Friday, 25 May 2018

Book Club Books #1 2018

And here we are, looking for books for Book Club. In this post, you'll find some of my favourite reads over the last few months, and if you click the covers, you'll get my reviews. Click the back button to come back for more.

I really hope you find something you like.

We'll start with the popular choice. Before We Were Yours seems to be a favourite of many of my friends. It's historical fiction, but my personal best kind - where a story that hasn't really been made popular or well understood, is blown open, and you find yourself googling the details, just to find out what's true and what's not.

Confronting issues like adoption, foster child care and kidnapping - and some fraud and deception thrown in. This is not Lisa Wingate's first novel, and it's a stunner. 

My Sister's Bones is about Kate Rafter. She is a reporter in a war zone. Until she returns home and finds that the realities she must face there are more devastating than anything she's seen in Syria, or anywhere, for that matter. They're also much more personal.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Chapter One of this book is astounding. It's earth-shattering, heart-wrenching and I dare you to read it without a gasp, a tear or putting the book down to catch your breath. But then it's over, and although the rest of the book is beautifully written - lovely poetry and encouraging words, it doesn't quite measure up to the astonishing opening. 

A dare to live fully right where you are - it's kind of less a dare and more a helpful and encouraging guide. And by far the most encouraging and challenging thing here is that the author has practiced what she preaches and lives this daily. I find that remarkable - in the face of that degree of pain, for someone to respond as she does.

I'd recommend it for friends who've gone through pain (who hasn't?) and I'm probably going to reread parts of it - it is a lovely little companion and full of special moments. The anecdotes are well written and although I'm not big on advice books, the way this was crafted was not annoying, which is a special gift. I wouldn't give this to all of my friends, though - some of them may throw it against a wall, or worse, probably at me!


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Before We were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Rill is so lucky. She lives on a boat. In Memphis in 1939. On the mighty Mississippi. But then one night, her Dad must take her Mom to hospital. Mom is having a baby, and Rill and her four brothers and sisters can't wait to meet him or her. Only they don't come back, and that's when the family's lives are changed forever.

Meanwhile in South Carolina, Avery Stafford, a federal prosecutor, about to marry her fiancé, thinks the only blight on her horizon is her father's illness. But he's getting better and their lives as a prominent political family are getting back to their privileged normality. Until something strange happens that involves Avery's grandma's bracelet. 

Based on so many true stories involving the infamous Georgia Tann, who was a director of the Tennessee Children's Home Society until 1950, this is intense.

Despite picking up this book only for the cover - it's so pretty, isn't it - I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lisa Wingate writes well, but my overwhelming memories are of this powerful, tragic and unfair story. It eclipsed everything else - the writing style, characters, and even the uplifting parts were shadowed by the horror of the past.

Thank you Lisa Wingate for exposing a part of history that I wouldn't have known about otherwise.

5 stars

ISBN: 9781787473102

You may also enjoy The Precious One by Marisa De Los Santos or Hum if you don't know the words by Bianca Marais.


Monday, 21 May 2018

Rise and Shine

It's a beautiful day. Sun's up, coolness in the air from the rain last night, autumn leaves are glowing shades of fiery defiance everywhere and we're ready to go.

Photo credit - Sunel Veldtman

Gosh, it was easy to get out of bed this morning.

These are those very rare, very satisfying and never repeated days. When you don't need the post, the meme, the music, you just want to go and do it.

And that's why, for my Eastern Hemisphere friends, I missed it. The opportunity to inspire you to get up and shine today. Because tomorrow can not be this good. Hey, but my Western Hemisphere friends - I've made the deadline for some Monday Motivation. And this may work for my fellow exercisers tomorrow.

Anyhoo, what's done is done, what's run is run, and I hope you're as inspired as me to start the week on an exercising note. It's better than the couch. And this morning, I have to say, outside was far better than bed.

So what're we listening to? Well, since I've got all the Feels this morning, it's Calvin Harris. Don't listen too carefully to those lyrics. Just sing along with the obvious ones...

Enjoy your Monday, everyone!

Here's Last week's post - So now what?

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Ten of the best #117

Hello world. It's a beautiful day in sunny SA, and I'm wondering if I'm going to finish this post before the urge to be in the sunshine beats the desire to share the best from my social media sites this week.

It's been an interesting week. The highlight of the week is trying to beat the white/gold or blue/black dress debate. Ellen unpacks it for us - Laurel or Yanny? What do you hear.

Here's the explanation. At this point, let me just add that Ellen is wrong. It's definitely Yanny. BTW, if you follow the story in the explanation clip, you'll understand that if a person hadn't heard Yanny for Laurel initially, we wouldn't even have this debate on our screens. And just imagine how much less wonderful our world would be, if that were the case.

The White House has a leaky staff. Trevor tells more.

Michelle Wolfe did the WHCD this year. (WHCD = White House Correspondent's Dinner, keep up). Here she shares some things with Seth Myers, who she used to work for.

Why we shouldn't be using plastic. Ever. I love the presentation of this National Geographic article and images.

The story of the picture. RIP Sam Nzima.

Kristen Stewart took off her shoes. At Cannes. Where there's a rule about ladies having to wear high heels to enter. Wait...Whaaaat? There's seriously a RULE? That's the story I want to hear.

Dear Teacher. This made me happy and sad.

Stephen King pulled a book from shelves, and now if you want a copy, it'll cost you $500, but he's ok with that. Here's the story.

I liked this - how to sell your product in stores. Make it GMO free, even if it was before...

That's ten. But if, like me, you feel the need for more, here's a long clip about the connection between Bruno Mars and Stravinsky, and a little musical sound history lesson. It's not only long, it's very drawn out. But fairly interesting.

There you go. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West

The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies. 

There you go, the subtitle of the book is almost its review. Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist. He examines the world - well the observable features thereof - and how they relate to mathematics and physics. It's fascinating. Did you know, for instance, that there is a direct relationship between our body mass and our metabolic rate, and that this relationship is in the same scale for all species of animal life - from mouse to human to elephant? You can plot it on a chart. It explains how long each variety lives, on average, and how we all have the same number of heartbeats in a lifetime.

Can you explain why it's possible to live to, perhaps 120, but not 400? Mr. West can, and does in this book.

Here's a TED talk he did explaining how cities and corporations grow, the mathematical rate and why unlimited growth isn't possible. 

It's all very amazing, and possibly less complex than you may think. I thoroughly enjoyed the meandering journey.

Don't attempt it if you're not interested in the topic - it's detailed, and I'm sure you can find good videos and written articles explaining the concepts online.

5 stars


You may also enjoy The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Woman He Loved Before by Dorothy Koomson

Libby and Jack are married and live in a beautiful home near the sea. They have a horrific accident, where Libby needs to be cut from the car, and is far more injured than Jack. That's when she realizes that other people - the police investigator in particular - think there's more to their story than meets the eye. Jack is a widower. His previously perfect wife, Eve, died before Libby met him. When Libby comes home to start to recover, she finds Eve's diaries, hidden mysteriously away and starts to read them. 

Told in Libby's and Eve's voices, this is an intriguing tale of marital bliss and marital angst. If you're asking the question - 'is my husband capable of offing me?', can you really trust him? But what if he isn't? And even if he isn't, do you still dare to live in the same house? The scene is set for a detection with extremely high emotional stakes, and I found I couldn't read quickly enough

I've read and loved Goodnight Beautiful by the same author recently. 

This one's great too, I'm going to hunt everything by Dorothy Koomson down.

ISBN: 9781455507146

You may also enjoy My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry or The Precious One by Marisa de Los Santos.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark and her life post-Will Traynor, part 2. For those of you who haven't read Me Before You and After You, Louisa Clark is a pretty ordinary, if somewhat aimless and jobless person until she takes on the challenge of caring for Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. This changes her life completely, and it's the way Will torments her, talks her into greater things and won't settle for anything less than best when it come to her that makes that story and the one after what it was.

For those of you who love Louisa as much as I do, did, and probably will until she takes her last breath, this is a treat. For me, unexpected. (It's intimidating having to write a follow up to Me Before You, and must be even more so to follow After You). I thought that Louisa Clark was interesting, but it was her life with Will (and even just post-Will) that made me want to read about her. Yet the genius of Jojo shines here - there was more to tell, Lou's deeper than that - and I enjoyed finally moving on with her. And she's not that uninteresting either. Also we can't forget Ambulance Sam who we've met before, and Lou's new life in New York, amongst the wealthy and the very wealthy. 

Enough now, though. Thanks for the closure, we can all move on.

4 very enjoyable stars 


By the same author...

More Books.

Monday, 14 May 2018

So now what?

Today's the day, people. We're getting into shape. We're running - so fast and so far that we may not even come back, and if we do, we'll be so fit and fired and lit that we'll actually run straight into tomorrow morning without even noticing. It is Monday, after all.'s raining. And with that it's freezing cold. Oh Universe, when did you see my tiny heart beating with righteous desire, and decide to just extinguish it with your cold ice-heart? Was it when I laid out my warm running clothes for today? Or was it when I shut my eyes early, so I'd wake up in time? We expected the cold, not the cold and the rain. Shoot.

So, what to do now?

Well stuff you all, we'll run on the treadmill at gym. With all the other pumped up and active people. We don't care, we're doing this, cold rain, sweat and tears.

And the music? Yes, we need the music. So today, it's this song. Please don't ask me what it means, I don't have a friggin clue. But it's catchy, the dance moves make me want to try them - no, not on the treadmill - (not ever, my daughters will say), and it made me smile. It's Christine and the Queens with  Tilted. Because music has its own language. And clearly, I speak this one.

And no, I've never been "doing my face with magic marker" either. Let me know if you've tried that?

Happy Monday, happy week.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Seeing What Others Don't by Gary Klein

Whenever Gary Klein read an interesting article - one that he was curious about, or that showcased the unusual, he stacked it in a pile on his desk. I can relate, I've done similar stacking projects in my life. The difference between Gary and me, is he remembered a) that he stacked b) why and then he analysed them and wrote this book.

And it was so interesting. Trying to show how humans  can develop insight - that unique ability to solve problems, create something out of nothing or think through complex outcomes, he developed a framework for thinking about insight - insight basically comes from three sources - 
  • "Finding an inconsistency" - something that doesn't make sense, a contradiction;
  • "A connection path"  - joining the dots,  or linking theories together to expand on previous knowledge
  • "Creative desperation" - when faced with extreme adversity, a whole new way of thinking is created.
He tells stories, explains how these theories were developed and also links to other work done in this field. It had me spellbound.

There are also other gems of information - how companies spend way too mųch time analysing sources of errors, instead of developing insight, which has a more significant impact on the business. 

Klein is the first to admit that 120 stories collected by him is not exactly a scientific method of analysing the difficult question of how insight arises, but because he has studied other works extensively, and also his experience as a consultant, this book is useful. It also is far easier to read than its counterparts - everyone loves good stories, and there are plenty here for dinner time conversation.

5 stars

ISBN: 9781610392518

You may also enjoy Richard Thaler's Misbehaving or The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach.

More books.