Friday 24 February 2017

Ten of the Best #81

Well hello there. It's the wonderful wacky weekend. In our post-truth fake news world, we are so lucky that there is still such good entertainment. It's all on our timelines. And this was a great week.

We couldn't keep up with everything, so we're catching up on everything right here. Wifi? Check. Coffee/Tea? Check. Warm comfy place? Check. Ok let's go.

I’m a complete sucker for flash mobs, especially when they involve Irish dancing. Thanks for sharing this one. Click the pic and take a watch.

And in other fake news this week, President Trump reported on a terrorist attack in Sweden. Ironic? Here’s where John Oliver nails Trump on Sweden. It carries a language warning. 

Wednesday 22 February 2017

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

Alfred Dreyfus is a young Jewish officer convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil’s Island, in Paris in 1895. Georges Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus’s guilt. But then Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military.

This is the story of the Dreyfus scandal that mesmerized the world at the turn of the twentieth century.

Robert Harris has written so many books. Nine according to Goodreads (Pompeii…Enigma - there you go). We picked this one for a road trip to George - about 11 hours in the car. And it was fantastic for that - a great length, and exciting and dramatic, suitable for both me and my husband.

But a little long winded for tired old me, dozing off in the front seat. Perhaps, because I had just finished Conclave (also by Harris), which was concise, racily paced and as sharp as the knives the papacy used to stab each other in the back, this one fell a little flat for me.

Don’t let that stop you, however. The intricate details, clever plot and vivid scenes (you can watch the movie in your head as the narrator reads the audible version) were a highlight, and I should have read this book years ago, and paid it more attention on the long road trip.

3 stars

ISBN: 9780385349581

You may also enjoy Conclave by the same author, or The Information Officer by Mark Mills.

Tuesday 21 February 2017

The Memory of Water by J.T. Lawrence

Slade Harris is an author who will do almost anything for a good story. The Memory of Water is told from Slade's viewpoint. He is, as the blurb says, stumbling through his late thirties hopeless and a little drunk. But then he has a dazzling, dangerous idea which will change his life forever. 

I liked being inside Slade's head. Even though he wasn't a very nice person all the time. No one is. I also loved the plot, and the way that, even though this was set in SA, it was a story from anywhere in the world. It was really good.

A word of warning, though. This is COMPLETELY different to J.T. Lawrence's The Underachieving Ovary. The genre, style and content. There are warnings on all the versions I've seen (but, depending on your perspective, TUO may also need a trigger warning!) in case you dive right in after reading that other review, be warned - not for the sensitive.

J.T. certainly has a way of getting under a person's skin. In this case, the protagonist's and mine. She gets into Slade's skin to write his story and then beneath mine to scratch and squirm and generally creep me out. This was haunting, tense, edgy and more than a little melodramatic. I loved it. Fast-paced and out of the ordinary, you won't put it down.

On a personal note, I found the ending a little disappointing. Clever, that would be telling, so I won't.

4 stars

ISBN: 9780692337455

You may also enjoy Freedom's Child by Jax Miller or The Kind worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Monday 20 February 2017

Can this get better?

Morning all, it's been a while. I used to do this regularly on a Monday morning. Find the music, and then we hit the road and make some moves.

I honestly don't know if I can face running this morning. Last Monday I woke up with all the energy in the world. I hit that gym so hard, the building shook. I ran, and then I ran some more. So good. I can do this every day this week, I thought.

You know when you feel you can conquer the universe. For me that happens about once every decade.

By mid morning, the tide had turned, and the universe was slowly conquering me. Starting with the horrid tingly post nasal drip drip-dripping down the back of my throat.

So you'll forgive me if it's a slower start this week.

And also - the music has been difficult to find lately. It's just wrong, or not right, or both.

So I found us an oldie this morning. Because if you feel you can't, that's the day you should do it with gusto. Don't just sing, belt it out; don't just walk, strut; and if you're gonna run, do a few dance moves, why don't you?

Don't think about it
Just move your body
Listen to the music
Sing, oh, ey, oh
Just move those left feet
Go ahead, get crazy
Anyone can do it
Sing, oh, ey, oh
Show the world you've got that fire
Feel the rhythm getting louder
Show the room what you can do

Of course, it's Meghan Trainor. And her fabulous Better When I'm Dancing. Of course. We all are.

I don't know about you,
But I feel better when I'm dancing, yeah, yeah
Better when I'm dancing, yeah, yeah
And we can do this together

Yes we can. Come on, let's go. Show the world what you can do.

Friday 17 February 2017

Ten of the Best #80

Oh how I love a week with so much material. We had the Grammys, Valentine’s Day, Trump being the only person on the planet who could defend Trump at a press conference. Let’s just dive right in, shall we?

The RollingStone Magazine nailed it when they published The 18 WTF moments from Trump’s unhinged press conference. I tried to watch the conference, really I did, but I couldn’t. I was cringing, and then covering my face, then my ears, and screeching to block it out. It was unbearable. So here’s the script. I think the only reason  I could cope with this version is because I read fast, so it’s over quickly. If only we could take the four years at our reading speed. Wouldn't that be great? Click the picture (JKR is still my favourite tweeter) for the article.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in
Leonard Cohen 

This is the quote on page 1. Shelby Richmond is seventeen when there is an accident while driving with her best friend Helene on Long Island. A young girl’s perfect life is turned upside down and inside out. And then, she just seems to go off the rails more and more. “Where is the light coming in?” you wonder.

Yet, slowly but surely, I became enchanted and fascinated with Shelby. There was an honesty, a truth, a doggedness about her. She didn't want to pretend, or be what she wasn’t. She wore her pain everywhere and all the time. And if that meant you didn't like her, that was ok. I like people like that.

I also love dogs, and there are some good dog scenes in this. And some kids, and lots of heartbreaking relationships. Faith and failure at humanity. Life’s hard knocks, and not being sure about anything, especially love. 

“Life was beautiful, everyone knew that, but it was also bitter and bleak and unfair as hell and where did that leave a person? On the outs with the rest of the world. Someone who sat alone in the cafeteria, reading, escaping from his hometown simply by turning the page.”

My first Alice Hoffman, I loved the efficient, original writing style, her depiction of faithfulness, but most of all that she, writing about someone in a truly desperate situation, wove scraps of hope, chinks of light that ultimately do connect to create beauty from pain. This book and my emotions while reading it will stay with me for a long time.

Thoroughly beautiful and highly recommended.

5 stars

ISBN: 9781476799209

You may also enjoy Commonwealth by Ann Patchett or Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott.

Friday Books - Cartes Postales

Hello Friday Bloggers and fellow bookworms.

After a busy week, I'm looking forward to a weekend of reading and peace and quiet.

But before that...

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.

My book this week is...

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

I'm not too sure about this one. It seems more a collection of short stories and journal entries than a novel. Yet from the cover, it looks like a novel. Hmm...Also, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island, which I loved. But also The Sunrise, which I hated.

The pictures look lovely though and the book design is beautiful.

I'll give it a try - I love reading about Greece, even though I've never been there.

Leave me  a comment if you visit here, and I'll check your Friday book out.

Happy reading everyone.

Saturday 11 February 2017

Ten of the Best #79

Hey hey hey. It's Saturday. And there is so much to catch up on. Leave the rewatching of the SONA17 for another day, and join me as we see what made it to the top ten. 

I can't do all the Trump and SONA posts this week. It's too darn depressing. There is some really good comedy if you want to lighten the mood and watch the latest - look for SNL, Seth Myers, Trevor Noah or in case you missed it, here's the Sean Spicer skit that Melissa McCarthy did. Hilarious!

Eusebius summed it up quite well - no sense of shame, he says. Click the new Nandos ad to see the article from Eusebius (which was a commentary on our disastrous SONA17 address). If you're not from SA, and you need some confirmation it's not so bad in your country, and some context, here you go.  

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah follows Ifemelu from Nigeria under military dictatorship, to America - land of the free, and the brave. In Nigeria, Ifemelu had family, friends and Obinze, the love of her life. In America, she has nothing and almost no one. Obinze plans to join her later.

I loved the beautiful descriptions of life in Nigeria - despite the difficulties, there was love, warmth, pain, turmoil. It all felt very real. I also thoroughly enjoyed the bewilderment Ifumelu felt as she tried to become “Americanah”. The deep and profound racism that she encountered is described without anger, and brings an understanding of the feelings and emotions - the need to leave your home country, the never fitting in anywhere, and the complete displacement and loss associated with immigration.

She later returns “home”, and while the story is long and detailed, it leaves you satisfied. It spans continents, generations, and showcases the people that made difficult choices, why, how and the effects.

Worth reading.

4 stars

ISBN: 9780307271082

More Books, or click the pic.


Sunday 5 February 2017

Shadow Self by Paula Marais

Shadow Self starts with Thea Middleton appearing in court. She is confused, and disoriented. She starts telling us her story, with alternating chapters told by young Sanusha.

Thea was married to Rajit, and then Clay. Clay also tells us his side of the story.

With these three first-person narratives, a chilling, unsettling, dark and sinister plot emerges, set in beautiful sunny Cape Town, where shadows and darkness are ignored  - they don't belong after all - until they go away.

Tales like this are hard to tell, and usually difficult to read. I didn't struggle with reading this one, so masterful was the telling. The dialogue was superb - spot on and relatable. I loved being inside Sanusha's head, and there were moments of intense hope and joy, if not perfect happiness. Yet the tension was mounting, and the sense of foreboding growing.

Shadow Self is a brilliant story of a mother's battle with postpartum depression, and I would highly recommend it. Don't you just love the new cover, created for the latest edition on the right? So clever.

It was almost too real, and had a way of bringing human struggles up close and very personal. The author researched the topic extensively, yet brought a remarkable level of understanding.

So although I loved the reading, I have struggled with the reviewing. I think it's because I wanted to love Thea more, but it felt like the author didn't want to let me. And maybe that was her intention?

Nevertheless, a chilling and poignant 4 star read.

ISBN: 9780798165

You may also enjoy Love and Wine by the same author, but a far happier love story. Or what about Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, or even The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer?

More Books

Friday 3 February 2017

Ten of the Best #78

Hello everyone. It's the weekend already. And here we are, January under our belts. One month down, eleven to go. If, like me, you really worked hard this week, you didn't have time for Facebook, Twitter and the like. Besides, it's all so full of anti-Trump posts, it's getting rather dull. So here are the very best, with the POTUS edited down to just three.

If you're new to this - click the pictures/clips to access the articles or videos, and use your back browser button to come back for more.

Trevor nailed the week again. 

It’s the Super Bowl, so Ellen looks at the commercials.I found this very funny.

Friday Books - A Man Called Ove

I'm glad it's Friday - weekend, yay!

On Fridays we link up with other book people and grow our TBR lists.

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice are where you'll find them. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

My book this week is:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I'm sorry about the length of the beginning, but I couldn't stop - I loved it. It really made me laugh and like Ove an awful lot.

I loved this book. It was better than the others in its "category" like "The 100 year old man who climbed out of a window" and "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", in my opinion. I did wonder though, some of the chapters had "A Man Called Ove..." and others "A Man Who Was Ove ..." and since this book was translated from Swedish, I think, I wondered if the original title had been "A Man Who Was Ove", but they changed it to be more grammatical If so, I would have preferred "A Man Who Was Ove". But maybe that's too much speculation and conspiracy theory for the weekend?!

Happy reading everyone. And happy weekend.