Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Song Challenge, House Renos and New Books...

Home Renos Update.

The small bedroom, view from the door.
A couple of entries ago I mentioned that we were getting some work done on one of our bedrooms that had basically become a storage room. When we first bought the house, the room was bright blue and there were little stars stuck on the ceiling that glowed in the dark. Your basic kid's room, eh?

To the left of the door
We didn't do a lot to the room. Jo painted it white. We added a new light and the windows were replaced when we did the whole house.

The 'new' new light
On Monday and Tuesday, the 'kids' were here and they installed new shelving in the closet and mounted a homemade bulletin board on the wall by the window. We just have to finish painting and then move in the furniture and it'll be Jo's new office/ craft room. More pictures to follow. As well, in the den, we did the same thing with the closet there; took out a shelving unit we'd had in there to store odds and ends and put in built - in shelves so we can make it more efficient. What we have left to do in a big way is to replace the carpet in our family room. Then it'll just be the normal small stuff.

The Missus's Music Challenge

Jo has been very happy with the number of people who've been taking part in her Facebook music challenge. It got to the point as we got near the end that she's been asked to continue it. So, with a little help from me (a very little), she's made a new list (she had borrowed the original list from a friend) and in the past couple of days we've been playing with that. It's lots of fun thinking back about songs from your childhood or younger years and how they might have affected you, or whether they brought back memories. (I'll post the list for the new challenge next entry)

To finish off this challenge, here are some songs that were picked for Days 27 - 30..

Day 27 - A Song That Breaks Your Heart. I took this to be a song that tugs at the heart and my choice was a live version of a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Hard Way. She performed it at a Country Music Awards show and was assisted by so many talented women Country musicians; new and the classics. The first time I heard it, it choked me up and it still does. Some other choices included Piece By Piece by Kelly Clarkson, lovely and emotional (Jo's pick), Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran, Bring Me Home from Les Miserables, etc.
Day 28 - A Song by an Artist whose Voice you Love.  I chose a song by an artist that I've only become familiar with in the past few years. She's been around for a long time and has a great voice; Lisa Stansfield and the song was All Around the World. Jo picked a song by another new artist for me, Australian singer, Tina Arena a her fantastic Chains. Some other choices included Stevie Wonder and Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer, Michael MacDonald and I Can Let Go Now, etc.
Day 29 - A Song You Remember from your Childhood. I chose Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows by Leslie Gore. I liked this category because we've got a bunch of people of different ages and it was interesting to see what they recalled. Jo picked Cinderella Rockefella by by Esther and Abi Ofarim. Her sis picked  Perry Como and Magic Moments. It was a neat one.
The final day was -
Day 30 - A Song that Reminds You of Yourself. I struggled with this. I was teasingly thinking of Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus, but ended with Somebody's Baby by Pat Benatar. Jo's sis picked All About the Soul by Billy Joel and Jo picked She's Always a Woman, also by Billy Joel. (I like it.. :))...

As a teaser, this is the new list that Jo made up. We've already done the first two and people are still enjoying themselves.

Currently Reading

These are the 4 books I'm currently enjoying and that I may end up finishing June off with.

Sharpe's Battle by Bernard Cornwell. This is one of my comfort series. I've enjoyed the TV adaptations and every year I try to read at least one of the books. Sharpe's Battle is the 12th book in the collection.

Sharpe is still in Portugal fighting in the Peninsula wars. This story takes place in 1811 and is centered on the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro in May. Sharpe and his men are quartered in an old Portuguese fort and attacked by an elite French unit. Sharpe is blamed for the disaster and must fight to restore his honour.

I'm enjoying so far, but that's no surprise. The books are always entertaining and fast-moving.

The Chequer Board by Nevil Shute. I enjoy Nevil Shute's writing so very much. He touches on his subjects with sympathy and tells such excellent stories.

The Chequer Board was initially published in 1947 and is set after WWII. The main character, John Turner, who had been injured during the war, discovers that he probably has a year left to live. He was injured as a plane he was in was shot down during the war, with only 4 survivors. He was being shipped back to England due to crimes he had committed while in Libya; black-marketeering was the crime.

He wants to find the other people who survived the crash to see how they have done. I'm enjoying the story very much; we've met the others so far and now we have to find them in the present.

Death of a Cad by M.C. Beaton. This is Book 2 of the Hamish Macbeth mystery series, a nice light gentle mystery series.

"When Priscilla Halburton-Smythe brings her London playwright fiancé home to Lochdubh, everyone in town is delighted.. except for love-struck Hamish Macbeth. But affairs of the heart will have to wait. Vile, boorish Capt. Bartlett, one of the guests at Priscilla's engagement party, has just been found dead during a grouse shoot - murder most fowl! Hamish must take care to smooth ruffled feathers in his hunt for the killer."

The Martian by Andy Weir. This was a popular (is that understating it?) book and a successful movie. Luckily, I think, I've never seen the movie so even though I know the premise, it's still quite fresh so far.

I'm enjoying so far. Some of my friends on Goodreads have said that it is quite technical at the beginning but that you just have to get through that and enjoy the story itself.

I haven't found the technical aspects overwhelming so far and I'm enjoying quite a bit. Basically, Mark Watney is left on Mars when a windstorm forces his fellow crewmates to evacuate. (They assume he is dead). Now Watney must find a way to survive and hope the next mission can find him. Interesting, eh?

New Purchases

I picked up a couple of new books yesterday at Nearly New Books and then, lo and behold, when I picked up the mail later in the day, an order had arrived, what a bounty! So these are the books I received.

Nearly New Books Purchases

Eye of Vengeance by Jonathon King. King is a new author for me. I've been looking for his books. This is one of a couple of standalone thrillers he's written.

"Crime reporter Nick Mullins had a knack for keeping tragedy at arm's length - until violence struck his own family. Struggling as a single father, he's back on the beat to cover the story of a convicted murderer gunned down in public by a sniper's bullet. Soon Nick realizes that the victim was the subject of one of his old crime stories. But that's not Nick's last link to the killer's cold-blooded revenge - because he and his daughter have caught the sniper's eye as well.

Rider of the Gate by C.J. Cherryh. Cherryh has been listed on previous BLog entries as a Hugo award winner (best Science Fiction story) and I've been thinking of trying her out. There were a couple of her books at the store so I thought I'd pick one up.

"A forgotten colony lost on a planet of wild beauty and unimaginable danger. A people held together by a renegade band of outcast heroes, called to their destinies by alien dreams. A world of Riders and Nighthorses, their minds linked together on the knife-edge of an abyss - for even a single Nighthorse can annihilate the human race. And now one Nighthorse has gone insane....."

Chiron Books, Wallingford, UK (one of my online bookstores.)

The Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser. Nesser is a Swedish crime writer. I've read one of his Inspector Van Veeteren mysteries, Borkmann's Point. I wanted to get the first book in the series before I tried any others.

"Teacher Janek Mitter wakes one morning unable to remember who he is. As he stumbles into the bathroom, he sees the body of a beautiful young woman floating dead in his bath. It is his wife, Eva, and she has been viciously attacked.
Even during his trial Janek has no memory of attacking his wife, nor any idea as to who could have killed her. Only when he is sentenced and locked up in an asylum for the criminally insane does he have a snatch of insight. He scribbles something in his Bible, but is murdered before the clue can be uncovered.
Chief Inspector Van Veeteren becomes convinced that something, or someone, in the dead woman's life has caused this terrible double murder. As he delves further, Eva's tragic story begins to emerge, and Van Veeteren realizes that the past never really stops haunting the present..."

Gideon's Corpse by Preston & Child. Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child have successful solo writing careers but they also work well together and have produced a number of books. I was interested in finding Relic (from the Agent Prendergast series) but so far have acquired the first two books in the Gideon Crew books instead. Gideon's Corpse is the 2nd book.

"When a top nuclear scientist turns homicidal, taking an innocent family hostage at gunpoint, Gideon Crew is called in to talk the man down. But, even though Gideon knows the man personally, the stand-off ends in an explosion of violence.
When the authorities discover the scientist's body is intensely radioactive all hell breaks loose. A plume of radiation over New York City leads to a warehouse, where it seems a nuclear bomb was assembled just hours before. Gideon finds himself charged with a desperate assignment: to track down a rogue nuclear just 10 days."

Gently with the Painters by Alan Hunter. This is the 7th book in the George Gently mystery series. I've read two so far and enjoyed both.

"When artist Shirley Johnson is murdered and her body dumped outside a provincial police headquarters, Gently is despatched from London to take over the investigation. The prime suspect appears to be the woman's husband, a former bomber pilot with a guilty secret, but the other members of the woman's art group also have strong views about her and her controversial final painting - Dark Destroyer.
With too many motives, too many suspects and too little time, George Gently must work quickly before the murderer manages to slip through his fingers."

The Blue Edge of Midnight by Jonathon King. This is the first book in King's Max Freeman thriller series. I'm looking forward to trying it.

"Max Freeman's old life ended on a night that will haunt him for ever. The night he killed a twelve-year-old child in self-defence in a Philadelphia shootout. The night he stopped being a cop. Now he lives a solitary existence on the edge of the Florida Everglades, with a conscience that gives him no rest.
Then he finds a corpse of a child beside an ancient river and Freeman's past explodes into the present. Distrusted as an outsider by the long-time residents of the Glades, and considered a suspect by the police, he is thrust into the centre of the search for a serial killer. And when another child goes missing, Freeman knows that he has no choice but to hunt down the murderer himself..."

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi. Scalzi is another Science Fiction author who I've noted as a result of my Hugo Award posts. His stories sound very interesting.

"They are the special wing of the Colonial Defence Forces, elite troops created from DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF's toughest operations. The universe is a dangerous place for humanity as three hostile races combine to halt our further expansion into space. Their linchpin is a turncoat scientist, Charles Boutin, who unfortunately knows the CDG's biggest military secrets. And to prevail against this alliance they must find out why Boutin did what he did.
Jared Dirac is meant to provide answers, a superhuman hybrid created from Boutin's DNA so as to access his electronically recorded memories. But when this attempt seems to fail, Jared is sent to the Ghost Brigades. As Jared fights for his own survival, Boutin's memories begin to surface, and with them a plan for something much worse than mankind's military defeat.
Will Jared's new memories be enough to save humanity? And will they be enough to save himself?"

Stephen Morris / Pilotage by Nevil Shute. The more I read the books of Nevil Shute, the more I enjoy his writing. I've now made it priority to acquire all of his books (the same thing I'm doing with Graham Greene's books). Stephen Morris and Pilotage were both written in 1923 but not published until 1961. Pilotage continues the story of Stephen Morris.
"Two linked novels of the pioneer days of flying. Both are thrilling and moving stories which combine tenderness, courage and a keen perception of the human heart with expert knowledge of aviation and sailing."

Well, there you go... whew... A nice afternoon outside, we're definitely enjoying the fresh breeze coming in through the windows. Next entry I'll head back to my normal subjects of late. It's also almost time for the half-year review of my reading challenges. Have a great day and enjoy a good book!

Sunday, 18 June 2017


My Dad is front row middle, we believe.
As a young man, during WWII, my Dad joined the Royal Canadian Navy. After the war, he returned to his home town of Timmins, Ontario and began working in the gold mines up there.
Such a handsome couple
He met my Mom, Edith, who lived down the road in Kirkland Lake and they were married. After my older brother, Rick and my sis, Christine, were born, my Dad decided that he needed more job security than the mines could offer so he rejoined the military, this time the Royal Canadian Air Force.
In Chatham, NB, I think. Looks like our PMQ.
He spent another 20+ years in the Air Force. We got to travel around Canada; Bagotville, Que, Chatham, NB and then back to Ottawa and North Bay, Ontario. In between we also managed 3 years in Germany, an excellent time.
My Dad and Mom retired in North Bay, Ontario, strangely this was where he started his Air Force career and he lives there still, with my sister.

We're all very proud of Dad. Along with my Mom, they raised 4 good kids (so say I) and we've had a great life.
From your kids!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Currently Reading, General Topics, the History and Science Things and the Birth Day Thing

It's been a sort of lazy day today, or at the very least, I've been feeling sort of lazy. Took Bonnie down to the vet to get her tail checked again. It's progressing nicely, the vet says it's getting better each time I take her in.

This is what it looked like back in 2003 when we first bought it
The missus started painting her 'woman's cave' today. We emptied out the closet, took down the shelves, moved out a bit of the furniture and all of the loose stuff. Jo will finish painting tomorrow, or get the main stuff done. Then on Monday, the kids show up to put new shelves in the closet and mount a display board on the wall. We'll be working on the closet in the den while they work upstairs.
This is the view, but with the old windows.
We've done some work on the room, but just basic stuff; painted it, installed new windows. But it's basically become a storage room. So it'll be nice to turn it into a usable room again.

Currently Reading

This morning I finished the sixth book in the Travis McGee mystery series by John D. MacDonald, that being Bright Orange for the Shroud. Definitely a dark story and it kept me on the edge of my seat. My review is below. I've started something I think will be a bit lighter as a replacement, Death of a Cad by M.C. Beaton. It's the 2nd book in the Hamish MacBeth mystery series. Anyway, the review for the McGee book follows -

"Bright Orange for the Shroud is the 6th book in the Travis McGee mystery series by John D. MacDonald. It surprised me that it's been 4 years since I last delved into McGee's world.
McGee is a beach bum who lives on his houseboat in Florida and to make ends meet takes cases to help people in need. In this story he is planning to take the summer off, having earned enough money from previous cases, so he can take the boat and just relax and vegetate for the summer.
His plans are upset by the sudden appearance of an acquaintance, Arthur Wilkinson. Arthur is at wit's end and doesn't know who can help him, but McGee. He married a few months back and it turns out that it was part of a scam to bilk him of his inheritance. Arthur is beaten physically, mentally and spiritually by this encounter. With the assistance of Chooke, a dancer who had previously dated Arthur, McGee agrees to try and help. While Chooke works to build up Arthur's spirit again, they set off to try and get Arthur's money back.
That's the basic story, but it has an edgy darkness to it. Arthur is a decent guy, who has had his spirit broken by his 'wife', a malicious, wicked gold digger and his body broken by a swamp dweller, Boone Waxwell, who partners with the 'wife', Wilma. Other people were involved in the scam but Boone becomes the focus and he is someone you don't ever want to meet.
McGee's plan to recover the money is not without danger and the story begins to get under your skin, in a creepy, dangerous way. I'm trying to remember the other McGee stories I've read so far, but I think that this one might have been the darkest, or at the very least, right up there.
The story is a page turner, the characters; McGee, Chooke and Arthur are all well-crafted and they are people who you don't want anything bad to happen to. Excellent story and I look forward to the 7th instalment. (4 stars)"

The Missus's Music Challenge

Today I'll look back at the entries for Days 23 - 26.

Day 23 - Name a song that Everybody Should Listen to. I chose Hello Birmingham by Ani Di Franco. Jo's sis, Sue, chose James by Billy Joel, Jo picked Age of Reason by John Farnham. A couple of other choices included Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone and Symphony by Clean Bandit.

Day 24 - Song by a Band or Group you Wish were still Together. I chose Living in the Past by Jethro Tull. Other selections included Selling England by the Pound by Genesis, He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by The Hollies, and Jo's choice, Kisses of Fire by Abba.

Day 25 - A Song by an Artist no Longer Living. I chose Billy's Blues by Laura Nyro. Other choices included The Arms of Orion by Prince, Jesus Was a Cross Maker by Judee Sill (picked by Jo), Let The Music Play by Barry White, etc.

And finally, Day 26 - A Song that Makes you Want to Fall in Love. I chose Passionate Kisses by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Other selections included Close To You by The Carpenters, You Give Me Something by James Morrison, In Demand by Texas (Jo's selection), etc.

Today's selection is a Song that Breaks Your Heart. You'll have to wait until next post for that one. :)

Great Historical Events
This excerpt will concern July 4th, 1776.


July 4. - The American colonies openly declared their independence and freedom from British sovereignty
Eleven of the thirteen States establish a second branch of Legislature, calling it a Senate.
The States unitedly agree in appointing for each a Governor, or head of each State.
The States agreed in deriving their powers of government from the people' and in no case was the smallest title or power to be exercised from hereditary right.
All hereditary privileges and religious establishments were declared abolished, thereby destroying the alliance between Church and State (Ed. Note - Oh my, that is funny. You'd never know it these days in the US of A), and leveling all social distinctions."

Science of Common Things (Today's excerpt from Prof L.G. Gorton)

"Why is it frequently warmer when a frost sets in? Because when a liquid is changed to a solid heat is given out. Why is it sometimes colder when a thaw sets in? Because when a substance changes from a solid to a liquid it takes up heat. How is ice cream frozen? (Ed. Note - Now who doesn't want to know that?) By placing salt on pounded ice. The salt melts the ice, and in melting the heat is taken from the cream."

Well, there you go.. what will the good Professor discuss the next time you ask? Wait and see.

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1989

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1989

Listen to your Heart by Roxette.  Roxette is a Swedish rock duo who formed in 1986. They had 4 US #1's and Listen to your Heart was their second.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1989

That's What I Like by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers. Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers were an English novelty pop act in the 1980's and early 90's. They had 3 UK #1 singles, with That's What I Like being the second.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1989

The Dark Half by Stephen King. I think this was around the time I started to lose interest in Stephen King. I had been a real fanatic up to then. I remember starting this book but for the life of me, I don't remember finishing it. This was around the time that he also put out Rose Madder, Gerald's Game, Dolores Claiborne, etc and they didn't grab me like his earlier books.

The Dark Half, as far as I recall is about a writer who begins seeing some sort of evil twin. I think I'll let you look it up as even now I'm losing interest.. ;0)

It was turned into a movie as well, starring Timothy Hutton as the main character.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1989

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler. I can't say I've ever read anything by Anne Tyler although I have looked at her books on occasion. Breathing Lessons is her 11th novel, of 21 so there is lots to choose from.

Breathing Lessons tells the tale of the ordinary marriage of Ira and Maggie Moran as they travel from Baltimore to attend a funeral and back again in one day.. (Well, maybe I won't look up her books....)

It was turned into a TV movie starring James Garner and Joanne Woodward and also was adapted into a stage play.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1989

Camilo Jose Cela (Spain).  Camilo Jose Cela lived from 1916 - 2002 and was a Spanish novelist, short story writer and essayist. He was awarded his Nobel Laureate 'for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability.'

Hugo Award Winner 1989

Cyteen by CJ Cherryh. This was Cherryh's second Hugo Award, the first being for 1982's Down Below Station. The story is set in her Alliance - Union universe and in the story the murder of a major Union politician and scientist has major repercussions.

I have looked at Cherryh's books many times and keep putting her stories back on the shelf. I will definitely have to try one of her stories.

Edgar Award Winner 1989

A Cold Red Sunrise by Stuart Kaminsky. I have read other books by Kaminsky and enjoyed. A Cold Red Sunrise is the 5th book in a series I've not yet tried, that of Porfiry Rostnikov. Rostnikov is sent to investigate the murder of a Commissar under the watchful eye of the Kremlin.

It does sound a bit like an Arcady Renko mystery. Maybe I'll have to check it out.

Man Booker Prize Winner 1989

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I did have this book on my shelf for awhile but I kept getting mixed reviews of it and I've so many to read that I ended up trading it in, unread.

It is a story by British writer Kazuo Ishiguro and tells the story of a butler, Stephen, recalling his life in the form of a diary.

The book was turned into a movie as well, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and was nominated for 8 Academy Awards.

So there you go, a late entry today. Enjoy your Sunday!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

General Discussion, the Music Challenge, Great Historical Events & the Birth Day Thing.

🙉 I started to watch some Political stuff from the US of A today, specifically the testimony of the Attorney General before the Senate Committee and after a few minutes of listening to dissembling and basic lies, I decided instead to take advantage of the lovely weather and mow the lawn. Feeling much better for all that now, even though I did catch the last few questions. I'm sure the current resident of the White House will be tweeting in the early morning hours crowing about how the testimony exonerates him completely... lies lies lies

So let's see, how about more interesting subject matter.

The Missus's Music Challenge

Today we look at Days 21 and 22.

Day 21 - A Song with a Person's Name in the Title. Jo advised people not to pick Billy Don't Be a Hero by The Poppy Family due to the fact that I've always hated the song... *g*. Having said that, my choice was a song from my childhood, Norman by Sue Thompson. Jo chose one of my favourite songs, Peg by Steely Dan, excellent song by an excellent group. Other choices included Ruby by Kenny Rogers, Jane by Jefferson Starship, Sara Smile by Hall & Oates, etc.

Day 22 - A Song that Motivates You. Many positive, upbeat songs for this category. I picked a song that Jo had introduced me to, Absolutely Everybody by Vanessa Amorosi. Jo picked Live Like We're Dying by The Script. Her sister, Sue, picked Don't Give Up by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. A couple of other selections were Don't Stop Me Now by Queen and You're the Voice by John Farnham.

Day 23 will be the next entry.

Great Historical Events

Today's entry starts in 1776.

"1776. Col. St. Clair marched, with a regiment of soldiers, from Pennsylvania to Canada during the extreme cold of a northern winter. (Ed. Note - yup, that can be cold.)
March 4. - Washington fortifies and takes possession of Dorchester Heights.
March 17. - The British evacuated Boston with 7,000 men, leaving their barracks standing, and stores to the amount of 30,000 pds.
June 7. - Richard Henry Lee made the first motion in Congress for declaring the colonies free."

(I'm going to stop there for today because the next entry starts on July 4th. Anybody guess what takes place on that date? I think even the current resident of the White House might know the answer to this skill-testing question.)... 👀

Science of Common Things (Today's entry from Prof. L.G. Gorton)

"Is air a good conductor of heat? No. (Ed. Note. Whyyyyy!!!) Why is a piece of ice longer in melting when wrapped in flannel? Because the flannel is a poor conductor, and keeps the heat from reaching the ice. Why do iron particles feel very cold in winter? Because iron is a good conductor, and takes the heat from the hand rapidly. Why is it painful to touch the tongue to a very cold iron? Because the heat is taken from the tongue so rapidly the tongue becomes frozen. (Ed. Note. Something I wish I'd read before I tried that on a cold railing at our home in Bagotville one winter. Of course, I was only five years old or so.  *sigh*)

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1988

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1988

Kokomo by The Beach Boys. Great song by a great band. I saw them in Ottawa in the '90s and they were still excellent. What a great show! The Beach Boys formed in 1961, originally featuring the Wilson brothers, Carl, Brian and Dennis, with Mike Love and Al Jardine. Over their career the group released 29 studio albums and 71 singles. Kokomo was their only US #1 in the 80s. It was written by John Phillips, Mike Love, Scott McKenzie and Terry Melcher.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1988

Orinoco Flow by Enya. It may be elevator music but it's still a great song. She has a great voice and it becomes another instrument for the song. Enya is an Irish singer who started out in her families band, Clannad. She left in 1982 to pursue a solo career. Orinoco Flow was her second solo single and first #1 song. She wrote it along with Rona Ryan.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1988

Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice. I did read this book long ago. I read the first three books in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles; Interview with a Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned, but after that I was kind of tired of her heavy style. I think I read one more of her books, The Body Thief and then I'd pretty well had it with her stories.

As I recall, and remember this was a few years back, as much as there was some action, there was also so much heavy description and the stories just got boring after awhile. I think it's probably worthwhile for someone to try the first book and judge for themselves. They do present an interesting portrait of the vampire story.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1988

Beloved by Toni Morrison. I've heard of it of course, but I've not been tempted to read. I think it's one of those books (and I say it not having read the book) that is considered a 'must read' piece of literature. A New York Times survey of writers and literary critics listed it as the best work of American fiction from 1981 - 2006.

The story is set after the Civil War and tells the story of an escaped slave who escaped from Kentucky to Ohio in 1856. The book was also turned into a movie in 1988, starring Oprah Winfrey.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1988

Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt). Naguib Mahfouz was an Egyptian novelist who lived from 1911 - 2006 and is one of the first Arabic writers to explore existentialism. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature as a writer 'who, through works rich in nuance - now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous - has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind'.

Hugo Award Winner 1988

The Uplift War by David Brin. In 1984, Brin won the Hugo for the Startide Rising, the 2nd book in the Earthclan series. The Uplift War is the third book in the series. I enjoyed this series very much. The different species from across the universe, the struggle of the Earthclan, humans, dolphins and apes to survive in this universe was so fascinating. I can't recommend the series more. I enjoyed every book immensely. The characters were all neat, the stories page turners. I think it's probably too hard to describe in a few words, but basically, the humans are trying to protect a planet,Garth, from another alien race, the Gubru.

The Edgar Award Winner 1988

Old Bones by Aaron Elkins. This is another book I've never read before. It is the 4th book in the Gideon Oliver mysteries. Aaron Elkins is an American mystery writer best known for his mystery series featuring forensic anthropologist, Gideon Oliver, aka 'the skeleton doctor.' He also wrote a few other series; Chris Norgren, Lee Ofsted, Alix London, and standalone novels.

There are 18 books in the Gideon Oliver series, starting in 1982, with the most recent published in 2016. (I think I might be checking out this series.)

Man Booker Prize Winner 1988

Oscar and Luanda by Peter Carey. Peter Carey is an Australian author who is one of only 4 authors to have one the Booker Prize twice. He has been writing since 1981 and his most recent book, Amnesia, came out in 2014.

Oscar and Lucinda tells the story of Oscar, an Anglican priest, and Lucinda, an Australian heiress who buys a glass factory.

In 1997, a film version was released, directed by Gillian Anderson and starring Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Currently Reading, the Song Challenge, Great Historical Events and the Birth Day Thing

Clyde & Bonnie at the ready
So let's see, how are the dogs doing, you ask? Clyde's foot is much better. He's not limping and the vet gave us seems to have even knocked off the little skin tag that was between his two twos. Bonnie is pretty much back to her normal self. She still has a bandage on her tail as it's still not totally healed, but all in all, she's eating normally, going for her normal walks and even playing around with Clyde. So all seems to be pretty good.

The Toxic President?  Nope, I'm going to follow my missus's and brother's advice and not say anything as it just makes me 'SO MAD!!' We'll leave it at that.. :)

Currently Reading. I've completed 4 books so far in Jun and at the moment, I'm reading these books

1. To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey. This is from my 2nd 12 + 4 challenge. It's one of Josephine Tey's Inspector Grant mysteries, written originally in 1950.

"The sudden disappearance of a young American photographer, from the little village of Salcott St Mary, provides Inspector Alan Grant with one of his most diverting cases.
There are clues, but they lead nowhere - until Grant's flair for the unusual leads him to a brilliant and totally unexpected solution..."

2. Classics of the Macabre by Daphne du Maurier. I bought this back in January partly because I really liked the cover and also because it contained her, The Birds, the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's movie. I had already read one of the stories in another collection of her short stories, The Blue Lenses, but the others are all new for me.

So far I've read; Don't Look Now, The Apple Tree and The Birds, all excellent. Remaining are the final two stories, The Alibi and Not After Midnight. They haven't been horrifying, just creepy and neat.

3. Gently Does It by Alan Hunter. This is for my Cops challenge. It is the first book in the Inspector George Gently mystery series.

"For most people, that would easily qualify as the holiday from hell. For George Gently, it is a case of business as usual. The Chief Inspector's quiet Easter break in Norchester is rudely interrupted with a local timber merchant is found dead. His son, with whom he had been seen arguing, immediately becomes the prime suspect, although Gently is far from convinced of his guilt.

Norchester City Police gratefully accept Gently's offer to help investigate the murder, but he soon clashes with Inspector Hansom, the officer in charge of the case. Hansom's idea of conclusive evidence appals Gently almost as much as Gently's thorough, detailed, methodical style of investigation exasperates Hansom, who considers the murder to be a straightforward affair.

Locking horns with the local law is a distraction Gently can do without when he's on the trail of a killer."

4. Bright Orange for the Shroud by John D. MacDonald. This book is for my Sleuth's challenge. It's the 6th book in the Travis McGee mystery series.

"The fragile-looking blonde was like a black widow spider feeding on her mate till he was broke and drained dry, a walking zombie stumbling aboard the celebrated houseboat The Busted Flush. And there lolls Travis McGee, that free-lance knight in slightly tarnished armor whose well-known nose for a dollar twitches at the money smell. This time the scent leads by some bizarre routes to a vicious nest of confidence artists and doublecrossers who inhabit some of those baleful parts of Florida that tourists never see..."

The Missus's Music Challenge

It's obviously been a few days since my last post as we are now on Day 21. Let's take a look at Day's 17 thru 20.

Day 17 - A Song that Features Your Favourite Artist. Amongst a multitude of possibilities, I went with Canada's Sara McLachlan with Possession. Other artists/ songs chosen included; Stevie Wonder and Ribbon in the Sky, Luther Vandross and If Only for One (the sis-in-law), Phil Collins and Take Me Home (the missus), The Robert Cray Band and Right Next Door, etc.

Day 18 - A Song from the Year You Were Born. I was born in 1955 so as I searched through the various songs that were popular then, I came up with The Four Aces and Love is a Many Splendored Thing. The missus chose Petulia Clark and Downtown (an old favourite of mine). Other selections included The Supremes and Stop in the Name of Love, Bill Haley and His Comets and Rock Around the Clock, etc.

Day 19 - A Song Which Makes You Think About Life. I could have picked a few songs by Harry Chapin for this category. I think this whole thing about the NRA and the blind-sightedness of so many people about gun control made me especially think about his Sniper, a scary, profound, angry song. Other choices included Sarah McLachlan and World on Fire (from the missus, another favourite of mine), The Clash and Should I Stay of Should I Go, R.E.M. and Everybody Hurts, etc.

Day 20 - A Song that Reminds you of Your Mom. This is especially profound for me today as my Mom passed away on 11 Jun 2011. I couldn't think of a specific song that my Mom loved but I did remember how much she enjoyed this young German boy that we heard on the radio when my Dad was stationed in Germany. I'm sure she had a few of his records. The song is by Heintje and Heidschi bumbeidschi. Other song choices included Perry Como and Aubrey, Judy Garland and Daisy, Daisy (the missus), Anthony Newly and Do You Mind, etc. This was a very poignant category for everybody taking part.

Today's category has been Songs with a Person's Name in the Title. I'll do that one next post.

Great Historical Events

We are now at July 12, 1775 as things heat up!

"July 12. - Gen. Washington took command of the American Army at Cambridge. The combined forces numbered but 14,000 men, unacquainted with military discipline, and destitute of everything which renders an army formidable.
General Montgomery, with a command of 1,000 men, attacks St. Johns, Canada, capturing the town and a large number of cannon, field pieces, and small arms, taking 600 prisoners.
At the same time Col Ethan Allen was taken prisoner near Montreal. he was loaded with irons, and sent in that condition to England.
Col Benedict Arnold, with 1,000 men, succeeded in reaching Quebec by traversing the wilderness of Northern Maine and Canada, and sailing down the St. Lawrence.
A navy of 13 vessels ordered by Congress.
Congress ordered the issuing of $5,000,000, paper money.
Benjamin Franklin appointed first Postmaster-General. (Ed. Note. As an aside, last night we watched the Seinfeld episode where Wilfred Brimley plays the Postmaster-General... hilarious)"

We move on to 1776 with the next entry. Now onto the Science of Common Things by Prof. L.G. Gorton.

"What is radiation of heat? The propagation of heat by ether. (Ed. Note - Huh?) Can heat be reflected? It can. What is absorption of heat? The taking off of heat by the body to which the heat is transmitted. (Ed. Note - Yup, now I know why I didn't like science.. lol) Why do some articles feel colder than others, when all are of the same temperature? Because, being better conductors, they take away the heat of the hand more rapidly. Which are the better conductors, dense or porous substances? The dense ones, generally. (Ed. Note - President 45 must be a darned good conductor then.. Oops. I thought I wasn't going to bring him up.)

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1987

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1987

I Think We're Alone Now by Tiffany. Tiffany was an American pop singer. I Think We're Alone Now was probably her biggest hit, although she was also #1 in the US with her second single Could've Been.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1987

You Win Again by The Bee Gees. Off the top of my head, I don't recognise the title of this Bee Gees' song. Definitely one of the most successful pop acts ever. You Win Again was from their album, E.S.P. It never hit the charts in Canada, so maybe that's why it is unfamiliar to me. From what I'm reading it marked the start of their comeback. Maybe you recognise it.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1987

Kaleidoscope by Danielle Steel. Danielle Steel was an author that my mother enjoyed reading, I think. Steel is currently the best - selling author of all time and the 4th best fiction author of all time, with over 800 million books sold.
At least 25 of her books have been made into movies including Kaleidoscope which was turned into a movie in 1990, starring Jaclyn Smith.
"The story revolves around three sisters born to a French mother and an American GI father. The father kills the mother and then commits suicide. The story features the events of each girl's life. Separated after the death of their parents, each one is raised quite differently. They are later reunited by an estranged, family friend: the lawyer who placed them in the homes where they spent their childhoods. They later find out that he is part of the reason their father killed their mother."

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1987

A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor. Not a book with which I am familiar. It tells the story of Phillip Carver, a New York editor who is summoned back to Memphis by his two sisters to help them prevent his father's marriage to a younger woman.

Peter Taylor lived from 1917 - 1994 and wrote plays, short stories and novels.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1987

Joseph Brodsky (United States). Joseph Brodsky was born in Leningrad in 1940 and expelled from the USSR in 1972, settling in the US. He was a poet and essayist who was awarded his Nobel Laureate 'for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity". He was appointed United States Poet Laureate in 1991 and died in 1996.

Hugo Award Winner 1987

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. This is the 2nd year in a row that Card won the Hugo award. Speaker for the Dead is the sequel to Ender's Game, the 2nd book in his Ender's Game series.

"In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told of the true story of the Bugger War.

Now long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens’ ways are strange and frightening…again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery…and the truth."

Edgar Award Winner 1987

A Dark Adopted Eye by Barbara Vine. This was written by Ruth Rendell under her pseudonym of Barbara Vine. It is a psychological thriller that was also turned into a TV movie by the BBC in 1994, starring Helena Bonham Carter, Celia Imrie and Sophie Ward.

"Largely set during World War II, the story is told by Faith Severn, who at the prompting of a true-crime writer recounts her memories of her aunt, the prim, fastidious, and snobbish Vera Hillyard. Vera's life is initially centred on her beautiful younger sister, Eden, even to the exclusion of her own son, Francis, with whom she has a poor relationship. Later, Vera has a second son, Jamie, to whom she is intensely devoted, while Eden marries the scion of a wealthy family.
When Eden is unable to have children with her husband, she begins to demand custody of Jamie, who she claims is being poorly raised by Vera. To the bewilderment and shock of the rest of the family, the custody battle escalates to violent levels, leading to tragedy and a series of disturbing revelations."

Man Booker Prize Winner 1987

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. Penelope Lively is a British writer who was born in Cairo in 1933. She writes both children's and adult fiction. Moon Tiger spans the period before, during and after WWII. It begins as the story of a woman who, on her deathbed, decides to write a history of the world, and develops into a story of love, incest and the desire to be recognised as an independent free thinking woman of the time.

Well, there you go, wordy as always. I hope you enjoyed. Take care and have a safe week.
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