Friday, November 15, 2019

The Pirate Bride Book Review

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 2 in the Series


The Pirate Bride Book Revies
I recently discovered this fabulous historical romance series.  To say it has kept me up into the wee hours of the morning on several nights, would be an understatement.  

I like to read at bedtime.  I've found that it normally helps me ease into a restful sleep by taking my mind off real life concerns.  However, in the case of the Daughters of the Mayflower series, these books have been so spellbinding that I can't put them down.  I get wrapped up in the story and must read just one more chapter.  Before I know it, it is 2 am and I am fighting sleep.  I need to know what happens next!

I previously reviewed the first book in this series, The Mayflower Bride.  An excellent story filled with fascinating history.  After I read The Mayflower Bride, I immediately started this book, The Pirate Bride.  Sadly, I finished it in two nights and started the third book in the series the following night.  I'll tell you in advance, I am suffering from sleep deprivation as I write.  At 4 am this morning, I was still reading that 3rd book.  This series really is that captivating.


The Pirate Bride Book Synopsis

April 1724

 The Pirate Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 2Check PriceMaribel Cordoba is only 12 years old when her estranged father appears and informs her that her mother and grandfather are dead.  Therefore, she will be joining him on a ship bound for Havana, immediately.  Antonia Cordoba is a cruel and heartless man.  He doesn't even allow Maribel to stay long enough to attend her mother and grandfather's funerals.  

As you might expect for someone so evil, Antonia has enemies who are equipped and strong enough to pursue him.  While at sea, their ship is overtaken by a privateer's ship that is commanded by Captain Jean Beaumont.  

A privateer is different than a pirate.  While they both seize cargo and assets, the privateer has a government commission to legally rob a country's enemy ships and divide the proceeds with their government. Therefore, the French Ghost Ship is breaking no law when they attack and board the Spanish Venganza.

On that fateful day, Captain Beaumont is more interested in a passenger then he is in the ship's valuables.  Many years before, Cordoba had killed Beaumont's mother and brother.  It was time for revenge!  After a short struggle onboard between Beaumont and Cordoba, they both fell overboard.  Beaumont had the advantage, but was convicted by the voice of God.  He took hands off of Cordoba and allowed the sea to take her prey naturally.  

Back on his own ship, Captain Beaumont discovers that he is now the reluctant guardian of a very opinionated and independent, Maribel Cordoba who is fascinated by pirates. Her intelligence, mental strength and adventurous spirit endears her to the crew of the Ghost Ship.  After a few months together and a life threatening incident, a few of the remaining crew decide it would be best for Maribel if she was raised by nuns in an established orphanage.  While she is still unconscious, they deliver her to Mother Superior on Isle de Santa Maria. 


Conclusion & Recommendation

There is so much more to this story!  The characters easily come to life in the pages of this book.  There are quite a few twists & turns that keep you reading.  What would normally be a difficult concept to "sell", the author seamlessly leads the reader to the point where we embrace the idea of this Pirate Bride. 

I have read several books by Kathleen Y'Barbo.  She never disappoints.  This is yet another book by this author that I would highly recommend.







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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Visit Missouri-Explore St. Louis Review of Fall Photography in Forest Park


Fall is my favorite season of the year.  I love to photograph the beautiful colors of the season. On this page I will review Forest Park in St. Louis through my Fall photography.


When will Fall Colors Peak


It is always difficult to predict when colors will be at their peak and this year was no different.  All October I waited and watched for the colors to change.  Oh there were glimpses of color here and there but not the outstanding colors that you think of when Autumn arrives.  I read that you don't get the really good colors until after the first hard freeze.  Well last week we got temperatures down in the 20's several nights so I knew it was time.  On November 1st I headed to Forest Park with my husband and some friends and was delighted with the amazing display of colors.  The day was clear and crisp and great for capturing the beauty of Fall.

A Favorite Venue for Fall Photography


Forest Park in St. Louis is a venue I have written about before, it is one of my favorite places to visit.  Here is a link to more information on Forest Park from one of my previous posts. Forest Park and Jewel Box.  In this post I will highlight fall colors around the History Museum, the Art Museum and the Bandstand area by the Muny.


Art Hill and the Art Museum


Our first stop in Forest Park was at the base of Art Hill.  This hill extends down from the Art Museum and in the winter it is a favorite place for kids of all ages to sleigh ride down the hill.  On this beautiful fall day it was the perfect place to capture a photo of the Art Museum and the bright red trees that were on either side.


This photo was taken when the sun was high in the sky so the glare takes out the details of the building.  We decided to head to the History Museum and continue my photography later in the day when the sun was lower in the sky.  Here are two photos taken a couple of hours later.  The first is a statue of St.  Louis which overlooks Art Hill and the scene of the 1904 World's Fair.


I took the next photo from the parking lot of the Art Museum, looking down on Art Hill.


Muny Area



The next area that I photographed is the area in front of St. Louis's outdoor theatre, commonly called The Muny.  This area has a bandstand on a little island.  The bandstand was built in 1924 to replace the original wood bandstand built in 1876.  This used to be a popular place for musical entertainment in the summer months.  The trees surrounding the water were a brilliant red color and I was able to capture some beautiful photos. 




History Museum


My original purpose to go to Forest Park was to take in the display of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs that were on display at the History Museum.  This was a wonderful display and we spent a couple of hours enjoying the photos.  We had planned to go on a Wednesday but had to cancel.  I am so glad we changed it to Friday because first of all Wednesday was a very rainy day and secondly Friday was the perfect day to photograph the changing fall landscape.  The photos below are of the museum and one of my cousins leaving the History Museum.





The Camera I used for this Outing


One of my favorite camera's is my Sony A6300 mirrorless camera.  I wrote about it in the following post. Sony a6300.  I used a wide angle zoom lems with 16mm to 50 mm. 

   
                                                     


Zazzle Card from my Photos

 




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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Reading, The Gift that Keeps on Giving in So Many Ways

Reading is a gift, a renewable, ever changing, gift that covers all ages and stages of life.

There is no doubt that many of the writers here at Review This Reviews love to read!  You just need to take a quick look at all the Book Reviews to know that there are many readers with varied tastes in subjects to read about.  There are even some authors on our Review This Reviews pages too!

What I am most interested in sharing with you today is  some timely ideas to help youngsters become avid readers.  

Why?  Well it is well known that reading is the basic building block for a lifetime of learning.  No truer words were ever written, and it bears repeating!  


READING IS THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCK FOR A LIFETIME OF LEARNING!

What's the best way to start a child on this road to learning?

That's an easy one to answer!  There is no time like the present to begin a child on a path to explore and learn new things.  Children are magnets for learning and giving them the tools can't start too early.  One of the best gifts you can ever give any child, is books.  You night not expect that books would be a great Baby Shower Gift, but I'm here to tell you differently.  So many times the new parents are inundated with cute outfits, booties and all the paraphanalia needed for their babies.  Give them a gift that will stand out!  Books, Classic Books that will become favorites for their children as they years go by.  Books that can be read by the parents and grandparents.  Books that will fuel their creativity and at the same time become the basis for their language skills.

Here is a list of Classic Books that will be a great start to any child's library:
  1. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  2. A Bear Called Paddington
  3. Little Golden Books
  4. The Velveteen Rabbit
  5. A Treasury of Curious George
  6. Elmo's Big Book of Friends
  7. My Favorite Berenstain Bears Collection
  8. Classic Storybook Fables
  9. On the Night You Were Born
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The last two books on this list are "modern" classics.  The other 8 suggestions are stories that have been around since you were a child.  They are the "Classics" that really should be in every child's library.  They have withstood the test of time and are still found to be entertaining and full of great life lessons. 

How to keep your child entertained while reading:


Our goal as parents and grandparents is to keep our children motivated to enjoy the story we are telling them.  At the end of a long day, make time for reading.  Set the children's bed time for a half hour earlier than when you actually want them to close their eyes.  This time is set apart for reading!  Unless they are sick, make sure that you do this on a regular basis.  If not every day, then maybe 3 days a week.  Make the reading time not just a page turning experience, but be expressive in reading so that by your tone, they will know something exciting is going to happen.    Using the pictures in the story to keep our children's imaginations fueled will go a long way in them wanting you to turn more pages.  




What happens when they have a favorite book and they just don't want you to read another?


First of all don't worry, that is perfectly normal.  Certain books just have that quality that makes children want to hear the story again and again.  This is actually a great time to teach them to sight read certain words, because they already know the story off by heart.  Pointing to the words and showing them how the word sounds out, will help them to recognize that word in other stories too.  When our children would ask for the same story over and over and over again, we got creative in telling the story so that we would not be bored to tears.  I can remember one night in particular, when it was Dad's turn to read, he was so tired of reading story the way it was written, that he took the book and read it backwards.  Starting at the last page, he worked his way to the front and the children laughed and laughed so hard, that I needed to get up and see what in heaven's name was going on.  Well, needless to say from that point onwards, the children wanted the book read forwards and backwards.  Bedtime or reading time was just increased another 15 minutes to accommodate the extra reading.  What a great way to make them enjoy their stories in a whole new way.

Other Great Ways to Get Children Started on Reading!  


Reading starts with children grabbing a book and turning the pages.  As I said earlier, you can't start this habit too early.  So get your babies/children books that are make especially for them.  There are soft books made of fabric, that can be put into cribs or playpens.  They are usually filled with colorful pages and pictures.  Even babies love to turn pages that have something special on them.  Books with flaps that lift, tabs to pull and bits and pieces of sensory friendly fabrics are a must have for little hands.  Tactile fabrics, squeakers  or buttons that you can push are extras that little hands just love to play with.



So much fun in a book for little hands and growing minds.

 For Parent's Who Love to Tell Stories


For Parent's who are natural story tellers, there are also some really great picture books that will help you tell stories and get your child to interact at the same time.  Our children loved the "Where's Waldo" books.  They would sit for long periods of time looking at all the different pictures and looking for Waldo, who, you knew, was hiding in the pages somewhere.  What made these fun and interactive was the places and situations that Waldo would find himself in.

Richard Scarry books are also great for young readers.  They can learn about trucks and trains, planes and places.  His wonderfully illustrated books make it easy for parents to tell the story and sometimes segue into stories of their own.  Your imagination and the help of these books will fuel your child's world and widen their perspectives on everyday things around them.

We are our children's first educators and we teach them by spending quality time with them in a number of activities.  Reading is one of the most important activities.  It's the start of a life long love of books, that will see your children expand their horizons and will help educate them too.

It all starts with ABC and it will take them anywhere their minds can imagine and more.  Avid readers are the start of a life long love of learning new things.  They will develop a critical mindset that will help them in their everyday lives as they grow and mature.  Reading will never ever go out of style or popularity either.  Books will remain part of their lives from now until they are reading to their children too!

Will your favorites as a child, become your children's favorites too?

It could happen, but they might also find a story that is their own favorite and that is okay too!  There isn't one book that is "better" than another.  Everyone needs to find their own favorites and expand from that point on!  Books will give your child more than a 30 second sound bite of information.  Let's encourage our children to make good choices in how they spend their leisure time by having some great books for them at all stages of their reading skills.











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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Roget's Words for Writers Reviewed

Saying it differently

Today I would like to review something I have put on my Christmas Gift List. The Roget's Thesaurus of Words for Writers is something I could utilize on a daily basis. I have a very worn copy of a general Thesaurus but I think one specifically for writers would my new go to reference.

words for writers
Looking for synonyms: a writer's task
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Anton Chekhov once said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." An author needs to paint the scene for their readers using words. We can have a dull canvas with a lot of the same colors (words) or we can look for colors that are surprising and much more descriptive. Synonyms often assist with our choices.

For instance, I could write this:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's rude response.

So, we know a man was being rude to Anton. What if I found a synonym for rude and changed the sentence to:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's truculent response.

I don't know about you but I envision two different things that basically mean the same thing. Rude makes me think of something that is crude, rough or abrasive. Truculent seems harsher, more scathing, meaner in a way.


Writer's Tool


Roget's Words for Writers is a thesaurus but set-up differently. It isn't the simple word list in alphabetical order that we are used to. Instead it is compiled by meaning with a sample of words that emote the same meaning (such as rude) in more descriptive and emotive choices. It even gives samples of the synonym or antonym in a sentence for you. There are over 2300 words featured in this tool for writers.

I've put this reference book on my wish list hoping one of my girl's will give it to me for Christmas this year. If they opt for something different, I'll just purchase it for myself. I think it will come in mighty handy as I start working toward my goal of publishing a book a month in 2020.

What do you think? Would you use a tool like this? It doesn't have to be for a novel, it could be helpful in several types of writing. Perhaps there is someone on your gift list who would benefit from a reference book like this.



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Monday, November 11, 2019

Freegal Review: Free Music Downloads

The journey through cutting the cable cord continues! It has been a indeed a journey and  cutting the cord is easy. What is not as easy is finding affordable content that is easy to access and user friendly to replace cable content! I happened upon Freegal when researching the free digital content available from my local library.


What Is Freegal?

Freegal is a music library offered through your local library. Music can be downloaded for free with a weekly limit of downloads. The music library includes Sony's music catalog and a reported catalog of over 15 million songs. 

How User Friendly Is Freegal?


As you can see below, I am limited to five downloads per week. The number of downloads per user per week is determined by the package purchased by your library.


It is easy to access Freegal. Simply navigate to the Freegal website and log in with your library membership information. Or enter Freegal through your library digital menu with your library membership number.

The Freegal menu for desktop is self explanatory. The songs can be previewed prior to downloading. I did not find the search feature overly helpful for browsing. However, if you are searching for a particular artist versus general browsing the search engine is adequate.

The library can also be accessed with Apps from Google Play and Apple App Store.

As with any new service or app there is a small learning curve to use the service. Freegal is easy to use and the music can be downloaded easily with the click of the mouse. Check with your local library to see if Freegal is included with your library membership.

Cutting the cable has been an interesting experience. Freegal is the third service reviewed which offers free content. The search for additional user friendly and robust sources of free content continues!

Where To Find Free Content For Cord Cutters



Hoopla - Hoopla offers free books, movies and television shows through your local library.


Kanopy- Kanopy offers free movies with an emphasis on Indie films and documentaries.




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Sunday, November 10, 2019

10 Reasons to Consider a Combination TV Stand and Fireplace

Electric Fireplace TV Stands

Even though we have a gas fireplace in our family room, we've had a combination electric fireplace tv cabinet for several decades. The photo on this page is the actual unit we purchased. 

Ten Reasons to Consider a TV Electric Fireplace Cabinet:

1. A Secondary Heat Source

Currently, this unit is in my office. The room gets chilly in the winter, so this solves that problem. Of course, it houses a TV as well, which is ideal on those days I prefer to work while watching the tube. 

2. To Save Space

If you'd like both a fireplace and a TV in the room but don't have space for it, you'll want to consider a unit like this. They come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, so you're sure to find one that ties into your existing decor.

3. To Add a Fireplace Where None Exists

If your home or apartment doesn't have a fireplace, it's the ideal solution; you add to
Electric Fireplace TV Stand
in my office
the ambiance, decor, and practicality with one piece of furniture.

4. To Warm Up a Finished Basement/Recreation Room Area

Often times finished basements don't have or can't have a gas fireplace. An electric fireplace solves the problem. It brings additional heat in the room, provides extra storage and of course, is a place for the TV.

5. When You Move, Take it With You

Renters, in particular, benefit from moveable TV Fireplace Stands. Now you don't have to eliminate apartments without fireplaces; just add one of these units, and you'll achieve that cozy feel you're seeking.

6. It's Easily Relocatable

We've had our fireplace tv stand in multiple places in our home over the years. In fact, it was in our master bedroom for over five years before we moved it to my office. Previous to that, it was in the living room. 

7. Add a Gaming System to the Stand

Some tv fireplace stands come with enough room to hook-up a gaming station. In our particular unit, there's a Play Station attached to the TV for kids and grown-ups alike. On the side of the unit are glass doors where we place the controllers and games.

8. Extra Compact Storage Space

Some units come with cupboards and others with convenient storage areas. At the bottom of this article you'll see a link to a page that features various designs and styles; take a look at all the choices.

9. A Fireplace Remote

Ok, pretty much all electric fireplaces come with a remote control. However, it's especially convenient when you're in bed, on the couch or at your desk, and need the heat on! Reach for the remote and start-up your fireplace.

10. It's A Lot More Affordable than Installing a Fixed Fireplace

Although the prices of fireplace tv stands vary from lower to higher ranges, they're less expensive than hiring a contractor to install a gas or electric unit.

Various Designs and Styles

Unfortunately, I can't give you a link to the fireplace unit in our home as it's been there for decades. We've never had a problem with it either. It certainly was worth the money. It cost us approximately $1200.

However, I did put together a collection of various designs and styles from multiple stores. You'll notice there's a broad range in prices, colors, and styles to fit just about any decor theme.


Just a reminder, if you have little kids or pets, don't let them touch the fireplace! Like any fireplace unit, gas, or electric, it gets hot!

Stay Warm



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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Plano Storage Unit Review


I am a crochet and needlework crafter who creates for family & friends and for my Etsy Shop. Over the years I have acquired a fairly large inventory of completed crafts and an even larger inventory of yarn and related materials.  

I keep all this 'stuff' in plastic bins to keep them clean and organized. I have stored them in 'stacks'  (bins on top of bins) to conserve space, but this is inconvenient most of the time as I have to move bins to reach the ones underneath and then re-stack. And, of course the exact needed item at any given time always seems to be on the 'bottom' of the stack! 

I finally found the perfect solution ~ a way to keep each bin quickly available, and also save space.  It was as easy as purchasing the Plano 4-shelf storage unit. In fact, once I bought and set up one, I realized that TWO would be even more helpful.


Plano 4-Shelf Storage Unit


Plano 4-Shelf Storage Unit

This shelf storage unit by Plano has four shelves that are 30 inches wide and 14 inches deep and stands about 55 inches high.  There are 16 inches between shelves, which gives me plenty of storage space. The unit is made of durable heavy-duty plastic. It comes unassembled, but has easy snap-fit assembly which only takes minutes to put together. No tools are needed.

The shelf unit pictured here is in tan, I bought mine in white and I have seen others in black. It is also reasonably priced. 


The Perfect Solution for my Craft Room


Yarn Storage

Stuffed Animal Storage

Plano is the perfect answer to my craft storage problem, as my plastic bins fit just right on the shelves. Most of the plastic storage bins I use measure approximately 25 x 14 x 12 inches, thus the dimensions of each shelf on the storage unit allow plenty of room for each bin. It is SO handy to be able to take out just one bin to obtain a needed item without having to move and reposition a stack of bins. Since my storage bins are see-through, I can also quickly spot the exact bin I need. 


More Storage Units


Many other sizes and styles of storage units are available. Our Review This Review Contributor, Dawn Rae, has reviewed the Riving Origami Rack, which is a handy folding storage rack. 

This storage rack meets her needs in her small apartment and has proved to be  HER perfect solution. 





Summary




So, for wherever you need extra storage space, from household products to crafts/hobbies to kids toys, a space-saving storage unit is definitely handy.


(c) Wednesday Elf Review of the Plano Storage Unit - 11/9/2019




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Friday, November 8, 2019

Chocolate Covered Fruit DIY Recipes Reviewed

Fruit Trays Are Fabulous!

 Chocolate Covered Fruit DIY Recipes Reviewed - Chocolate Fruit Tray
Fruit trays have been gracing event tables for many years. Whenever friends or family are planning a wedding shower, baby shower, tea, reception or party, I always volunteer to bring the fruit tray.

For decades, I have prepared Chocolate Covered Strawberries for my family. Purchasing chocolate covered strawberries from a candy store, can be very expensive. Making my own, is inexpensive and easy.

One day I was preparing a fruit tray for a gathering and I decided to take a side dish of chocolate covered strawberries as a special treat. I looked at the prepared fruit tray sitting next to the chocolate covered strawberries and I thought, "why not dip all of the fruit in chocolate?" That is how my chocolate covered fruit tray began. 

Over the next few days, I tested different fruits dipped in chocolate and allowed my family to be the judges. We have found that there are a lot of fruits that we love dipped or covered in chocolate.

This will probably be the first time you have seen some of these fruits covered or dipped in chocolate. After all, the day I prepared them, it was the first time I had seen most of them. 


Chocolate Dipped or Chocolate Covered Fruit Recipe


Preparation to cover any fruit in chocolate begins basically the same way.
  1. Wash and dry the fruit.
  2. Peel, if necessary.
  3. Melt the Chocolate

Some of these fruits have special instructions.

You may wish to visit the individual article for each one. Some articles have examples of large chunks fully covered in chocolate, as well as slices with dipped tips.


Virtually any fruit can be dipped or covered in chocolate. Let me know if you find one I haven't made or featured. I would love to try it!

Chocolate Fruit Tray Recipes

Make a Special Treat


Chocolate covered fruits are wonderful treats anytime.

Either one makes a great afternoon snack, a simple dessert or even a special treat for the lunch box.

Just select your favorite fruit, melt your chocolate and start dipping!







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Chocolate Covered Fruit DIY Recipes Reviewed Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





© 2009 Cynthia Sylvestermouse - This Article was originally published on a website that has closed.
 



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Thursday, November 7, 2019

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Centerpiece



It's pumpkin season!  Now is the perfect time to round up some pumpkins and create unique centerpieces as a festive touch for your holiday celebrations.  A DIY pumpkin succulent mini garden will be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving decor.  Not only will it be a real attention-getter when you host guests for the holidays, but you will have the benefit of enjoying your new container garden long after you finish all those turkey left-overs.

Here's What You Need:
  1. One large flat pumpkin 
  2. A variety of succulents
  3. Clear gel glue
  4. Spray adhesive
  5. Moss
It's best to use a flat pumpkin with a slightly indented center .
While I prefer to use a pumpkin in its natural state, I chose to paint mine for this demo project.  I used a lovely Solstice Blue paint color (a subtle blue-gray) that will blend in with the woodland theme I am using for my holiday decorations.  It reminds me of the beautiful shadows you see on fresh snow.  A neutral colored pumpkin better accents the succulents.

Removing the Stem

Once the paint was dry, I used my Dremel with a cut-off wheel to remove the pumpkin stem. 

Spraying on Elmer's Craft Bond 
I then sprayed adhesive on the center top of the pumpkin where the moss will be placed. 

Press Moss Into the Adhesive
While the adhesive was still fairly wet and tacky, I pressed a nest of moss onto the sticky surface.  It seems I got a little moss happy.  Could have used a bit less moss, but it would have made a big mess to attempt to remove it.  I let the adhesive set for several minutes before moving to the next step.

Preparing the Roots for Planting

While the adhesive was setting up, I gently removed the soil from the cacti roots in preparation for planting them on the surface of the moss.  I also separated the succulent clusters so I would have more options for spreading out individual plants.

Vary Succulent Colors, Textures, and Heights
Start your succulent placement with your largest plant.  Visually, it is most pleasing to the eye to position the first cactus off-center and toward the edge of the pumpkin.  It is also a good idea to group your taller cacti near that first featured plant.  You will use clear gel glue to fasten your succulents to the moss.  Don't worry!  The glue won't hurt your succulents.

Time to Lightly Mist the Moss
Once your pumpkin succulent centerpiece is complete, carefully give the moss a light misting of water.  You will provide moisture to the moss about once a week.  It's important not to let water pool under your plantings.  It will lead to premature rot.  Simply tip your pumpkin slightly to the side to drain any excess water after each misting.  

To extend the life of your pumpkin, and to give your succulents what they need, carefully choose a location away from heaters.  Try to situate your succulent container garden such that your cacti get the sunlight they need without getting too much heat on the pumpkin.  Likewise, take care to protect your succulents from freezing if you will be displaying your centerpiece on a porch or outdoors.

One last tip:  Place your pumpkin on a piece of cork or thick cardboard to keep the bottom from early decay (especially if placed in a location where surface dampness occurs).  Take care to protect your indoor furniture with the use of a waterproof planter mat.

With proper care, your pumpkin succulent centerpiece should last several weeks.  Once the pumpkin has reached the end of its season of life, you can either cut off the top of the pumpkin and plant it on top of appropriate cacti soil, or transplant the newly rooted succulent cuttings to another container.  Of course, you may also choose to use a faux pumpkin to eliminate this step.

It's easy to see why these pumpkin centerpieces are so popular.  Besides being unusual and visually stunning, they let you take your creativity to a whole new place.  This DIY centerpiece is sure to be a fun conversation-starter at your next gathering.  Why not make one to share for a hostess gift?  Who wouldn't love such a thoughtful gesture? 

Enjoy this project and my best wishes to you for a blessed holiday season.





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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Dogs of Riga Henning Mankell Book Review

The Dogs of Riga Henning Mankell Book Review
Henning Mankell’s The Dogs of Riga is not a book about dogs but rather one that refers to another meaning of the word. That is, “to follow someone or their movements closely and persistently.” To dog them.  I believe that it is the perfect title for this book given the Cold War setting and the actual trailing that takes place in the story.

It is a crime detective novel, the second that we are reading for Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program class called Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today.

The book was translated into English in 2001 and is set in Sweden and the troubled Baltic state Latvia. In our class notes, the instructor says that the book falls in the genre of “Scandinavian noir” and that it offers “criticism of the social welfare ideal.” The later being something that the author was well known for.

Though my book came with the tagline about Mankell being, "Sweden's greatest living mystery writer," we did lose him in 2015 to cancer.

THE STORY


Detective Kurt Wallander is the somewhat rumpled, seemingly depressed lead character. He is newly single, a bit burnt out with police work and given to periods of self-doubt. His personal life is not so great.

In his professional life, Wallander is a Swedish homicide detective and in this novel, he is assigned a case that starts with the washing ashore of two well-dressed dead men. The case turns out to be much more complex than it first appears and eventually sees Wallander in over his head in Latvia.

REVIEWS


This book is “a near-flawless performance in a distinguished series” says Kirkus Reviews.

Publisher’s Weekly says this book is “a unique combination of police procedural and spy thriller that also happens to be a devastating critique of Soviet-style Communism.”  Agreed.

The Crime Review says, “Mankell’s gritty, ultra-realist noir writing style keeps a somewhat tired plot line fresh and interesting, and makes this a piece not to be missed in the ongoing development of Wallander’s character.” I am so glad to have met Wallander!

Finally, The Crime Review also says that Mankell is masterful at “capturing sentiment about complex social and political issues in a very real, day-to-day way.”  I  agree, it seemed like a a very good representation of the place and the times.

Readers on Goodreads rate this book a 3.72 out of 5 and Amazon readers give it an average score of 4 out of five stars.

MY REVIEW


I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Mankell’s Wallander and as I said above, I am glad to have met him and I do look forward to more of his adventures. The Dogs of Riga was a captivating book; a page turner at 326 pages. It definitely had my attention and made me want to know what would happen next. It is therefore HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy well-crafted, somewhat gritty crime detective fiction and novels set in the Cold War.

As in my review of Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue, I have to tell you that this is not the first book in the Detective Kurt Wallander series. Since it is part of the course I am taking and therefore assigned reading, I started with it. I will definitely have to go back to the start of the series, which is where, I imagine, you will start if you also want to meet Kurt Wallander.

WHICH DETECTIVE KURT WALLANDER BOOK IS FIRST?


Since I want to back track and read the books that came before The Dogs of Riga, I searched for a complete list of the Kurt Wallander books in the order that they should be read. I struggled at least in part because apparently the books were not translated to English in chronological order.   I eventually found this Detective Kurt Wallander website and timeline, which should be helpful if you want to start at the beginning, too.

The Pyramid (1999) - This is a prequel, an anthology.
Faceless Killers (1991)
The Dogs of Riga (1992)
The White Lioness (1993)
The Man Who Smiled (1994)
Sidetracked (1995)
The Fifth Woman (1996)
One Step Behind (1997)
Firewall (1998)
The Return of the Dancing Master (2000) – Written by Stefan Lindman
Before the Frost (2002) – Written by Linda Wallander
The Grave (2004)
The Troubled Man (2009)

IN CLOSING


More than 40 million copies of the Detective Kurt Wallander books were sold worldwide so I am not the only one who enjoys them.  However, the author also wrote many plays, children’s books and screenplays.

I think The Dogs of Riga would be a brilliant movie and apparently my idea is not a bad one because the BBC made Henning Mankell’s novels into a Swedish crime TV series that now comprises 26 episodes.

You can check out all of Henning Mankell’s Wallander books on Amazon by clicking here and you can learn more about or order your copy of The Dogs of Riga here.

If you do read the book, please come back and let us know if you enjoyed it and, if you have seen the movies, we would love to hear about them, too.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Henning Mankell’s The Dogs of Riga on Amazon.


The Dogs of Riga Kurt Wallander Mystery Book




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