Thursday, 14 December 2017

Just Finished & Now Reading...

Butler's Restaurant @ Crown Mansion Boutique Hotel
10 days before Xmas..... I've got to say, for some reason, it's been a bit hard getting excited about the day. The outside lights are up and the neighborhood is slowly starting to brighten up as people put up their lights and trees. I'm sure we'll have a nice relaxing day on the day. Jo and I like to sleep in, then we watch the Xmas shows on the BBC and have a nice turkey dinner. Then we relax and snooze the rest of the day... A bit perfect if you ask me. :) This year for Xmas Eve we're heading down to Qualicum Beach for Xmas Eve dinner at Butlers. We went there for dinner last month and really enjoyed it. It's run by Wendy and Bill who used to run Toscanos here in Comox, which was one of our favourite places in the Valley.

In January we're going to Vancouver to see the Canadian Figure Skating Championships. We're looking forward to the weekend. The puppies will be spending the weekend at our local kennel. Shh! Don't tell them, Clyde will be very upset and we don't want to ruin his Christmas.

Just Finished

I'm enjoying my reading this month but it's been a slow go so far. End of year blues, I guess. Anyway, I've finished two books in the past week.

1. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. I preferred The Professor by Anne's sister, Charlotte but I still enjoyed it. The review is below.

"The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë was originally published under the pseudonym Acton Bell, basically required during the time it was written, 1848, as it was difficult for women to publish under their own name. It's the 2nd Bronte novel I've read in the last couple of years, the first being The Professor, by sister Charlotte Bronte. I think I preferred The Professor, but both were fine stories.
We find Helen Graham and her son recently installed in Wildfell Hall, a mysterious woman with little back story. She gradually becomes acquainted with the residents of the area. Gilbert Markham, a land owner who lives with his mother, brother and sister becomes infatuated with Helen and while she seems to reciprocate, she also pushes him away, frustrating him greatly. Helen's reputation becomes suspect to the locals due to the time she spends with her landlord, Mr. Lawrence.
When challenged by Halford, Helen gives him her diary to read in order to explain everything. This story tells of her life with her husband, Mr. Huntingdon and the reason she has come to Wildfell Hall, quite a disturbing, tragic tale. Of course there is much more to the story, especially the ending which I won't tell.
It's a long tale, told in various formats, diaries, letters and basic story telling which I found quite interesting. Men aren't for the most part portrayed very sympathetically, especially Huntingdon and his friends. Halford is good-hearted but also head strong and emotional. Helen is a strong character, dealing with many hardships and trying to raise her son away from the influences of his father. It's often a depressing story but also an excellent one. As I got into it, I found myself spending more and more time with it, wanting to see how it resolved. (4 stars)"

2. Jade Lady Burning by Martin Limon. This is the first book in the Sueno and Bascomb mystery series. I quite liked. Looking forward to the 2nd book now.

"Jade Lady Burning is the first book in Martin Limón's George Sueno and Ernie Bascom mystery series. Both are Army Sgts working in CID in South Korea. They are assigned to investigate the murder of a Korean prostitute as the suspect is an Army Private. It turns out that the Private had filed papers to be married with Pak Ok-Suk. The story is set 20 years after the Korean War.
The story is told in the first person by Sueno. You get an interesting picture of the CID set up and of the darker aspects of Seoul life as the majority of the story takes place in the Ville, the red light district. For much of the story the two detectives seem to be spinning their wheels, trying to find out who might have murdered the girl as they don't believe that the soldier did it.
They get not much support within their chain of command as the system would rather that the case disappear, the better for US and South Korean relations. But Sueno has a bee in his bonnet about the case, partly because of his background and because he believes the two need someone on their side. They are regularly assigned to other work to get them away from this case.
We find out about the corruption between the US Army and their suppliers. We meet Kimiko, an older prostitute who watched over Pak. She is a unique, wonderful character.
I enjoyed this story. It was well-written and it provided a view of a life that was very different to me. My only perspective of South Korea probably hearkens back to MASH and maybe The Bridges at Toko-Ri by Michener. Sueno and Bascom are interesting characters, not black and white but with rough edges. Both are good cops who really want to solve the case. I'm looking forward to the next book, Slicky Boys, hoping it shows more of the country and people. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

I've started the following two books since.

1. The Cup and the Lip by Elizabeth Ferrars. I've read a couple of Ferrars' books before and enjoyed. She's kind of a cozy mystery writer, a la Christie, Sayers, etc. The summary is below. I'm enjoying this so far, the flow and writing style.

"There is nothing unusual about stepping out of your own front door to take a walk.
Except, possibly, in the case of the distinguished novelist Dan Braile. After all, he was not only old but very sick. And it was a wet, stormy evening.
The problems began when he didn't come back. Add to that the fact that several of his friends and family wouldn't have been sorry to see him disappear. Then add to that the claims he'd made that someone was trying to poison him...
The mystery deepens when Peter Harkness finds that one of Braile's friends has been shot dead. Deepens for all of them, that is, except the murderer himself..."

2. Ross Poldark by Winston Graham. I've read a couple of Graham's books, including Marnie, which was excellent. This is the first book in his Poldark series and I'm enjoying so far.

"Cornwall in the 1780's...
County of mine-masters, wreckers - and turbulent passions. Back to this land, his own land, comes Ross Poldark.
Ross looked across at Francis. "I've interrupted a party. Is it in celebration of the peace or in honour of the next war?"
"No," said Francis. "I - er - The position is - "
"We are celebrating something far different," said Charles, motioning for his glass to be filled. "Francis is to be married."
"To be married," said Ross. "Well, well; and who -"
"To Elizabeth," said Mrs. Chynoweth.
There was silence. Ross put down his knife..."

There you go, time to watch Top Chef now.. :0) Have a great Friday and weekend!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Just Finished, Next in Line, New Books

Amazing weather the past few days. It's been just cold enough that we've had 3 or 4 days of fog. It's not unusual (as Tom Jones might sing) as we do get periods like this almost every winter. I wonder if it's thick enough to affect the flights into and out of our local airport. I haven't heard any but that doesn't mean anything. Lol.

As I sit down working on my BLog, I've got my favourite news show on as background noise; Deadline - White House on MSNBC with host Nicolle Wallace. I do overdose on US news these days and it usually just makes me mad as I can't believe how low their politicians will stoop to get some policy out. But her show is just an hour and always entertaining. Anyway, on to the subject of books.

Just Finished

The Man with the Cane by Jean Potts (1957). I've been looking for something by Jean Potts for awhile now. I think she is one of those authors that was listed in the back of another mystery that I'd read a few years ago; authors such as Dorothy Salisbury Davis, Hammond Innes, Helen MacInnis, etc. I think the mystery is definitely of its time. It was an interesting, enjoyable read. My review is below.

"The Man With the Cane, published originally in 1957, was the first book I've read by Jean Potts. It was a different story. For the most part I had no idea where it was going. The ending was also reasonably satisfying.
Val the father of Annabelle, and ex-husband of Doris, is finally getting a chance to spend time with his daughter after Doris and Monroe's (her current husband) move back from California. Annabelle tells him about the man with the cane, who had bushy eyebrows and a cane and played with her. When he brings it up with Doris and Monroe it starts a strange chain of events. Also part of the story are Doris' mother, Maudie and Barbara, ex-sister-in -law of Doris. Add Hen, who moves into Val's apartment building and Clyde, Doris's brother, and you've got an interesting, suspicious cast of characters.
Val and Hen find the body of a man after going out for dinner; a man with bushy eyebrows and a cane. The coincidence with Annabelle's story, starts Val and Hen investigating who he might be and also if the others have any connection with the 'man with the cane.'
There is a side story involving poisoned pen letters and it's possible that some of the characters might be involved in some way. The story moves along very nicely and is fun to read. In some ways, it reminds me of the one mystery I've read by Dorothy Salisbury Davis, who wrote during the same time period. I don't think it's a classic mystery but it's still enjoyable and I'm glad to have been exposed to Potts's writing. I'll check out others of her books. (3 stars)"

Currently Reading

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #2). It's been a few years since I read the first book in this series, The Eyre Affair and I enjoyed it very much. It was a 5-star read. I'm enjoying this one already. The synopsis is below.

"Thursday Next is back. This time, it's personal.
For Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, life should be good. Riding high on a wave of celebrity following the safe return of kidnapped Jane Eyre, Thursday ties the knot with the man she loves.
But marital bliss isn't quite as it should be. It turns out her husband of one month actually drowned thirty-eight years age, and no one but Thursday has any memory of him at all.
Someone, somewhere is responsible.
Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday heads back into fiction in search of the truth, discovering that paper politicians, lost Shakespearean manuscripts, a flurry of near-fatal coincidences and impending Armageddon are all part of a greater plan.
But whose? And why?"

New Books

I'm not sure where I heard of Dennis Wheatley, probably in the back of one of my James Herbert horror stories. Wheatley lived from 1897 - 1977 and had a prolific output of horror and adventure stories. He was one of the best-selling authors from the '30's through the '60s. I ordered three books from Russell Books in Victoria and they arrived this past week. The synopsis for the books are below.

1. The Ka of Gifford Hillary (1956). "Britain is bitterly divided, torn internally by a crisis of national security. At the Government's request, Sir Gifford Hillary throws himself into the secret struggle against the might of Soviet Russia.
But danger is closer than even he suspects. Unknown to him, a tangled web of hatred and betrayal is already reaching out from Longshot Hall itself.
Then, on the night of 9th September, an event occurs which shatters the bounds of human experience. Gifford Hillary witnesses his own death..."

2. The Quest of Julian Day (1939). It was for the lovely Sylvia Shane that Julian decided to set out upon his quest, but it was the dangerous, fascinating Princess Oonas Shahamalek who delayed his going.
The quest was for the treasure of Cambyses, buried for more than two thousand years. It led Julian to a night in the Tomb of the Sacred Bulls in Alexandria; to an encounter with white slavers and dope runners outside of Cairo; to a voyage up the Nile where death was waiting for them. It ended in the waterless Libyan desert, five hundred miles from civilization."

3. The Satanist (1960). "An ex-Nazi prepares a Fourth Reich, hailing Lucifer as the new Fuhrer... A man becomes the victim of a ceremonial murder in the Devil's Temple... A cabaret girl sacrifices her soul in a debauching Black Mass... A gripping novel of black magic in the modern world - by the internationally acclaimed master of terror..."

So there you go. Anything of interest? Have a great weekend!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Just Finished, Some New Books and the November 2017 Reading Summary

It's a rainy Saturday morning, 2 December and I'm ensconced on the couch with Clyde watching Saturday footie. Too bad for Brighton vs Liverpool. It was probably their worst loss of the year. Maybe they can get back in the saddle in the next game, an away game against Huddersfield Town. So while I sit here, I'll take some time to update on my last two book completions, some new books and also do my November update. One month left in 2017. Wow!

Just Finished
I managed to finish two books in the last couple of days of November. It was a slow month for me. I'm still hoping to reach my planned total of 120 by end December but I'll just play that by ear. Anyway, these are my two most recent books read.

1. On Her Majesty's Service by Ian Fleming. I've mentioned this previously but for the past few years I've been collecting the 007 series, and reliving my childhood as I remember enjoying some of them at that time. This was the 11th in the series that I've enjoyed. My review is below.

"On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the 10th James Bond book by Ian Fleming. The movie version was George Lazenby's one and only stab at the role of 007. As I read the book, it was interesting to see how faithful the movie was to the story. It brought back memories of the movie for me.
Basically, Bond continues to hunt Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of SPECTRE. He is tired of this mission and considers retirement from the Secret Service. While traveling through France, he meets Tracy, a troubled woman, daughter of the head of the Corsican Mafia, who tries to kill herself. Bond stops her and at the same time makes friends with her father, Draco.
We jump ahead and Bond gets information that Blofeld might be in Switzerland and off he heads to try and discover if the info is true. He takes on the identity of a member of the College of Arms who is gathering info to prove that Blofeld is descended from French royalty. (stoking the ego don't you know.. :))
At Blofeld's mountain eyrie / ski resort, Bond discovers that he is using young women as part of a nefarious plot against England. What follows is action and more action as Bond tries to get his revenge on Blofeld. (Plus a surprisingly sad ending)
Always good for entertainment and always an interesting story. I've said it before and I'll repeat myself, it's been fun revisiting the Bond stories this past few years. (3.5 stars)"

2. The Pilgrim of Hate by Ellis Peters. This is the 10th book in the Cadfael historical mystery series, another one that I've enjoyed exploring. I try to read at least one a year. As you can see I will be able to enjoy the series for a few more years yet.

"The Pilgrim Of Hate is the 10th book in the Cadfael historical / mystery series by Ellis Peters. If you've not ever tried one, it was also a very successful, popular TV series starring Derek Jacoby. (Excellent books and TV series)
Cadfael is a Benedictine monk, ex soldier in the Crusades who came back to find a new life in the Abbey in Shrewsbury during the wars of succession between Empress Maud and King Stephen. Cadfael is responsible for growing and making medicines for the monks and for people visiting the Abbey.
In this story, the Abbey is preparing for the anniversary of the translation of the bones of Saint Winifred (the recovery of her bones from Wales is part of a previous story) from her place of rest to the Abbey. Pilgrims from all over England are coming for the celebration in the hope of a miracle.
Coincident with this celebration is the murder of a knight in Winchester, during meetings there to try and stop the civil war.
As always, the story is interesting, giving an excellent picture of life during the 12th Century. Cadfael is a very sympathetic, interesting character and the mystery of the murder is developed very nicely in the context of the story of the celebration. While I had an idea of of who was who and how the mystery might resolve itself, there were still some surprises (especially the last sentence) and it's just a gentle, fun read. I always enjoy entering this series and wandering around in the 12th Century. (3.5 stars)"

New Books

Every couple of months I take a drive around the area and check out the local Little Free Libraries. They are like birdhouses outside peoples' homes, except they have books in them. For any books you take, you are supposed to leave a book in its place. There are about five that I know of in our local area of Comox. Turnover isn't great but I have found a couple of books each time I've gone out. I found 3 books this past week.

1. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. I have seen this book in my local book stores and it had kind of piqued my interest. So when I saw it, I figured I might as well give it a try. The synopsis is below.

"July 1209: in Carcassonne a seventeen-year-old girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alais cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe...
July 2005: Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave in the French Pyrenees. Puzzled by the labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, she realises she's disturbed something that was meant to remain hidden. Somehow, a link to a horrific past - her past - has been revealed."

2. Blood Work by Michael Connelly. I've read a couple of Connelly's Bosch mystery series and enjoyed. I've also enjoyed the 1st season of the TV series based on those books. I've also seen the movie based on Blood Work. I'm looking forward to trying the book.

"When Graciella Rivers steps onto his boat, ex-FBI agent Terrell McCaleb has no idea he's about to come out of retirement. He's recuperating from a heart transplant and avoiding anything stressful. But when Graciella tells him the way her sister Gloria was murdered it leaves Terry no choice. Now the man with the new heart vows to take down a predator without a soul. For Gloria's killer shatters every rule that McCaleb ever learned in his years with the Bureau - as McCaleb gets no more second chances at life ... and just one shot at the truth."

3. The Chronicles of Clovis by Saki. I have read one collection of the short stories of H.H. Munro (AKA Saki). He has a unique sense of humour; sometimes very dark and cruel. But the stories grab you and surprise you. I'll see what this one is like.

"Hector Munro, whose pen-name Saki is thought to derive from the golden boy of that name in FitzGerald's Rubaiyat, remains an oddly mysterious figure. The apparent savagery of his work made him a rarefied taste among contemporaries, although he was taken as a master by Noel Coward and Evelyn Waugh.
Saki's territory is the drawing room and country house party of the Edwardian upper class, whose brittle facade he exposes with his acid and very funny prose. From the cynical tale of Tobermory, the speaking cat, to the supernatural terror of 'The Music on the Hill' and the black humour of 'The Unrest-Cure', these twenty-eight stories and short sketches show the full range of his talent at a time when, as Auberon Waugh says in his Introduction, 'his rage and indignation against humanity had not yet conquered the simple desire to please."

November 2017 Reading Summary

I wasn't all that satisfied with my reading totals for November but at the same time I've had a couple of very long books on the go that I will finish in early December. My total pages was on the low side but not by that much. Anyway, here is my summary.

General Stats
                                          November             2017
Books Read                             8                        108   (I hope to read 120 by end year. We'll see)
Pages Read                           2,700                 41,000

Pages Breakdown
     <  250                                 4                          49
250 - 350                                 3                          36
351 - 450                                 0                          14
     >  450                                 1                           9

5 - star                                     1                          11
4 - star                                     3                          53
3 - star                                     4                          41
2 - star                                     3                           3

Female                                    2                          27

Male                                       6                          81

Fiction                                    3                         29
Mystery                                  4                         50
SciFi                                       1                         25
Non-Fiction                            0                          2
Classics                                  0                          2

2017 Reading Challenges

Canadian Literature (4 of a planned 5 so far).
I have one planned for December.

Classics (Pre-1900) (2 of 4)
One on the go that I will finish in December.

Mysteries (Cops) (20 of 25)*
1. A Dedicated Man by Peter Robinson (5 stars)
2. Wobble to Death by Peter Lovesey (3.5 stars)

Mysteries (Sleuths) (20 of 25)*
3. Running Blind by Lee Child (3.5 stars)
4. The Pilgrim of Hate by Ellis Peters (4 stars)

Fantasy (4 of 5)
I may finish off this challenge in December.

Horror (7 of 5)
5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (4 stars)

Fiction (6 of 15)*
6. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (4 stars)

SciFi (2 of 5)
I have one on the go and one more planned.

Spies / Thrillers / Adventure (9 of 10)
7. Royal Flash by George MacDonald Fraser (3.5 stars)
8. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (3.5 stars)

Top Three Books of November
1. A Dedicated Man by Peter Robinson.

"A Dedicated Man is the 2nd Chief Inspector Banks mystery by Peter Robinson. Once again I found it to be quite different to the TV series that was based on the books. But that matters not as both are enjoyable in their own way.
Banks is called to a small town in his district in Yorkshire to investigate the murder of a local professor / historian. It's a very small hamlet with basically one police officer. He brings along Sgt Hatchley to assist. It's a typical case, the professor is well-loved, seems to have no enemies and even though he has friends, they all seem to have little motive and reasonable alibis.
The pacing is excellent; we aren't caught up with countless murders to cope with. It's Banks and Hatchley investigating, talking to possible suspects as they try to gather information and we also get the perspective of a variety of the locals; young Sally, the budding actress with her own ideas of the murder, the local singer who may have had a relationship with the victim, etc.
It was a pleasure to read and just enjoy the thought processes, the locality, the people and the case. I had ideas of how the murder might have happened but for some reason, never considered the final solution which was presented and I must say I found it very satisfying. Banks is not really like the TV version; he has a much smaller staff to work with and his personal circumstances are different, at least for the first two books, but I like him very much and was very satisfied with this most enjoyable mystery. Now to find the 3rd book. (5 stars)"

2. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

"Mrs Dalloway is my first exposure to the writings of Virginia Woolf. It wasn't an easy book to read but once I got into the flow, I enjoyed it very much. It's a unique style, one long chapter that flows from one character to another over the course of a single day. It's like a wandering vine; one story branches off and then by a circuitous route through other vines, it once again joins the main story.
That main story focuses on Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway, wife of Richard Dalloway, a British Member of Parliament, as she prepares for a party at their home. Over the course of the day, the tale branches off to that of Peter Walsh, an old boyfriend who returns to London from India to arrange for his marriage with a married woman and drops in to see Clarisse; there is Rezia Warren Smith, Italian wife of shell-shocked Septimus Warren, trying to get him help for his condition, plus all of the sundry characters the people this story.
The switch from one character to another is often swift and if you're not paying attention you might not realize it. It happens when a chance crossing of paths occurs and the story switches to that particular character. Even if they don't meet, there are links with characters that interact with both; Dr Bradshaw attends Clarissa's party and also treats Septimus.
It's a fascinating story, somewhat limp ending maybe but all in all quite an introduction to Virginia Woolf. (4 stars)"

3. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

"I Am Legend is a collection of horror short stories and one novella by author Richard Matheson. I am Legend was the basis for at least two movies; The Omega Man (1971) and I Am Legend (2017). Other stories remind me of episodes of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. Prey was made into a TV movie (part of Trilogy of Terror) starring Karen Black as Amelia, in a truly terrifying story of a young woman terrorized by an African tribal doll.
Every story was interesting; some very scary and even some humorous (The Near Departed and The Funeral).
It was interesting to finally read I Am Legend. I found it closer to The Omega Man, which starred Charlton Heston. Robert Neville is, as far as he knows, the last man on Earth. The rest is peopled by either vampires and people who still live but suffer from the effects of a virus that make them 'seem' like vampires; they aren't dead but still need blood and suffer from many of the effects of vampirism. Neville lives in a world of nightmare, trying to drown the memories of his past with drink and spending days killing these creatures. His life is turned upside down when he meets Ruth. (I'll leave you to read the story to find out about this incident). It was an excellent story and interesting to compare to my memories of the movies.
The other stories included stories with killer dolls, voodoo spells, strange funerals, haunted houses, etc.; all interesting and page turners. A pleasantly satisfying and enjoyable read. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading
I'm starting off December with the four books below, three carried over from November. I hope I'll reach my 120 total by the end of the month. Have a great December! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

1. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. Definitely a gloomy book so far
2. Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh. My first exposure to SciFi writer Cherryh and after a slow start to get used to her writing style, I'm enjoying very much.
3. The Man with the Cane by Jean Potts. Another new author for me and I'm enjoying thus far.
4. Jade Lady Burning by Martin Limon. Just started this mystery set in South Korea.

So there you go. I'll keep you posted on how this goes and as we get nearer the end of the month let you know my challenges for 2018 and my book summary for the end of 2017. Take care!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Just Finished, Currently Reading, Awards

I'm feeling the best I've felt all week. Not sure what is but I've been achy all over. I think doing some stretches and such helped. We've had mixed weather this week, alternating nice, sunny mild days with windy, rainy ones.

So what to talk about today. I'll update a book I've finished this weekend, plus what I've started. Also it's time to update my awards lists and if it's not to big of a post by then, I'll get back to my History of North America.

Just Finished

1. Wobble to Death by Peter Lovesey. This was my first exposure to Lovesey's writing. I enjoyed it. My review is below.

"Wobble To Death by Peter Lovesey is the first book in his historical mystery series featuring Scotland Yard Sgt Cribb. It is also my first exposure to his writing. It's an interesting premise to say the least.
The story is set in London, 1879 and is centered around a pedestrian race at the Agricultural Hall. From the foreword, these races took place fairly regularly, where groups or walkers would participate in a 6 day race, with the winner being the one who was able to walk the longest distance; somewhere over 500 miles, in the six days. It reminds me of the movie They Shoot Horses, Don't They, which was about marathon dance contests.
Anyway, in this particular race one of the contestants dies and this brings in Sgt Cribb and Constable Thackeray to investigate the circumstances. It turns out the contestant was, in fact, murdered. There are a number of potential suspects that the two intrepid detectives must investigate. It's an interesting story with interesting characters, somewhat light on the mystery but still entertaining. You get a nice picture of the time and the race and contestants. It was a nice introduction to the series and I will find other books featuring Sgt Cribb. (3.5 stars) Lovesey also writes the Peter Diamond mystery series. I have the first book in that series to try as well."

Currently Reading

My Cadfael Books
As my replacement to Wobble to Death, I've continued with historical mysteries. This time it's the 10th book in the Cadfael series by Ellis Peters, The Pilgrim of Hate. It's been a most enjoyable series so far. The synopsis is below.

"Pilgrims are gathering from far and wide to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the translation of Saint Winifred's bones to the Benedictine Abbey at Shrewsbury. In distant Winchester, a knight, supporter of Empress Maud, has been murdered - not apparently an event of importance to those seeking miraculous cures at the saint's shrine. But among the throng some strange customers indeed begin to puzzle Brother Cadfael -  and as the story unfolds it becomes evident that the murder is a much less remote affair that it first seemed."

2017 Awards and the Birth Date Thing

US Billboard Charts #1 Single 10 November 2017

Rockstar by Post Malone ft 21 Savage. Post Malone is an American rapper from Syracuse, N.Y.  Rockstar was his first #1 single. It features American rapper, 21 Savage. (If you click on the song title, you can catch the YouTube video. I don't particularly like it.)

UK #1 Single 10 November 2017

Havana by Camila Cabello ft Young Thug. Camila Cabello is a Cuban - American singer, who started out with Fifth Harmony. This is her first #1 song and it features American rapper, Young Thug.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 2017

Origin by Dan Brown.This is the fifth installment of Brown's Robert Langdon series; Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol and Inferno. I've read Angels and Demons and it was OK. I may have to try the other books sometime. The synopsis is below.

"Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend the unveiling of a discovery that ‘will change the face of science forever’. The evening’s host is his friend and former student, Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old tech magnate whose dazzling inventions and audacious predictions have made him a controversial figure around the world. This evening is to be no exception: he claims he will reveal an astonishing scientific breakthrough to challenge the fundamentals of human existence.
But Langdon and several hundred other guests are left reeling when the meticulously orchestrated evening is blown apart before Kirsch’s precious discovery can be revealed. With his life under threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape, along with the museum’s director, Ambra Vidal. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
In order to evade a tormented enemy who is one step ahead of them at every turn, Langdon and Vidal must navigate labyrinthine passageways of hidden history and ancient religion. On a trail marked only by enigmatic symbols and elusive modern art, Langdon and Vidal uncover the clues that will bring them face-to-face with a world-shaking truth that has remained buried – until now."

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2017

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. This is the sixth novel by America writer Colson Whitehead.

"Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven - but the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom."

Nobel Prize Laureate 2017

Kazuo Ishiguro (UK).  Ishiguro is a Japanese - born, British novelist, screen writer and short story writer. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as a writer 'who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.'

Hugo Award Winner 2017

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin. This is the second book in American writer, Jemisin's, Broken Earth trilogy. The Fifth Season won the Hugo last year. It will be followed by The Stone Sky.

"The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy. It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.
The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken."

Edgar Award Winner 2017

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. This is Hawley's fifth book. He's also known for creating the TV series Fargo and Legion.

"On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs--the painter--and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members--including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot--the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations--all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth."

Man Booker Prize Winner 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. American writer Saunders is an author of short stories, novellas, children's books and novels. Lincoln in the Bardo is his first novel.

"February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body."

Giller Prize Winner 2017

Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill. Redhill is an American - born poet, novelist and playwright.This was his fourth work of fiction. He also wrote under the pseudonym Inger Ash Wolfe.

"Jean Mason has a doppelganger. At least, that's what people tell her. Apparently it hangs out in Kensington Market, where it sometimes buys churros and shops for hats. Jean doesn't rattle easy, not like she used to. She's a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving business, and Toronto is a fresh start for the whole family. She certainly doesn't want to get involved in anything dubious, but still . . . why would two different strangers swear up and down they'd just seen her--with shorter hair furthermore?
Jean's curiosity quickly gets the better of her, and she visits the market, but sees no one who looks like her. The next day, she goes back to look again. And the day after that. Before she knows it, she's spending an hour here, an afternoon there, watching, taking notes, obsessing and getting scared. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the market's only park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she'll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants--the regulars of Bellevue Square--are eager to contribute to Jean's investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, it becomes apparent that her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate stranger than death."

So there you go. I'll do the History and Science entry next time. If you are interested in seeing what other books were on the list for the various Awards, the links for each are below.

New York Times Best Sellers during 2017

Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists in All Categories 2017

The Hugo Awards 2017

The Edgar Awards 2017

Man Booker Prize 2017

Giller Prize 2017

Monday, 20 November 2017

Just Finished, Currently Reading and Some New Books

Finally, a day without rain. Well, it still sprinkled a bit, but there was actually some sunshine. We've had this strange bird stalking our house the past week or so. He keeps flying at the windows, either in the kitchen or in the lounge, depending on his mood. He's just a little fella, flies off when I wave my hands in front of the window then comes back after. Weird.

Just Finished

Royal Flash by George MacDonald Fraser. This is the second book in the Flashman adventure series. My review is below.

"Royal Flash is the 2nd book in the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. This story was used for the movie (1975) starring Malcolm McDowell as the irrepressible Harry Flashman. The book was first published in 970.
Flashman is one of those heroes / anti-heroes like Sharpe and Horatio Hornblower. The difference is that Flashman is a rogue and a coward always looking out for number 1, AKA himself. In Royal Flash, a dalliance he has with an Irish beauty, during which he also meets Otto von Bismark (who he embarrasses) causes much tribulation in Flashman's future. He embarrasses this Lola Montez as well and she is used as bait to get Flashy into an untenable situation.
Flash is encouraged to go to Germany to help Lola with a situation. The combination of his troubles with his in-laws and a payment of a considerable amount of money sways him towards this voyage even though he wonders why Lola would want his help after what he has done to her.
This starts Flash on an unplanned adventure to a small state north of Germany where he is forced to impersonate a Crown Prince of Denmark, all part of the subterfuges of future Iron Chancellor, Bismark. It's a fun and adventure-filled story, with Flash both enjoying himself (heck, he does get to dally with a beautiful princess) and fighting to save his skin.
The story moves from London to Munich to northern Germany and the action flows easily along the route. The story is interesting and moves along nicely. How will it all turn out for Flashy? Well, there are another 10+ books in the series, so you can figure it out for yourself. If you want an enjoyable adventure, you might like the Flash series. (3.5 stars)"

Currently Reading

I'm continuing with my Spy / Adventure / War genre with my next book, the 11th book in the James Bond spy series by Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I mentioned it in my previous BLog entry and there is a synopsis there. (Just click on the title and scroll down a bit. :0)

Some New Books

I returned some books to Nearly New Books a couple of days ago and checked out their new stock. I found the following books.

1. Adam Hall - Quiller Solitaire. (Note - I scanned these books instead of photographing them; hence the slight different format.)

"The agent he was assigned to protect has been murdered - and now Quiller is out for blood. His mission - and his penance - is to find the assassin by infiltrating Nemesis, a frighteningly efficient Euro-terrorist organization with horrifying designs on the future of humanity. In the lethal domain of the death masters. Quiller has never been more alone .. or more needed - as he sits atop a twenty thousand pound payload of nerve gas and high explosives, rocketing through the skies above an unsuspecting world on a direct, non-stop flight to Armageddon."

2. Martin Limon - Slicky Boys. This is the 2nd book in a new series for me that is set in South Korea. I'm looking forward to starting it.

"George Sueno and his partner Ernie Bascom thought they'd seen it all. For military cops in Korea, back-alley knifings, flesh peddler's drug rings - they're all in a day's work. But nothing prepared them for the slickest criminals this side of the DMZ.
The Slicky Boys were everywhere. They could kill a man a thousand ways you don't even want to know about. And you'll never hear them coming.
The Slicky Boys steal, they kill, they slip away. And George and Ernie are about to discover that even the U.S. military is no match for evil, and that human sympathy can sometimes lead to a lonely grave."

3. Bernard Cornwell - Sharpe's Regiment. This is the 17th book in the Sharpe series. (Note - I remember this one in the TV series.)

"Major Richard Sharpe's men are in mortal danger - not from the French, but from the bureaucrats of Whitehall. Unless reinforcements can be brought from England, the depleted South Essex will be disbanded, its troops scattered throughout the army.
Determined not to see his regiment die, Sharpe returns to England and uncovers a nest of well-bred, high-ranking traitors, any one of whom could utterly destroy his career with a word, or a stroke of the pen. Sharpe is forced into the most desperate gamble of his life - and not even the influence of the Prince Regent may be enough to save him."

4. Colin Cotterill - Curse of the Pogo Stick. This is book five in Cotterill's Dr. Siri Paiboun series. I have enjoyed it very much so far.

"Laos, 1977. Dr. Siri Paiboun, the spry seventy three-year-old reluctant national coroner of Laos, is on his way back from a Communist party meeting when he is ambushed on a jungle trail and kidnapped by seven female Hmong villagers. His only route to freedom is to exorcise the village of its demon - a task he has no idea how to accomplish - and in doing so he brings to pass the prediction of Auntie Bpoo, a transvestite fortune teller. Meanwhile, back in Vientiane, Nurse Dtui, Dr. Siri's fiancée are on their own to track down the assassin who is intent on wiping out the mortuary staff.
Exploding corpses, zombie muggers, and a geriatric gun fight - just another day at the Laos national morgue."

5. Peter Robinson - A Necessary End. This is the 3rd book in the Inspector Bank's series.

"One rainy March evening, an anti-nuclear demonstration outside the Eastvale Community Centre turns nasty: the mood of the crowd begins to darken as the weather worsens. Finally the police lose control and violence erupts, leaving one policeman dead with almost a hundred suspects.
Detective Chief Inspector Banks is back, investigating his third case in Yorkshire. But things become difficult for him when Superintendent Richard 'Dirty Dick' Burgess is sent from London, for political reasons, to lead the investigation. Sitting through a host of unusual suspects and disturbing discoveries about the police themselves, Bans is warned off the case. But the only way he can salvage his career is by beating Burgess to the killer. As the two head for a final confrontation, Banks pieces together the full story behind his most tragic case so far."

So there you go. Almost time for Frankie Drake mysteries and Lucifer. Have a great week!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Just Finished, Currently Reading and What's Left for 2017?

Well, it's the middle of November 2017... Wow! As of today, I've completed 105 of what I hoped would be 120 books in 2017. I've been in a bit of a slump in November, not sure if I've just chosen more difficult reads or if I'm just finding myself getting more occupied with other things.. *hack kaff, like this Blog*. ;0) The other day I went through my book shelves (that in itself can take a couple of hours) to choose the books I'll try to read to finish off the year. If I can finish the four I've got on the go plus those I've picked I would end the year with 121 books. We'll see.

Just Finished

At any rate, I finished my 105th book a couple of days ago. It fit into my Mystery - Sleuths sub-genre. Running Blind is the 4th book in Lee Child's Jack Reacher thriller series. As usual, it didn't disappoint. My review follows.

"Running Blind is the 4th Jack Reacher thriller by Lee Child. Like the other Reacher stories I've read, it's definitely long, but like the others, as well, it is eminently readable, moving along at a nice pace.
There were things that irritated me about the story; how the FBI coerces Reacher into helping them, Reacher's negative attitude to helping them (both somewhat related of course). But it was an interesting case and I really liked Harper, his FBI partner; intelligent, attractive and a strong character.
A number of women, ex of the Army, have been murdered in strange circumstances (very strange). They were all involved in sexual harassment cases while in the military. FBI profilers feel it's someone 'like Reacher' and force (almost blackmail) him into helping them.
The killer leaves no clues and there are no signs of violence. The murders take place in all parts of the country. Reacher and Harper work as a team to try and find clues and catch the killer before any more women die. Complicating the case is that Reacher knows one of the women as he investigated her rape case while he was an MP and he wants to keep her safe. Reacher must also decide if the wants to live a more settled life with his girl friend Jodie, introduced in the previous story.
It's a fast-paced story with a fair bit of action; nothing excessive mind you. I had an idea about the killer about half way through the story. I wasn't totally correct but had the gist of the solution. I can't say I was totally satisfied with the ending; it was a bit pat and seemed a bit of a throw away, but all in all it was still an entertaining story. (3.5 stars) Echo Burning is the next Reacher story."

Currently Reading

To replace the Reacher story, I've moved over to my other mystery sub-genre; the Cops. This is my first exposure to Peter Lovesey. Wobble to Death is the first book in his Sgt Cribb historical mystery series. The synopsis is below.

"London, 1879. In the vast, freezing Agricultural hall the crowds are gathering to bet on which of a motley group of pedestrian walkers will become Champion Pedestrian of the World. The race will last six days, covering over five-hundred miles around and around the hall. Conditions are barbaric: the rivalries are even worse. As the contestants wobble dizzily onwards, they are overtaken ... by unexpected death.
With the help of sore-footed Constable Thackeray, Sergeant Cribb must also race against time to catch the ruthless murderer."

The other books I'm currently reading are -

1. George MacDonald Fraser - Royal Flash. This is the 2nd book in the Flashman series and finds Flash being forced to impersonate the Prince of Denmark in a plot by Bismark. Interesting so far.
2. Anne Bronte - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. My first exposure to this Bronte sister. Slow go so far but still interesting.
3. CJ Cherryh - Downbelow Station. This is my first attempt at Cherryh's science fiction. It's taken a bit to get into the story but I'm enjoying now.

I hope to finish these stories and maybe one more by the end of November which should give me a good chance of achieving my 120 book total for the year. We'll see. Below are the 12 books I've set aside for the rest of the year. I've got a few other in mind should I really get going with my reading.

The Rest of 2017

1. Carl Reiner - How Paul Robeson Saved My Life and other Mostly Happy Stories. I've had this for 7 years or more. I think it'll be fun to finally try this, a nice light story.

"Filled with rich, multidimensional tales, this collection of short stories from one of America's truly great comedic minds is at once poignant, nostalgic, and laugh-out-loud funny. "How Paul Robeson Save My Life," the story of Reiner's experiences in the army during World War II, is a darkly funny look at racism. "Lance and Gwendolyn" is a modern-day fairy tale with some surprising twists. "Dial 411 for Legal Smut" is a tongue-in-cheek look at phone sex. Whatever topic he tackles, Reiner always manages to capture the highs and lows, the follies and foibles of everyday life."

2. Jean Potts - The Man with the Cane. This is my first attempt at anything by Potts. The Man with the Cane was written in 1957.

"It all started when Val Bryant took out his six-year-old daughter, Annabelle, for the afternoon. She lived with her mother, Val's ex-wife, Doris, now married to rich executive, J. Monroe Ward.
Annabelle happened to mention a man she had met, a man she called Cane. She told Val he had eyebrows like little moustaches, whiskers in his ears, and that he always carried a cane (with which he could swing Annabelle up to the ceiling).
Val might not have remembered her remarks but for a strange and sinister coincidence. That very night he found the body of a man sprawled on the church steps. The man was violently dead - obviously murdered with his own cane. It didn't take Val long to realise that he fitted exactly the description Annabelle had given him of her Mr Cane.
No one could work out how Annabelle knew him. She had never been left on her own. Neither Doris nor Monroe claimed acquaintance. And Maudie, Doris's sprightly mother, and Barbara, her beautiful sister-in-law, also denied any knowledge of him.
So Val started probing and it wasn't long before he discovered that Mr Cane, alias Mr Custer, had an unpleasant hold on nearly all of them."

3. Ellis Peters - The Pilgrim of Hate. This is the 10th book in the Cadfael series. I've enjoyed all of the others very much so far.

"Pilgrims are gathering from far and wide to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the translation of Saint Winifred's bones to the Benedictine Abbey at Shrewsbury. In distant Winchester, a knight, supporter of Empress Maud, has been murdered - not apparently an event of importance to those seeking miraculous cures at the saint's shrine. but among the throng some strange customers indeed begin to puzzle Brother Cadfael -  and as the story unfolds it becomes evident that the murder is a much less remote affair than it first seemed."

4. Martin Limon - Jade Lady Burning. This is not only a new series for me but also one of my more recent purchases. I like the locale, South Korea, and hope it is an interesting series. It features US MP's George Sueno and Ernie Bascom. Sounds like an interesting concept.

"Almost twenty years after the end of the Korean War, the US Military is still present throughout South Korea, and tensions run high. Koreans look for any opportunity to hate the soldiers who drink at their bars and carouse with their women. When Pak Ok-Suk, a young Korean woman, is found brutally murdered in a torched apartment in the Itaewon red-light district of Seoul, it looks like it might be the work of her American soldier boyfriend. Sergeants George Sueno and Ernie Bascom, Military Police for the US 8th Army, are assigned to the case, but they have nothing to go on other than a tenuous connection to an infamous prostitute. As repressed resentments erupt around them, the pair set out on an increasingly dangerous quest to find evidence that will exonerate their countryman."

5. Susan Hill - The Various Haunts of Men. This is the 1st book in Hill's Inspector Chief Simon Serrailler mystery series. I have previously read one of the series but I'm looking forward to starting at the beginning.

"A woman vanishes in the fog up on 'the Hill', an area locally known for its tranquillity and peace. The police are not alarmed; people usually disappear for their own reasons. But when a young girl, an old man and even a dog disappear no one can deny that something untoward is happening in this quiet cathedral town. Young policewoman Freya Graffam is assigned to the case; she's new to the job, compassionate, inquisitive, dedicated and needs to know - perhaps too much.
She and the enigmatic detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler have the task of unravelling the mystery behind this gruesome sequence of events. From the passages revealing the killer's mind to the final heart-stopping twist, The Various Haunts of Men is a masterly crime debut and is the first in what promises to be a magnificent series featuring Simon Serrailler."

6. Winston Graham - Poldark. I've read other books by Graham, especially Marnie, which became one of Hitchcock's more popular mysteries. Jo and I watched season 1 of the Poldark series and enjoyed it. Now I'd like to check out the books. I've had this since 2015, awaiting my attention.

"Cornwall in the 1780's... County of mine-masters, wreckers - and turbulent passions Back to this land, his own land, comes Ross Poldark.
Ross looked across at Francis. 'I've interrupted a party. Is it in celebration of the peace or in honour of the next war?'
'No,' said Francis. 'I - er - The position is-'
'We are celebrating something far different,' said Charles, motioning for his glass to be filled. 'Francis is to be married.'
'To be married,' said Ross. 'Well, well; and who - '
'To Elizabeth,' said Mrs. Chynoweth.
There was silence. Ross put down his knife..."

7. Ian Fleming - On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I've collected and enjoyed at least half of the James Bond books so far. It's fun reliving these books. this is the 11th book in publication sequence.

"When James Bond rescues a beautiful, reckless girl from self-destruction, he finds himself with a lead on one of the most dangerous men in the world: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, an evil genius who is conducting research that could threaten the safety of the world."

8. Jasper Fforde - Lost in a Good Book. I enjoyed The Eyre Affair, the first book in the Thursday Next series very much. It was a unique, interesting story. I've had this second book for awhile and am looking forward to finally giving it a read.

"For Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, life should be good. Riding high on a wave of celebrity following the safe return of kidnapped Jane Eyre, Thursday ties the knot with the man she loves.
But marital bliss isn't quite as it should be. It turns out her husband of one month actually drowned thirty-eight years ago, and no one but Thursday has any memory of him at all.
Someone, somewhere is responsible.
Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday heads back into fiction in search of the truth, discovering that paper politicians, lost Shakespearean manuscripts, a flurry of near-fatal coincidences and impending Armageddon are all part of a greater plan.
But whose? And why?"

9. Elizabeth Ferrars - The Cup and the Lip. I've had this since 2012 and reading it will help me try a book I've had for quite awhile. Ferrars is an English crime writer. I have previously read a couple of her other mysteries.

"There is nothing unusual about stepping out of your own front door to take a walk.
Except, possibly, in the case of the distinguished novelist Dan Braile. After all, he was not only old but very sick. And it was a wet, stormy evening.
The problems began when he didn't come back. Add to that the fact that several of his friends and family wouldn't have been sorry to see him disappear. Then add to that the claims he'd made that someone was trying to poison him...
The mystery deepens when Peter Harkness finds that one of Braile's friends has been shot dead. Deepens for all of them, that is, except the murderer himself..."

10. Kilgore Trout - Venus on a Half-Shell. This is another book I've had for a long time, over 7 years I'd say. Kilgore Trout is a pen name used by science fiction writer, Philip Jose Farmer.

"The Space Wanderer, an Earthman wearing a eye-patch, levis, and a shabby gray sweater who roams the cosmos in a Chinese spaceship...
The Space Wanderer, a man without a planet who has gained immortality from an elixir drunk during a sexual interlude with an alien queen in heat...
The Space Wanderer, an intergalactic rover whose constant companions are a dog, an owl, and a female robot programmed for, among other things, unique fleshly delights...
The Space Wanderer, a pretty nice guy whose only fault is that he asks questions that no one can answer; primarily, Why are we created only to suffer and die?"

11. Agatha Christie - The Man in the Brown Suit. I wanted to try this book because it doesn't feature either Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, rather it is about Colonel Race.

"There was a strangeness about him, the man with the bronzed face, and it repelled Anne at the same time it fascinated. She thought, sometimes, she was in love with him; she knew, always, that she was a little afraid of him.
He called himself Colonel Race and it was rumored he was Secret Service.
But for Anne a feeling persisted ... that the Colonel's interest (in a mysterious master criminal whose face was unknown) stemmed from some other motive ... deeper ... more personal ... darkly dangerous..."

12. Catherine Bush - Minus Time, a Novel. This was the debut novel by Canadian author, Catherine Bush.

"Helen's world is the ultimate survival test, where toxic-food scares, contaminated water, sweeping chemical fires, and monumental earthquakes have become indistinguishable from the collapse of personal relationships and the distance within families. What can you do when your astronaut mother orbits the earth, your father finds saving people from earthquakes more important than keeping a family together, and the media persist in manipulating your private life?"

Well, there you go, the books I hope to finish off 2017 with. We'll see how well I succeed. Now to get back to reading.... Enjoy your weekend!
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