Tuesday 30 January 2018

65 Years of Friendship by George Bizos

George Bizos became a friend to Nelson Mandela at university, a friendship that lasted (as most of Mandela’s did) for the rest of his life. Mandela referred to George as the “father of my family”, and clearly in the many accounts of their escapades through their common education in law and resistance to the apartheid government, relationships like these were forged in fire, and left deep and lasting impressions.
This book is like that. In language appropriate to an advocate, which does make for a level of detail that won’t appeal to all, this account is accurate, carefully thought through, observed from first-hand experience, and true. Not much of what we read today, from online and media sources can fit that description. It’s powerful.
And the friendship shines on every page. Told with humour, insight and deep fondness, this is a book I will return to often, to remember the nobility of the early ANC – their goals, ideals and aspirations were paid for with personal sacrifices and lived out with passion and purpose. It’s a great pity so little of that remains today.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
4 Stars
ISBN: 9781415207581

Monday 29 January 2018

What are you waiting for?

It's been a while, right?

You've been running without me. And I've been running too, without you.

I'm back here, though and today, I have excellent news for you. No more excuses. We're doing this. Today is the perfect day for a run.

Just look at that tree-lined street. I'm fortunate enough to live in a city where the suburbs are green, leafy, cool. And there's even a pavement most places, so we don't need to dodge traffic. 

So we have no reason not to get out there and pump the tarmac. It's been raining, and there is still that lingering cool. The birds are filling the fresh morning with tweets, gurgles and songs. The dampness of the leaves and grass smells rainy, dirty and fresh. And if we go now, we'll be back before the sun bakes down too hard, but we'll have worked our bodies to that perfect ache that makes sitting down at a desk the rest of the day so much easier to face.

I've even got a song to fit our mood. It's Ed Sheeran's Perfect. And it is.

So what are you waiting for. Let's go.
I found a love for me
Darling just dive right in
And follow my lead
Well I found a girl beautiful and sweet
I never knew you were the someone waiting for me
'Cause we were just kids when we fell in love....
.....Baby, I'm dancing in the dark with you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song
When you said you looked a mess, I whispered underneath my breath
But you heard it, darling, you look perfect tonight

Here are some more Monday Motivations.

See you here next week. Have a great run.

Tuesday 23 January 2018

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

From Goodreads: "In 1558, the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, royalty and commoners clash, testing friendship, loyalty, and love. 

Ned Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious conflict dividing the country, Ned goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England. The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions, and invasion plans. Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. Elizabeth clings to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents.

The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else—no matter what the cost."

 A Column of Fire is the third in the series, and I read the first many moons ago, so can't really compare the two, it was too long ago. From what I do recall, this one contains fewer details on the construction of the cathedrals, not so many ups and downs for the characters, and is less focussed on the particular history of the town than the broader story of the world at the time. 

It's also set in a historical time about which so many books have been written. In a history we all know so well it's hard to be different, but Ken Follett does this part well. The religious tolerance in the centre of a world charged with overbearing egos and too much passion about was a different take. 

I loved Ned and Margery's story. It was long, but also unique in its content and strangely satisfying - maybe that's just me.

Hence three stars - probably four if Ken Follett hadn't written better books before. But immensely worthwhile. The Audible narration was excellent - John Lee does a superb performance.

3 stars

ISBN: 9780525954972

You may also enjoy Dancing the Death Drill by Fred Khumalo or The Constant Queen by Joanna Courtney.

More books

Friday 19 January 2018

Ten of the Best #109

Good morning everybody. It's the weekend. And yes, it's been a while since I've done a Ten of the Best. But we're back, with bells on. Here's my summary of what I enjoyed on social media feeds this week. Have fun, click the pictures for the links, and don't forget the back button to come back for more.

Since we've got a lot of catching up to do. we'll start with James Corden who summarizes the mood so well. Here he is on the "always fake news".

Speaking of The Lying Times of President Trump, someone is documenting it. Yip. Read and weep.

Thursday 18 January 2018

The Confession by Jo Spain

Ok, confession time...(haha - see what I did there?) Do you have a favourite book?

Don't give me that "How could you?" look. I know you love ALL the books you own. They are ALL deserving of your love and attention. But what about authors? Can you have favourites of those? Yes?Well ok, then.

I have to confess that this one was special. And Jo Spain, dare I say it? Yes I do - you're one of my favourites.

Harry is famous and wealthy and married and charismatic and handsome and - I'm sure you get the picture, he has it all. Until one night he is attacked in his home by an intruder, who promptly admits that he did it, hands himself over and gets arrested. Now Harry's wife Julie can sleep at night, tucked up in their secure and glamorous home on a  golf estate. Except you know she can't. Something's wrong. This is too neat and tidy, and JP's confession is too...well, convenient.

Secrets and lies, layers upon layers of them emerge. Secret secrets and lies about lies. Alice Moody is in charge of the police investigation, and she is marvellous (another favourite, I think). As each truth is teased out, every gaping hole exposed and the last defining detail proved beyond doubt, we are left gasping, breathless, yet unable to look away. Or stop reading.

I dare you to put this book down once you've started. Ok, maybe for a cup of tea while you put the pieces of your shattered heart back together. But not for any longer. As one reviewer has already pointed out, we need a new word for gripping, when it comes to describing The Confession. 

5 stars

You may also enjoy With our Blessing by Jo Spain.

Or what about Behind her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough?