Friday, 27 February 2015

Book #6 Vengeance in Death

Following the trend of the previous two books, where Eve’s relationships are showcased as she goes about her job of solving murders, this book is about her husband Roarke.

Eve looks at the house Roarke built, more castle than house and realizes she is more at ease living there than she would ever have imagined. Roarke worked hard to gain his financial success, so he earned it, where she’d fallen into it.

Both their childhoods were miserable, and where there are many blanks in Eve’s memory, Roarke remembers all of his abusive beginnings. His start to building his empire was involved activities that were not quite legal, something Eve has to learn to accept.

The murders here have their roots in Ireland and something that happened years ago. Roarke is forced to tell Eve of past events, putting them at odds. She has to find a way to stop a murderer, and protect her husband at the same time.

Here the relationship between Summerset and Roarke is explained. Summerset and Eve must set their differences aside to work together to protect Roarke, and eventually are both put in jeopardy.

New characters are a young boy named KEVIN, found at a crime scene and who Roarke feels compelled to help. We also meet DETECTIVE DAVID BAXTER, a detective in Eve’s homicide division. And finally, when Eve and Roarke visit Ireland, we meet BRIAN, a childhood friend of Roarke’s.

Flawed characters are so much more interesting, and though Roarke comes across as the rich and powerful businessman he is, there are untold depths to his character, to his sense of right and wrong, and to how far he will go to protect those he loves.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Donut Showdown

Have you ever watched the Food Network show called Donut Showdown?

Three established donut makers compete for a final prize of $10,000. They are first challenged to make 2 dozen donuts using mystery ingredients. The day I watched they had to choose three ingredients from a given assortment and the three bakers selected as follows:
            Cashews, almond milk, and golden syrup
            Proscuitto, goat cheese, Creme de Cacao
            Mint, blueberries, cardomon

After the first round, one baker is eliminated and in this episode it was the mint/blueberry/cardomon baker that left the competition. In the second round the bakers are given a theme and must make three different donuts, two dozen of each. The theme that day was Pub Grub.

One guy got real cute and used the donut holes as meatballs and with a custard sauce used them to fill another donut shaped like a bun. He made a chocolate donut and sliced it to look like steak and with a custard sauce as the cheese, added them to his bun-like donut for his ‘steak sandwich’. His third donut was to look like a burger, but the toppings left something to be desired.

The other competitor made a Natcho donut with avocado and a cheese topping. She also made a burger using a brownie for her burger but used a variety of sauces for the catsup and mustard, which had a much better presentation than the other ‘burger’ donut. Her last donut had a salted whiskey glaze with nuts, crushed pretzels and a caramel drizzle. Needless to say, she won hands down.

I have to say if I wanted something with a savoury taste, I’d probably go with a bagel base rather than a donut, but the sweet offerings make my usual favourite of a chocolate dipped donut look pretty plain.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Book #5 Ceremony in Death

It is autumn in the year 2058, and a fellow cop is dead, not in the line of duty, but of heart failure, while sitting in his chair. The situation is difficult, as he was a good friend of Feeney’s, Eve’s mentor and former partner.

The story has multiple murders, witchcraft, and Satanism. The dead cop’s family is involved so Feeney struggles with his dual roles, cop and friend. Eve is assigned to investigate the cop, as his most recent activities bring his behaviour into question, and the situation is made more difficult because she is not to let Feeney be involved.

It becomes all about secrets, and strained relationships.

Eve has to inform two mothers of the death of their child, and the responses are very different. This opens Eve up to thoughts of her own parent, and we learn she has no memories of her mother.

This book introduces JAMIE LINGSTROM, an innocent bystander to all the violence, but an intriguing genius with electronics.

I like that the last book put Mavis centre stage and showcased her relationship with Eve. They were faced with a difficult situation and had to trust each other to get them through. This book is about Eve’s relationship with Feeney. He is angry when he finds out he’s been kept out of the investigation and he turns on his ex-partner.

Eve realizes that the cost of having people in her life, people she cares about, leaves her vulnerable to being hurt, but for the first time in her life, she is not alone, she has Roarke.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My daughter and her family recently had the pleasure of a week’s vacation in Florida. Three of the kids had never flown before so you can imagine the excitement and the nerves.

The flight was non-stop, and the landing was rough, not in a wheels on the ground rough but in the changes in cabin pressure rough. Mom and two kids on one side of the plane suffered head and ear pain, bad enough to upset the kids, bringing them to tears. For some reason, the three family members on the other side of the plane had no problems what so ever.

While in Florida they spent a day at Busch Gardens, and experienced a number of thrilling rides, one being a roller coaster named The Cheetah. Needless to say there was a lot of screaming as all were tossed about, this way and that, including upside down.

The week ended too soon and they found themselves heading back to the airport to fly home. As my ten year old granddaughter had had a bad time on the previous flight, and a scary time on the rides, her mother was concerned as to how she would manage not just one plane ride, but two as they had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Can you handle it?” her mother asked.

Her daughter quickly replied, “I rode the Cheetah, I can do this.”

Art Linkletter was so right, kids do say the darnedest things.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Book #4 Rapture in Death

It’s August 2058, and Eve and Roarke are on their honeymoon at the near empty, not yet open, off planet resort he’s building. When a young engineer finds his roommate dead, an apparent suicide, they are called to the scene, but it is not her case. Back at work, Eve arranges to have Peabody assigned to her as aide as she investigates another apparent suicide, this time a prominent New York attorney.

I like that each book is a good read on its own, but includes details from the previous, a sort of tying up of loose details. As the last book had an explosive ending, there are a lot of details given here about that case and the wedding.

I suppose, as Eve’s job is murder, she is constantly bombarded by the result of violence, which is an ongoing reminder of her personal experiences. We have the killer’s thoughts as he investigates the investigator, and ponders over her abusive childhood.

We gain insight into Eve, the cop, as she trains the young officer.

We’re introduced to DOCTOR MORRIS, the Medical Examiner. I like how the author doesn’t introduce too many characters at one time. This is not Eve’s first visit to the morgue, but in this 4th book the ME who will be an ongoing character makes his debut.

We learn more of Eve’s back story in her conversations with Dr. Mira. Mira knows all of Eve’s secrets, and we learn more and more of the lieutenant’s earlier life, but always in a different setting and associated with different stimuli. Eve continues to have nightmares, but feels she is dealing with the past, even though she doesn’t remember most of it.

One thing that I find annoying in television is that characters often remain in the same place. Singles remain single, relationships are temporary. For some that may be true, look at me, still single, but others around me are getting married, having long term relationships, breaking up and making up. That’s life.

On television I find it can make for cardboard characters, and it reaches a point where they are no longer interesting, or in the case of some, annoying. I like seeing characters learn from their experiences and have some personal growth.

And that’s why I enjoy this series. Eve, who has never had a loving family, has only let a few friends close, is learning how to live as part of a couple, is opening herself to emotions she has not allowed herself previously. And she quickly realizes that being married to Roarke has changed her life in more ways than she could ever have imagined.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Commercial Breaks

Commercial breaks. We all know why there are commercial breaks in our television’s so you can go to the bathroom or get a snack and not miss any of the action. Not what they advertisers want to hear, but most likely the truth.

Curious, I took a one hour span, from 4 until 5 P.M. on a weekday, and made note of the number and kinds of actual ads that were presented. There were five commercial breaks, three to five minutes each time, running from six to eleven ads. Most of these ads only lasting 30 seconds, almost subliminal as they were of such short duration.

At the top of the hour, I tuned to the Lifetime Channel to watch NCIS. Six ads ran before the show began, for a total of 5 minutes.
            A movie trailer for With This Ring
            Nutragena skin care
            Vichy make up
            Flex Care Insurance
            Tim Horton’s coffee
            And an ad for movies and shows for the month...Serendipity in Love

The actual show ran for 10 minutes before the next commercial break, which lasted 3 minutes and included the following 11 advertisements.
            A Lifetime show...The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce
            Neutragena skin care x2
            L’Oreal make up x2
            Movie trailer for Fifty shades of Gray
            Lucky charms cereal
            Old El Paso taco kits
            KFC...Kentucky Fried Chicken
            Red Rose Tea
            L’Oreal x3 (2nd time this break)
            Baby bel cheese
            Promotional ad for Kids Baking Championship show

After this we got another 11 minutes of NCIS, followed by another 3 minutes of ads.
            Promotion for show Top Gear on the History channel
            IKEA furniture
            KFC x2
            eHarmony dating service
            Fructis shampoo
            Elite dating service
            Public Service announcement for the Aboriginal Human Resource Council
            Promo for show Friends to Lovers

Eight more minutes of NCIS and back to the commercials.
            Lucky Charms cereal x2
            El Paso x2
            EOS lip balm
            Astro Yogourt
            eHarmony dating x2
            L’Oreal make up x4
            Hershey’s Kisses
            Another Public Service...Raising the Roof.

Another 13 minutes of the show and it was basically done. Ad time again, for another three minutes.
            Promos for Lifetime shows
            Quaker Oatmeal
            KFC x3
            Veet hair removal
            Celebrex...a pharmaceutical
            Lincoln automobiles
            Feria hair colour
            Promo for new show Battle Creek
            Promo for return of Big Brother Canada

NCIS returned for less than a minute, just to run the closing credits.

So, if this is par for the course in television land, our hour long show actually runs 43 minutes, with the rest of the hour being 17 minutes of commercials.

And in those five commercial breaks there were 43 ads, though some were repeats. I would assume this time of day the viewing audience would be mainly women, just home from work, just before dinner. That would be why the ads were heavy in the food (12) and make up/skin care (10) categories. Promo ads were numerous; all but one for television shows (10). Public Service announcements were low (2). There were (2) company ads, and (6) promos for service companies.

As I stay tuned for the next hour of crime drama, NCIS Las Angeles, it made me appreciate the talent needed to make those 43 minutes of viewing time. Screen writers have a very different challenge than those who write fiction. It’s all about the action and dialogue, the visual speaks for itself. In books, that visual has to be written, and you know that old saying...One picture is worth a thousand words.
I must have paid some attention to the ads because I’m hungry, and seem to have a craving for KFC, which I haven’t had in years, or tacos. I’m also aware that my skin feels dry and wonder if one of these products would help.

Considering the large number of viewers, I would assume the ads create interest and/or result in sales, so it’s worth the cost and effort.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Book #3 Immortal in Death

In a weak moment, at the end of Book #2, Eve agrees to marry Roarke. He’s taking care of most of the arrangements, and that’s OK with Eve.

All she wants is to pick out her own dress, and pay for it, as a point of pride. Her friend Mavis, who’s taste runs to garish, bright colours and a barely there style, takes her to meet her new love interest, LEONARDO, an up and coming designer.

I like how Eve and Roarke’s past are revealed in different ways with each book. This is the issue with writing a continuous series, each book must be a stand-alone read, so the back story is necessary, but for those readers who are going in sequence, it cannot seem to be repetitive.

This time, Eve is driving through the streets of New York and reflects on how her childhood made her want to be a cop. It was all about being her having been a victim, and wanting to stand for others.

Not to get into the details of the murder and the investigation...bottom line...Mavis is the prime suspect and Eve must arrest her.

The stress of trying to solve multiple murders and prove Mavis innocent takes its toll, and with Roarke out of town Eve falls into an exhausted sleep, has a horrific nightmare and finally remembers how she came to be found abandoned in the streets.

Eve and Summerset have a tense relationship, as she feels his constant disapproval and his disdain for her profession. When he is the one to go to her aid after the nightmare, it is uncomfortable for both.

With the new memories fresh in her mind, Eve wants to cancel the wedding to deal with the past. Roarke tells her the story of how he and Summerset met, which discloses more of his troubled past. Roarke may look like a successful financial wizard, and that he is, but he is not without his own moments of self doubt and haunting memories.

Everyone wants their ‘happy ever after’ but not all can achieve it. That’s why people like romantic stories; they get to live it vicariously. But sometimes, in romantic stories, all that perfection can be too much.

I like the fact that Eve is flawed, that it’s a struggle for her to let herself be happy. Working through this case, with its personal connection, Eve gains a better understanding of the meaning of love, friendship and trust.

As I read the books in sequence, I find I like seeing Eve’s character change and grow, and enjoy her continuous amazement at the turn her life has taken.

New characters are CHIEF TECH DICKIE BERENSKI at the crime lab, and TRINA, a hairstylist friend of Mavis’. Officer Peabody, who first appeared in Book #2, is first on the scene at the one murder. Eve has her temporarily assigned to homicide for the case, something new for Eve as she has always worked alone.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Certificate of Appreciation

I recently had my hair cut, something that was long overdue. Wearing it long was not a choice because of style, it was more out of self neglect and a lack of caring. It was easier to just pull it into a ponytail and be done than to worry about blow drying and styling.

I would see other woman my age, with a similar hair-do, and wonder if they didn’t care about themselves, as I didn’t, and it made me sad, and made me want to change. So I decided to surprise my family last Christmas and have my hair cut, right before our holiday get-together.

It didn’t immediately go over well because my daughter was giving me a gift certificate at one of the better salons for Christmas. I reassured her that the gift was appreciated and would be used, because, hey, funny thing about hair, it keeps growing.

What’s that old saying, about the difference between a good haircut and a bad... about three weeks.

My ponytail ended up being about 12 inches long, a surprise for me because I never wore my hair down. I decided to donate it to charity.

I chose to send my hair to “A Child’s Voice Foundation’s Angel Hair for Kids Program”. They provide wigs and hair loss solutions to financially disadvantaged children who have lost their hair due to a medical condition or treatment.

I think this effort will be a feel good thing and improve the self-esteem of both the giver and the recipient.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Photo Posing

I didn’t watch the Grammy’s the other night, but I did watch a few of the news feeds that showed what the women were wearing on the Red Carpet. Am I the only one who thinks the pose they all assume, which is supposed to be complimentary, looks more like the poser has crossed her legs because she has to go to the bathroom?

It’s the same pose the women take when talking on camera on various talk shows, and I always think they look awkward, and a little off balance. It’s like all those over the shoulder looks that are supposed to make them look good.

I wish they’d find another way to stand, but I guess standing with legs apart is not lady-like, or with a hip cocked is too much attitude.

At least if they’re wearing a long flowing gown they can pose more comfortably, it’s the short dresses that are the difficult ones. 

And does anyone else, in seeing these women standing, wonder how they manage to sit?

Every woman wants to feel like a princess, at least once in her life.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Book #2 Glory in Death

A few months have passed and Eve is beginning to accept that Roarke truly loves her. She’s amazed that anyone could love her, for no one ever did for most of her life. But accepting it is hard. Eve practically lives with Roarke but can’t quite commit enough to give up her apartment.

The new case Eve is assigned cuts too close to home for her commander, as the first victim was a close family friend of his. Their relationship becomes strained as Eve tries to follow the case where it seems to lead.

In this book we meet CRACK, a huge black, tattooed bouncer at a seedy sex club near where the first victim was found. POLICE CHIEF HARRISON TRIBBLE is also introduced and a young police officer DELIA PEABODY.

The children of the 1st victim grew up spoiled and indulged by their parents. We learn the details of Eve’s childhood (that back story again) when she compares her childhood to theirs.

Nadine, the reporter, is involved in the investigation, but without spoiling the dramatic ending, I’ll just say that she and Eve forge a stronger friendship at the end.

Roarke presents Eve with a huge diamond pendent, and she wants no part of it, afraid that if she accepts it, it would mean giving up what has been most important to her...being a cop.

The flashbacks of her childhood continue, and Eve remembers that it was her father who beat her. She hides this return of memory from Roarke. She has always been alone, no family, few friends, dedicated only to her job. We see her conflicted between doing her job and her relationship with Roarke. It doesn’t help that he is demanding more from her than she knows how to give.

The author has created a complex character with the uncanny ability to put herself in the mind of the killer when investigating the murder scene. As a cop she is sure of herself and her abilities. As a woman she is amazingly lacking in confidence and self awareness.

It’s going to be an interesting journey to see who Eve becomes as she meshes these two sides of herself.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

The yard out the side of my building looks beautiful with its covering of snow, and backdrop of trees. The plow, or the truck with the scraper attachment, is busy clearing the road, leaving behind piles of dirty snow and ice, the pile higher and dirtier with every new snowfall.

Our landscape is very monochromatic, the trees bare of leaves stand in stark silhouette against the gray sky, the white brick buildings, the black roofs covered in white. Even the cars are almost lost in their blankets of snow.

The snow continues to fall as it must have through the night; it’s dull now, though it can be bright if the sun comes out to reflect on the snow. The red snowflakes, hung on the three trellises at the side of my building, look almost garish in the dull monotony of this February day.

I scurried out late on Sunday to do my laundry. I only have to walk to the common building, but I had put it off all week and couldn’t delay it any longer. I knew I’d be fighting my way over in the cold and snow on Monday morning if I didn’t. I must say, it was a beautiful clear night, the moon shining bright and the stars sparkling.

Here it is Wednesday, our third day of snow, and it gives no sign of letting up. It’s been a good couple of days to bunker in and complete some projects. Or maybe just curl up under my soft fleecy blanket to read.

Just FYI...the Leafs pulled ahead for a very short time last night but, in what has become true Maple Leaf behaviour, lost the lead and lost the game.

I heard the snow blower outside and saw the maintenance man clearing the paths and the snow around the cars. I went out, cleaned off my car and moved it so my parking area could be cleaned. I can see it better as I brush the snow off the car, we’ve had a good ten inches of snow and it’s still coming down.

I’m making myself a coffee, having changed out of my damp pants and socks; I’m towel drying my hair. I’ve had some fresh air, some exercise, and a nice visit with my neighbours, so all is well.

This weather makes me want to bake. So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Ho Hum Television

I’m sitting here watching the hockey game, Leafs are losing again, in what could be their 10th loss. January was not kind to them, and February isn’t looking much better. I like the noise in the background, and for some reason, I’ve been a hockey fan since the Olympics.

I should be watching my usual crime shows, new NCIS tonight, but I’m not in the mood and have my DVR programmed so I don’t miss any episodes. I have a number of shows taped that I’ve yet to watch, saving them for later, when there’s absolutely nothing to watch.

And isn’t that a sad statement, given the number of channels I get. My first choice is crime, and never, ever, any of those reality shows.

Leafs just scored. Now Predators 2-Leafs 1.

I don’t like chat shows because there are just too many people talking at once, trying to be heard. I do like the Food Network and of course HGTV.

I watched Ellen Degeneres’ new show today and really enjoyed it. The five designers each picked a closet that held the items they were to design a cabinet for. The choices were: for a woman, for a baby, to store craft supplies, china cabinet items and a bar.

They have 3 days to come up with the design and make it, with the assist of a carpenter. I like to see what they come up with. It’s kind of like Project Runway, for furniture instead of clothes. The woman who made a cabinet to store baby items was eliminated. She tried to be too creative; making a cabinet that could work in many areas of the house, and forgot who she was designing for. She did not make her piece safe for a baby, and ignored legal requirements.

Being a creative person, I love to see what people come up with when given a challenge. Years ago there was a similar show, only for artists. There were different styles and mediums represented, and each week the artists were given a theme for their work. It culminated in an art show where the work was judged and an artist eliminated from the competition.

No more goals scored, almost end of the second period. I think I’ll get ready for bed, and read for awhile. If there’s any worthwhile action, I’ll catch it in the instant replay.

(Spoke too soon. A breakaway on the Leaf goal and I think the Goalie is hurt, he’s left the ice and the relief goalie is coming out. Catch you up later).