Friday, 24 March 2017

Friday Books - Our Fathers

Finally, I'm blogging properly again. 

It's taken me a while this year to get my groove. But the books I've read have helped, and the one I;m sharing today looks great. Our Fathers by Karin Brynard.

Here's the blurb: 
"In one of Stellenbosch’s most affluent areas an apparent house break-in goes awry, leaving a millionaire property developer’s beautiful wife dead. Inspector Albertus Beeslaar, in town to visit a former colleague, is reluctantly drawn in to the investigation led by the formidable Captain Vuyokazi Qhubeka of the Stellenbosch saps. Soon this picturesque town with its historic white gables, world-famous wineries and big money begins to reveal its dark underbelly.
Fifteen hundred kilometres to the north, Sergeant Johannes Ghaap is thrust into a drama of his own as he races to save a kidnapped woman and her child, who are being held captive in Soweto. Fate will steer him to The Fatha – a man capable of such evil that most consider him a mere urban legend …
Our Fathers is the translation of the Afrikaans bestseller Onse vaders, a novel that sees the return of Karin Brynard’s much-loved hero Beeslaar and establishes Brynard as one of the country’s finest writers of crime fiction. "

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and 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.








It's clearly a funeral. But whose? And why? And it's definitely a murder, not a 'natural circumstances' death. It's translated from Afrikaans, which is similar to Dutch - nominee is translated priest.


Ooh I am enjoying this. I read to page 56 last night, so that I could share this today. I keep wanting to read more.

Hope you enjoy your reading weekend.

Leave a comment and I'll visit you back.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis


Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process.

Michael Lewis, author of the best-sellers The Blind Side, The Big Short, (both movies), and also Moneyball, Liar’s Poker and Flash Boys doesn't have anything left to prove, and it’s quite fun reading an author with this degree of confidence.

The story of an unlikely friendship that changed the way we think (certainly not the world) is interesting at best. The Lewis magic, which takes the interesting and explodes it into the fascinating, page-turning, breathtaking was only partially in operation here. I thoroughly enjoyed the description of the friendship and collaboration between these two. Their personalities and fascinating histories came alive, and at times I felt lie a fly on the wall. The sentimentality of the relationship, rich in generosity, then sad in its unravelling was poignant. I loved the way that they were better together, and the moments where their ideas fed off each other were a little magical, well expressed. 


But Lewis missed a trick. The world these two academics cracked open is more than interesting. Apart from telling a few of their stories from their more famed papers, he defaulted to the story of the probabilistic mistake that we all make. He then explored it over and over again from different angles, but still not much depth. I’ve read other books in this field, with way more interest, and that offered way more explanation. Behavioural finance is not difficult, and can be made far more enticing - like Misbehaving by Richard Thaler, for instance. 

Another issue I had was the opening chapter, which seems to be the author’s own reflections on his earlier work, Moneyball - which I haven't read, because I have no interest in American baseball selection criteria. I still don’t. Fortunately for me, this had absolutely no relevance to the rest of the book. Others may have expected differently and been disappointed.

Still worth a read if you enjoy behavioural psychology and are interested in the Kahneman and Tversky story.

3 stars

ISBN:9780393254594

You may also enjoy Misbehaving by Richard Thaler or Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

"I believe that books, once written, have no need of their authors." So said Elena Ferrante, anonymous creator of what has been termed ‘a modern masterpiece’. My Brilliant Friend is about two friends, Elena and Lila who grow up in a village in Naples, Italy. They’re poor, it’s 1950 and these children are rough, tough, resourceful and fierce.

There are too many characters in chapter one. My head was reeling, and I had to keep checking back. It’s a small town, and we meet the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. We see historical events unfolding as the children grow up, and are sucked in to the tiny details of their lives, which are described such matter of factness that we forget to be impressed with the violence, the dire need and the desperation. LenĂ¹ (Elena) and Lila are centre stage and we feel every emotion, the dust on their feet and the frustration in their very souls.

A quiet book, but strong, intense and ultimately powerful. Apparently (it all goes a little over my naive head), Ferrante doesn't follow any writing rules. She writes and does whatever she likes. She doesn’t give author interviews, promote the book, isn't on social media and (until she was outed last year) has remained relatively anonymous. And the irony in that is, apparently the series (the Neapolitan Novels) is such a runaway success, that my brother-in-law, who bought this for me for Christmas had to hunt it down - it was sold out in all major book stores where I live.

This is an author and a book that doesn't really care what you think of it. I like it more for that. I will be hunting down the other four novels, especially since it has been put on the stage and #4 was short listed for the Booker Prize in 2016.

Highly recommended. Thoroughly enjoyed.

4 stars

ISBN: 9781609450786

You may also enjoy The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, or Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth


The Mother's Promise is a story of a teenage girl, Zoe, who has anxiety issues, and her single mother, Alice,  who isn't well. Alice is completely alone (apart from her daughter), and needs a solution to the problem of what will happen if perchance, she doesn't make it? How does she go about trying to find someone to care for Zoe, someone who will protect her and care for her the way she always has? Neither Alice nor Zoe are particularly trusting of others, nor do they relate easily to those outside their universe. 


Sally Hepworth is famous in my reading world for creating warm, endearing stories. Real characters, with true to life problems that tug at heartstrings and get my emotions going. This one has Zoe. 



The mother in you will reach out to this troubled soul, wanting her to find her way in the boggy morass that is the high school (anti)social environment, desperate for her to find friends, kindred spirits, understanding souls. Try not to wring your hands, or get too emotionally connected - it is just a story - that's the thing about these books. 

Like The Secrets of Midwives and The Things We Keep, they get under your skin. Told with a light touch that manages to see the silver lining without being preachy and find the rainbow's pot of gold without diminishing the harsh realities, you are in accomplished hands here.

I loved this book, finished it in a day or two and won't easily forget it.

An enchanting story.

You may also enjoy The Things we Keep or The Secrets of Midwives, both by Sally Hepworth. Or what about Commonwealth by Anne Patchett? Or I Found You by Lisa Jewell

ISBN: 9781250077752


4 stars

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Ten of the Best #84


Hey hey hey, it's Saturday. Yes it is. So stay right there, unless you don't have your morning brew yet. If you don't, you may go and get it, if you promise to come right back.

The fun starts here, when we recap - all those videos we never watched to the end, because the wifi was so slow, or we ran out of data on the train, those articles that looked so interesting, but were just too long to read, and those adorable animals, but we skimmed past, because we were sitting next to the boss in the meeting, and had to put out phones down. (Not that that ever happens, right?)

This week was a cracker. I'm sure you all saw the guy whose kids interrupted his oh-so-professional-from-my-home-office TV report. It was fabulous. Jimmy Kimmel includes it in his round up of the US week, which also summarises the storm, the healthcare bill, and Kelly-Anne Conway's latest faux pas. I don't know about you, but I prefer getting my news from comedians these days.



Did you see someone uploaded how the female version of the BBC guy would have turned out. Take a look, it's hilarious.





Not so funny is the fact that it only took a few days for this to happen to the little girl facing down the Wall Street bull (see last week's ten for the story). A few days. Pity Trump never tweeted about this.



That got me thinking and remembering something I saw last week -  about women and men in the workplace. True story, real evidence. Fascinating. Outcome: she left. Click the picture for the story, told in tweets.



Is that why wine? Read this (fairly lengthy, but excellent) article from Marie Claire. You tell me? Because if that is why we drink, it also may be why I stop. (BTW, I loved this Sarah Bessey very personal account on why she stopped, too.)





In local news, SASSA made the Constitutional Court yesterday. Pierre de Vos summed up possibilities, but click the Zapiro pic for the outcome. Bravo bravo Mogoeng Mogoeng.




This is one reaction to the ongoing saga. It's only Ndileka Mandela, quoting her grandfather. And it's nothing like what the ANCWL said at the end of the previous article. Thinking (hoping) there may be many more.



If I wrote a book, I'd be mad if the movie adaptation was significantly different. It happened to Jodi Picoult, except that everyone preferred her original book to the movie, so she was vindicated, sort of. Here are some more authors who hated the movies.




And this court case reveals when the Oxford comma can be very, very important.







Stop the world for a minute and listen to Pentatonix. Their haunting harmonies reveal the genius of John Lennon's Imagine, and the message they've chosen to portray is powerful. I loved this.




You see. Music lessons, and you could have done that. That, and so much more - read this.







That's our ten, that's actually eleven (yes, count it out) folks. See you next week, same time, same place for some more.

Here's last week, in case you missed it.

And the year, so far.
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Friday, 17 March 2017

Friday Books - The Undoing Project

Hello Friday Bloggers and fellow bookworms.

If you're back again - apologies for my rushed post last week - everything was conspiring against me. Eventually I left off the images, and just abandoned my post. You know those blogging days, when the formatting takes longer than the writing, and you could toss your laptop in the nearest puddle, pool, or ocean?

No moaning today, I've got a brand new book....

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and 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.



Here's my Book Beginning...


I really enjoy Michael Lewis. He knows how to tell a story. My favourite was Flash Boys, but I also enjoyed The Big Short. And of course I watched The Blind Side. Who didn't? I never did read Moneyball, but The Undoing Project looks good, and I don't think it matters if I haven't read Moneyball? I probably will though, after I'm done with this.

The beginning is ok, I will keep reading, because I know he can write better than that!

See what I mean? And this is a true story. For those of you who didn't follow the earlier link, it follows the friendship of Daniel Kahneman (author of ) and Amos Tversky, two psychology professors, whose thinking and writing changed the way we think (or the world, depending which book you read!)

Have a happy weekend, I wish you many delightful hours spent reading.
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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman

From Goodreads...

"In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?"


You get the idea. This is a grumpy and lonely guy. Only he doesn't realize it, because he's chosen this way of life. But life has a way of changing us too, and Ove's interactions with the neighbour who damages his property, the children, when he minds them for about ten minutes with their mother at hospital, and the pets and other dysfunctional neighbours. 

The best advert for this book is some quotes: 


“Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.”


“And the poser has a girlfriend. Ten years younger. The Blond Weed, Ove calls her. Tottering around the streets like an inebriated panda on heels as long as box wrenches, with clown paint all over her face and sunglasses so big that one can’t tell whether they’re a pair of glasses or some kind of helmet. She also has one of those handbag animals, running about off the leash and pissing on the paving stones outside Ove’s house. She thinks Ove doesn’t notice, but Ove always notices.” 


"'Once upon a time there was a little train,' reads Ove, with all the enthusiasm of someone reciting a tax statement."

Of course, Ove also tells his story. And it's sad. But it's well interspersed with the current one, that you don't even notice it, it just fills in the gaps. This is where some of the loveliest quotes are - about the love he used to share and the life he lived.


All in all, a lovely, unexpected heartwarming read. If you think you've read others like it, (The Unlikely Pilgrimage, The man who climbed out of the window, etc) you have, in that they're quirky, and make you smile. This is a little different. It's funnier - more laugh out loud than smile; it is more old-fashioned and sarcastic at the same time; it really hangs together and it has way more charm than the others I've read. I'll remember this one.

I listened to this book on Audible. The narration was great - wry and not overdone.

4 stars.
ISBN: 9781444775815

Monday, 13 March 2017

Stern stuff

It's a good morning this morning.

I was reflecting this weekend. Considering all the things we face, daily. For me and my family, it's not been a great deal in the abundant life department - if it isn't illness, hospitalisation, deteriorating life threatening conditions, then it's the mental challenges of holding yourself and each other together through that; and when you think you may just make it, some disruptions - a burglary, a loss, a tree falling down. You get the picture?

Sometimes it's just one enormous thing, that changes everything - nothing is the same, it's all that much more difficult. The mountain is steeper and higher and rockier than yesterday; help feels thin on the ground, and you have less strength to face it than before.

In another thoughtful moment, I was wondering, really wondering how babies survive their first few months of existence? They're given to complete rookies, no experience, no manual, and in our case, no clue. Yet they don't seem to just survive, they thrive?

There's only one possible conclusion to these rambling thoughts - "We are made of stern stuff". Sterner than you would think. Our frail and fragile humanity, if we are asked to surrender it, turns out to have a back of steel, a spine of stone.

If you've come this far, and you're reading this today, you are resilient, and courageous, and you have more strength than you ever would have believed.

I'm going to celebrate that by having a run, and then a freshly brewed cappuccino and spend a few minutes in gratitude to my Creator that I'm still here. Then I'm going to have a good day.

Have you guessed our playlist for the exercise regime yet?

Come on, there's only one choice - TITANIUM, by David Guetta, featuring Sia.



I'm bulletproof nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
You shoot me down but I won't fall, I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won't fall
I am titanium

Let's do this. Bring. It. On.

Last month's motivation. Yes it's been a while.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Ten of the Best #83

Is it just me, or is this life slowly getting better? Enjoy the latest cartoon from Zapiro, while you're sipping that hot brew, snuggling under those warm covers and tell me you've got such a hard life.

Come on, laugh, it's not so hard.



I have to agree with one of my heroines, Annie Lennox, when she noted that Pres T (he who shall not be named) has caused a revival in the women's movement. Unintended, I'm sure, but hey, we'll take it. We aren't fussy.

It appears to me that during this week, International Women's Day (IWD),  where mass action was called for - by way of staying off work to prove what a difference women make - more and more women are finding their voices, and using them to good effect. So, it's no surprise that today, most of what I'll feature will be generated by the feminine gender.

Too bad I only discovered that I was meant to stay home on my way to my first meeting on the 8th March, 2017. This post made me feel better about my lack of solidarity with my fellow fairests...the little girl facing down the raging bull. Click the pic to read about State Street, who did it.



This article from The Guardian on Silencing, and the story's redemption over powerlessness gave me goosebumps.




Then the announcement of the Bailey's Longlist for fiction. All women, by design.



The ironic announcement that an all female crew landed an aircraft in a country that won't allow women to drive. How does this happen?


This news, today, not on IWD, that an all girl cast at UCT, discovered a gene that lead to a breakthrough in the medical profession - the number of cardiac related deaths could be drastically reduced. So proud.



We'll let Mark Heywood join the esteemed ranks today, since he wrote this excellent piece - "You knew because we told you". It's short, sharp and has loads of quotables and links to other interesting posts. One to keep in a safe place and read at the dinner table after a glass or two of wine. Click the Zapiro latest.



We'll also let Liberace's wonderful showmanship shine. He's glittery enough to be a girl. The middle of this clip is a little annoying, but the end is great, when he really gets those fingers flying.



The world lost a wonder this week - the Azure Window in Malta. Take a watch.



This little girl tells mom how to be divorced. And at the same time, has a message for all of us. Everyone. Loved it.



The last post - these adorable animals made my week.


Take it easy. Be kind. Make the world a better place. We all need each other to do just that.

In case you missed last week - here you go.

And some more tens.

Friday Books - The Keeper of Lost Things

Hello all you wonderful readers. It's Friday, and I'm so glad it is. The weekend. My favourite time of the week.

And my favourite time of the day - we get to do these link-ups.

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and 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.


Here's my Book Beginning...



Now that is a pretty cover. The prettiest I've seen for a while. And this book is touted as "The feel good novel of 2017". I'm sure that's helping it get read - who doesn't need a feel-good novel in 2017? Hands up? Right, moving on...

The Beginning, what do you think? No ticket on a train? One of my many nightmares. In a biscuit tin? Huh?

Here's my page 56...




Another pretty cover. No wonder there are two. They're not all that different, but which do you like? Mine looks like this one, and I loved that excerpt. I sometimes wonder, looking at my wedding photos, how I ever thought I could possibly have a tiny fricking clue what I was doing?

What do you think? Worth a read?

Have a happy weekend. I wish you lots of reading time.