Sunday 29 November 2015

Why T.G.I. (Black) Friday has all gone wrong

My teenage daughter looked at me. “Triple the normal rate, Mom. Triple.”

I was puzzled. I knew that 19h00 on a Friday was peak time, but that did sound excessive. Reasoning that there were two of us sharing the ride, and we weren’t going far, I relented. “It’s fine. Call it.”

When the Uber arrived to fetch us for our family celebrations, we asked how busy he had been. He’d only started late, he said. But his friends had been busy all day. Huh? It is the time for year-end parties, but really, all day? What was going on in downtown Johannesburg today?

“The people are shopping,” he informed us. And it started dawning on me. My twitter feed cast further light on the situation. Bosses were outraged. People were asking for a day off. To take advantage of the sales. Because it’s Black Friday.

Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, the third Thursday in America, which had its origins in 1620. People gathered together in thanks for the harvest. Pilgrims met with native Americans to celebrate and give thanks together. This warm cosy feast was awarded public holiday status much later, when it became replete with Turkey and its many variants, pumpkin pie, family meals and watching football on TV. Some people even reach out to the less fortunate and help in many ways as part of their festivities.

Black Friday marks the start of the “silly season”. Retailers started discounting their wares in order to attract customers, and Black Friday (the day that many stores went from being “in the red” to “in the black” for the first time that year) was born.

It has evolved. Stores started opening earlier and earlier, and people started queuing. As we do. Even on Thanksgiving at 17h00. Kind of raining on the spirit of Thanksgiving’s parade, dontcha think? 

These days it is infamous for mall brawls, with strangers fighting over low-priced items. There were some bruises and war wounds proudly displayed, as people fought for the right to buy items at enormous discounts. Not exactly true Thanksgiving spirit.

But here? In South Africa? This isn’t harvest time. And the closest we get to Thanksgiving is wishing our American relatives on social media, seeing pictures of the beautiful tables, and the many things people are grateful for.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Thanksgiving is a fab tradition. And it probably should be celebrated in some form everywhere. Our Christmas tradition is akin to Thanksgiving. Everyone’s just too stuffed after lunch to even get the remote to turn the TV on afterwards, so we all end up lazing about, or in the pool – not being winter and all that. What I think is VERY VERY sad, is that we seem to adopted the Black Friday thing without the Thanksgiving Thursday thing. Kind of like putting on the weight without enjoying the meal, or having the hangover without the drunken escapades that could have preceded it. It’s all gone horribly wrong, somehow.

But what to do? I doubt that Black Friday is going away any time soon. I think we’ve imported it from our Western neighbours and it is here to stay. Those of us who don’t want to accumulate more stuff at any price will avoid it, but there will still be South Africans who will take leave or call in sick to shop. Sad but true.

So I think there is only one thing to do. Get your turkeys out people, we are gonna have us a good ole traditional Thanksgiving. We’re going to do pumpkin pie, and all the trimmings. And we’re going to say thank you for all we have, for each other and that we get to spend special time together. And hopefully I can persuade my family not to partake in the morning after that is the blackest of days, in my opinion.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Ten of the Best #23

Just as well I keep track of these posts weekly. There is no way I would remember if this was number 22 or 23 this week. It's been that bad.

But now it's time to sit back, enjoy the amazing speed that wifi on the weekend brings - first thing on a Saturday before the watch-everything-online-teenagers awake from their slumber and ruin our social media binge. The ten of the best from my social media feeds this week.

1. Why why why do people still do this? Why can women not be recognized for their abilities and achievements? I fear that we have become so used to this, that we don’t even protest anymore, and the more this becomes the norm, the worse it is. For everybody. Men too. So wrong. Click the pic for the video link.

2. Another discrimination story. All the way from Santa Monica, California. 

3. Time for comic relief. It shouldn’t be funny, but it is. Hand-over-your-mouth-giggle funny. The lies we tell our children. You know you may not have said those actual words, but you’ve come close. Come on, don’t lie now…

4. Once upon a time there was a golden retriever who failed an obedience test. This dog has owner-trust issues – clearly the treats for obedience are not as good as the immediate gratification on the way! 

5. I love that Love Books is famous. It’s down the road. And its recommended by the New York Times. Come on all you guys from the US of A, time for a visit. Not just to see the wildlife.

6. Moving on neatly to the “Get your English right post”. Don’t make these mistakes – mistakes that make smart people look dumb. Heaven forbid.

7. The WSJ weighed in on what 2050 will look like. This is a series of essays and interviews. I haven’t read them all. Going to do that as soon as I’ve put this post up, but it looks fascinating:

8. The blog post of the week is from Tom Eaton. Sobering to think about Paris and compare it to SA in these terms – We’ve already been hit.

9. And while we’re contemplating, this month is World Adoption Month, and my friend wrote a gut-wrenching article. It’s called “Gone without a trace- the shocking fate of South Africa’s abandoned children.” Have a weep.

Help raise awareness – there is a major campaign on abandonment this week. Here’s the link to the petition, and a story on the campaign when you click the pic.

10. Lastly, Thanksgiving. I think all countries should abandon Black Friday and adopt just Thanksgiving instead. (I know they are linked…but I can dream). We never had Black Friday in our country, but it has hit with a vengeance. To the extent that Uber rides were triple normal prices yesterday. No people. Don’t let it happen. Thanksgiving is about being together. At home. Being thankful about what you have. And it isn’t stuff. I sense another blog post coming…Here is Anne Lamott. Count your blessings.

And on that note, thank you for being here this week. Have a great weekend.

More ten of the best.

Link to last week.

Friday 27 November 2015

The Clasp by Sloane Crosley

Kezia, Nathaniel and Victor, close to 30, after being college friends, are reunited at another friend’s wedding. They are all somewhat dissatisfied with life, but events throw them back together ultimately in France. The short story “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant (which was an inspiration for this book) is cleverly incorporated.

An accomplished essayist, and published nonfiction writer, Sloane Crosley held my attention with her wit and confident character building in this debut novel. The setting, New York and later, a chateau in France, was delightful and the wry situational comedy will have movie directors rubbing their hands with glee.

Less plausible was the storyline. I was left with a feeling of discomfort about the characters’ motives. While the small interactions were edgy and realistic, the main plot direction was weak, and let the excellent prose down somewhat.

An excellent observation of how life doesn’t always turn out as planned, and yet friendship and connection with others can turn out better than we ever dreamed.

ISBN: 9780091954444

You may also enjoy Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. 

My reviews

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Good Old Favourites #2

So we have a new series, people. It’s gotta be good – i.e. healthy and ingredients mostly good for you; it’s gotta be old – I must have cooked it a number of times, with success, in my kitchen; and it’s gotta be a favourite – with two teenagers and the dad, who have much higher culinary standards than I do.

This week’s is a no-brainer. When they ask for dinner and I smile at them, because I KNOW that no one will moan – because there are NO cooked tomatoes, because its NOT fish, because it DOESN’T even look like fish, because there’s NO broccoli, and so on – it has to be CHICKEN PIE.

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like chicken pie. In fact, chicken pie could be a friendship decider for me. I make a huge one, so that we can have leftovers, and they never last more than a few days. There are a few recipes that I love for chicken pie (Jamie Oliver’s Chicken and leek pie being one) but this is a conglomeration of my favourite ingredients.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

Who would have thought that a book about high frequency traders, laying cables for high speed trading, and the fear and greed in corporate America could be interesting? Well, if Michael Lewis is writing it, it doesn’t stop at interesting, it is even quite exciting.

Michael Lewis wrote The Blind Side. You know the movie about the adopted kid who becomes an Amercian Football sensation? (Sandra Bullock plays mom– there you go!). Yes, that book was written by Michael Lewis. He worked at Salomon Brothers as a bond trader, and is a financial journalist, but has also penned many books and movie scripts.

A great storyteller can take a pretty ordinary situation, and make it into a plot, seeing the bizarre and opening that door wide, and highlighting the issues with unassuming characters fighting worthy causes, crusaders for us all. This was a story well told.

But you can’t have it all. The critics will say that this is one-sided, and not as well researched as it could have been. I agree – but I’m glad that the author made the choices he did. I think it was more entertaining. I listened to the Audible version, which was well narrated.

I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. I think it would appeal to all readers, not only those interested in the world of high finance – because the story is about people and choices and outcomes. And who can’t relate to that?

4 out of 5 stars

ISBN: 9780393351590

Related: Misbehaving by Richard Thaler and Green Giants by E. Freya Williams

More reviews

Monday 23 November 2015

No more excuses.

So here it is. Monday. The day that I start the week running. And what am I doing? Sitting in bed. Sigh.

There are always reasons not to run. Most of them are excuses, not reasons. But every now and then, there are some real reasons. And if we run anyway, we will probably be sorry later. Today is one of those.

So, to make myself feel better, because I genuinely honestly truly would rather be running than writing this post, I thought I’d write something to inspire you all to get moving. Those excuses that you’re making right now. Here’s why they’re not valid. I see you wanting to find something else to look at. Don't do it. Keep reading.

EXCUSE #1      I am so unfit/overweight. Just getting out there and walking or running is good for you. 

Stop thinking about it, get into the exercise clothes, chanting “it doesn’t matter how fast I go, or how far, I’m just going to run.”

EXCUSE #2: I don't have the time. “I have to run, I need the head space,” was what a fellow fitness fanatic said to me a few weeks ago. It’s true. Moving about has a strange way of decluttering the mind. You will see things more clearly and solve problems you didn’t think you could. The time you spend exercising will be paid back in much more effective working, whatever it is you do.

EXCUSE #3. I’m too down/sick to run. Exercise regulates and balances the multitude of chemicals and hormones in our brain that directly affect our mood, specifically depression. Chances are also good that you will want to run tomorrow. And the next day and the next. 

EXCUSE #4. I can’t face a run, it’s just too much for me. You don't have to. What about a walk? We’ve learned that any exercise is better than none. Those reasons that you can’t run? Maybe you can walk? Or start running slowly, and let yourself walk when you cannot anymore. 

EXCUSE #5: I just don’t feel like it. Take someone else with you. It helps. Whether it’s a pet, or a talking friend, use it as an opportunity to socialize. Or even plan a stop at a favourite place to get a coffee, or a water. Plan to enjoy your run, you know you’re going to. Just look at that face.

So off you go. Enjoy. And think of me, dying to run, but cooped up in bed for the day, when I'd much rather be running.

The other running rants.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Ten of the Best #22

The end of the year approaches with that sense of tsunami – why does everyone wait until mid-November to decide to find things they just have to do before the end of the year, and then ask for my help? We run around like blue-arsed flies, and there is no time to do anything that we love to do. Only then, in a few weeks, we'll be completely bored, because everyone and thing has closed for the holidays, and there is now nothing to do.

Here’s an intermission in the madness that is end of November. The ten best things I saw on my social media feeds this week. Thanks friends. I couldn’t keep up. But now it’s time to put my feet up, and catch up with what’s up.

1. Anybody love Obama as much as I do? I just can’t understand why Americans criticize him so much, when he says such great nation-building, true things. I still have the sound of his anti-guns speech ringing in my head, and now he says this. Click the pic for the story.

2. And in case you were wondering why Liam Neeson looked so gaunt…I know, me neither.

3. Let's get the serious stuff over with for the weekend, shall we?

Friday 20 November 2015

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

This is the second book by Jenny Lawson, who is a blogger known as The Bloggess. Her memoir Let’s pretend this never happened made her famous and now her story continues. A funny story of horrible things.

Prepare for a roller-coaster ride. Or maybe it’s a merry-go-round? No, no it’s the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Honestly you do feel for minutes that you are just tumbling down a rabbit hole into Jenny’s world of crazy – yet it is also strangely meaningful, with many quirky, unexpected delights. And squirrels. Always squirrels.

Victor is her logical, patient husband, who sometimes gets her, and sometimes challenges her. He’s great. And her struggles with mental illness and all the exaggerated joys and pains it brings will remind you that you’re not alone.

This book will challenge your sense of what normal is, as you recognize yourself and others around you on its pages. I loved the feeling that we are all so interesting and unique, defying definition, logic and reason.

A quick read, and quite intense. I did think it may be a good option for a regular short-interval stint of reading – you know where, or maybe on a bus journey every day. That way, you will get these intense doses of the humour and wit, and draw out the pleasure of reading the book.

3 out of 5 stars

ISBN: 9781250077004

You may also enjoy Karma, Deception and a pair of Red Ferraris by Elaine Taylor
More reviews.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Good old favourites #1

It has been a while, foodies...

....since I've shared recipes from my kitchen.

Maybe that's because this is our kitchen lately.

Jokes. The real reason is I have been tormented by trying to come up with a new "theme". You see, I think food without a story is boring. That's why if you come to my house for dinner, you always get lots of stories. Every time. Just ask my children. They will roll their eyes in response.

But peeps, I think I have it. The new theme.

I was thinking that I have one rule for all the recipes I post: Must be something I've tried and tested. Must be something that the family like (and with teenagers that's not so easy peasy). Must be healthy. (No salt, no sugar, and low carbs being my mantras).

Ok, that's three, maybe four rules. I can't count. Please don't ask me what my day job is.

This my series of recipes that follow all my rules. This is what makes me happy. Having rules to follow. (Yes, I am the person in Scrabble, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit, who not only reads the Rules, but has been known to quote them. Aloud. In polite company. My kids won't play games with me anymore. In fact, no one will.)

So here's the first of the healthy recipes that has become an old favourite in our house.

Butternut and mushroom lasagne 


The version that my nephew made
250g butternut, cubed
30 ml olive oil
Onion, thinly sliced
250g mushrooms, sliced, or quartered
40g butter
40g flour
10ml Thyme
500 ml milk
5 ml mustard
50ml parmesan cheese
Lasagne sheets
100g cheddar cheese
50g feta cheese


Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Roast butternut in a little oil – cooked but still in shape. Heat rest of oil in pan and fry onion till translucent. Add mushrooms, cook for 1 minute.

In another pot, melt butter, add flour and cook for 1 minute. Add thyme and add milk slowly, stirring quickly. Cook until thick and add parmesan and mustard.

Layer the mushroom and onions with the lasagna, butternut and spoon of white sauce. End with lasagne sheets and rest of white sauce. Sprinkle with feta and cheddar and bake for 40 minutes at 180.

“Healthy?” I hear you asking. “With all that cheese?” Ummm, this is where for the “kids must enjoy this” rule, I have sacrificed the “no salt” rule. But this will be nearly as good if you use this parmesan replacement (which has no salt). Click the pic for the description online. And leave me a comment below if you want to order online in SA - I’ll post the link.

Also leave out the cheese topping – replace with a herb seasoning. Carb watchers can replace the lasagne with carb free, or use aubergines or marrows as a replacement, or an addition (with the mushrooms) making it even more healthy. My kids adore lasagne. But it’s got to be real.

Tried and tested = Check, we have this once a week, and have made it for friends

Kids test = Check, they love it with the cheese. And ask my nephew - his verdict: YUM!

Healthy = Almost check - loads of vegetables, and you can make it better with replacements, additions, or just using less cheese.

The Good Old Favourite series...
#1 - Butternut and mushroom lasagne                         #2 - Chicken Pie
#3 -Beef stroganoff                                                           #4 - Fish and baby vegetables
#5 - Quick Vegetable Korma                                           #6 - Moussaka
#7 - Wheat free chicken lasagna                                     #8 - Quinoa and roasted vegetables
#9 - Spinach and mushroom strogonoff                       #10 - Thai fish Cakes
#11 - Rigatoni with tomato and corn salsa                    #12 - Vegetarian Aubergine Lasagne
#13 - Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes                             #14 - Vegetable Tikka Masala 
#15 - Beef Broth

More recipes

Tuesday 17 November 2015

The Bone House by Brian Freeman

The publisher’s blurb says: "Hilary and Mark Bradley are trapped in a web of suspicion. Last year, accusations of a torrid affair with a student cost Mark his teaching job and made the young couple into outcasts in their remote island town off the Lake Michigan coast. Now another teenage girl is found dead on a deserted beach. . . and once again, Mark faces a hostile town convinced of his guilt."

I love crime thrillers where the suspect is the underdog that no one is rooting for. Throw in his supportive wife, and a justice seeking detective and the recipe is foolproof.

This was a well-written, racy pacy book that had me turning the pages. I cannot say I didn’t enjoy it. And yet…compared to other recent reads, it missed the mark somewhat. It is quite difficult to say why.

It may have been the characters – although they were fairly well-developed, some of them did things that felt wrong. I hate it when I start to question these things. I prefer to be so engrossed and committed that I don’t even think to question. And then I started feeling that the people were being manipulated to fit the plot, rather than the other way around.

Or maybe it was me? I have read some excellent thrillers this year. And this was good, just not great. I will try more Brian Freeman novels though, it had enough action and interest to get me out of my real life for a while.

3 out of 5 stars

ISBN: 9780312562830

You may also enjoy Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton or Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.

More reviews.

Sunday 15 November 2015

Pray for...what? How?

I looked into the clear gaze of the teen sitting opposite me, her pale blue eyes defying me to argue with her as she ranted about the genocide in Rwanda (studying for history has got her stoked). Her outrage was contagious later as she told me a story of a family who sold a daughter and used the money to buy a son a car. We were in despair together for the future of mankind, in a world where human rights as ancient as the beginning of time as we know it are violated daily, blatantly, and the violations ignored by most.

And then later that day, Pray for Paris started trending on my timeline, everywhere. And of course I am – praying for Paris. But I hesitated before I changed my status to what Facebook suggested. It wasn’t just because I have an innate stubbornness to not follow what others suggest. I had a sense that there is more to this than “Pray” or “Paris”. 

I am devastated that I live in a world where anyone thinks it is okay to take human life, for any cause, at any time. I cringe when I hear the calls for the US to “take the terrorists out – let’s show them what we can do.” Because for every life lost, whatever the reason, there are those left behind, weeping.

I am a Christian. I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe that when we pray, we should do so with understanding, love and respect for all cultures, races, and people groups. And also with the deepest humility that “but for the grace of God, there go I”. The conversation with my teen also included a discussion about what it meant to identify with those who suffered, how it wasn’t enough to say “It wasn’t me”, but a more helpful “I acknowledge your pain and suffering, and I’m sorry that we as humanity have let you down. It wasn’t right, and I stand with you.”

Because we need to identify, not just with Parisians, but also with the Syrians, those in Lebanon and Israel and who all are suffering on a daily basis. And when we pray, it isn’t for Paris, it’s for Parisians, Syrians, people of all nations everywhere, especially the scattered, the dispossessed, the downtrodden and the oppressed.

I was saddened to see the post of the picture that thanked everyone for their prayers, but please, no more religion, just life.

I understand the sentiment – the cartoonist believes that deep-seated fundamental religion driving people to irrational behavior that has led to Paris being in lockdown – and he doesn’t need any more of that. 

I also pondered on that verse that says “when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who stand on a street corner or in the synagogues and pray, they have their reward in full. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray in secret.” Is Facebook the equivalent of the street corner these days? And is #PrayforParis helpful? I know it raises awareness, and that is good, but does it say enough?

We do need to pray – not just for Paris, but for all nations. And we need to do so with a deep sense of sadness and repentance, not judgement. We need to ask forgiveness for our uncaring attitude when it comes to human suffering – that we haven’t already been praying daily for all nations where there is violence and injustice.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zachariah 7:9-10

We need to pray that there will not be retaliation after retaliation, but restoration, justice, peace and a place for those who have lost, to find healing and relief. We should be praying for an end to terrorism, and to the evil that on both sides leads to the inhumane conclusion that it is all right to take human life for a cause – whether that cause be for IS or any religion anywhere. 

This is not a time when we should be polarizing, pointing fingers and stirring up hatred. I know it sounds trite to say we should make a difference where we can. I live too far away to take in a refugee. But in my country I can do my bit to help those less fortunate than me. Not to make myself feel better, but to let them know that I do not think that poverty, injustice and oppression is right, and I value their life, their humanity, and their right to live in my world. Because, I believe, although it sounds like a weak and silly response, it is far better than “hunt them down and kill them.”

Friday 13 November 2015

Ten of the Best #21

1.     This is unbelievable. There’s this guy who one day decides to make a musical instrument out of a carrot. Watch and learn.

2.    Jennifer Lawrence’s feminist rant is good. It’s honest, and she doesn’t pretend that she has real people problems. I like that about her. The lack of pretense thing. Click the pic.

3.    Did you know that it was redhead day recently? Well here are some redhead fun facts. We all know one/have one in our family. I love the dog in this picture – also a redhead. You know what to do.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Soul Keeping by John Ortberg

I finished listening to this book ages ago, and couldn’t bring myself to write a review. That’s because my husband wrote his review, here, and it was such a good review that I had to read the book. Those of you who know me know that I wouldn’t have read it if it was just a recommendation, but it was such a great review, I just had to read the book.

The whole title of the book is Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You.

It was all it purported to be. I am not as knowledgable about spiritual things as my husband and his pastor friends, but John Ortberg has a way about making the genius of Dallas Willard very accessible. It’s also very readable – with stories that relate the principles into his life, and into mine.

My favourite quote – and you’ll understand why, if you read the book – “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” 

Powerful stuff.

4 out of 5 stars

ISBN: 9780310275961

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Too damn hot!

You know it's bad when pictures like the one on the right start appearing on the statuses of your friends and family on social media:

For those of you entering into winter. I apologize. I know you are jealous of those little suns, and I should point out that even the suns with clouds should show bigger suns and smaller clouds - we are not noticing the clouds, they are so tiny. Sorry, again. But let me point out to you, who measure your temperatures in Fahrenheit (is that because the numbers are too depressingly low in Celsius?) that 35 degrees in Celsius is 95 degrees! We are melting, melting, melting.

I wake up in the morning, and it's like I've slept in a heated pool. I go to sleep in the evening and there is an electric blanket beneath me - only there isn't. The only time it isn't hot is when I am in an air-conditioned office or in the pool. 

But if you think I may be overreacting, I have nothing on my car. Granted, being in a car on a hot day makes things worse. Even when the aircon works. But really, this is what my car thinks of the weather in Joburg at the moment:

You see there - under the P, it thinks it is 49 degrees. Celsius. (120 in F).

Car, dear, it's hot, but not that hot. I drove home at 21h30 last night, and it proudly declared that it was 36 degrees - hotter than the maximum temperature in the midday. And it was dark. 

I don't know - do you think my car is menopausal?

Monday 9 November 2015

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This book was described to me as “harrowing” and then the reader told me she couldn’t read anything else for a while after she finished it. No wonder this sat on my shelf for ages, tempting me to try it, be harrowed, and stop reading. Forever. Oh the horror.

I couldn’t get into it until about 200 pages in. Usually I’ve given up (or finished) by then, but I am quite stubborn about completing books and I was enjoying the writing, so this kept me going.

Why you should read this book:

  1. It is harrowing – truly that is the word. Jude emerges as the central character in a four friend circle, and you will be drawn into and shocked by these lives, their joy and pain. 
  2. It is long - at over 720 pages, the author has time to build these characters up and they become a part of your little life – the length cleverly showing that building relationships takes time and is worthwhile. 
  3. It will consume you. You will read late into the night, and put down work to read it. You may do little else but read for a few days. 
  4. It is about friendship. Relating and connecting with others who are broken. And this part is superbly written. 
  5. It was nominated for a Man Booker and received many other literary awards.

Why you shouldn’t read this book:

  1. It is harrowing – it is very difficult to say that you enjoyed this book, or to recommend it to loved ones. 
  2. It is long - really, did it need that many pages to build those characters? And the length does make it a little dull. 
  3. It will consume you. You will not get much life done once you are hooked, other than compulsive reading, which I always think is doing a lot. 
  4. It is about friendship. It will tear you apart, and leave you desperate at times. Not always in a good way. 
  5. It was nominated for a Man Booker – really? Read the list of the nominees and the winners – who chooses these books? 

In summary, Yanagihara’s intimate portrait of the agony and the ecstasy of human relationships, in all their glory and all their brokenness, is worth a read. You need to be strong, and you need to persevere. This is not a recommendation, but you will never forget this book. You have been warned.

4 out of 5 stars

ISBN: 9780385539258

Saturday 7 November 2015

Ten of the Best #20

I am so glad it's the weekend. Time for tea, and time to catch up on all the social media I didn't get to this week, because I was so hectic. Enjoy with me. Click on the pictures to follow the links, and use your back button on your browser to come back here and have more fun. There is some good stuff this week.

1.    How was your work week this week? Oh, a bit like mine then? Never fear…the millennials are coming. They’re going to change it all. Here’s how. See? Now you’re not scared anymore.

2.    Need some humour and good news after that? Trevor Noah is doing ok, you can all relax. They’re delighted with him. Read it here. And watch the clip to see him on the subject of immigrating, and the power of Google.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Kit by Marina Fiorato

Kit Kavanaugh runs a tavern in Dublin in 1702, with her new husband, Richard Walsh. When he disappears to join the fighting in Italy to prevent Spain and France forming an alliance and ruling the then-world, Kit decides to become a soldier (pretending she is male) to find and help her husband. She fights in the Duke of Marlborough’s regiment, falls in love and becomes a spy.

The author, Marina Fiorato, is Venetian and has written a few historical fiction books. Her distinctive style is to paint a vivid picture of the times, dig out interesting information, research strong female characters and plot storylines that seem too good to be true. In this case, from the historical account at the end – her plotting was largely done for her by the record of events.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all lovers of the genre. There is a little more romance in this one than I am used to, but it didn’t detract from the evocative and powerful “Joan of Arc” type drama. Kit is beautiful, brave, determined, and you will love her and this book.

4 out of 5 stars 

You may also enjoy The Whip by Karen Kondazian

All my reviews.

ISBN: 9781473610460