Saturday, 27 May 2017

Ten of the Best #94

I can feel it. There's too much to read, to see, to enjoy. I'm going to have to be ruthless with material this week.

Welcome to the start of the weekend. It's time to grab your favourite brew, and sit for a few minutes and recap on the week. Here's the round up of the best from your timelines - that stuff you missed while doing the all important live your life thing. Zapiro was so on form.
 


Trump's doing a World Tour. Come on, we have to start there. Where he shoved Dusko Markovic out of the way at the Nato summit. For someone who whines that no politician in history has ever been treated worse by the media (grammar nerds -that's what he said - but I know we've stopped with that, there's too much else wrong, right?) he sure gives them a lot of material. I mean, that was him doing all these things. James Corden summarises.



Jimmy Kimmel on his holiness meeting his bigliness. Someone commented that the picture of the Trumps with the Pope looked like a bad shot of  The Addams Family. True dat.



Trevor Noah on not being able to keep up with all the news.


Meanwhile back in SA, the press has done some good work exposing the dastardly deeds  done in darkness, to paraphrase Barbara Hogan.


I thought that the next expose was brave, not just because it faced down the evil, but did so with a  personal touch. Bravo Francis Herd. Click the Zapiro pic.



RIP Roger Moore. Take a minute to read the cute story, then click on it for his best James Bond moments.


I love a good story. Here's one from Darrel Bristol-Bovey, set in Franschhoek.




Looking for good jokes? Always. Here you go. 45, to be exact.


Of course, let's not forget that Pippa Middleton got married. I loved the flowers, but it seems that every time you try to find pictures of the reception flowers, that site was taken down. Must be a deal with big bucks. Here's one sighting, but you'd better click quick, before they find it.


U2 did a surprise performance. The interview is funny too, and I love the Irish accents, but the music starts at 2.20. There is even a spot for gospel artists and a choir. Best. Version. Ever. There is so much right with this clip. I need to listen at least five times.


On that note, you can't help but have a fantastic weekend. 


Friday, 26 May 2017

Friday Books - I Capture the Castle


It's Friday already. Time to stop and read. At last.

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Readerand The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice both host sites for Friday link ups, where we discover more books, and make friends. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

This is a photo of the actual book I'm reading. Interesting cover, right?





It's I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. Yip, she of 101 Dalmations fame.











A friend lent me her copy of this book, and I cannot wait to start it. I've cleared the decks, and this is the weekend of reading this book. I think that has to be one of the most original openings I've ever read. Here's the blurb:

"Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love."







The sink again. Love that.

Here are some more interesting versions of the covers, because I know that you guys love to choose your favourites (so do I).

So different, right? Do you have a favourite?

And what are you reading this weekend? I'd love to visit you, so leave me a comment and I'll say hello.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

So sad. Ellie was fifteen, in love and the apple of her mother's eye when she disappeared. Laurel will never stop hoping that she is found, but realises this is an unlikely dream. It's time to let go - it's already destroyed the family.

So she moves on, as one does. She meets Floyd, who seems too good to be true, and has a daughter who looks very much like Ellie. 

Lisa Jewell wrote of this book - "Then She Was Gone is my fifteenth novel and probably my darkest to date. I can't tell you too much here about the genesis of the book because that would be a total spoiler, but I can tell you that I went down a few wrong turnings on the way to the finished book and that when I finally worked out where I was supposed to be going the whole thing came racing out of me pages at a time and I wrote it in just over ten weeks - which was pretty exhilarating!"

That intrigued me. And I have to say I LOVED how this book turned out. Dark - yes. Sad - I already said that. True to life - absolutely. The characters were great, and the plot exceptional. The family inter-relationships, as usual, sound as clear as bells through all the witty dialogue.

Another eminently readable unputdownable Jewell.

5 stars

ISBN: 9781780896427

You may also enjoy I Found You or The Girls by Lisa Jewell. Or Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout


I read this back to back with its companion - My Name is Lucy Barton. I'm glad I did. I don't think this would've made much sense if I hadn't.

Although it reads like a collection of short stories, if you've read Lucy, you'll realise it isn't, really. It's the filling in the fabric of a life, adding colour and depth to the story and detail to the lives of those we've grown to know and love.

The writing is beautifully done. Loads of gems, like

“society's been drugging its women for years” and

“He took down the curtains that hung in front of the blinds and washed them in the old washing machine. In his mind they were blue-gray curtains, but it turned out that they were off-white. He washed them a second time, and they were an even brighter off-white.” 


I loved Lucy, and I enjoyed this one. It's a fairly quiet, gentle book. It didn't have the same emotional impact for me as the other, but a very pleasant way to pass the time, and no regrets for having done so this way.

ISBN: 9780812989403

You may also enjoy My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, or Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott.

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Monday, 22 May 2017

We are Young


It's morning. Monday morning. And what are we planning today? I don't know about you, but I'm starting with some exercise. 



I'm going to hit this hard, get out into the beautiful autumn morning, and run faster than I've gone before. Because that's what we do on a Monday morning. Especially when the weekend has been too good, too full of wine, food and song, and I know I need to get the arms pumping, the feet hitting the pavement and the lungs filling with fresh air.

Join me? Come on. There are so many benefits to this. Most recently, I've been reading how exercise counteracts the effects of aging. In fact, the older you are, according to the latest study, the more effect it has.

The truth is that today is the youngest it's possible for you to ever be again. Now is the time. Let's get up and hit the gym/treadmill/pavement so hard it shakes with the intensity.

Of course, we need some music. What was I thinking? Here it is. Fun's We Are Young. Because we are. And we can do this.

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

So if by the time the bar closes
And you feel like falling down
I’ll carry you home tonight


Here's another Monday Motivation some people liked - Can this get better?

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Ten of the Best #93


Good morning! It's a beautiful day where I am, and it's going to be a fabulous weekend. Hope you've got some fun lined up too.

But before we get to that, while it's still dawning on us, lets catch up with the week, the news, the funny things, the music, the stuff on our timelines, that we didn't get to during the week.

Stephen Fry (attempts to) explain(s ) the Trump phenomenon? The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. But is he preaching to the choir?



Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert finally agrees with Trump on something. Here's a summary of all the latest news in the U.S. - and there's a lot. Bored of Trump? Me too, keep scrolling, there's lots more news today.




Across the Atlantic, Macron appoints a cabinet in France. And half are women. Bravo.


In SA, we heard a lot of news about violence against women and children,

Friday, 19 May 2017

How We Found You by JT Lawrence


Kate and Keke, Seth and his clever cronies are back, four years later, in Johannesburg. Now that twins Silver and Mally are creating havoc, as only four-year-olds can, it feels like a happy family living the happily-ever-after in modern, waterless Johannesburg, with healthy dinners delivered by drones, driverless cars, and bots to do the menial tasks.

Paradise in this concrete jungle? Except, well, when the kids go missing, they’re probably not playing, because there is a crazy cult that is out to get them. Or is that just a kink in Kate’s brain, tweaked from the pills she pops for her synaesthesia, PTSD, or general sense of paranoia. 

Feeling overwhelmed yet? You should be. This is a high adrenalin, wild speed car chase kind of book. And for this chick who doesn't really do futuristic (I’m really going to have to stop saying that) novels, this author is compelling me to read more than my fair share. 

Once you start reading JT Lawrence, you can’t stop. Her writing is crack, whatever the genre. It’s not just that you can’t put the current book down, it’s that you just want more, and more, and then some more. Adding to that desperation, she cheekily ends with a cliffhanger that leaves us all hanging, if not quite off a cliff, then certainly onto our seatbelts for the next part of the ride.

I love Kate, our unlikely, doesn’t-cope-with-life-and-not-ashamed-of-it heroine. I can’t wait to read more of her. If you haven't started, begin with Why You Were Taken. I’ll hazard a guess you’ll be up to date in the series by the end of a weekend.

A fab 5 stars from me.

You may also enjoy Why You Were Taken, or for a little diversion, The Underachieving Ovary, also by JT Lawrence. Or what about Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough?

More books...

Friday Books - How We Found You

Friday comes around more quickly than it ever has before. Is it that I'm busy? Or is this true for everyone. The days fly by faster. Every Friday with a sigh that I'm not doing more reading...


BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Readerand The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice both host sites for Friday link ups, where we discover more books, and make friends. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.


I've got a cracker this week. (Click the cover for the Goodreads blurb)















I know JT Lawrence from The Underachieving Ovary, and the first book in this series - Why You Were Taken, and I love her writing. "A rabbit hole quilled with xlinks" is a new favourite quote of mine - just brilliant!






Go on, what's not to like?  A futuristic novel, set in my home city - Johannesburg. A tense, gripping page turning thriller,  great writing and loads of fun. Review just posted.

Oh, and did I mention that for a short while it's 99c on Amazon? (So is the first one, if you're anal like me, and you have to do these things in order.)

Have a lovely weekend, and hope you get some reading done. Tell me what in the comments, and I'll pop over.
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Thursday, 18 May 2017

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Lucy Barton, mother of two young girls, is confined to hospital following surgery that results in complications. Her mother, who hasn't seen her for years, comes to sit beside her bed. For five nights. They reminisce.

It is difficult to describe the emotions that this little, yet powerful book evoked. I connected deeply with Lucy. The relationship between mother and daughter is gently examined, like layers of tissue paper being lifted carefully off a delicate crystal chandelier. Love, and life, are not perfect. Yet there was a degree of restoration, balming healing that floated up through the beautiful words off every page. They talk about old times, old friends, family and home, and I was hooked.

Lucy's story is not the happiest. Looking back at it through her mother's eyes shows it up from her adult perspective in an even worse light. Yet she has survived, taking the hand life has dealt her and playing it well.

An evocative read - don't attempt it if you're having a bad day.

4 stars

ISBN: 9781400067695

You may also enjoy 

                                             
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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Payment in Blood by Elizabeth George


A Great Deliverance was my first Elizabeth George and the first in the Inspector Lynley series. Now, every time I am in a second hand bookshop, I look for the next. There's something so right about reading a crime-detection novel in a gently worn state. You just know that someone else has had a cuppa, glanced out over the garden, maybe even smoked a cigarette (yes you can tell from the book) whilst figuring out the very same case that gorgeous Detective Lynley and homely Detective Havers are solving before your eyes.

This was discovered in Margate, of all places. And I settled down, in a comfy spot to time travel to the Scottish Highlands, where a number of actors and hangers-on are gathered in a drafty old house and dun dun dun...the playwright is brutally murdered in the dead of night. It feels a little like a murder mystery weekend. Enter the detectives and the forensic specialists, and some highly ranking police, and you just know there's so much more to this story.

I enjoyed this one, perhaps not as much as A Great Deliverance, but if you're looking for a great murder mystery, with an excellent plot, setting and well known characters, you can't go wrong here.

Onwards and upwards to Well Schooled in Murder. Only I've just discovered that I should've read A Suitable Vengeance first, so maybe that should be next? 


4 stars

ISBN: 9780553284362

You may also enjoy PD James - A Certain Justice, or A Terrible Beauty by VM Devine, or what about Jo Spain's Beneath the Surface?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Finders Keepers by Belinda Bauer



Aaaah. Belinda Bauer doing what she does best. Children disappearing. In Exmoor. Left behind is a note. A post-it note - "You don't love her."


The guilt, shame, fear and anger felt by those so "accused" hangs over Exmoor like mist. Detective Jonas Holly must find this elusive snatcher, before another child goes. But where?


We've been here before. The scene was set in Blacklands, with the disappearance of young Stevie. Then Darkside. We know the people, and where they've come from, which makes this more fraught, more desperate, the stakes higher. And although this is a standalone, that is why you really should read those other two books first, in order.My favourite part of this book is the children. Belinda draws them so beautifully. I loved them, held them, feared for them, laughed at them as I read this book. But a word of warning - there is a dark and evil monster out there, so cruelty and horror abound. If you don't like to read that stuff, skip this, or even better, skim those parts.


I love the humour and wit dancing in every scene too. It lightens the mood and sparkles like the gold light edging the clouds.


I'm so glad I read this, and so sad I'm done with this trilogy. I loved every word.

5 stars

ISBN: 9780593066904


You may also enjoy The Shut Eye, also by Belinda Bauer. Or what about Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton?
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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Ten of the Best #92



Happy weekend everybody. Where I am it's cold and getting colder. And that's not just all the news feeds. It's the weather. Seriously though, you guys need to cheer up a bit. Wherever I looked for inspiration, fun and laughter, music and happy days, I found Trump, SA is going down the tubes, and articles on depression and suicide. Miserable lot, aren't we?

So I cast my net wide and deep, to find the funny, and try and lift us all out of the doldrums. There was some. Trevor Noah on Trunp firing Comey was first up.




James Corden called it like this - oh well, someone had to.


When I first saw it all breaking, I thought of all the comedians rubbing their hands with glee, thinking they'd never been so lucky. Then I saw that the new SNL promo is out.

Spicey. Is. Back. aka Melissa McCarthy. Imagine my face when every single clip "Isn't allowed in your country". So what's a girl to do? Resort to twitter, that's what. Here it is. Sean feeling pretty.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Friday Books - Behind Her Eyes


Friday again. Already? Time to do things other than work. Well perhaps. The weekend is looking rather busy, so we'll see.


BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Readerand The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice are the hosting sites for the Friday link ups, where we discover more books, and make friends. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.


What am I reading? Well, I'm so glad you asked. It's 










That certainly hooked me. So whoever this is, has clearly had some problems. But who is it in the "NOW"? 







I know you want to read it now. I'll say no more. Except to ask about the covers. Because I really loe them both. Which is your favourite?


I'm enjoying quick, thrilling reads. So I can get completely engrossed and forget about everything else for a while. This ticked all the boxes. Here's my review.

What're you reading today? 

Thanks for visiting. Have a great weekend.
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Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Substitute by Denise Grover Swank

Do you ever feel like a quick, lighthearted read? Sort of like a little packet of jelly babies before bed, or popcorn at the movies.

That’s exactly what I needed. I’d been reading quite a lot of thrillers, and before that, heavy books - thought-provoking, worthy and interesting. Wonderful, but I needed a reading binge.

The Substitute is the stuff nightmares are made of. Megan Vandemeer is on her way home to a wedding organised by an overbearing mother. Only she hasn't quite picked up the courage to tell them that Jay no longer her fiancĂ©, since they broke up. She tells enough of her story to a handsome stranger on a plane, then passes out. Guess what happens? Use the title if you’re not sure…

I picked this up free on Kindle. (Click the pretty cover for link to free version - hope it lasts!) And it was everything I was looking for. Also, when you’re looking for this kind of book, it’s easy to also attract bad writing. Here, nothing grated me. Maybe a little too much repetition of facts I’d heard before, and some overused phrases, but all in all a happy read.

A predictable, yet a little different and interesting plot. And just what I was looking for.

Denise Grover Swank, I’ll see you in a few weeks, for another cocktail - pink and pretty, tasty and delicious.

ISBN:9781939996237

More reviews

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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton


"Keep telling yourself it's only fiction... as you read this sensational thriller. Are you scared yet?"

That's the teaser from the blurb. And it's so accurate. Yes, even the word "sensational". Here, it fits.

I’d been avoiding Lacey Flint. I dont know why. I think maybe I was scared (dead scared - ha ha) that I’d love her too much, there’d be like 34 books int he series, and I’d lose myself in them and miss all the other wonderful book opportunities there are for me to read. Silly that.

I’ve fixed my little problem. I do love Lacey Flint. There are only 4 (sob, why so few) books in the series, and I’m going to read the first one now, and then the rest in order, like I should have done in the first place.

This is the second in the series. At Cambridge, students are committing suicide. Not abnormal, that. Just average, if you’re dealing with the usual stresses and strains of being a student. Except that, the numbers are not average, or even slightly above average, they’re off the charts. Especially for women. And the resident counsellor - psychologist Evi Oliver - believes there is something weird going on. Enter Detective Lacey Flint, an undercover student, working with Mark Joesbury. Only Lacey doesn't know the half of it.

This book is brilliant - ok, sensational. I experienced the nights, looking up at the creepy cathedral spires, cloaked in evil intent covering dastardly deeds committed by who? And how? And where? The uncovering was deeply satisfying and there was humor throughout. Sharon Bolton, you genius, I loved this. And I love it when the title of the novel is just so …well right, and then right again, and again.
An enthralling clever, dark book.

5 stars

ISBN: 9780593064153

You may also enjoy Sacrifice, by Sharon Bolton. Or some Belinda Bauer - try The Beautiful Dead, or what about The Breakdown by B.A. Paris?


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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Clever that. To make the potential downfall of the book a spoiler of such epic proportions, that if you’re a reviewer with a conscience, you can’t hold forth about what part of the book didn't work for you.
But I’m going to try to be cleverer. You see, it didn't work for me. And I am going to do this without spoiling the book. I promise you.

Behind her eyes is about relationships. It’s a thriller, psychological and gripping. Meet Louise, a single mom to Adam. She has a fun night out, lets her hair down, hooks up with David. David turns out to be her new boss. And married. To Adele. Louise meets Adele, and unexpectedly, becomes her friend. We see from Adele and Louise’s points of view, in the first person, with some flipping back - to “THEN” from “NOW”, which I liked the simplicity of. I enjoyed the writing. It wasn't too much, and it didn't tell all. Lots of dialogue with Sophie, Louise’s friend, and a lovely unsettling feeling, as you realise how strange David and Adele’s relationship is.

Yet, the plot reveal, the twist that no one saw coming, the denouement, the final whistle, was something so…out of character, out of the ordinary, that it made the whole book lose a little shine for me. Maybe it’s because we’ve seen it all before, and Sarah Pinborough had to really push the boundaries, the result of which I don't think will be to every reader’s taste.

So if, like me, you manage to get to read this without someone spoiling it for you (and people will do it inadvertently, so stop them talking about it) then you should hold the ending very lightly. Appreciate the book for what it delivers and try to forget about the “OMG” ending. Then, when it comes, you can go and find everyone who tried to spoil it for you, and tell them what you really think.

4 stars

ISBN: 9781250111173

You may also enjoy The Breakdown by B.A. Paris. Or what about Peter Swanson's The Kind Worth Killing?

Some more books.