on a phone on Black Friday from Amazon. We would get the newest phone for $1 and we would have a new two-year contract. As you probably know, those kinds of phone deals are gone.

We looked at Project Fi from Google. With Project Fi, you must buy one of the three phones that work on their system. After looking around, it seems that buying the phone from Google was the least expensive option. (by about $100) As with the other services, you can buy the phone outright or you can essentially finance it (interest free) over a 2-year period. Okay, so the phone set us back a fair amount. But the monthly cost is FAR more palatable. With Project fi, the first line with unlimited talk and text is $20 per month and the second line is $15. Data is $10 per GB. You pick how much you want. BUT THEN – are you ready? – if you don’t use it all, you get a rebate for the unused data. If you go over, you get charged on the $10 GB basis. Our phone service is the $20 + $15 + $10 +$10 because we each took 1 GB of data – $55 before taxes. Because of unused data, this month our bill was $44 after taxes. We are saving about $100 per month on our cell bill. We are happy with the quality of the calls and the phones. We do not have a contract with Project Fi either, so if we are unhappy we can leave.

The one thing that we didn’t know would happen is that since we use Google Hangouts for messaging, the phone calls come through on Google Hangouts also. The first time my computer started ringing, it was odd but once we knew what was going on, it was fine.

When I cancelled my Verizon account, they didn’t care. They did not try and keep a loyal customer or even ask why I was leaving. Yesterday they announced new pricing and unlimited data so that they could keep up with the competition. Guess we weren’t the only ones to leave.

Ebates

This is not quite in the same category as the others but it is my latest find. I had heard about it for years and thought it seemed too good to be true. With Ebates, they have stores that give a rebate when you shop. I have a Ebates Cash Back Button on my Chrome toolbar and if I shop at a store offering an Ebate rebate, it pops up to tell me what percentage or how much I get back for shopping there. When I joined, I got $10 for joining and starting to shop. My first check in December was for $13. Not huge but not bad for not doing anything I wasn’t doing anyway. I just got my second check. It is for $70. Now there was Christmas shopping on there and some other bigger purchases for our new house. (new desk chair, new lamps, eye glasses) Yes, I am allowing them to track my purchases. I guess I think it is done anyway so why not get paid for it. If you are interested, check out their web site.

There is also a way that you can save when shopping in person. I have not yet taken advantage of that program.

As with Vonage, if you would like to sign up, I can give you a code that will give you your $10 for signing up. I will get $25 if you signing up. This deal is available to anyone – I do not have a special deal with them.

That is the update for now. It is amazing how much we have cut from our bills in the last couple of years. I would not have thought that it would be that easy to do. Let me know any great cost cutting tips that you have found. I love to hear them!

Thanks for reading!

 

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