Saturday, 11 January 2014

Odds and Sods for a Rainy Saturday

It's a rainy Saturday and the missus and I are relaxing with the puppies, watching various sporting activities on the TV; Premiership footie earlier (Go Everton!!), Skins curling match at the moment, then the Canadian National Figure Skating Championships afterwards. A nice way to spend a gloomy, breezy Saturday.

So let's see, what to talk about today? Let's start with a book update. I finally managed to finish off my first two books of 2014. I don't think I've been as dedicated to my reading, what with enjoying my time with Jo, work, blogging, playing with the dogs, etc, but I've enjoyed the two books I've read so far.

Reading Update

1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (Published in 1926). This was the first of two Agatha Christie selections I plan to start the year with. It features renowned detective Hercule Poirot. Having read this, I regret not having read more Agatha Christie novels in the past. I've only barely touched the bases with her writing. She has such a lovely style, the journey of getting to the solution is more important than the actual solution, itself. This was a most enjoyable story, the characters were all interesting, the plot diverting and the solution was a pleasant surprise. Even for Agatha Christie, I found the solution surprising and unexpected. Loved her style and the story. (4 stars)

2. In the Woods by Tana French (published in 2007). This was the first novel by Irish writer, Tana French, and, of course, my first experience with her writing. I enjoyed this story very much, for its intelligence and thoughtful approach to an interesting murder mystery. At times I wondered if the story was somewhat too long, over 500 pages, but ultimately, I found it satisfying and was glad I'd read it. There are two mysteries at play in this book, one that took place 20 years prior and the current murder. Police detective, Rob Ryan, was one of three children involved in the 'abduction/ murder' of two of the children 20 years ago, and, now as a detective, is called to solve the murder of a teenage girl in the same location. He and his partner, Cassie Maddox investigate the current murder and try to tie into the earlier crime, of which Rob has no memories. The case is tangled, wanders through many possible solutions; the investigation is interesting in itself, the development of the characters proceeds nicely and the ultimate solution is somewhat surprising (I had an idea about part of it.). Excellent story and highly recommended (4 stars)

Currently Reading

1. N or M? by Agatha Christie. (published in 1941). This is my second Agatha Christie and features intrepid couple, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, ex spies for the British government. Tommy and Tuppence have appeared in a couple of the BBC Agatha Christie series, mainly as part of the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot enterprises. In this story, the couple are trying to get the British government to let them help in anyway possible, the British war effort. They are finding their willingness to serve thwarted due to their middle-agedness. But their old boss asks them to go to the Sans Souci hotel on the coast and investigate, undercover, the possibility of German spies working there. I'm enjoying so far, the two are intelligent and dedicated. Liking this story.

2. Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith (published in 1957). I just started this book this morning. This is the synopsis. "In the small town of Little Wesley, intellectual publisher Victor Van Allen decides to discourage his wife Melinda’s many lovers by hinting to them that he may have killed her previous beau, Malcolm McRae. However, the game turns sour when strangers begin to grow wary of him, thus denting his social esteem and also blurring the line between fiction and reality; after a while, Vic wonders if he may really have blood on his hands."

Thoughts on Music

I was updating my usb yesterday while the missus was out. (as an aside, it's been one of the most successful things we've ever purchased. I love plugging it in to the car and just letting the music flow, either mine or Jo's). I've got about 550 songs on it so it takes awhile to listen to all of the songs. There are a few that I always look forward to hearing, no matter how many times they come; I never delete them when I update my song list. So, here I am, looking for an excuse for a Top Ten List, this is my list of ten of my favourite usb selections, in no particular order (if you click on the song title, it should take you to the song) -

1. Belinda Carlisle - Sun I do like Belinda Carlisle's music, whether with The Gogos or as a solo artist. This was her last release as a single, released in 2013. I like the song and the lyrics.

2. Lisa Stansfield - Face Up There had to be a Lisa Stansfield song in my list as she's been one of my favourite artists this past few years. Love her voice, the music, everything about her music. This song was one of the songs on her Face Up album from 2001.

3. Sarah Harmer - Almost Sarah Harmer is a Canadian singer-songwriter and this song came out in 2004. It's got an interesting instrumental and I like the way the song flows. It suits her voice to a tee. Excellent song.

4. Thin Lizzy - Dancing in the Moonlight I heard this song for the first time in 2013 even though it came out in 1977. My only real experience with Thin Lizzy music was their 1976 song, The Boys are Back in Town, a great driving song. But this was so different, it's really caught my attention and I like the music, the jazzy/ rock style. Excellent song.

5. The Stranglers - Golden Brown - This song came out in 1982 and was one of those I had not heard until recently. The keyboard is fantastic and the beat grabs me. Lovely song.

6. The Veronicas - This Love The first song I heard by the Veronicas was Untouched and I loved it, especially the orchestration, it was very powerful. Since then they've become one of my favourite groups, they have such a versatile style. This song is such a lovely ballad. The two sisters are very talented.

7. Thea Gilmore - Love Came Looking for Me I heard Thea Gilmore first in 2013 and fell in love with her voice, her lyrics, her music. Beautiful song.

8. Siouxsie and the Banshees - Dear Prudence One of those groups I had heard of but never checked out back in the '70's, but discovered in the past few years. Such a unique sound and I really like the way this song soars.

9. Shakespears Sister - Stay Love how this song builds, quite simple at first, but then the voice just soars as does the music.. love it.

10. The Source, with Candi Staton - You've Got the Love A super combination of a great DJ and a fantastic singer. Love this song.

So those are my Top Ten for the moment. I'll finish off with a couple of new songs for me, the start of my 2014 list. :0)

1. Pharrell Williams - Happy Pure joyousness. Finger - snapping good.

2. Bebe Black - I'll Wait  Another great voice

Have a great January!

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