Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I will put up a personal post tomorrow to update you on my recovery and my son's recent surgery.

For now, a review on some Kindle books I've recently read —

First up, Along the Broken Bay by Flora J. Solomon.

Gina Thorpe is an American expat living in Manila with her husband and young daughter. However in December of 1941 war breaks out in the Pacific and, when Japanese soldiers invade Manila, Gina and her daughter flee to the mountains with friends. Her husband is missing and Gina is encouraged to join the resistance so she is smuggled back to Manila to take on a new identity at a nightclub. 

Gina struggles to keep one step ahead of the Japanese as she comes under suspicion. Does she manage to avoid arrest and torture? Is her husband safe and alive? Will she reunite with her daughter? 

My thoughts - WOW! What a read! Flora Solomon knows how to tell a story. I lived in this book alongside Gina and found it hard to put down. It ran a gamut of emotions for me. I will definitely read more by this author and gave this one a 5 star rating.

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During my recovery from surgery, I've also finished The Imogen and Hugh Croft Mystery series by Katharine Pathak starting with Aoife's Chariot

Imogen is a wife and mother of three who also has a keen interest in solving mysteries. Along with the help of her psychologist husband, Hugh, and some family members here and there, Imogen uses her sleuthing skills to solve crimes/mysteries throughout the series. I enjoyed them very much and I do like Pathak's writing style. I had previously read Pathak's later series featuring DCI Dani Bevan which I enjoyed also.  

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Next up was my Amazon First Reads monthly choice titled Thin Air by Lisa Grey. This is book one is the new Jessica Shaw series. 

Private Investigator, Jessica Shaw, receives an anonymous tip via email. It's a missing child case but she instantly sees that the three year old child is none other than herself. Jessica immediately embarks on a mission to find her true roots and to solve the murder of her real mother which happened 25 years prior. The night her mother was murdered happened to be the same night Jessica was abducted. She can't question her father because he had recently passed away. Was he even her real father? Was her life as she knew it just an elaborate lie? Who sent the photo to her?  Were they involved? Why was her mother murdered? Will she uncover the truth before she herself becomes a target?

My thoughts - There are a few twists and turns with this one but I enjoyed it a lot and will definitely be reading more by this author. I gave this one 4 stars.

See you next Tuesday for more reviews.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

It's been a while

...but I'm still standing.  Well, on crutches, that is.

I had LARS gluteal medius tendon surgery on May 2nd and after four weeks being on two crutches — partial weight-bearing —I've now progressed to using one crutch — partial weight-bearing. Then I may need a walking stick for a while as there is still a long recovery ahead. My surgeon said my medius and minimus tendons were pretty beat up and the medius tendon had torn all the way through. He said to allow ten months for full recovery which takes me through to March 2020.

The first couple of weeks were real tough as it involved fairly intense pain whenever I moved.  I needed a lot of assistance, even with lifting my operated leg into bed. I'm told the first three months cover the most difficult part of recovery. I can drive again at 6 to 8 weeks pending the surgeon's approval...still in the non-driving stage. I will require physiotherapy at some point too. If you aren't squeamish and interested in seeing the type of surgery I actually had done, click LARS gluteal tendon repair surgery. I now have permanent internal stitches, a synthetic ligament, and a titanium screw in my hip. Suffice to say, my hip feels kinda weird but, I'm looking forward to a future of no pain or limping.

Bradley, my eldest son, has been a huge help during my recovery. Carrying my paraphernalia from room to room as well as carrying meals to the lounge-room TV tables. Basically being an extra pair of hands when I'm unable to do something. Hopefully, I will be able to return the favour when he has his wisdom teeth surgery later this month. I've been getting groceries delivered which has been great and I may even keep that going. My sister has been a blessing in so many ways — taking me to and from the hospital and my post-op appointment at two weeks, as well as helping out when needed. 

Over the past week I've had issues with severe back pain., particularly after bending over. I haven't been allowed to lie on my operated side since surgery and lying on my other side causes pulling, discomfort, and pain in my operated hip. So I've had to lie on my back which seems to have flared up my back. As you may remember, I had a back injury back in 2003 from a bad fall but I also have age-related wear and tear going on also — spinal stenosis, protruding L5 disc, and spondylosis. Lots of rest and heat packs required.

OH that reminds meI had my 60th birthday during my blog absence! My sister organised a family get-together in my honour and my nephew even organised a Vegan Key Lime pie for my birthday cake.  Beau, my son, also made a delicious vegan cheesecake especially for me. I got some wonderful gifts too and it was lovely to see everyone. I had a great time and felt totally spoiled! 

I'm still missing my sweet Cody every day, some days are worse than others. Jack has adjusted now although I'm not sure how much longer this sweet boy will be with us. He has health issues of his own too — age-related.

Here Jack is fast asleep in his bed. 

About a week prior to my surgery, this uninvited guest showed up one rainy night seeking shelter under our front entrance. I felt sorry for her and made the 'mistake' of putting out some warm milk and dog biscuits and she has barely left.  We have since bought cat biscuits. We thought she was a stray at first but later discovered that her owners live in the street opposite us. I've met the owners and they don't seem to mind that their cat roams about.  I'm concerned with local council law stating that cat owners must keep their cats indoors 24/7. There has been a problem with roaming cats killing wildlife and messing in people's gardens for years now. You may remember that we had a huge problem with roaming cats in our street going back a few years. Anyway, Kya is 8 years old and so sweet. She visits nearly all the time now. Maybe we've made her too comfortable? I just hope she doesn't end up in a council cat trap and taken to the council pound where a grim fate could await her. It's just really odd to me that her owners have been in the street for nearly a year and she has only just recently showed up. I think there is more to the story...

I haven't sketched since January which sounds terrible, doesn't it? I've just not been in the right head space after losing Cody and so much has been going on in my life the past few months.

I have been feeling the pull of my sketchbooks again though so stay tuned...

Monday, 18 February 2019

Missing my best friend

I haven't been up to posting until today because, on Monday February 4th, I had an agonising decision to make and that was to say goodbye to my best friend of twelve years, Cody.
Cody - 2 years old (2008)

As you know Cody was battling Cushing's Disease and it was extremely taxing on his little body. He had developed a heart murmur and his gums were grey-white and tacky, a sign of dehydration despite the massive volumes of water he consumed — a symptom of Cushing's. He had become so lethargic and we all felt it was becoming too much for him.  The vet said that some little dogs muddle along while some go downhill very fast and, sadly, Cody was in the latter group.

There hasn't been a day gone by where I haven't shed tears for my little man and I'm even crying as I type this. I feel like I've cried an ocean already. I miss him terribly as Cody was like my little shadow. We were so very close and he was never far from my side and he would pine for me when I was not at home. It's hard coming home now and not being greeted by his excited barking and happiness to see us — lots of kisses and cuddles were always a must.
He came to us at 8 weeks old. Photo taken January 7th, 2007.
I will always be grateful to my nephew, Adam, for giving me such a precious gift.

Cody left an indelible mark on my heart as he did with his human siblings too. They took it very hard as they each have their special memories with Cody. As hard as it would have been for Aaron, it meant a lot that he was there with me and Cody until the very end. Cody was his first dog and I always joked that they were like litter-brothers.

Poor Jack is missing his 'brother' too. He seems a little lost no doubt wondering where Cody is. Breaks my heart.
Cody and Jack (2012)

I would often say that Cody looked like a little harp seal when he lay flat out on the floor.

I had my precious boy cremated and his ashes returned in a small silver urn. The house had felt so empty for the 5 days he was gone but, when his ashes came home, it didn't feel so empty anymore. I like to think that he is watching over us.

Cody, thank you for being the most loyal and loving friend a girl could ever have. You made me feel so special and loved unconditionally. Know that you will always be in my heart and never forgotten. I love and miss you so much, my baby, but I'm sure we will meet again some day. 
Cody Lewis 
10/11/2006 - 4/2/2019
Forever in our hearts

“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?” — John Grogan

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I'm still reading daily which is something I'm really happy about. The Kindle just makes it so easy and I have already racked up over 70 books in my Kindle Library for 2019 — all waiting to be read. Love my Kindle so much!

So, a couple of months back, I signed up to Amazon First Reads. It's where members get to choose a book each month from the Editor's picks. The books are available to members before the publication date and I only pay $1.99 AUD. The reviews today are my first two First Reads.

First up is True Places by Sonja Yoerg
Suzanne's life pretty much runs like clockwork. She is the glue that holds her family together but she is feeling overwhelmed and taken for granted. Her teenage daughter is rebelling, her son is becoming more and more shut off from the family, and her OCD husband just doesn't see the underlying turmoil beneath the surface. He is work-focused and he knows Suzanne will be the perfect wife and keep everything running smoothly. And she does...until, one day, she takes a spur of the moment drive outside of town and her life changes.

On the outskirts of a forest, Suzanne finds a young teenager, barely conscious, very ill, and in desperate need of medical attention. Suzanne rushes her to the ER and feels committed to following up on the young girl's progress. It becomes clear that Iris has been living in the forest — off-grid — with her family and is terrified by the craziness of the city. Her mother is dead and, as authorities try to track down other relatives, Suzanne brings Iris into the family fold. That underlying turmoil starts to break through the surface as jealousies, expectations, and anger rear up in various ways.

Will Suzanne continue with her 'normal' life? Or will she claim back her own identity? Will Iris learn to live like a 'normal' teenager or is the wild woods calling her name? One thing is for sure, this family is falling apart...can their love for each other keep them together?

My thoughts - I loved the idea of a girl from the wild woods coming to live with a suburban family while the search is on for her relatives. Iris has an impact on them all to one degree or another, especially Suzanne. I liked the author's writing style and obvious love of nature. I enjoyed the book enough that I would most likely read another book by Sonja Yoerg. I rated this one 4 stars.

Next up - Blood for Blood by Victoria Selman
You've probably guessed already but yes, it's a British crime novel. Ziba Mackenzie is an ex-Special Forces profiler and she is on a train that crashes. She rushes about trying to help injured passengers including a dying woman who leaves Ziba with a puzzling message - "He did it. You have to tell someone". Shortly thereafter, a body is found with grotesque similarities to a murder committed 25 years ago. Ziba is pulled into the investigation and finds herself being stalked by the killer putting her own life in danger. Time is running out...

This was Victoria's first novel and also the first book in a series. I loved it and gave it five stars.

See you next Tuesday for more reviews.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

Okay, fellow bookworms,

It's more a series review this week....

I started reading a Crime series (featuring DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans) by Joy Ellis and was instantly hooked. I even ordered a different crime series (featuring DI Nikki Galena and DS Joseph Easter) written by Joy Ellis too. I just love the way she writes! Good character development and, of course, being set in Britain is always a win for me. I LOVE watching British Crime series on TV so it makes sense I'd feel the same with books too.


Twenty years ago, a farmer and his wife are brutally murdered by a serial killer.

Twenty years on, a woman is brutally murdered in her upmarket home and Daniel Kinder fronts up at the police station and confesses to the crime. However, DI Jackman and DS Evans soon realise that it's not that cut and dry. Daniel Kinder can't seem to remember the first five years of his life and suspects his mother is the serial killer who committed the murder twenty years ago. Lacking any evidence that he committed the recent murder, they have no option but to let him go. Shortly thereafter, more murders occur.  The plot thickens and it's a race against the clock before any more lives are taken.

This was the first book in the series and I have since completed #2 - Their Lost Daughters; #3 - The Fourth Friend; #4 - The Guilty Ones; and I'm currently in the midst of #5 - The Stolen Boys. If you're into British crime, I'm sure you would enjoy her books too.  Check out the title links provided to learn a little more on each book. I gave practically all of them a 5 star rating.





And that's it for this week. Next Tuesday, I'll cover a couple of Amazon First Reads editions that I completed so stay tuned...
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