Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Spring has Sprung... woooo hoooo!

It's been a pretty good April. The sprinkler system has been successfully installed, the missus and I have done a fair bit of yard work, enjoying the sunny break and I've even done some grass seeding and stuff like that. Still some big chores, once the fella comes around (hoping this week) to do some de-thatching of the front yard and aerating of the back, then we can get around to seeding and fertilising the whole yard and I can get up on my ladders and do a spring cleaning of the gutters and maybe this year get all the windows and siding scrubbed down. Oh I do love yard work.. ;0). Mind you, we're supposed to be in for a few days of rain. Feels like that a bit today, a cool breeze, cloudy skies. Well, I can always settle down and just read.

Speaking of which, April has been a bit slow reading-wise, but I've finished my first three books and have made a good stab at the next three. I'm currently reading the following books and enjoying them all as well.

1. Disordered Minds by Minette Walters. I've read a few of Minette Walters' mysteries; The Scold's Bridle, The Ice House, The Tinder Box and Acid Row to name a few. I quite enjoy her style. Each story stands alone, well, they have so far anyway and she focuses on the individuals, their personalities, issues and such. I'm currently enjoying Disordered Minds very much. It flows so nicely; I sit down for a quick read and find I've gone through 50 pages. This is the synopsis, "In 1970 Howard Stamp, a retarded twenty-year-old, was convicted on disputed evidence of brutally murdering his grandmother in her Dorset home. Less than three years alter he was dead, driven to suicide by self-hatred and relentless bullying by other prisoners. When anthropologist Dr Jonathan Hughes re-examines Stamp's case for a book on injustice, his research into the written evidence leads him to believe that Stamp was wrongly convicted. But is the forgotten story of one friendless young man compelling enough to persuade Jonathan to confront the real murderer? One person believes it is. George Gardener has been trying to bring Stamp's case to public attention for years and has unearthed new evidence that might exonerate him. But Gardener needs Jonathan on board if it is to be used to maximum effect... and Jonathan is too consumed by his own demons to expose a dangerous killer who may still be at large." It's an excellent story so far (I'm about 1/3 of the way through) and I like that it displays many misconceptions; I sure had mine. Excellent writer.

2. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A classic from the pen of AC Doyle, also known for his Sherlock Holmes series. The pictured book is the edition I have. I do like it when I can find the book cover of my edition (I guess I could just photograph mine, eh? I have done that before to be fair). The book was first published in 1912, the first of the Professor Challenger series. This edition was published in 1964 by John Murray as a reprint. I'm enjoying it very much. I've seen the movie before and enjoyed, but it's always good to read it in its original format. This is the synopsis, "On a high plateau in South America a group of explorer-scientists led by the famous Professor Challenger discover a huge tropical marsh surviving from prehistoric times inhabited by gigantic reptiles and the grotesque half-ape forerunners of man. In the face of fantastic dangers they capture one of the flying reptiles and bring it back to London, where it escapes and causes havoc. The Lost World was the first of the full-length novels of this kind, and its breathtaking combination of science and fiction and real characters keeps it without a rival."

3. Blind Descent by Nevada Barr. I do enjoy the Anna Pigeon series very much. I've read 8 books in the series over the past 3 or 4 years. Anna is National Park Service ranger and finds herself at different National Parks in pretty well each story and also finds herself enmeshed in some sort of mystery. I can only think of one that I didn't enjoy all that much and even that was just some minor complaints, to do with a more supernatural element. I prefer the more straight-forward mystery. I read Endangered Species (Book # 5) previously and am now half way through Book # 6. This story finds Anna in Carlsbad Caverns New Mexico, deep underground with a rescue team trying to bring out her friend Frieda who has been injured. An interesting place for a mystery you might ask? It sure seems to be. I can totally relate to Anna's feelings of claustrophobia as she works to extricate her friend, alive and well. For a further synopsis, this is the summary on the book back, "Anna Pigeon, the intrepid National Park Service ranger in Nevada Barr's superb wilderness mysteries, has had some perilous experiences in the five novels that preceded Blind Descent, but none compares with this thrilling subterranean adventure in the underground caverns of Lechuguilla, 'a monster man-eating cave; in New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns. When a fellow ranger is injured in a caving accident, Anna chokes back the willies of claustrophobia and joins the rescue team. Burrowing 800 feet below ground, she negotiates airless tunnels, gaping pits, vaulting caverns and silently flowing rivers, each hazard with a daunting name like Razor Blade Run or the Wormhole. At the end of the dangerous descent, she reaches her friend and hears her say, 'It wasn't an accident'." :0)

Newest Purchases - I went for some classics this time in my weekend visit to return some books I don't want to keep. I'm looking forward to reading them in the near future.

1. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. I've only ever read one du Maurier novel up to now, that being The House on the Strand, a novel I've enjoyed a few times. Quite a few members of my goodreads book club, the Book Addicts, have been choosing others of du Maurier's novels this year as challenge reads and have enjoyed. I found this one on Saturday so thought I should try something else by du Maurier. "Ambrose married Rachel, Countess Sangalletti in Italy and never returned home. His letters to his cousin Philip hinted that he was being poisoned, and when Philip arrive in Italy, Ambrose was dead. Rachel comes to England, and soon Philip is torn between love and suspicion. Is she the angel she seems or a scheming murderess?"

2. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. My UK book group is running through the centuries, a new century each quarter. April to June is the 18th Century, so when I saw this book, set in 1757, I thought it would be a perfect fit. The book was originally written in 1826 and is the second of five novels in the 'Leather Stockings Tales'. I have seen a movie version, with Madeline Stowe and also remember reading the Classics comic back when I was much, much younger. I'm quite looking forward to reading this. Who knows, I may decide to read the others in the series. "It is 1757. Across north-eastern America the armies of Britain and France struggle for ascendancy. Their conflict, however, overlays older struggles between nations of native Americans for possession of the same lands and between the native peoples and white colonisers. Through these layers of conflict Cooper threads a thrilling narrative, in which Cora and Alice Munro, daughters of a British commander on the front line of the colonial war, attempt to join their father. Thwarted by Magua, the sinister 'Indian runner', they find help in the persons of Hawk-eye, the white woodsman, and his companions, the Mohicans Chingachgook and Uncas, his son, the last of  his tribe."

3. The Collector by John Fowles. I've read The Magus by Mr. Fowles a few years or more ago (I hate to say it, but I don't remember it very much). A couple of years ago, TCM showed the movie version of this book, starring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar. We both were very pleasantly surprised. It was excellent, strange and weird, but excellent. When I saw the book, I had to get it, to see if it is similar to and if it is as good as the movie. "Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. A chance pools win enables him to capture the art student Miranda and keep her in the cellar of the Sussex house he has bought with his windfall. The situation is seen first from the collector's point of view: he thinks the chloroform pad no more vicious than his butterfly net, and patiently waits for the barriers of class and taste that inhibit their love to break down in the limbo of their isolation. She, the creator, desperate for her freedom, tried to be understanding but cannot banish her contempt for everything anti-life the collector stands for."

So there you have it, my mid-month update. I'm looking forward to finishing off my current reads and seeing what I might pull out of the hat next.

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