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Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: A Potting Shed Mystery ~Marty Wingate

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Here we go again with a delightful story in Edinburgh, Scotland full of flowers and gardens, interesting characters and strange activities, and of course a great mystery surrounded by Pru and Christopher’s love story.  What could be better to pull you into a great read.   This is Marty Wingate’s third book in her English Garden series moving Pru, our Dallas, Texas Master Gardener, back to England to connect with her roots and explore the gardens of the UK.

I have reviewed the other two books in the potting shed mysteries and found them delightful and fun.   Also this spring, I reviewed a first book in a new series called THE RHYME OF THE MAGPIE a fun read with a good mystery; more of the UK revealed.

Pru has taken a research position in Edinburgh to authenticate a journal written by a famous botanist, explorer, and physician who travelled with Captain Vancouver on the Discovery.  There are several mysteries about plants and seeds that were collected.   Her position is stepping on the toes of the plant historian at the gardens, and this sets up a rather tense relationship.  When the historian is killed, Pru once again becomes a suspect.

Christopher is back in London as an Inspector for the Police and working in homicides.   Because the couple is planning to marry at the end of Pru’s posting they are connecting over the death of her co-worker and making wedding plans.

The wedding dress experience becomes quite funny and I could just see these creations by Fiona in my mind’s eye and they provided quite a chuckle.  Also walking through the town brought me back to my one-day experience of Edinburgh and seeing all the sights and the castle during the festival period.  This made the read even a better experience.

Wingate’s books are scenic and informative and have a lovely flow to the words.  They have an interesting story line and they follow through without leaving out the little details and the garden descriptions almost allowing the reader to breathe in the fragrance of the soil and the blooms.  I put her books on the delightful list and try to tell all my gardening friends to keep them reading during the indoor seasons.  I think many, many readers will enjoy these tales and I am very happy that Netgalley sent me an uncorrected proof to review.  BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE.

From the book:

“In addition to the Potting shed Mysteries, Marty Wingate is also the author of The Rhyme of the Magpie, A Birds of a Feather Mystery.  A well-known speaker on gardens and travel, she has written numerous non-fiction books on gardening, including Landscaping for Privacy.  Marty’s garden articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including The American Gardener, and Country Gardens.  She is hard at work on her next novel.”


Potting Shed Mysteries:
The Garden Plot 
The Red Book of Primrose House
The Birds of a Feather Mysteries:
The Rhyme of the Magpie

Outlander Premieres on Starz – Guest Blogger Elizabeth Eckhart

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

This write up about the new OUTLANDER TV series was proposed and written by blogger & writer Elizabeth Eckhart and because I have reviewed the Outlander series on my blog as great books to read, we thought her analysis of the series might add to the discussion on the blog.  So I will step aside and share what Elizabeth wants to say:


When the new series Outlander debuted August 9 on Starz, it attracted a whopping five million viewers. That’s not surprising given the long-running series’ devoted fan base, many of whom took advantage of Starz’ current online streaming (for the first episode only, anyone could watch it) and teaser videos. Diana Gabaldon’s sprawling collection of books, first published in 1991, includes eight main novels which she describes on her blog as “big, enormous books,” as well as smaller novellas and short stories set in the series’ world.

That world is a complex mix of places and times. The story’s protagonist is a World War II era nurse named Claire Randall who finds herself whisked back in time to 18th century Scotland, where she’s nearly abducted by the evil ancestor of her loving husband Frank, a history teacher and former M16 agent. Claire becomes caught up in clan politics and eventually is taken under the protection of Clan Mackenzie, where she begins to fall in love with Scotsman Jamie Fraser.

It may sound primarily like a time-traveling romance, but Gabaldon herself insists that in many ways her stories resist easy classification. You’ll hear them described as historical fiction, mystery, fantasy and even science-fiction, much like the similar literary series Game of Thrones (the TV adaptation which is also available online, through Direct TV). That last appellation may be the biggest reason that Ronald D. Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame, was a natural choice to executive produce the project, which he terms “magical fantasy.”

The success of the first two episodes has already guaranteed the show a second season. Outlander is being shot on location in the Scottish Highlands, and the detailed care given to period and costume settings will undoubtedly keep fans of the books happy. Fans of Game of Thrones might also recognize the castle setting, since both shows use the courtyard of Castle Doune, a fascinating though challenging place to shoot due to complicated logistics.

Devoted fans may also be comfortable with the slow pace of the show. Since the entire first season is based solely on the first novel, the creators have been able to take their time revealing complex layers of the plot and in developing characters. This is a luxury that feature filmmakers, with only two hours at their disposal, simply can’t afford. While there is some concern that the slow pace might not keep the attention of potential fans that aren’t already familiar with the novels, that’s a risk the show’s creators seem willing to take. Given the strong built-in fan base, it may be more important to stay true to the novel’s contours, something that Variety’s Laura Prudom thinks the first episode, at least, does very well.

Irish actress Caitriona Balfe plays Claire and provides the voice-over narration. That narration echoes the first person nature of the books, and keeps viewers invested in exploring this strange world right along with Claire. The voice-over may feel heavy in initial episodes but lessens as the show goes on, according to critics who have seen more of the first season. Claire’s husband Frank is played by Tobias Menzies, who doubles as his own sinister ancestor Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, while Scottish Sam Heughan takes on the role of Claire’s 18th century love interest Jamie. Balfe is receiving kudos for her turn as the strong, displaced heroine.

True to the books, the show contains some bodice ripping moments, but for the most part Outlander doesn’t linger on scenes of sex or violence. The main charm for viewers so far seems to echo the appeal of the books. This complex story world is fun to explore, and the show’s creators seem to be having a delightful time setting it up for us.

Elizabeth Eckhart on Twitter 

My neighborhood has a group to discuss the Outlander series new on Starz and they have a go to lunch group who want even more discussion time too.  Have you discovered these books and the new series?   I saw the pilot free and it was so well done.    Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your thoughts and just maybe we will get a good discussion going in the comments section?  What do you think?

Outlander Series

LETTERS FROM SKYE: a novel ~Jessica Brockmole

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

LETTERS FROM SKYE is just a beautiful read.  Don’t you just love getting letters in your mailbox that you can go back and read and reread?  I enjoy writing letters also. As a child every week a letter came from my Grandmother to our house and after my mother read it to herself, she shared it with the whole family.   I even enjoy getting emails which are long and sharing.  This is a story about a time when there were no emails or computers, about when folks read lots and lots of books, and about when communicating via letter was an art form.

Every Sunday afternoon, before starting her prep work for school the next day, my mother replied to her Mother.  Grandmother lived so far away and we did not have any way to know her except through her letters.   We have a bundle of letters from my Father when he was serving on a ship during WWII; they share a history with us of what he was experiencing and his perception of war. These letters are so thoughtful and descriptive we gained a deeper understanding of war about who he was as an officer and what he was enduring.

A best friend studying in England sends a copy of a book of poetry written on the Isle of SKYE to his peer who is still in college in the USA.  The recipient of the volume is so moved by the author’s verses that he sends her a fan letter and begins a correspondence which will last for many, many years and change lives through one war and into the next conflict.

Elspeth and David begin to regularly communicate with each other.  They share the daily trials and actions and then add humor and depth to the conversation.  They share secrets and feelings, such as Elspeth’s fear of water so that she has never been off the Island at all (not even to attend University) and David shares that he does not want to be a doctor as is expected by his family.  THE LETTERS FROM SKYE are warm and reflective of a growing friendship and a budding love.

Then there are the obstacles of bombing raids, rationing, and travel prohibitions when the USA will not enter the War effort.  One is married and one is engaged to be married and the families are not in tune with what is happening.  David joins an Ambulance Field Service in France to get across the ocean and the letters continue and Elspeth keeps each and every one.

LETTERS FROM SKYE is a slow read and a delicious read, which needs to be savored by the eye and breathed deeply into the soul.  There is storytelling within the story itself and the poetic descriptions are delightful. Added to the conversation are Elspeth’s letters to her daughter Margaret in 1940, as her daughter falls in love with a Royal Air Force pilot and her mother feels it is vital to warn her about wartime and finding love.

Jessica Brockmole has shared with us her beautiful debut novel and it is already to be published in 20 countries.   You will want to curl up under the apple tree with this one; 300 pages of letters to be read and re-read, LETTERS FROM SKYE are letters to enjoy.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few blossoms in my bouquet.  Thank you.  Donations also gratefully received.

tlc logo I received an advance reader’s edition of this book from TLC online book tours and Ballantine Books.   They are offering a giveaway copy of this lovely story for a comment.  Thank you for sharing this book with me.  I enjoyed the read very much.

Related Reading:
In The Garden of Stone
Our Love Could Light The World
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena