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nakeisha
HB Boat

I hope you have a lovely day, Ashley

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Dolly

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Hunger Games

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Not my job

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The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern and The Cat Who Turned On & Off by Lilian Jackson Braun

Could Read Backwards Ate a Danish Modern Turned On & Off


The Cat Who Could Read Backwards
The world of modern art is a mystery to many. But for Jim Qwilleran it turns into a mystery of another sort when his assignment to cover the art beat for the Daily Fluxion leads down the path to murder. A stabbing in an art gallery, vandalised paintings, a fatal fall from a scaffolding - this is not at all what Qwilleran expects when he turns his reporting talents to art. But now Qwilleran and his newly found partner, Koko the brilliant Siamese, are in their element - sniffing out clues and confounding criminals intent on mayhem and murder.

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern
Jim Qwilleran is not exactly overwhelmed by his new assignment for the Daily Fluxion. Interior design has never been one of his specialities and now he's supposed to turn out an entire magazine on the same subject. But the first issue of Gracious Abodes is barely off the presses when Qwilleran finds himself back on more familiar territory - the exclusive residence featured on the cover has been burglaries and the lady of the house found dead...

Now Qwilleran, with the help of Koko and Yum Yum, the brilliant Siamese cats, have their respective moustache and whiskers twitching, and when Koko starts pawing clues in the dictionary and sniffing designer furniture, Qwilleran finds himself doing a feature on a very clever murderer.

The Cat Who Turned On & Off
Jim Qwilleran's latest commission is a piece on Junktown - a ghetto of antique dealers and collectors living in genteel decay. Enchanted by Junktown and its delightfully bohemian inhabitants, Qwill finds himself digs in the area, renting two rooms to share with his sleuthing Siamese companions Koko and Yum Yum. When his landlord C.C. Cobb, one of Junktown's leading citizens, falls mysteriously to his death, Qwill's famous whiskers begin to twitch. It's only when Koko develops a passion for tape-recorders, to rival even that of his journalist mentor, that the vital clues begin to drop into place...


I used the cover of the first book the other week for my 'weekly book cover' meme and to my surprise and pleasure discovered several people who had also enjoyed the books. Thus with them on my mind, I decided to embark on a reread of them, it being some fifteen years (at least) since I last read them. This time though I won't read all twenty-nine back-to-back, I'll intersperse other books with them.

They are cosy mysteries involving a newspaper writer and two Siamese cats. I'm not a cat lover and yet I do love these books. LJB is a fine writer and tells the stories very well. You learn more and more about Qwill as the books go on and his character develops, as does the characters of Koko and YumYum, as well as various recurring characters both from Qwill's past and from his present. And there are mentions of the unusual spelling of Qwill's surname.

Qwill is a great character, he has his faults as well as his excellent points, he's the kind of chap you'd want around in an emergency and the kind of chap you know you could rely on. His moustache and Koko's whiskers & word finding play their part in solving the mysteries and LJB writes them in a completely believable way.

The books pretty much do what they say on the tin. They are feel good, cosy mysteries, where murders happen off-screen and there aren't pages of sex and violence. They have humour, excellent character interaction, interesting friendships & the odd touch of romance. They are an easy, quick read, well paced, nice and crisp and you often end up learning new things - even if it is only the meaning of words Koko turns up. They have a real 'feel good factor' about them.

These are the first three books in the series, they were all written in the 1960s, but they have aged well, very well in fact. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three books and if you like cosy mysteries with a bit of a twist, with good characters and settings, then I'd definitely recommend them. I'm looking forward to reading the other twenty-six throughout the year.

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nakeisha
It was indeed a fairytale day yesterday at Queens for both Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez.

The later won the men's singles in three sets and returned to court after half an hour's break to play the doubles final with Andy. Again it went the distance, being won by Andy & Feli in what is known as 'the champions tie-break' which has sadly replaced the third set in ordinary tournament doubles.

Both matches were of high quality, entertaining, thoroughly enjoyable and jolly close. How Feli managed to keep his energy and concentration going I really don't know - he did take to not sitting down at the change of ends in the doubles as he said he might not have been able to get back up.

What a return to tennis for Andy and what a return to top class tennis for Lopez.

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Five months after hip surgery (hip replacements really a have improved in leaps and bounds over the years) Andy Murray is once again not only back on the tennis courts, but in a final at Queens. It's not singles, he says his hip isn't ready for that yet, instead he teamed up with Feliciano Lopez (Spain) and they are through to the doubles final today.

To his surprise, as well as most other people's, Lopez in in the singles finals as well - showing that age really doesn't matter (he's 37). In fact the combined ages of the chaps playing in the singles final is 71. Lopez had to play two full matches and finish of another match yesterday and played them all back to back with a mere six and a half minutes break, in order to change his clothes, between his singles semi and the resumption of the men's quarters that had had to stop on Friday for bad light (which was somewhat amusing for all concerned given Friday was the longest day of the year). Once they had wrapped that match up (beating two Brits) he and Andy stayed on court and awaited their semi final opponents. All in all Lopez spent over five hours on court yesterday and in all honesty looked as if he could have played for another five hours.

I've always liked Feliciano Lopez and I would love to see him do the double today and of course it would be wonderful and very fitting given he's won the singles at Queens five times, if Andy could win a doubles' title on his return to competitive tennis. Whether he does or not, he has proved he is once again fit and able to compete and what's more he is completely pain free - which must be absolutely wonderful for him.

He's also playing men's doubles at Wimbledon and is hoping to find a partner to play mixed doubles will as well. He showed what a lovely chap he is when he opted to use his protected ranking status at Queens, thus enabling him and Feliciano to get straight into the tournament without him having to accept a wild card, because he didn't want to deprive a fellow Brit of getting one. He's also said any partner he plays doubles with must be able to get into the draw without needing a wild card for the same reason. It's not many people who would do that as protected ranking is obviously important when looking forward.

Today I will be cheering Feliciano (who this week has become an honorary Brit' due to his teaming up with Andy) on in the singles and then again in the doubles.

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TMOAS

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Snaggled from spikesgirl58

Which European Country Should You Live In?

You got: United Kingdom!

You belong in the UK! You are a friend people can count on when they need to be cheered up, and you know how to have fun! You are very polite and optimistic, which is probably why you can still live happily even with such dramatic weather all the time.

I am very happy with this. Although some would say question if I do know how to have fun - but then fun I guess means different to different people.

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Theorizing Fandom

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Garfield Smile

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Day 19: Domestic animal



Norfolk Terrier



A pretty easy choice this time, as I knew I was going to go for a dog and that it would be a Westie or a Norfolk. I decided upon the latter. It's not Lacey, I deliberately decided not to use one of my dogs for the choice.

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Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks who Plotted Hitler's Defeat by Giles Milton

Ungentlemanly Warfare


Six gentlemen, one goal - the destruction of Hitler's war machine

In the spring of 1939, a top secret organisation was founded in London: its purpose was to plot the destruction of Hitler's war machine through spectacular acts of sabotage.

The guerrilla campaign that followed was to prove every bit as extraordinary as the six gentlemen who directed it. Winston Churchill selected them because they were wildly creative and thoroughly ungentlemanly. One of them, Cecil Clarke, was a maverick engineer who had spent the 1930s inventing futuristic caravans. Now, his talents were put to more devious use: he built the dirty bomb used to assassinate Hitler's favourite, Reinhard Heydrich. Another member of the team, William Fairbairn, was a portly pensioner with an unusual passion: he was the world's leading expert in silent killing. He was hired to train the guerrillas being parachuted behind enemy lines.

Led by dapper Scotsman Colin Gubbins, these men - along with three others - formed a secret inner circle that planned the most audacious sabotage attacks of the Second World War. Winston Churchill called it his Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. The six 'ministers', aided by a group of formidable ladies, were so effective that they single-handedly changed the course of the war.

Told with Giles Milton's trademark verve and eye for detail, Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is thoroughly researched and based on hitherto unknown archival material. It is a gripping and vivid narrative of adventure and derring-do and is also, perhaps, the last great untold story of the Second World War.


I don't read a large amount of non-fiction books, I do prefer fiction. However, J read this and recommend it highly so I thought I'd give it a go and I'm very glad I did.

The title basically sums the book up perfectly, 'it does what it says on the tin'. I first came across the kind of people who worked for this organisation in an episode of Foyle's War which touched on the subject briefly and expanded a little more in the final series. J knew more about it before that through other things he had read.

The books shows how this secret group came together and how they devised some wondrous, novel and amazing things, that really did play a huge part in the defeat of Hitler and showed their part in how the allies won the war. It showed how actually a small team of knowledgeable saboteurs were actually more effective than carpet bombing when it came to destroying factories vital to the German war machine.

The group wasn't liked by many, especially by those who had served in previous wars, because the work was considered to be 'ungentlemanly' and not the sort of thing the British should be doing. And yes, some of things they did, do seem harsh, shocking even and very ungentlemanly - but there isn't anything gentlemanly about war.

Despite the subject matter the book isn't heavy going and devoid of humour or light-heartedness, more than once a turn of phrase or the description of something or a conversation actually had me chuckling or at least smiling. It wasn't a 'heavy tome' and it was very well written with a light, human touch. The people involved were real people and came across as being real, as people you would know, get on with, like, etc. They had families, likes, dislikes, loves, they were human beings - they just had the ability not that many people have to let their minds go to weird and wonderful places and to have the nerve and the belief and patriotism to do what they did - in many cases that meant giving their lives.

It was actually a very enjoyable read as well as a gripping and informative one that had me marvelling at the audacity, brilliance and bravery of the chaps and girls involved. Given the blurb about the books implies this style is common to the writer, I might well have a look at what else he has written. If you have an interest in this kind of book I would recommend it and if you have a Kindle it's extremely well priced at the moment.

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Pictures at

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YPM

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The Rule of One & The Rule of Many by Ashley Sanders & Leslie Sanders

Rule of One  Rule of Many


The Rule of One
In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.

She has an identical twin sister, Mira.

For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.

Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.


The Rule of Many
Born to a death sentence in a near-future America, rebellious sisters herald a revolution—if they can survive.

Twins Ava and Mira Goodwin defy the Rule of One simply by existing. The single-child law, ruthlessly enforced by Texas’s Governor Roth, has made the sisters famous fugitives and inspirations for the resurgent rebellion known as the Common.

But the relentless governor and his implacable Texas State Guard threaten that fragile hope, as Roth consolidates his power in a bid for ultimate authority.

As Ava and Mira relinquish the relative safety of their Canadian haven to stand against Roth, new allies arise: Owen, a gifted young programmer, impulsively abandons his comfortable life in a moment of compassion, while Zee, an abused labor camp escapee, finds new purpose in resistance.

The four will converge on Dallas for a reckoning with Roth, with nothing less than their destinies—and the promise of a future free from oppression—on the line.

Disobedience means death. But a life worth living demands rebellion.


I've never really been interested in reading dystopian books as they seem too dark, depressing and unrealistic. However, The Rule of One popped up on my Kindle through advertising and something about the title and/or cover caught my eye - I didn't know it was a dystopian novel at that point. I read the blurb and it still seemed interesting, after all it hasn't been that long since China had a one-child policy, so the set-up was believable, thus I was going to try a sample when I discovered I could borrow it through Prime, so I did.

It's written by twin sisters (which must be an extremely clever marketing tool and I admit did add to my interest in the books). The first book swaps back and forth between them a chapter at a time as they tell their part of the story in the first person. I was drawn into the story and into their world and their dilemma and found it well paced, well told, well written and actually scarily believable. Their world in general was well drawn and despite not living in America, I could believe in how things had become as they had.

I finished the first book and at that time I didn't know there was a second book (and apparently a third is being written) and although things hadn't been resolved, I would actually have been happy to have left it there. However, curiosity and that fact I had enjoyed the book drove me to find the second book which I discovered I could also borrow; so I did.

Once again it's told in the first person, but as well as the twins writing as 'their' respective twin, two other characters also have their first person characters - I'm assuming each twin took one of the two characters. Again it was well written, well paced, well told and very scarily believable. However, as the story went on, I'm afraid I lost all the compassion and most the sympathy I had for Ava and Mira as their characters changed and they became as 'bad' as those they were seeking to bring down.

Yes, of course on one level I could totally understand from where they were coming; grave injustices had been done to them and others. However, they to my mind became so blood-thirsty, so dark, so unpleasant, so uncaring about anything but getting their revenge, no matter what the cost to anyone, that I came do really dislike them. By the end of book I honestly didn't care if they 'won' or the other side did - in fact on a couple of occasions I was rooting for the other side. I didn't even care if they lived or died.

I haven't read reviews of the books, so I don't now if this is just me; it probably was just me and maybe I just read it at 'the wrong time'. Maybe the authors even wanted the reader to have that reaction - but if would surprise me if they had.

The second book was also for me a lot darker and far more depressing than the first. The first managed to fit in some lightness and even humour and affection and hope. The second book was devoid of all of that and definitely reminded me why I don't care for dystopian books. It offered nothing but negativeness.

The third book isn't out yet and as it stands I almost certainly won't be reading it. That said, whilst I didn't care about the twins in the second book and what happened to them, I was somewhat interested in a couple of the other characters. Plus, I'm a completist and as such part of me will want to read it. Although as it's not out yet (I don't think it's even fully written yet) I might well have forgotten about it by the time it comes out.

I'm afraid I can't recommend these books. That said of course, we are all different, we all like and dislike different things and someone who enjoys dystopian stories might well enjoy these books.

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The last two weeks have been spent watching the French Open. Once again overall it was very enjoyable.

It culminated yesterday afternoon with the men's final which turned out to be a repeat of the 2018 final: Rafa vs. Dominic Thiem. To my delight the result was also the same: Rafa won.

This is his 12th title at the French Open making him the first player in the history of the game to win 12 times at the same slam - quite the feat. It also brings his overall grand slam titles to 18 (two behind Roger Federer). And in all honesty really does cement his title of 'King of Clay' as well as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

It was a very good match and the first two sets were split and were very close, closer really than the 6:3, 7:5 scoreline says. However, clearly Rafa didn't 'approve' of Thiem taking a set off of him *g* (the first one he has taken at the French Open in three previous attempts) as he came back and pretty much ran away with the match winning both sets three and four 6:1.

Thiem was still, at times at least, playing high quality tennis and he had his chances to break Rafa. However, he also had the air of a beaten man, plus he had been on court for four days in a row thanks to the weather and his five set semi final against Djokovic was a much harder fight and took longer to complete than Rafa's three set win over Federer. That said, Rafa did what he does tend to so, slid up a gear and started to really find the lines with laser precision.

It was a very well deserved win and I am, naturally, delighted. Next stop: Wimbledon.

Rafa FO

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Day 18: Waterscape



Waterscape



As with yesterday's landscape picture, the challenge here was finding a nice waterscape where the water was the main focus, rather than being of equal focus with the sky or land.

I chose this picture because I can imagine sitting on the bench gazing out over the water in the peaceful and tranquil setting.

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Day 17: Landscape



Landscape



Again not as straight-forward as I thought this one might be, because so many of the pictures I have are land & waterscapes in one or landscapes with sunsets, etc. and I was looking for one that really focused on the 'land'. So I went for this one. As with other pictures it's fairly simple and it looks a lovely peaceful, tranquil place.

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Evita

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The Cat Who

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Day 16: Flower(s)



Roses



And yet again I have an awful lot of photos of flowers, both ones I've taken and ones I've come across on various sites. So once again the choice was a hard one.

I decided to go with this one because it has fond (and bitter-sweet) memories for me. I used this picture to make a card for J's mother's 100th birthday and I put Lacey in the picture - in the obvious gap in the middle, so I thought it would be a good choice.

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Day 15: Tree(s)



Tree Tunnel



Guess what? Yep, that's right, I have a lot of tree pictures and so it was hard to choose *g* Actually, I was going to post a photo I had taken myself of the trees in the wood across from us (the ones I had shared a picture of when snow/frost covered). However, as I haven't yet transferred them from my camera to my computer, I decided to save time (French Open) and use one that I already had on my computer.

I love tree tunnels, I really, really love them and for me this is a gorgeous example.

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Day 14: Moon



Moon



This is another subject for which I have a large amount of photos from which it was difficult to choose just one. In the end I once again opted for simplicity.

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EKN

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Pre-Raphs

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Day 13: Rainbow



Rainbow



This was a rather difficult prompt for the opposite reason to previous prompts, i.e. it wasn't that I had so many pictures from which I to choose, but because I really struggled to find one I really liked and that showed much of the rainbow - at least a natural rainbow. I finally found this one, which I think is superb and made the hunt worthwhile.

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Day 12: Lightning



Lightning



This was one of the easier choices as I don't have a lot of picture of lightning. From the ones I do have, I went with this one as it is one of the simpler photos I have of lightning, but also one that showed how scary and deadly it can be. Plus, I thought the way it is captured with the tree is amazing.

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Apparently Northumberland is one of the counties in England that has and celebrates its 'day'. And this year that day is today. From what I've seen in images (I shall do some more digging and find words *g*) it appears to be a day rather than a date, the last Sunday of May and there are various events held around Northumberland. Interesting, I shall definitely do some more digging.

Northumberland Day 2019

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Murder by Matchlight by E. C. R. Lorac

Murder by Matchlight


London. 1945. The capital is shrouded in the darkness of the blackout, and mystery abounds in the parks after dusk.

During a stroll through Regents Park, Bruce Mallaig witnesses two men acting suspiciously around a footbridge. In a matter of moments, one of them has been murdered; Mallaig's view of the assailant but a brief glimpse of a ghastly face in the glow of a struck match.

The murderer's noiseless approach and escape seems to defy all logic, and even the victim's identity is quickly thrown into uncertainty. Lorac's shrewd yet personable C.I.D. man MacDonald must set to work once again to unravel this near-impossible mystery.


This is the second E. C. R. Lorac I have read and I'm delighted I still have two more of her books on my Kindle and I see BLCC are publishing another one in July. This makes me very happy as she is an excellent writer.

As with the previous book of hers I read, she is able to transport you to the time and place of the book, she makes you feel you are there and experiencing the sights, sounds and emotions of the time and place.

It was fascinating seeing war time London and how different people dealt with and came to terms with the bombings, air raids, bomb shelters, the deaths, rationing, etc. How they went on living their lives and accepting the hand fate had dealt them and being so positive.

MacDonald was an excellent character; I really liked him. And the mystery was definitely near-impossible and fascinating to unravel and discover who, what, how and why. All the characters were excellent in fact and all were very well written and very real and a very good mixture. It was also interesting to look back into some of the characters' pasts. It certainly kept me guessing as to who and why.

It was an extremely good book as as with the previous book I reviewed, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

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Blood Brothers

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Textual Poachers

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PC gone mad

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Murder Jigsaw by E. & M. A. Radford

Murder Jigsaw


“Jiminy! He’s going to fish for him.”

A small Cornish fishing hotel, The Tremarden Arms, is renowned for its adjacent waters where guests fish for salmon and trout. The unpleasant Colonel Donoughmore is found drowned in a salmon pool in the hotel grounds. He was dressed for fishing and his rod was on the bank nearby. The local Police concluded it was an unfortunate accident but Doctor Manson finds two peculiar circumstances which convinced him that this was a skilfully contrived murder. There were fellow fishermen out on the river banks near to where the Colonel was found dead, two of whom had publicly uttered threats against him. Furthermore, several other hotel guests had strong financial motives for removing him.


This book was originally published in 1994 and unlike many books older books, I felt it really did show its age in terms of writing.

It's a good story, an enticing puzzle and it has an intriguing lead detective, who also happens to be excellent at forensics too. The other characters are well written and whilst some are very much of 'a type' that isn't an issue.

For me, the problem was that the book was very 'hit and miss' in terms of the way the story flowed. In parts it was really interesting and clipped along as an excellent pace and I was really caught up in the story. Sadly other parts were so laboriously dragged out with everything Mason was doing explained step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step that I became almost glassy eyed. Detail is good, but this went way too far.

Also parts of the book were completely unintelligible due to the practice back then of writing in dialect. At one point a Cornish chap and a Scottish chap were having a conversation and I honestly couldn't follow it. I got odd bits, but most of it was just gibberish - thankfully the salient points of the conversation did get relayed shortly afterwards in non-dialect English.

I'm not a fisherman nor have I any interest in the subject, but I didn't feel completely out of my depth - no more so than I do with any other hobby/lifestyle, etc. for which I have no real interest or knowledge. That said, maybe I would have enjoyed the book more had I understand the details about fishing.

It wasn't an awful book (I read on to the end) it did keep me guessing and I guessed wrongly as to whodunnit, I did like Manson and his side-kick. But I wouldn't recommend it and I won't be seeking out the other couple of books by the same authors which have been reprinted, although I have just discovered J has bought them on Kindle. It's probably my most disappointing read so far this year.

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HB Flowers 2 (365 x 500)

I hope you have a lovely day

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1. Has your house been renovated?

Not a full renovation, no. But we had quite a bit done.

2. Have you ever painted a room?

Yes, in the past I have. I used to help with decorating when I was growing up & J and I did some painting in our first home together.

3. Have you ever put in a new floor in a house?

Not personally, no.

4. Have you ever worked with wallpaper?

Yes - once. Again it was back when I was growing up. My mum decided she wanted wallpaper in the sitting room at one point and in a fit of trying something new, she, my grandma and I decided we would have a go at putting it up one evening when my dad was out. To our surprise it actually went very well indeed and we made a good job of it - even if I do say so myself. Mind you it was the one and only time we did it :-) I must say I'm not actually a fan of wallpaper.

5. Have you ever chosen new colours for your flat or house?

Yes. Both as a child, I was allowed to choice the colour for my bedroom, and a grown-up. The latter was shared with J, of course, with the exception of my bedroom in our current home, which was my choice.

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Day 11: Sky



Sky (500 x 281)



This was another very difficult choice, as once again I have an awful lot of pictures of the sky as it's something else nature related that I really love. In the end I went with this one as it was one of the more simple pictures I have, where the sky is the main subject and the sea and/or land doesn't detract, but is there to enhance.

The sky is so versatile and so ever changing; it can change not just from minute to minute, but from second to second. Mother nature is so very beautiful.

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Enigma Variations

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nakeisha
HB Cake

I hope you have a lovely day

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BM Trilogy

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Without them

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Valencia and Valentine by Suzy Krause

V&V


Valencia, a timid debt collector with crippling OCD, is afraid of many things, but the two that scare her most are flying and turning thirty-five. To confront those fears, Valencia’s therapist suggests that she fly somewhere—anywhere—before her upcoming birthday. And as Valencia begins a telephone romance with a man from New York, she suddenly has a destination in mind. There’s only one problem—he might not actually exist.

Mrs. Valentine is an eccentric old woman desperate for company, be it from neighbours, telemarketers, or even the funeral director (when you’re her age, you go to a lot of funerals). So she’s thrilled when the new cleaning girl provides a listening ear for her life’s story—a tale of storybook love and incredible adventures around the world with her husband before his mysterious and sudden disappearance.

The stories of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine may at first appear to have nothing in common . . . But then again, nothing in life is as straightforward as it seems.


I choose this book from this months' Amazon Prime's 'First Reads' because it looked somewhat intriguing (and quite frankly looked the best of the books on offer). Also, I am aware I have OCD to a small degree, so I thought it would be interesting to read the book.

For a first book I thought it was very well written, flowed really well, clipped along a good pace that was neither too quick nor too slow and kept me intrigued throughout. The characters were good and believable, the setting was fine, the switching back and forth between Valencia and Mrs. Valentine was done extremely well and given it's not something I'm a huge fan of, I doff my cap to SK for how well she did it. Never once did I get lost or confused as to which character I was with. The OCD element of the book again I thought was really well done, it was always there, but it wasn't overplayed or overdone, again SK did an excellent job.

In short everything worked; it was very readable - in fact it delivered pretty much everything one can ask for in a book. However, whilst I liked the book, I didn't love it and I don't think it will be a re-read book (although were it a 'real' book as opposed to an ebook, I wouldn't be parting with it as I would if I knew the book was definitely a non-re-read). I shall definitely be keeping an eye out for anything else Suzy Krause might write.

There's a 'twist' a surprise, whatever you want to call it at the end, which I guessed at some point whilst reading the book. I actually don't know when I guessed it, it may have been from the beginning, it may have been halfway through, it may have been towards the end. It was that kind of 'twist', you realise you know what it is, but can't necessarily say when you realised it or what gave it away - if anything did. That fact adds, in my mind, to the skill of the writer.

It was a satisfying, enjoyable read. It wasn't a really light book, nor was it a heavy book, it was well balanced. I wasn't disappointed by it; I wasn't wowed by it - but then it would be awfully tiring if one was wowed by every book one read, wouldn't it?

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nakeisha
Head in the Sand, Kickback and Swansong by Damien Boyd

Head in the Sand Kickback Swansong


Head in the Sand
The discovery of a severed head in a golf course bunker triggers a frantic race to find a serial killer that brings the town of Burnham-on-Sea to a standstill.

A connection is made with a series of unsolved murders harking back to the 1970s, and Detective Inspector Nick Dixon finds himself caught in a race against time that takes him the length and breadth of the country.

The brutal killing of an elderly man raises the stakes and, as he closes in, Dixon begins to question whether he is chasing one serial killer or two.


Kickback
A trainee jockey has been kicked to death by an aggressive stallion at the local stables. Deemed an accidental death, the case is closed. But when the jockey’s brother returns from active service, he sparks an armed siege, demanding the investigation be re-opened and the truth uncovered.

Still recovering from the physical and mental scars of his last case, Detective Inspector Nick Dixon is dragged deep into a murky world of betting scams and murder, where people will do anything to keep their secrets. Even if that means silencing a DI who keeps asking the wrong questions about the wrong dead jockey...


Swansong
Isobel Swan, a sixth form student, has been murdered. First, her ring finger is severed, then her throat is cut.

With the investigation going nowhere fast, Detective Inspector Nick Dixon is sent undercover as a trainee teacher into Isobel’s boarding school.

But to find the killer, he must first confront his inner demons and lay to rest the ghosts lurking in his own past. If he can…

As Dixon digs deeper, the stakes have never been higher and a murder has never felt so personal.


I am so glad I came across this series because I am completely hooked now - I had to stop myself from going straight onto the next book (which I may already have on my Kindle *g*).

Nick Dixon is a great character, very human, very real, very believable  - I would feel very secure if he was investigating a case for me. He cares deeply about people and the cases he investigates, but the writer doesn't feel he has to tell us this fact every second paragraph or so. In fact one of the reasons I am enjoying this series so much is that it's written in what I guess you would call 'old school' style, i.e. no wasted words, no overly long descriptions, no OTT internal angst, no waffle, no padding. I like the author's style very much indeed and you can tell he knows his stuff, not just from reading books and using his imagination, but from his years as a criminal solicitor.

And it isn't just Nick who is such a good, well drawn character, it's all the characters. Boyd writes them all very well, from the other detectives and other people involved in crime solving, to those involved in the case as witnesses, or suspects, or potential suspects, etc. Boyd clearly knows people and writes them well - albeit in a sparse(ish) way.

Because of the non-padding and waffle style, we don't know every single fact about Nick's life, in fact it would be easy to assume we know barely anything about him. That's mainly because what we do learn about him, is done in a simple way; the odd line here, a comment, by his actions, by the way he talks about things and at times you're not necessarily aware you have learnt something about his character. Actually, I feel I know an awful lot about him and have learnt most of it from small things and throw-away lines or references.

It's not just with the characters that Boyd does a grand job, he does it as well with the setting. The reader gets a real feel for the part of Somerset in which Nick works, but again without pages and pages of description. We do get description, but it's woven into the story in an excellent way.

The second book in the series Head in the Sand is very good and already a step up from the first book and upon finishing it I immediately bought the third book. And it was with the third book, Kickback that I was completely hooked and where the author really honed his writing skills and got into his stride.

I admit when I read the blurb for Swansong, I was somewhat concerned that the author was going the way of so many modern writers and he would move totally away from the character he had built and have Nick wailing and going through page upon page upon page of introspection and emotional angst due to 'his pasts'. I was relieved when that didn't happen. Yes, the past was there, yes, it was mentioned a reasonable amount, yes, Nick remembered, yes, it had an impact, but not in the way where it changed his character and completely overtook the story.

I really, really like this series and I do hope the books continue to be as good, as non-padded and as fast-paced and enjoyable and with such good, well written, well designed, completely believable characters, a lovely setting and really interesting crimes that keep you guessing and are well balanced.

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nakeisha
The Tennis Party by Madeline Wickham

The Tennis Party


It was Patrick's idea that they should have the tennis party. After all, he has the perfect setting - the White House, bought out of his bonuses as an investment banker. He hasn't actually told Caroline, his brash and beautiful wife, what the real reason for the party is. She is glad to welcome Stephen and Annie, their impoverished former neighbours, less glad to see newly wealthy Charles and his aristocratic wife Cressida, and barely able to tolerate the deadly competitive Don and Valerie.

But as the first ball is served over the net it signals the start of two days of tempers, shocks, revelations, the arrival of an uninvited guest, and the realization that the weekend is about anything but tennis.


As with all Madeline Wickham books, this book clips along at a good pace, doesn't get bogged down in superfluous description or words and looks at reality in a way that can be eye-opening and uncomfortable, whilst confirming 'no one knows what goes on behind closed doors'.

As with most of the books the author writes under Madeline Wickham, it isn't easy to like most of the characters - or at least you like elements of them, whilst disliking other elements. I didn't love any of the characters here but nor did I hate any of them. Some were more likeable than others, one in particular was very unlikeable and even nasty. On one hand you could understand on an intellectual level from where she was coming, on the other hand, I felt like saying 'just grow up and put the past behind you'.

All of MW's characters seem very real, after all we all have good points and we all have bad points and that applies to all of the characters in the book. I'm not sure I would want to be friends with any of them, to be honest, but I could pass the time of day with most of them without any problem. It's the realness and the balance that makes her books work so well, in my opinion. You can understand, either emotionally or intellectually or even both, from where all the characters are coming and that adds to the realness of them.

There are twists and turns and as the blurb says, the book is anything but about tennis - that goes on in the background and in a way mirrors the people, their actions and their characters. It doesn't detract from the story, it enhances it, but equally you don't need to really know anything about tennis to follow the story or enjoy the book.

There are indeed shocks and the biggest of all leaves you realising that even the family that on the face of it 'has it all' a) doesn't have it all and b) can lose it all in a blink of an eye - and not from any active fault of their own.

As with the previous MW book I read for ljbookbingo, the ending doesn't tie everything up with a neat bow. In fact this book fully ties up very little. And yet it didn't leave me unsatisfied - something that is a rare achievement. She is a very good writer.

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nakeisha
Post a picture that represents each of the following.

Thirty-Day Picture ChallengeCollapse )

Day 10: Mountains



Mountain



I don't have such a large collection of pictures of mountains, so this wasn't quite such a hard choice.

Unfortunately, I don't know the name of the artist who painted this, but I do think it's a lovely composition with the trees and water as well as the mountain and the colours are wonderful.

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nakeisha


Abba

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Alan Mills

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