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i Watch, You Watch, They Watch …

Or, the saga of the expanding batteries in iWatches!

I bought an iWatch way back in 2016 because, you know, I so wanted to be Dick Tracy well, maybe not the man himself as, after all, he was a comic-book character. But the idea that I could talk to my watch and have it linked to various items as if I lived in the actual 21st century was, well, alluring (yes, I know, we’re supposed to be living in the 21 century now, but you wouldn’t know it sometimes).

Anyway, to make a short story even longer, the batteries on iWatches, or at least, so far as I know, the 1st generation watches, like mine, have an inherent problem. When they overheat the battery expands (supposedly a safety feature) popping the watch face up. I guess to vent steam or alert us to the fact the battery has over heated.

Safety feature it may be, but waking up to find your very expensive watch has popped its top to cool down is, to say the least, shocking. You sit there for a good twenty minutes, staring at your watch brain stalled in panic mode. Wondering what the hell’s going on, and, is it fixable!

Once the urge to sob finally subsides the logical part of the brain kicks in, and tells you to check online at Apple. And yes, sure enough iWatches the world over have been over heating and doing exactly what mine did. And more, my watch is just within the 3 years limit for the repair or replacement extended warranty from Apple.

Phew!

Feeling a moment of relief, I took my watch into the nearest Apple branch and did the spiel to at least 3 different people before someone smiled, took my watch, packaged it in nice made to fit Apple packaging—like they knew about this problem for years, having created specific packaging for it—and sent my watch to be repaired in Ontario.

That was six days ago. And, despite an email the following day from the shop saying my watch repair was done, and they would let me know within 1-2 days to come and collect it. I’ve heard nothing since.

Now, the question is, do I cave and go into the shop today and look like a lost puppy, or do I hang on for the rest of the week? Sigh!

I need chocolate. I need lots of chocolate.

Café au Lait

Sometimes, there is only one thing that makes life just right … the perfect cup of coffee. But not just any cup of coffee—a café au lait!

Thank you Brulerie Rousseau, you know how to give a woman what she wants!

Fickle Friday’s and Fun Festivals

Today is the start of a number of festivals, the Rickard’s BBQ festival, the Vintage Car festival, the Street Music festival, and also the opening of our new, covered, Grand Marché selling regional and seasonal products. You know the stuff, cheese and meats that make your mouth water, artisan-made breads and pastries, fresh fruit and veg from the region, and all things arty and edible.

So, of course, it’s raining. And I mean, peeing down in a steady, dull soaking wetness I think you get the picture.

And we’re due rain for, get it, the entire three days of these festivals. It never fails. You can almost guarantee wet weather will mess up the start of the summer festivals. It’s almost a given.

We were especially looking forward to a day out at both the BBQ fest and then, the vintage car fest, in which over a 1000 vintage cars will be on view—and there’s usually a lot of food and drink to go with this festival too, which is situated in one of the most picturesque spots in and around Québec City: the Montmorency Falls, with its stunning views looking out over the city, the river and the south shore.

The BBQ festival is on the new and improved festival site right next to where the new marché will be, which is kind of convenient fun. This whole weekend was shaping up to be one long indulgent food and drink extravaganza. Fiddlesticks!

I guess we could always wear our wellies, raincoats, and carry an umbrella but, you know, it’s not the same, is it? After all, this is the start of summer. Or, it’s supposed to be.

We’re all hoping the rain will have stopped by this evening as the festival site is open till 11pm tonight. We can but hope, right?

Anyway, folks, I’ll see you on the dry-side of the weekend. Have a good one yourself!

Author Spotlight: Karen Brooks

I decided to do a series called Author Spotlight, to highlight, well, obviously, my favourite authors—new and old—and to share my excitement for their work with you.

First up today is Australian-born author, Karen Brooks. I highly suggest you read her About Page by way of introduction to her, and her writing.

Brooks’ first forays into the writing world began squarely in the realms of fantasy, with her YA series The Cassandra Klein Quartet, which was followed up by a succession of YA fantasy titles that I would love to read, at some point.

Karen is now writing historical fiction. Not just any kind of historical fiction, she’s reinserting women back into history, placing them squarely at the forefront of periods of upheaval and change where fortunes could be lost and made, in an exciting way.

To date, she has written three richly detailed historical novels set in different locales and time periods:

THE BREWER’S TALE (2014)

“It had been Mother’s secret and mine, one passed down through the de Winter women for generations. I would ensure it was kept that way, until I was ready to pass it on.”

When Anneke Sheldrake is forced to find a way to support her family after her father is lost at sea, she turns to the business by which her mother’s family once prospered: brewing ale.

Armed with her Dutch mother’s recipes and a belief that anything would be better than the life her vindictive cousin has offered her, she makes a deal with her father’s aristocratic employer: Anneke has six months to succeed or not only will she lose the house but her family as well.

Through her enterprise and determination, she inadvertently earns herself a deadly enemy. Threatened and held in contempt by those she once called friends, Anneke nonetheless thrives. But on the tail of success, tragedy follows and those closest to her pay the greatest price for her daring.

Ashamed, grieving, and bearing a terrible secret, Anneke flees to London, determined to forge her own destiny. Will she be able to escape her past, and those whose only desire is to see her fail?

❖ ❖

THE LOCKSMITH’S DAUGHTER (2016)

In a world where no one can be trusted and secrets are currency, one woman stands without fear.

Mallory Bright is the only daughter of London’s master locksmith. For her there is no lock too elaborate, no secret too well kept. Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster and protector of Queen Elizabeth – the last of the Tudor monarchs – and her realm, is quick to realise Mallory’s talent and draws her into his world of intrigue, danger and deception. With her by his side, no scheme in England or abroad is safe from discovery; no plot secure.

But Mallory’s loyalty wavers when she witnesses the execution of three Jesuit priests, a punishment that doesn’t fit their crime. When Mallory discovers the identity of a Catholic spy and a conspiracy that threatens the kingdom, she has to make a choice—between her country and her heart.

Mallory, however, carries her own dark secrets and is about to learn those being kept from her—secrets that could destroy those she loves.

You can read my review HERE.

❖ ❖

THE CHOCOLATE MAKER’S WIFE (2019)

Damnation has never been so sweet

When Rosamund Tomkins enters the world she is so different, with her darkling eyes and strange laughter, that the midwives are afraid, believing her a changeling. But Rosamund’s life is set to be anything but enchanted

Born into poverty, brutalised and ignored by her family, it is only when she is married off to a nobleman that her life undergoes a wondrous transformation, as he recognises that Rosamund infuses magic she does not know she possesses into everything she touches.

Clever, quick and irrepressible, Rosamund soon becomes the darling of the haute ton, and presides over her luxurious chocolate house where the rich go to be seen and indulge in their favourite pastime, drinking the sweet and heady drink to which they’ve become oddly addicted.

But Rosamund stands on the brink of losing all she has worked so hard to achieve and will be forced to make a choice: walk away from all she knows and has grown to love with her soul intact, or make a deal with the devil?

I’m eagerly awaiting the release of this one because, come on, who can resist chocolate? No, no one that I know. And, if The Locksmith’s Daughter is anything to go by, then this too is going to be an outstanding read.

Stop by her website to find out more about Karen and her writing.

Top 10 All Time Favourites

Shanah over at the Bionic Book Worm has given us an easy task this Tuesday, to list our Top 10 Favourites of All Time. Which, really, when you think about it, is a no-brainer for most of us. And, I’m sure, like me, many are going to have very familiar titles on their lists, that we’ve all seen before. After all, we never really stop telling everyone about our favourite books, now do we? And today will be no exception!

So here we go, my top 10 choices from the last few years are:

  • GLASS HOUSES by Louise Penny — still my all-time favourite author, and still top on all my lists, but this (book 13 in the series) is outstanding. So well plotted, excellently written, and a culmination of so many threads that it had me yelling out loud at Gamache, “No, don’t don’t do it!”
  • THE DEFENCE by Steve Cavanagh — my first Steve Cavanagh book that introduced me to one of my all-time favourite characters: Eddie Flynn. This first one is still the best of the series.
  • THE CITY OF BRASS / THE KINGDOM OF COPPER by S. A. Chakraborty — yes, I’m listing these two together, because, really, who can choose between either of them? The first book was really good, but the second one was even better! And that’s saying something about Chakraborty’s fantastic plotting and characters.
  • THE LOST MAN by Jane Harper — well, any and all of Harper’s novels, really, would make it onto a list of mine, but of her three novels so far, I enjoyed this one the best.
  • THE MISSING INFORMANT / THE SILENCED by Anders de la Motte — this police procedural mystery duo, set in Sweden, was such an unexpected find for me. Cleverly plotted, I really took to the characters and thoroughly enjoyed the political twists and turns that had me second guessing everyone’s motives and actions.
  • THE LOCKSMITH’S DAUGHTER by Karen Brooks — this historical mystery set in Elizabethan England, is so richly detailed the characters really came to life, as did the twisted plot of spies and palace intrigue.
  • DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb — the first action-packed installment of Broadribb’s Lori Anderson trilogy (so far) has her bounty-hunter MC running down the bad guys, all the while trying to manage being a single mother to a tween daughter with leukaemia. I literally could not put this one down till I had finished it. Fun, fast, and furious.
  • THE STOCKHOLM OCTAVO by Karen Engelmann — another absolutely fascinating mystery set in Stockholm, at the end of the 18th-c, in which our erstwhile hero, Emil Larsson, finds his destiny inextricably entwined with that of the King of Sweden, and a plot to assassinate the King. Another superbly written look at life during the turmoil that saw so many upheavals all across Europe.

An ‘honourable’ mention goes to CRITICAL MASS by Sara Paretsky, one of Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski novels that is an outstanding read because of the subject material. And you, what reads would make your Top 10 all-time favourites?