Saturday, 9 February 2019

Ten of the Best #147

Good morning, and welcome to the Ten that's hardly ever Ten, it's usually more, because I find such interesting stuff to read and watch on your timelines, that when I finally settle in to do so, this post is the result. And even though it was the SOTU in the US and the SONA here in SA, don't worry, you won't find that here today.

Grab your brew, settle down, and click on the links, or keep scrolling if you're not interested.

Abortion was all over our timelines this week - with a bill passed that allowed late-term abortions setting fires alight across the world. This was my favourite article.

A Grammy Host is born... Love it.


I love this woman - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Click the meme of my other favourite woman this week - Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the woman who invented the sarcastic clap at Trump's SOTU address.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve

Anita Shreve has written some books I've loved -  Fortune's Rocks, for instance. And who could forget The Pilot's Wife? Well blow me down with a feather if those aren't book one and book three of the Fortune's Rocks series, and here I stand with book two in my clingy little hands, and a long reading holiday ahead of me (with plenty to read already, mind you) and think this must be a sign.


It's early 1929 in New Hampshire, and Honora has just married Sexton Beecher. They've also purchased a house on the beach that needs a lot of attention. As does a newly married husband, Honora soon discovers. As the textile industry around them crumbles and falls, Sexton's previous errors of judgment in his job selling typewriters are uncovered, and the little community deals with the Great Depression, early labour uprisings, poverty, need and sickness and death.

The book is beautifully written, has a gorgeous setting, and some unforgettable characters. Here are some quotes:-

"Honora laid these flaws aside as one might overlook a small stain on a beautifully embroidered tablecloth one wanted to buy, only later to discover, when it was on the table and all the guests were seated around it, that the stain had become a beacon, while the beautiful embroidery lay hidden in everybody's laps."

"The only problem with looking for sea glass", Sexton says one day when he and Honora are walking along the beach, "is that you never look up. You never see the view. You never see the houses or the ocean because you're afraid you'll miss something in the sand."

Yay for well-stocked second-hand bookshops. They can brighten up the dreariest of mornings, and in this case, add an enormous pile of books to the luggage we carried about on a road trip, but also gave us many many more hours of reading pleasure. What's not to love?

4 stars

ISBN: 9780316859103

Monday, 4 February 2019

Waiting waiting waiting


Getting up early to walk or run on a Monday morning, needing inspiration. Looking for music that speaks to me in some way, today I stumbled upon Majozi's Waiting, and I think I found that perfect song for today.





Sometimes it feels like I do nothing right
I just walk, and walk without the end in sight


This morning this was apt. We got a little lost, you see. And we landed up far off the beaten track, with every attempt to get back on taking us in a new direction. Wanting to end our walk now, we upped the pace, but it was only when we found ourselves back on the main path that we could confidently stride, knowing we'd reach our destination.

And today, I'm doing some waiting. Waiting for people. Waiting for outcomes. Waiting for inspiration and direction. I know it'll come, but some already would be good.


I've been waiting, for you all my life
You've been running, through my dreams at night
I've been searching, for the longest time

How about you? What are you waiting for? Are you patient while the time passes? Or do you want to run ahead of yourself, off the path, and take even longer to reach your destination.

However you're doing it, I hope you find it within yourself to slow down, think it through and enjoy the journey.

Enjoy the run/walk/workout. And the music.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Ten of the best #146

I know, I know. I've been a little distracted... But there's nothing like a few hours of watching your sister undergo plasma treatment and great hospital wi-fi to inspire you to recap the best from your timelines and enjoy the experience... (If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's the story.)

Clearly, I've been living under a rock - I hadn't seen this..."You should've asked" - my least favourite husbanding term. It is, in fact, banned from our house.


And guess what? It makes us feel empty, all this invisible labour.


This has inspired the following message to men - since they will say we should have told THEM.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Friday Books - The Clockmaker's Daughter

Welcome to BookBeginnings and Friday56 - where we share books on Fridays. It's a great way to start the weekend.

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader.




 Here's the beginning of the book I'm featuring today.



Such beautiful writing from one of my favourite authors, on the very first page.



At Freda's Voice, you'll find the Friday56, where the excerpt comes from page 56 or 56% in your Kindle.

Here's page 56 of .The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton.



 I'm not sure nostalgia's ever in vogue, but I like the notion. Isn't this the way prettier cover?

I have done a review, for those of you who're interested to read further.

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love to visit your blog and check it out.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

The White Room by Craig Higginson

The last review of a 2018 book - and it's (not quite) the end of January yet. Wow, that shows how far behind I am in my reviews, that I can be happy at that fact.

However, since I aim to read about 2 books a week, and write 2-3 reviews, I know I'll catch up. It's just a matter of time.



The White Room starts with Hannah Meade's play's opening night in London. She's nervous, but also excited. The play is about a relationship she had years ago with Pierre, whom she plans to meet tonight too. Is she really all that nervous about the play? Or is it about meeting Pierre, who she has invited but hasn't seen since those days?


The book flips between the play and current events, and the past.  It layers truths with lies, theatre and drama with reality and pain. It's beautifully written - artful and clever, and it doesn't try to be more than it is - a story about a relationship, how that impacts everything, and the memories left behind can hover in the shadows, not intruding, but affecting what we do, what we say and who we are.

If I were an author, the thing that would irritate me the most about Craig Higginson is how effortless he makes it seem. And I'm sure it isn't. Writing is always hard work. It just feels, in this book certainly, that it's such a joy, a delight to find the right words for things, the right way to set up scenes, to work out the plot, that it's hardly hard at all.

I need a re-read. And that's the best kind of book.

5 stars

ISBN: 9781770106123

You may also enjoy Love is Blind by William Boyd.



Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty


"Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out.."

There's Frances Welty - a romantic novelist (formerly best-selling), who is angry at life (and her publisher), in constant pain and suspicious of most things, including men who stop to help you fix your life problems.

And over there are the remaining part of the Marconi family - hurt, lost and trying so hard to recover.

Dont forget Ben (the one with the car, the Lamborghini) and his wife, Jessica (the one with the body from Dr Plastic Surgeon), who said "I do" but don't know if they still do.

And others, all submitting themselves to the magic and the mystery of Tranquilium House, run by Masha Dmitrichenko and her two trusty sidekicks.

Liane Moriarty has created a perfect storm of the right blend of narcissism, belief in self-improvement and miracle cures, all the trappings of a wealthy and materialistic society and mixed it all up on a retreat - where meditation, deprivation and total relinquishment of control should result in a new you by Friday.

The trouble is, none of those ingredients are very nice on their own, so mixed together with no escape is a bit of a toxic mess. This is a great snapshot of society as it is these days, and the author is a detailed, witty and astute observer. The only trouble is, holding a mirror to our messy lives isn't always sunshine and roses.

I loved the characters, their interactions and the antics and escapades. I didn't enjoy the plot development around the resort and its owner - it was a little over-dramatic and therefore unrealistic, although not beyond the realms of possibility.

Overall, a very enjoyable way to pass the time.

4 stars

ISBN: 

You may also enjoy Big Little Lies by the same author, or Truly Madly Guilty?


Saturday, 26 January 2019

Ten of the Best #145

How lovely to wake up on a Saturday and see the trend on Twitter is #TrumpCaves? This was my favourite GIF...



And you can click the cartoon for the story.




Now this is the kind of story we need right now. Thank you Seth Myers.



Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Whistle in the Dark starts with a mystery - the disappearance of Lana Maddox. She is in hospital, and mom Jen Maddox is trying - "oh so trying", if you ask teenaged Lana.

The two had been on a creative retreat together, Lana went missing for a few days, and now Jen just wants to know what happened. Only it's not so simple - Lana can't remember. Is she unwilling or unable to say?

It's difficult to tell, even when sister Meg turns up, and tries to help/make this about her instead of about Lana. Lana sinks deeper into depression, and Jen feels more and more helpless. What about Hugh, their father? He helps around the house and buys ice cream. What else can he do?

Emma Healey writes well. Her grasp of the family tensions here and accurate dialogue are astounding. The brilliance is that she takes all the suppressed emotions - the rage, the guilt, the judgment, the selfishness - and compresses them into little moments and conversations that ring sadly true.

Which makes it complicated and difficult to read. It's not pleasant living with depression and mental illness. And when it's truthfully relatable, it's not easy or fun to read about. But that's not the book's fault, I suppose. And if you're likely to be upset by that kind of story, stay away.

3 stars

ISBN: 9780062309747

You may also enjoy Elizabeth is Missing by the same author, or what about Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter? 



Monday, 21 January 2019

Stories for 2019

It's that time of year. The third Monday of the new year, and the longest January ever. Which means we're at our least happy part of the Happy New Year. Even Good Housekeeping says so. Sigh.  Natalie made me laugh with her post about it - How was your week? Indeed.

Another friend pointed me a few weeks ago in the direction of Jonathan Jansen's 2013 New Year's post. In case you don't remember it, it was titled My South Africa and he told stories, his stories of returned wallets with not a cent missing, other stories of people in wheelchairs serving the poor, our stories of Mandela out of jail and preaching forgiveness and Tutu saving a necklacing victim. This, he says, is my South Africa. Click the picture to read the famous piece.



It made me think about what kind of world I want to live in. And the stories that may help me define it.

So on this day, the unhappiest Monday of our happy new year, I'm sharing some stories that I love. Stories from South Africa, and from across the pond, that have made me think about life, and how I like it to work. It may not always be like this, but when it is, I can do it.

Here's one about a little boy, his family at Christmas time when he nearly died, and a great outpouring of love and care and support, including this amazing song.


Which reminds me of our local version - little Kiara Mungavin. You can read all about it on her mom Jaci's blog. Here's a post I loved. A Christmas Eve tragedy, a family facing loss and a goodbye to a precious sister and daughter, and then a miraculous and wondrous recovery, a community that won't give up on this little ballerina and her loving faith-filled family. The story continues.


Coming closer to my home now, there's the story of my own sister. Also a story of faith, of a miracle that was years in the making...Lindsay needed a kidney. Both her kidneys have PKD, and a transplant was her only option. We have been amazed at and grateful for so many things...

Starting with God's constant favour, blessing and provision of 9 beautiful kidney donors - all the right blood type and all willing to live with one kidney so Lindsay can live a healthy life. I don't know how or why we were so blessed with these generous humans in our lives, but they give me hope, and inspire me to live better.

Lindsay's daily healing - she has never looked as if she were even sick, trusting her Father minute by minute for good health, and eating well and exercising as much as possible to keep strong. 

A transplant cancelled at the last minute in December 2017 (yes we are grateful now), when we all felt this was the miracle, that felt like a door slamming in our faces, but it taught us so much - to wait, to trust, and that God was present in the waiting.

And finally, radiantly, gloriously, the completion of this part of the story, by going back to the beginning. Sandy was the first person ever to come forward and offer Lindsay a kidney, and in a miraculous turn of events, she came back and offered again. This time, the tests were passed, the kidney was transplanted, both ladies are strong and healthy and there are now many happy memories to be made. Lindsay's story is mostly on Facebook, and you can follow it by clicking the picture of Lindsay and Sandy below.



And even closer - the story of a run, a life saved (my own) and another miraculous recovery. Click the picture.



So these are some stories that have inspired me, and kept me believing I can live in a world where strangers (and loved ones) are kind, lives can change for the better, and God can, and does work miracles. 

There's one more, and then I want to hear some of yours.

It's the story of a tiny teeny black kitten, mewing softly in the green leafy bushes, found while we were on a run...


He was brought home, scared and alone in the world and I was reminded in great detail, not just of all the cat allergies in our family, but HOW VERY ALLERGIC everyone was. That day ended with me coming home, Nyx in one hand (he really was only a handful) and Allergex in the other. It continued with a trip a few weeks later to the sea (7 hour car trip) with Nyx and family - "He's already been abandoned once, we couldn't possibly abandon him again." 


And it continues, with the adoption of Gatsby. These kittens have brought purrs, joy, delight and contentment into our household. They curl up on our chests, in our necks and on our hearts, purring wildly, and we have "lost" many hours playing with them, watching them, telling each other about their antics. Allergies forgotten, cats embraced, we have spent dinner times boring our family, friends and even strangers with the stories of our little kittens. They've been rescued, but so have we.



Now over to you - please tell me a story. 

In the comments on Facebook, or even here on my blog. What's happened to you, that has made you grateful? What story makes you glad to be South African, human, alive?



And as we tell our stories, with gratitude, let's look for those moments in 2019.

Happy New Year.