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Sharon Wylie (San Diego, CA USA)
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RODALES WEEKEND GARDENER: Create A Low Maintenance Ladscape To Enjoy Year Round
RODALES WEEKEND GARDENER: Create A Low Maintenance Ladscape To Enjoy Year Round
by Hynes Hynes
Edition: Hardcover
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.92

5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for the busy gardener., Oct. 20 2002
This is a truly wonderful book that will help you rethink your approach to gardening. The emphasis is on careful planning of your garden design and smart selection of plants, all to save you time and work in the future. The most useful part of the book is undoubtedly the "Picking Unpicky Plants" section, which includes lists of vegetables, herbs, annuals, perennials and biennials, bulbs, trees, shrubs, and ornamental grasses. The last portion of the book is "Easy Projects for the Weekend Gardener," an excellent source for quick ideas for your garden, such as "A Quick Walk," a garden path that can be created in a few hours and won't be overrun by weeds.
Despite its limited availability, this book is a must-have for anyone who enjoys having a garden but doesn't want to spend their every spare moment working on it.

Create a Mediterranean Garden: Planting a Low-Maintenance, Drought-Proof Paradise
Create a Mediterranean Garden: Planting a Low-Maintenance, Drought-Proof Paradise
by PATTIE BARRON
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Let this book inspire your garden., Oct. 20 2002
As a beginning gardener with a large garden to plan, I've found this book to be a wonderful inspiration and a good gardening resource. My idea of low-maintenance is NO maintenance, and that's pretty much the idea behind this book (although the soil preparation required can be quite extensive). I return to this book whenever I need to be reminded that a garden can be beautiful without being rigidly planned.
The only weakness is that the plant lists include only true Mediterranean plants, rather than including other plants (for example, plants native to Southern California) that meet the criteria for drought-resistance and low-maintenance.

Dead In The Water
Dead In The Water
by Carola Dunn
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A fun book!, July 7 2002
Set in 1923 England, this series follows the adventures of the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple, a young woman who has defied convention by choosing to make her own living (as a journalist) rather than let her aristocratic family support her.
In this, the sixth of the series (preceded by "Damsel in Distress" and followed by "Styx and Stones"), Daisy visits relatives at Henley-on-Thames while researching her latest writing assignment, an article on the Henley Royal Regatta. Daisy's relatives' house is packed to the gills with people in town for the Regatta, including the rowing team from Oxford's Ambrose College, who will compete. Needless to say, there is lots of friction between all these people for a variety of reasons, and eventually, one of the rowing team turns up dead just in time to spoil Daisy's weekend plans with her fiance, Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard.
This book is not quite up to the high standards of the others in this series because the suspects all blur together so easily. The individual members of the rowing team all seem more or less the same and are, as far as the reader is concerned, easily dismissed as true suspects. There are only four or so characters truly depicted in-depth, so it becomes very clear that one of them must be the murderer. This is not how a mystery reader likes to solve the mystery.
The recurring characters, however, are as well done and enjoyable as ever, and the little jealousies between the newly engaged Alec and Daisy are fun. Once again, Dunn has created a clever and realistic "set-up" for the mystery, and her depiction of time and place cannot be beat.

Damsel In Distress
Damsel In Distress
by Carola Dunn
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars A weak link in an otherwise stellar series., March 7 2002
Set in 1923 England, this series follows the adventures of the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple, a young woman who has defied convention by choosing to make her own living (as a journalist) rather than let her aristocratic family support her.
When Phillip Petrie´¿s American fianc├ę is kidnapped and held for ransom, Phillip turns to his good friend Daisy for help. Daisy´¿s penchant for crime-solving insures her willingness to help her old friend, but she finds herself caught between a rock and a hard place when Phillip asks her not to involve the police. Daisy´¿s romance with Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, a widower with a young daughter, certainly makes this dictate difficult to follow.
This is the fifth of the series (preceded by ´¿Murder on the Flying Scotsman´¿ and followed by ´¿Dead in the Water´¿), and although the characters and setting remain as charming as ever, there is not much mystery solving to be had. The perpetrator of the kidnapping is obvious very early on, but the plot revolves more around rescuing the fianc├ę than solving a crime. The story is best described as a ´¿caper,´¿ with lots of following of suspects, traveling around the countryside, and a climactic shoot-out. Readers who like to decipher clues and try to solve the mystery themselves will be disappointed.

The Hearse Case Scenario: A Novel
The Hearse Case Scenario: A Novel
by Tim Cockey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.95
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.20

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of the �Hearse� Series!, March 7 2002
This is the third in Tim Cockey's "hearse" series, and it's far and away the best. It has all the humor and attitude of the first two, but here Cockey shows us he can serve up a great mystery too.
Hitchcock ("Hitch") Sewell is a thirtysomething undertaker, surely one of Baltimore's most eligible bachelors. When his good friend Lucy is accused of killing her boyfriend, he sets out to find the real killer. As a truly amateur sleuth, Hitch counts himself lucky when he meets Pete Munger, a bona fide private investigator (unfortunately suffering from a midlife crisis). Together, these two will bring a killer to justice.
This is an intricate mystery, with almost every character having a strong motive. There are twists and turns galore, and at the center of it all is Hitch, whose ironic sense of humor and quick turn of phrase have made this series a continuing delight. The addition of Pete Munger to this series provides a dour counterpoint to Hitch's carefree jesting. I hope and pray Munger is a permanent addition. These two have the makings of a great mystery-solving pair.

Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House: Being the Sixth Jane Austen Mystery
Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House: Being the Sixth Jane Austen Mystery
by Stephanie Barron
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 34.95
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Another engrossing entry in a wonderful mystery series, Jan. 20 2002
Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mystery series has maintained its freshness and appeal through this, the sixth in the series. These books are supposedly Austen's "discovered diaries" edited by Barron, whose explanatory footnotes help the reader better understand the time period and locale.
This episode finds Jane in Southampton in 1807. Her brother Frank, a post captain in the Royal Navy, is convinced that his good friend Tom Seagrave, a captain who stands accused of violating the Articles of War (the punishment for which is death), is innocent. Jane becomes convinced as well, and together, they set out to prove it. Their conviction takes them from Southampton's finest homes to its darkest slums, from the sickroom of French prisoners of war to the discovery of espionage and finally, a revelation of ultimate betrayal.
Barron shows herself to be a master of plot here, as a tangled (but never convoluted) web of intrigue and revenge is slowly revealed. The many characters and motivations are complex and fully drawn, and Jane's enthusiasm for the Navy gives us a glimpse into a time when military service could mean the making of a fortune.
I'm not an Austen scholar, but I am an Austen fan, and I enjoy the entire series for the way it evokes Austen's sly sense of humor in reporting the events and people that surround her. The only thing that kept me from giving 5 stars is that I was able to solve the mystery myself.

Death Is A Cabaret
Death Is A Cabaret
by Deborah Morgan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating glimpse into the world of antique collectors., Nov. 25 2001
I think one of the characteristics of mystery fans, besides a love of puzzle solving, is a genuine interest in other people, cultures, societies, worlds, etc. Why else would the mystery genre be so popular? We don't read mysteries simply to solve crimes; we read to meet new people, explore new places, and experience the unknown.
Deborah Morgan's new "Antique Lover's" series is a shining example of what the mystery genre has to offer. Her sleuth, Jeff Talbot, is a "picker," someone who patrols garage and estate sales, looking for bargain antiques to sell to antique dealers. Talbot's enthusiasm for his job, his delight in discovering a hidden treasure in someone's attic, is tempered by the dog-eat-dog nature of the business. His chief rival is Frank Hamilton, a hot-tempered picker with a bullying nature and a lack of scruples. A run-in with Hamilton is enough to spoil Talbot's entire day.
When Hamilton turns up dead at an auction in Michigan, an auction that Talbot is also attending, Talbot fears he is the chief suspect. But as a former FBI agent, he is in the position to call in some favors and do some sleuthing of his own. In the intimate world of antique collectors, Talbot soon discovers that Hamilton had many enemies and conspirators with both motive and opportunity. Can Talbot catch the murderer AND obtain the prize antique tea set that is the auction's focal point?
I found this mystery to be thoroughly enjoyable, like stepping into a foreign world where everything is unfamiliar and fascinating. Talbot leads a truly unusual life, living in a mansion filled with antiques, employing a butler to keep things running smoothly, and living with a wife whose agoraphobia keeps her confined to the house (and prevents her from traveling with Jeff). Setting the auction on Mackinac Island in Michigan is an additional stroke of genius and lets the author take the reader into yet another world, where cars are prohibited and jackets required after 6 p.m.
The mystery itself is engaging, although the denouement involves many sudden revelations (this is a pet peeve of mine since it prohibits the reader from solving the mystery herself). The setting is undoubtedly the central delight of this book, but it is so compelling that it compensates for the slight weakness of plot. I eagerly await the next installment.

Mistletoe Man
Mistletoe Man
by Susan Albert
Edition: Hardcover
40 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent mystery with something for everyone., Sept. 30 2001
This review is from: Mistletoe Man (Hardcover)
The China Bayles series offers the best of all worlds for mystery fans. China herself is no nonsense and tough talking (she calls her husband by his last name), with a background in criminal law and a circle of friends that include police chiefs, sheriffs, and Texas Rangers. But she's put the dog-eat-dog business world behind her to run an herb shop in the small Texas town of Pecan Springs, and she's just recently opened a tearoom with her best friend, Ruby.
With Christmas approaching, business is booming, but then things start to go awry. China's mistletoe supplier, Carl Swenson, turns up dead by the side of the road, the victim of an apparent hit-and-run. The main suspects are Carl's next-door neighbors, the two Fletcher sisters, who happen to be China's good friends. And on top of all that, China's friendship with Ruby is suddenly strained by Ruby's odd behavior and insistence that nothing is wrong.
This is an interesting mystery, with ample subplots and characters to keep a reader on her toes. China is a complicated character, and her life in Pecan Springs is fun to read about. This is the ninth book in the series (preceded by Lavender Lies), but Albert does an excellent job of making China's recurring involvement with mystery solving plausible. (It's difficult for long-running series to keep their amateur sleuths stumbling over crime in a realistic manner. Most authors don't manage it very well.)
A thoroughly enjoyable Christmas mystery.

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Feng Shui for Gardens
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Feng Shui for Gardens
by Lillian Too
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.56

1.0 out of 5 stars Completely impractical for most gardeners., Aug. 11 2001
If you just bought yourself a big empty lot and will be designing and building your house and garden, this is the perfect book for you. For the rest of us with small, non-rectangular lots and existing houses, this book is useless.
I've never understood why so many people have a hard time understanding feng shui, but reading this book illuminated me. My interest in feng shui comes from Karen Rauch Carter and Terah Kathryn Collins, both of whom take ancient philosophies and practically and usefully apply them to Western culture. Lillian Too's feng shui seems to me to be so rigid as to be impossible for the majority of us to implement.
For example, this book advises that water elements (ponds, fountains) should go on the north side of your property. Well, that's not where I want (or have room) for my fountain. I want a fountain--where else can I put it? This book doesn't say, leaving me with the impression I'm courting feng shui disaster to place a fountain anywhere else in my yard.
This book also advises that palm trees, because of their height and the shape of their leaves, are dangerous to have anywhere around your home. As a Southern Californian, I find this very hard to believe. I also don't care for the assertion that cacti and other desert plants are dry and "dead" and therefore bad to have in my garden. Am I supposed to purchase only those plants that grow in China, regardless of my own climate and soil conditions?
I had hoped to obtain some sound advice to help me design my garden, but this book is filled with inflexible dictates rather than helpful guidelines. There aren't many feng shui gardening books out there, but I'll wait for a good one to be published. I got my money back for this one.

Murder On The Flying Scotsman
Murder On The Flying Scotsman
by Carola Dunn
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 2.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Murder and mayhem (really!) on the Edinburgh express train., July 17 2001
Set in 1923 England, this series follows the adventures of the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple, a young woman who has defied convention by choosing to make her own living (as a journalist) rather than let her aristocratic family support her. Her friendship with Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, a widower, has progressed to the point that Daisy has been to his home to meet his disapproving mother and his doting young daughter, Belinda.
In this, the fourth of the series (preceded by "Requiem for a Mezzo" and followed by "Damsel in Distress"), we find Daisy taking the London-to-Edinburgh express, where she runs into an old school friend and her contentious family, all squabbling over the distribution of an impending inheritance. On top of that, Daisy must contend with Belinda, who has stowed away on the train after a fight with her grandmother. When Belinda discovers one of the cantankerous family members dead in his compartment, Daisy has her hands full watching over the young girl and trying to solve a murder.
One of the things I love about this series is the way Dunn avoids the traps that plague so many series writers. In particular, the "set up" of each mystery, and how Daisy AND Alec get involved, feels very genuine, not contrived at all. I dread mysteries where the heroine and the cop keep bumping into each other through a series of unlikely coincidences. Having Daisy call Alec and asking him to get involved is practical and realistic.
I also enjoy that Daisy is interested in solving the mysteries without being a nosy busybody; she simply finds herself in the middle of it all. She relies on Alec (rather than thinking she can handle things herself). He trusts her input (rather than dismissing her ideas).
I'm a fan of the entire series, and this one has a solid plot that keeps you guessing.

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