Tuesday 31 October 2017

One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

Vicky Seagrave leads a charmed life. Married, with three children, she is moving up in the world - a hectic, but beautiful existence. Until she makes one little mistake. The little mistake sets off a chain of events and barrage of changes that eventually threaten to destroy her life forever. 

But does it?

Perhaps it’s the title of the book (and the fact that the title includes “: The gripping ebook Bestseller”) that set me up for this. But this was more than one little mistake. There was the initial action, then the failure to be honest about it. The reasons for the failures, and also the context of the mistake. All contributed to the outcome of the story, and any change in one of these could have resulted in a different outcome. And this annoyed me.

But I kept reading. So what did I like? 

Well, the characters were great. Vicky, Tom, Amber (Vicky’s best friend), the children, Vicky’s Mom, Amber’s husband. All were well constructed. They could be part of my family. The writing was good - lots of action and dialogue that moved the story forward. And it was entertaining. The story flipped between current day and a tragic account of a foster child too - but this was also good, and I enjoyed the tension.

However, it was Vicky who undid me completely. She just seemed unwilling/unable to fight hard for anything, even if she didn't see it coming (but we all did). 

Sorry, I tried hard to like this book, but even though it was gripping, and memorable, I didn't

2 stars

ISBN:  9780552779791

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Fever by Deon Meyer

For those of you who haven't yet experienced the joy of a Deon Meyer novel, here's a warning - maybe you shouldn't start with this one.

Fever is set in South Africa in the aftermath of a deadly virus, and features Nico Storm, and his father, Willem.  They're driving a truck with supplies, and there are dangers from every side - the biker gangs, the desperate souls who need them and the life they promise, and even their friends. Because in a fight for survival, can friends also become commodities, traded to the highest bidders?

They gather wonderfully interesting characters - "starting with Melinda Swanevelder, whom they rescue from brutal thugs; Hennie Fly, with his vital Cessna plane; Beryl Fortuin and her ragtag group of orphans; and Domingo, the man with the tattooed hand, whom Nico immediately recognizes as someone you want on your side. And then Sofia Bergman arrives, the most beautiful girl Nico has ever seen, who changes everything."

It’s like I woke up from a dream and discovered Deon Meyer stepping outside his comfort zone of detective Benny Griesel  - is he up to solve this one, or will he get lost in the fog of his own depression and drinking -  to write a futuristic thriller set in the beautiful South African landscape. 

It’s bold, and paints a canvas across the beautiful Karoo. You can smell the dust, hear the rushing river, and feel the searing heat, wondering if your water will last until you reach the next ghost town. 

And maybe that's why your first impression of Deon Meyer should be an amazing Benny Griesel whodunnit. Because, I fear, going back to that jaded broken well-loved cop will not be the same after having read this.

5 stars

ISBN: 9781473614444

You may also enjoy Why you were taken by JT Lawrence, or Icarus by Deon Meyer. And if you haven't read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood yet, what are you waiting for?

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Saturday 28 October 2017

Ten of the Best #104

Good morning to you morning people. This is for those of you braving the cold to do a park run in the wintry weather. I know at least one of you checks her phone before you start, so hopefully you find me today. It's also where we catch up on the week - the rest of us in our warm cosy beds, where we should be on a Saturday morning. I hope you find something to make you smile, think, and enjoy. 

If you don't, just know I had great fun compiling it, and it made me smile, think and enjoy. And remember, if you've seen it, keep scrolling.

We're not doing politics today, we'll just leave Zapiro here, and not say a word.

#MeToo isn't done yet. Marianne Thamm writes so well and explains why it won't be over for a while. Click the pic for her article.

Does it Count? This is powerful. 

And this even more so - The Economics of Consent.

"Because consent is a function of power. You have to have a modicum of power to give it. In many cases women do not have that power because their livelihood is in jeopardy and because they are the gender that is oppressed by a daily, invisible war waged against all that is feminine—women and humans who behave or dress or think or feel or look feminine."

And here's the historical post - from the Huffington Post - The Earth's oldest navigational tool. Fascinating.

Somehow I missed the Vryheid granny...I must have been ON A BREAK, or something. Never mind, it's never too late. 

Isn't the internet amazing? We can see inside these homes. And dream. Only $250 000 000.  And that one's not finished yet. 

This toddler has standards, I tell you. High standards. You go, girl.

I also loved the animal rehabilitator. 

These prisoners from The Cebu Detention and Rehabilitation Centre in the Philippines sing and dance as part of therapy. This video has Michael Jackson's choreographer and dancers help them. It's brilliant. 

In our next feature, we are asked "How do you relax with your dog?" Well, how do you? I'm really asking. Think about it. And then watch, and wonder - is my relaxation with my dog really much different? 

Two of my favourites - Claire Ryan Crosby and Dave Crosby - her dad. They went to Disney to perform this, and it's a lovely video. There are also many more online clips, that if you're addicted, like me, you'll spend hours watching. So cute.

The bonus post - the little conductor. Thanks Mom. 

Well, it's been fun, time to run. Have an awesome weekend, everybody.

Friday 27 October 2017

Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey

I'd nearly finished this book when I realised it was #7 in the Maeve Kerrigan series. That's great because a) clearly it didn't occur to me that it was a series, which means it works well alone and b) there are now six books waiting for me to find them.

Eighteen year old Chloe Emery arrives home unexpectedly to find her mother missing and the house turned into a bloody crime scene. She does what any scared teenager would do and runs into the arms of her best friend, Bethany, who lives next door. Newly promoted Detective Sergeant Maeve Kerrigan arrives on the scene with newbie Georgia Shaw in the passenger seat. There's a team. They must get to the bottom of all the blood, find a body and also a murderer. No small task. Especially when Chloe's not saying much and the neighbours are not all that friendly, to say the least.

Jane Casey, where have you been all my crime reading life? I loved the plot, the people - especially the interactions between detective Josh Derwent and Maeve, her boss, Una Burt and the rest of the team - and the fast pace of unraveling with a highly satisfying conclusion.

This is a great book, full of suspense and action. You'll read it quickly and be sad it's over.

4 stars


You may also enjoy Sunday Morning Coming Down by Nicci French or I know a secret by Tess Gerritsen

Friday Books - Her Every Fear

Good Morning fellow bloggers and readers.It's Friday.Time to hook up with other book admirers and share excerpts from the books around us.

At Rose City Reader, you'll find Book Beginnings, where you share the first line, and  a few thoughts about the book.

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

I'm abandoning the book I'm reading to pick this one up, in the hope it goes more quickly.

Following a brutal attack, Kate Priddy makes the uncharacteristically bold decision of moving from London to Boston - in an apartment swap with her cousin, Corbin Dell.

But soon after her arrival Kate makes a shocking discovery: Corbin's next-door neighbour, Audrey Marshall, may have been murdered.

Far from home and emotionally unstable, her imagination playing out her every fear, who can Kate trust?

I think it may be just what I'm looking for.

Creepy, right? And this cover is so unsettling. Peter Swanson wrote The Kind Worth Killing, which I loved, so I'm looking forward to this.

I can't wait for work to be done today, so I can get reading. Oh, and then I'll read all your lovely blogs with your books too. Tell me what you're reading in the comments below.

And have a great weekend.

Thursday 26 October 2017

Sunday Morning Coming Down by Nicci French

The writing team of Sean French and Nicci Gerrard showcase psychotherapist Frieda Klein in her seventh book. I've read one or two of the earlier ones, but it doesn't really matter if you haven't, you can read this as a standalone.

In the midst of a storm, DCI Karlsson is hauled out of his warm snug Sunday evening to investigate a crime at Frieda's home - her refuge, and the place in which her nemesis, Dean Reeve would like her at her most unsettled, or even petrified. A smell has revealed a body under the floorboards, and now the place is crawling with detectives, forensics, and others, the press cordoned off outside, with all eyes on Frieda. You can imagine she's charmed.

She knows it's Dean's calling card, but everyone else believes Mr. Reeve to be dead. When her friends, family and loved ones feature as part of his plans, she has no choice but to play his game. He's kind of got her. Set in the shadows of London, he could be lurking in alleys, hiding behind dusty windows or floating down the Thames.

This is fast paced, after a slowish start, and the stakes gradually get higher. Some twists and turns take us to a tense and fascinating ending,  setting up the next book, which is the last in the series, apparently.

I enjoyed Sunday Morning Coming Down, and it's perfect to escape over a weekend into.

ISBN: 9780718179670

3 stars

You may also enjoy The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham or Karin Slaughter's The Good Daughter, or what about Here and Gone by Haylen Beck?


Wednesday 25 October 2017

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

I’d waited to read this one. You need time with a John Boyne. To savour the words, the world. Cyril Avery finding himself, after being born out of wedlock, then adopted by the Averys, who never made Cyril feel welcome - he wasn't a 'real' Avery after all, and then navigating his way through an Ireland, mostly from a small town called Skull, in a world that didn't really count him as a real human being either held promise of being a place I could safely and happily withdraw to. Here's how it started.

"Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore."

I loved being inside Cyril’s head. I loved seeing from his point of view. The hostility from outside was tangible. The deeply painful historical account of the church's failure to embrace who he was, mirrored by Ireland's stance on gay boys and men was evocative, emotional and heart-rending, without being (too) judgemental.

“It was a difficult time to be Irish, a difficult time to be twenty-one years of age and a difficult time to be a man who was attracted to other men. To be all three simultaneously required a level of subterfuge and guile that felt contrary to my nature.”

Much has been written about this book - mostly rave reviews -  and it is an epic. The wry dry humour pervading the witty and realistic dialogue was a perfect counterpoint to the sad place Cyril inhabited. 

“If there is one thing I've learned in more than seven decades of life, it's that the world is a completely fucked-up place. You never know what's around the corner and it's often something unpleasant.” 

There were moments of joy, beauty and connection too, which also lightened the mood. In entirety it may have been a little drawn out though. And that together with the sadness and the sorrow made it a slight drudge. It wasn't exactly missing the essential tension that abounds in A History of Loneliness, but maybe less concentrated - the prejudice and violence less contained in a world than in a boys' dormitory.

It does feel like Mr. Boyne has found a fine voice, and I guess we can look forward to more writing from him that is full throttled angst, as he writes his fears, his pain and his hopes and dreams. How lucky are we?

4 stars

ISBN: 9780857523488

You may also enjoy A History of Loneliness by John Boyne, or what about John Irving's Avenue of Mysteries?

Here's another good one - The Nix by Nathan Hill.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett has become a firm favourite, to the extent that I’m not sure she could write something I won't enjoy. I picked this up after the delightful Amazon jungle tale - State of Wonder - which was full of adventure and whimsy.

Bel Canto is even more ambitious. In a village/city, it doesn't really matter, in South America, there is a birthday party in honour of Mr. Hosokawa, a visiting Japanese dignitary. They are in the vice-president's home, the president having cried off to watch TV. Terrorists barge in, during an awkward intimate moment, to take the absent president hostage. It's all a bit of a mess, really. Not that different, but very different from real life. We observe the different attempts at survival, from hostages and terrorists alike, and then connection and love as the time passes, and people from the outside try to negotiate for peace and safety in this fraught situation.

I wouldn't dare to attempt to write this one. However, as usual, Ann pulls it off with grace, truth and some truly 
magical moments. A little on the long side, I did find myself wondering more about the writing and in admiration of the super-talent, than deeply and completely engrossed in the story line, which I'd have preferred to be.

I listened to the audible version, which was beautifully done.

A fascinating 4 stars.

ISBN: 9780060838720

More Ann Patchett - Commonwealth, State of Wonder.

Or why not try The Wonder by Emma Donoghue?

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Monday 23 October 2017

Let's Dance

It doesn't take much looking to find inspiration for me these days. Mostly I just bounce out of bed and into my shoes, I'm that happy to be walking/running again. (that story is coming...)

Yet, on a Monday, I have been known to find some pictures, some music, maybe even a few words to inspire us all to start the week the best way - with some exercise.

I have the pictures - this is my neighbourhood this week. Don't you just want to put your shoes on and join us?

And the music? Heck, I'm glad you asked.
I stumbled across this classic from 2015 - Shut up and Dance, by Walk the Moon, and if it doesn't get your feet moving today, well then nothing will, and you can go back to sleep, with my permission.

But, even better, there's a story behind this song. And OMW, I love it when it's a good one. Click here if you want to hear them tell it themselves - I've copied the summary.

“‘Shut Up and Dance’ is based on a true story,” says singer Nicholas Petricca. “While we were out in L.A. actually writing for the new record, Talking Is Hard, we hit a roadblock writing the song that would become ‘Shut Up and Dance’; we didn’t have the chorus. We went out to blow off some steam at this awesome dance club and there was a girl there with a backless dress and beat up red Chucks who actually told me to shut up and dance with her.”

The true story, already in progress as a song, took some inspiration from other parts of real life also in the form of some of the guys’ favorite music. Petricca says listening to The Cars, Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar were sources of inspiration for the quirky track. And “big slammin’ guitars” were a necessity to what they call their “dork anthem.” But the song didn’t exactly come easily–or quickly.

Here's the chorus

"Oh don't you dare look back.
Just keep your eyes on me."
I said, "You're holding back,"
She said, "Shut up and dance with me!"
This woman is my destiny
She said, "Ooh-ooh-hoo,
Shut up and dance with me."

And the song.

Well, that just made my Monday. Hope yours is as good.

Last Monday Motivation - in a land long time ago....We are Young

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Sunday 22 October 2017

Ten of the Best #103

Ok, now that the pressure's off, I actually want to share all those little things I found on your fascinating timelines this week. how else do I thank you for the joy they brought me?

Yesterday was a busy day - we walked the Jozi Organ Donor Walk, and I loved being in a crowd of people, all proudly wearing "I'm an Organ Donor" shirts. There are still (relative to those who need life saving organs in SA) so few of us, but it's really  good to all gather together and enjoy the beautiful morning sunshine, the noisy animals and the beautiful Jo'burg Jacarandas.

So today, I'm feeling like staying in bed. And it is a day for that. The thunder is still rolling on, after it crashed all night. My dogs - still recovering from Diwali - have had enough. I think they may pack their bags tonight if it doesn't stop. I may follow them...

For the "Must Love Dogs" and the booklovers. here's a New York Times review by Jia Tolentino - "Inside the minds of very good dogs." This writing is superb.

Something light to read. Darrell Bristow Bovey's column on his woes when attempting to get a flooring guy. Loved it, especially his conclusion.

A selfish one. I LOVE audiobooks. Especially when the narrator is good, or famous, or especially... the author. I'm currently listening to Hillary Clinton read What Happened, and even though it's 18 or so hours, I'm loving every minute. Here are 11 great narrations - I've only read 2. Yay - 9 to go. And they missed one - The Light Between Oceans, narrated by Noah Taylor was inspired, and amazing.

The Arch turned 86. Congratulations and many many more to our favourite South African. Here's a reflection, from his life on the essence of being human.

I love great photographs. Here are 21. The one to click on below for the link to the rest of them is my favourite.

This little baby is so overwhelmed at hearing Mummy's voice for the first time. Truly beautiful.

And this one's just cute - I love YOOOOOOOOU. All together now. Aaaaaah.

As Dick King Smith said on Twitter - never underestimate the fortitude, aggression and resolve of an angry guinea fowl. Click the pic for the link.

Lego finally getting it together - who wants to be a fairy princess anyway? More please, Lego. And other toymakers.

This had Wayne and me crying with laughter. Tweets from parents related to toddlers' eating habits. #2 (pictured) had a ring of truth to it.

That's my ten today, peeps. I know, some of them were very short. Here's a bonus. If you're a banker with a girlfriend and a Mercedes, and you dump her because she asks for an investment - a paltry $50k or so, watch out.

Here's last Sunday's post.

Happy rest of the weekend.