Sunday, 31 August 2014

August 2014 Review

Ah well, the end of another month and the time to review my past month's reading.  For August I finished 11 books. It brings my total for the year to 70 out of my Goodread's challenge total of 90. That leaves me 20 books or 5 per month; a rate I should definitely be able to complete. Of my 11 books in August, these are my basic stats -

Male authors - 5
Female authors - 6

Science Fiction - 1
Horror (also short story) - 1
Mystery - 6
Classic (Non-Fiction) - 1
Biography - 2

3 star - 5
4 star - 6

There were no really outstanding reads this past month. I do wonder if maybe I'm being too harsh with my ratings as the year goes on, but I don't think so. If I look over the whole year, this has been my ratings -

2 star - 1
3 star - 31
4 star - 32
5 star - 6

(seems pretty average)

Favourite Book

Overall, my favourite book of the month was my introduction to Lord Peter Wimsey, the first in the series by Dorothy L. Sayers. It took me a few minutes to get into it, but the story moved along very nicely and was quite thoughtful and well-written. This was my review -

"I was very pleasantly surprised by my introduction to the world of Lord Peter Wimsey. I was expecting a cozy-type mystery, but it was so much more than that. Peter Wimsey is a detective, works at it sort of in his spare time, although he has solved some important cases, from some of the comments made during this first of the Wimsey mysteries. But he is much more than that; he is an officer who fought in WWI and suffers from a sort of post - traumatic stress disorder, which crops up when he is physically and mentally tired from working cases. He has doubts about what he does, whether he should make this a past-time when there is the potential for affecting people's lives with his investigations. The story, itself, grew on me as I delved deeper into it. I liked many of the characters; his butler, ex-Sgt Bunter, his wonderful, common-sense mother and Scotland Yard inspector and friend, Parker. I enjoyed this very much and look forward to the next one, which is next on my list; Clouds of Witness. It's always a nice surprise when a book exceeds your expectations."

I am currently enjoying the second in the series very much. Excellent series so far.

So there you have my August summary. I'll do a more detailed review of the year at the end of September as it will be the 3/4 point. Enjoy September!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Looking ahead for the rest of 2014 plus general stuff

Today is Jo and my 12th wedding anniversary. She's downtown today, but we had a nice morning and will spend the evening relaxing, watching Doctor Who and a Kate Bush special that we found on line. I got Jo the painting above. I found a lady in Victoria who paints animals and sent her pictures of Nikki and Norman, our previous dogs and of Bonnie and Clyde, our current puppies and this is what she cam up with. I thought it was perfect. Clyde and Bonnie on the outside and Nikki and Norman in the middle.. Lovely, eh?

Looking at books, I've realised that we're 2/3rds of the way through 2014 so I've been thinking a bit about some of the books I'll read for the next four months.

Currently Reading

1. Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers - This is the second Lord Peter Wimsey book. I mentioned it in my last Blog as I tried to sort out some of my future Challenge books; my Bed-time reads. I'm enjoying the Peter Wimsey books very much so far and if this one continues to grab my attention, then I'll be getting all the rest of the books in the series, I'm sure. This is the synopsis of this book "The Duke of Denver, accused of murder, stands trial for his life in the House of Lords. Naturally, his brother Lord Peter Wimsey is investigating the crime - this is a family affair. The murder took place at the duke's hunting lodge and Lord Peter's sister was engaged to marry the dead man. But why does the duke refuse to co-operate with the investigation? Can he really be guilty, or is he covering up for someone?" I'm about 40 pages into the story so far and enjoying so very much.

2. The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning - This is the fifth and final Cliff Janeway mystery, a favourite series of mine. I like the fact that Janeway is a book seller and hunter and that hunting for old books features in his mysteries. And the stories are just very well-written and interesting to read. The synopsis "When wealthy horse trainer H.R. Geiger dies, Denver bookman Cliff Janeway encounters the legacy of the man's wife, Candice, a true bookwoman who left behind an assortment of rare first-edition children's books. Sent to assess the collection, Janeway soon finds that several titles are missing, replaced by cheap reprints - while other hugely expensive pieces remain. Why would a thief take one priceless book and leave an equally valuable volume on the shelf? Suspecting foul play, Janeway follows the trail of Candice's shadowy past to California's Golden Gate and Santa Anita racetracks, where he signs on as a racehorse hot walker. Eavesdropping on the chatter among the hands, he doesn't like what he hears. And when he goes to the house where Candice died to look for answers, Janeway finds much more than he bargained for."

3. Murder on Gramercy Park by Victoria Thompson - This is the third in the Gaslight mystery series, set in New York City. I'm reading this book as part of my alphabetical Mystery author's challenge, in fact, I put that challenge aside until this book arrived in the mail on Friday. The first two books in the series were both excellent, the second better than the first so I'm hoping the trend continues with this book. I'm enjoying the introduction so far. "At a summons from Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy, Sarah Brandt arrives at the elegant home of famed magnetic healer Edmund Blackwell to find his wife in labour - and the good doctor dead from an apparent suicide. Only Malloy sees what no one else wants to: that Blackwell was murdered in his own home. After a successful delivery, the Blackwell baby falls mysteriously ill. Relying on her nurses' training and woman's intuition, Sarah discovers the source of the baby's sickness - and discovers a scandal that leads Malloy's investigation down a gilded path paved with greed, deception and desire.. "

So there you have the first three books of the rest of the year. I figure I can read at a minimum 7 books per month, so a total of 28. I have some challenge to finish off. I have two more books left in my 12 + 4 Reading Group challenge; My Week With Marilyn/ The Prince, the Showgirl and Me by Colin Clark and A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester. I plan to finish those before the end of the year. As well, my September genre challenge is Westerns and I plan to satisfy that challenge with Colorado by Louis Bromfield, a book that's been on my shelf for ages. Not even sure where we got it; I think as a book in a box of books we bought at a local auction a few years back. So that's six books and if I manage to read the books I mentioned in my previous Blog for my Bed-time table challenge, that will be maybe another 14 books; 20. That leaves me with at least another 8 books. I can satisfy my Alphabetical Mystery Author's challenge with another 4 books; 2 from the beginning of the alphabet and two from the end. Let's see, I'm into the J's at the beginning of the alphabet, so a P.D. James would be next, probably  Original Sin, the 9th in the Inspector Adam Dalgleish series and then the first in Peter James' Inspector Grace series, Dead Simple. At the end of the alphabet, I'm in the T's, so working back, I'll start with a book by Josephine Tey, maybe The Franchise Affair and then Andrew Taylor's An America Boy or The Scent of Death. I need 20 books to finish my Goodread's challenge of 90 books this year. I'm sure I'll make that challenge.

It's been a great reading year so far and a great year overall. In November or December, I'll start looking at 2015.. Oh the excitement!!

For now, off to walk the dogs. The much - needed rain has stopped and there is a nice cool breeze.

Enjoy your weekend. I'll try and sum up my August reading sometime this weekend.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Statistics and 2014 Challenges

I've spent an hour climbing up and down a ladder cleaning out the gutters on the second floor; well, at least the one at the back of the house. So half the house is done now, will finish the rest over the long weekend, weather permitting. The dogs have had their walk and both are tuckered and resting on the floor beside my chair, so I think I'll write up a quick Blog entry before I head downtown. I spent an hour this morning going through my To-Be-Read (TBR) book list in Goodreads and thought I'd provide some info on genres, numbers, etc that are there. According to my goodreads page, I've got 580 books on my TBR shelves. As a point of fact, when I add a book to my TBR list, it actually resides on one of the book shelves in the house. So I've got a good 6 years worth of reading available; shouldn't need a kindle or such for awhile then.. Woo hoooo!

Now the numbers which follow might not add up to 580, but it gives a general picture of the types of books I've got on my shelves. Firstly, I've got approx. 330 books written by male authors and 250 by female authors, so a fairly equal representation. Now next, let's look at genres. You'll note that the majority are mysteries. I didn't break down by sub-genres, mystery, thriller, spy, etc but I will say there is a fair mix of those sub-genres. So let's see what type of mix I've got -

Mystery - 385
Humour - 10
Fantasy - 20
Classic - 35
SciFi - 20
Fiction - 40
Horror - 10
Poetry - 5
Travel - 5
War - 10
Biography - 15
History - 5
Adventure - 15
Sport - 5

I guess that's a fair mix. In my next Blog it'll be 2/3 of the way through the year.. (Wow! Already??) I'll provide a bit of a look at how my reading has been going on this year and maybe look ahead to the next 4 months. But for now, I want to take a look at one of my challenges for 2014; my Bed-Time Authors challenge. Basically these are the books that I choose as my bed-time reading. The plan this year was to read two books by each author in order to try and make a dent in some of the many series that I've got lining the book shelves. So far, I've completed 26 books, or 13 different authors:

1. Agatha Christie - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (4 stars) and N or M? (4 stars)
2. Jefferson Bass - Carved in Bone (3 stars) and Flesh and Bone (3 stars)
3. Margery Allingham - Death of a Ghost (3 stars) and Dancers in Mourning (3 stars)
4. Lee Child - Killing Floor (3.5 stars) and Die Trying (3.5 stars)
5. Kate Ellis - Playing with Bones (4 stars) and Seeking the Dead (4 stars)
6. Nevada Barr - Endangered Species (3 stars) and Blind Descent (3 stars)
7. Victoria Thompson - Murder on Astor Place (3 stars) and Murder on St. Mark's Place (4 stars)
8. Peter O'Donnell - Sabre-Tooth (3 stars) and I, Lucifer (3 stars)
9. Karen Irving - Pluto Rising (3.5 stars) and Mars Eclipsed (4 stars)
10. R.D. Wingfield - Night Frost (4 stars) and Hard Frost (4 stars)
11. John P. Marquand - Your Turn Mr. Moto (3 stars) and Mr. Moto is So Sorry (3 stars)
12. Jo Nesbo - Nemesis (3.5 stars) and Cockroaches (3.5 stars)
13. Julie Smith - The Axeman's Jazz (3.5 stars) and Death Turns a Trick (3.5 stars)

My current author is Dorothy L. Sayers, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series. Whose Body is the first in the series and so far I'm enjoying very much. I also have the 2nd book in the series, Clouds of Witness, and that will be my next Bed-time book. All things being equal I should be able to read at least 8 more authors by the end of December, if I can manage two per month. I think I'll focus on those authors who have the most books on my shelves, even if it means that I might repeat the odd author. If I can manage 8 more authors (16 books), these will be the ones I plan to read.

1. MC Beaton (author of two series, Agatha Raisin mysteries and Hamish Macbeth series.) I have 13 books on my TBR shelf. I'll read one of each; Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, the first Agatha Raisin mystery. I have read one previously, but want to be properly introduced. Death of a Gossip is the first book in the Hamish Macbeth series and I've not read any of this series.

2. Ngaio Marsh (author of the Inspector Alleyn mysteries) I have 13 books in this series on my shelves. Last year I did a month's focus on this series and read 4 books. The two I will read in 2014 as part of this challenge will be - Enter a Murder (Book 2) and Death in a White Tie (Book 7)

3. Ellis Peters (Author of the Cadfael books). I've read quite a few books in this series, but there still remain 10 unread. I'll read The Sanctuary Sparrow (Book 7) and An Excellent Mystery (Book 11)

4. WJ Burley (Author of the Wycliffe mysteries) This is another series in which I've read 3 or 4, but there are still at least 10 others on my book shelves. I'll start with the 2nd book in the series, Wycliffe and How to Kill a Cat and finish with Book 3, Wycliffe and the Guilt-Edged Alibi.

5. Ian Rankin (author of the Rebus books, plus others) - I have the complete Rebus series and have worked my way about half through it, so will continue with Inspector Rebus, starting with Book 12, The Falls and continuing with Book 13, Resurrection Men.

6. John D. MacDonald (author of the Travis McGee mysteries) I read four books in this series last year and enjoyed very much. There are 10 more awaiting my perusal so I'll try two more, starting with Book 6, Bright Orange for the Shroud and Book 7, Darker Than Amber.

I'm not sure which other authors I'll read. It will depend on where I am in 2014 when I finish Mr. MacDonald's books. I'm leaning towards Agatha Christie, it would be nice to finish with the author that I started out the year reading. We'll see. Anyway, lots of good reading ahead. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Fantasy Footie, Currently Reading and Books on the Way!

In my last Blog, I mentioned that I was gearing up for the Premiership Football season and making my picks in my Fantasy Football team for the first weekend's games. Well, we're just about ready for Weekend 2, so let's take a brief look back at how I did weekend 1. So far there are 2,946,451 participants in the league. I managed to get 39 points for my first weekend, with Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea managing 11. Not a great start. I'm currently sitting in 2,082,686th place. I can only improve.. I hope anyway. I had to replace one of my players, Jason Puncheon of Crystal Palace as he received a red card and will be sitting in the stands for the next couple of games. So I went out and transferred for Swansea winger, Yeung. My line-up for Week 2 is -

Goal - Speroni of Crystal Palace (they are playing West Ham this weekend)

Defender - Debuchy of Arsenal (playing against Everton)
Defender - Cahill of Chelsea (playing against Leicester)
Defender - Ward of Crystal Palace (playing against West Ham)

Midfield - Henderson of Liverpool (playing Manchester City)
Midfield - Fabregas (Capt) of Chelsea (playing Leicester)
Midfield - Yeung of Swansea (playing Burnley)
Midfield - Erickson of Tottenham (playing Queen's Park Rangers)

Forward - Costa (Vice) of Chelsea (playing against Leicester)
Forward - Giroud of Arsenal (playing Everton)
Forward - Lambert of Liverpool (playing Manchester City)

Yup, the vaunted 3-5-3 set-up..

Goal - Howard of Everton
Defence - Caulker of Queen's Park Rangers
Defence - Stones of Everton
Midfield - Johnson of Sunderland

Back to books -

Currently Reading -

1. Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers - I've had a few of Dorothy Sayers mysteries on my bookshelf for awhile now. She is the author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Whose Body is the first in the series, originally published in 1923. Sayers is one of the grand dames of mystery writing, along with writers such as Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Alleyn, etc. The Peter Wimsey mysteries have been on radio, TV and movies. My wife, Jo, is quite familiar with the TV series, she showed me excerpts that were on You Tube,  last night. I've just begun the story so I don't have any opinion on it yet, but this is the synopsis. "The body was that of a tall stout man.. on the dead face a handsome pair of gold pince-nez mocked death with grotesque elegance. The body wore nothing else. Lord Peter Wimsey knew immediately what the corpse was supposed to be. His problem was to find out the truth about whose body had found its way into Mr. Alfred Thipps' Battersea bathroom."

I have a few others in the series and will read one more for now when I finish this. I do have the second book in the series, Clouds of Witness, so that will be next.

 2. The Return by Hakan Nesser - This is a mystery by one of the many excellent Scandinavian mystery writers that have made their way to English bookshelves over the past few years. Nesser writes about Swedish Police Inspector Van Veeteren, this being the 3rd book in the series. I have read one previously, the 2nd book, Borkmann's Point and enjoyed it. He has an interesting style; it feels, if you'll excuse the expression, foreign. I'm sure there is a better way to describe it. I don't mind the translation of this book, that has been a problem for me in some of the Scandinavian mysteries I've read. So far, and I'm about 30% through the mystery, I'm enjoying this more and more as I get into the story. This is the synopsis "Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is forced to unlock the secrets of a nearly perfect murder in this taut psychological thriller. On a rainy April day, a body - or what is left of it - is found by a young girl. Wrapped in a blanket the corpse has no hands, feet or head and it signals the work of a brutal, methodical killer. the victim, Leopold Verhaven, was a track star before he was convicted of killing two of his ex-lovers. He consistently proclaimed his innocence, however, and was killed on the day of his return to society. This latest murder is more than a little perplexing, and Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is determined to discover the truth, even if it means taking the law into his own hands."

3. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell - I have to say that I've been surprised (and I probably shouldn't be) by the breadth and scope of Orwell's writing. Born in 1903, Eric Arthur Blair, in British India, he lived until 1950 and authored not only numerous fiction and non-fiction books, he was also wrote literary criticism, poetry and was a journalist. Of course, his most well-known works include Animal Farm and 1984, both of which I've enjoyed previously. I also read Burmese Days which was loosely based on his experiences as a policeman in Burma. This is the fourth Orwell book I've read and I'm enjoying very much. It falls under the non-fiction category, reads nicely (he has an excellent flowing style) and I'm enjoying very much. This is the synopsis - "Orwell's lively and factual record of his experiences among the poor of two capital cities. Few writers have possessed a greater gift for spotting the personality behind the rags, or described the reality of poverty with so little pretence." It puts the life style of the times, the book was published in 1923, into an interesting perspective and he describes the people and locales so clearly, you feel you are there. Excellent so far.

Books in the Mail -

Earlier this week, I looked through The Book Depository website to try and find some books I've been searching for, for awhile. And, lo and behold, they had them. So I've ordered 5 books and look forward to receiving them over the next few weeks. Here they are -

1. Murder on Gramercy Park by Victoria Thompson - This is the third book in the Gaslight mystery series. I've enjoyed the first two very much and this would be the next book in one of my reading challenges. Unfortunately I only have the 10th book and wanted to try and read them in order. So book three is on the way. This is the synopsis - "Detective Frank Malloy has vowed never to involve midwife Sarah Brandt in another murder investigation. His determination lasts only until he is called to the scene of a suicide and finds the dead man’s wife is in labor. By the time Sarah delivers the baby, Frank has discovered that Dr. Blackwell’s death was actually a murder. Once more the two of them are working together to find a killer. Because  Dr. Blackwell practiced an unusual type of “healing” and was less than honest with his friends, many people may have wanted him dead. The suspects include his wealthy father-in-law, his assistant, a slew of jealous husbands whose wives Dr. Blackwell has treated, and a mysterious man from Mrs. Blackwell’s past.  Then the Blackwell’s new baby falls ill, and Sarah uncovers a shocking family secret that leads Malloy’s investigation down a gilded path paved with greed, deception and desire."

2. The Mindbenders by James Kennaway -  A new author and book for me. I heard about it in one of my Goodreads' book clubs and the synopsis sounded interesting. James Kennaway was a Scottish novelist who lived between 1928 and 1968. His first novel, Tunes of Glory, was turned into a movie starring Alec Guinness. The Mindbenders came out in 1963. It was also a movie thriller starring Dirk Bogarde. This is the synopsis - "Why did Professor Sharpey, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist, commit suicide by throwing himself from a fast-moving train? And why were briefcases stuffed with cash found beside his shattered corpse? Major Hall of British Intelligence suspects Sharpey was a traitor selling secrets to the Communists. But Sharpey's colleague, Dr Harry Longman, believes his friend's strange behaviour is connected with his ground-breaking experiments using an isolation tank to test the effects of sensory deprivation. There's only one way for Longman to discover what really happened to Sharpey and clear his friend's name: he must subject himself to the same frightening experiments. But the terror he undergoes in the isolation tank is nothing compared to the horror that will follow: for what emerges from the lab is no longer Longman, but something else entirely"

3. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious - Peyton Place was published in 1956 and became both a movie and an excellent TV series. I've seen the movie with Jo on TCM and enjoyed very much and I recall as a youngster, back when my parents lived in Chatham, NB, watching the TV series. I think I had a crush on Barbara Parkins, who played  Betty Anderson Cord. The book is a soap opera, but from what I remember of the movie, very racy and ahead of its times. I'm looking forward to reading this,maybe just to see how much I remember of the TV series and the movie. This is the synopsis - "First published in 1956, PEYTON PLACE uncovers the passions, lies and cruelties that simmer beneath the surface of a postcard-perfect town. At the centre of the novel are three women, each with a secret to hide: Constance MacKenzie, the original desperate housewife; her daughter Allison, whose dreams are stifled by small-town small-mindedness; and Selena Cross, her gypsy-eyed friend from the wrong side of the tracks. 'PEYTON PLACE shocked America with its tale of secrets, sex and hypocrisy in a small New Hampshire town."

My final two books are from American writer, Shirley Jackson, who lived from 1916 - 1965. She wrote six novels and many short stories. I purchased one of the novels and one of the short stories, The Haunting of Hill House (1959) and The Lottery (1948).

This is the synopsis for The Haunting of Hill House - "First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own."

And this is the synopsis The Lottery - "Shirley Jackson's The Lottery is a memorable and terrifying masterpiece, fuelled by a tension that creeps up on you slowly without any clear indication of why. This is just a town full of people, after all, choosing their numbers for the annual lottery. What's there to be scared of? "

So there you have it, all caught up. Have a great weekend and keep on reading!!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Rainy Fridays, Footie season and Sports books and movies

Rainy Days
Well, OK, that's not really the view outside my den window, but you get the idea. Much needed rain falling today and pretty steady too. Of course, that means a day indoors for the puppies and me, while the missus is downtown. Of course, that does provide me with the opportunity to spend some time on this Blog. I was wondering last night what I might right about today and a few thoughts wandered through my old head.

Coming up shortly will be Jo's and my 12th wedding anniversary. When I moved out to the West Coast I had no idea how my life would change in a very short time. Jo and I met on line, chatting on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer forum and became friends; she visited and next thing you know, we're married. It's been a fantastic 12 years from our wedding on Aug 30th, 2002. We've enjoyed our life here on the Coast, travelled a bit, bought and fixed up our home. Jo had to put up with me being deployed for 6 months and being transferred down island for two years until my retirement. But it's been a great time and I feel like I'm the luckiest man in the world. :0)

Wedding photo
 Coming up this weekend is the start up of the English Premiereship 2014/ 2015 footie season and tomorrow morning will find me and the dogs downstairs ensconced on the couch around 5 a.m. ready to watch the first games. Oddly enough, even though she's English, Jo will probably stay in bed and miss these games. hmmmmm and she's the one who got me hooked on it.. Ah well, not to worry.. My enjoyment of the wonderful game came about during Jo's first visit, spring of 2002, which also happened to be the time of the World Cup, hosted by Japan and Korea. Jo asked if I minded if she watched the England games and, of course, I didn't. The games being in Japan, it meant that live, they started here between 11 pm and 6 in the a.m. I took a couple of days off to stay up all night watching and my enjoyment just grew. So next thing I know, I've discovered that our Sportsnet TV station is broadcasting the Premiereship games and I'm now getting up early - bird hours on the weekends to watch those games.

I also discovered on line some Fantasy Football pools; no cost to enter, just a weekly pick of my players and finding out how many points they managed to get for me. With my love of lists, this has become a yearly endeavour for me. Over 2,000,000 people participate in this Fantasy football and I'm reasonably happy with how I do every year. I haven't a hope in hell of ever winning, but it's just fun playing. Checking out the site, I can see that I started in 2006. This is how I've managed to perform since then....

2006/07    1806 points    111854 ranking
2007/08    1867 points    418157 ranking
2008/09    1848 points    175254 ranking
2009/10    1844 points    867740 ranking
2010/11    2054 points      32936 ranking   (best ever score and ranking)
2011/12    1751 points  1,027,469 ranking
2012/13    1985 points    261,707 ranking
2013/14    2026 points    938,497 ranking

So the new season starts tomorrow.. This is the team I've got in place for the first games...

Team Name - BC Islanders


Tim Howard (Everton)

Spare - Julian Speroni (Crystal Palace)

Defenders -
Matthieu Debuchy (Arsenal)
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
John Stones (Everton)

Spares - Steven Caulker (Queen's Park Rangers)
Joel Ward (Crystal Palace)


Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Adam Johnson (Sunderland)
Ross Barkley (Everton)

Spare - Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace)


Diego daSilva Costa (Chelsea) (vice Captain)
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) (Captain)
Rickie Lambert (Liverpool)

Starting off with a 3-5-3.. :).. My favourite Premiereship team has been Everton FC from the beginning, basically because, when I started watching, they were the only team with a Canadian player on it. Over time, I have come to admire their style. They are a team operating on a shoe string budget but who still manage to stay in the top ten and challenge for positions in Europe. Last season was one of their best in years, finishing fifth and they find themselves in the Europa League as well competing for trophies there. :)

Books on Footie

With my new found love, Jo, and my new attraction to all things footie and my massive enjoyment of reading anything I can get my hands on, Jo's family discovered that getting me books on footie made a lot of sense for Xmas prezzies. No complaints from me either. I've received some excellent books over the past few years and have enjoyed them very much. Here are a few examples.

1. Pointless by Jeff Connor. One of my personal favourites. It's the story of sports reporter, Jeff Connor, who took it upon himself to follow East Stirling, a team in the 4th division of the Scottish football league, the titled "Britain's Worst football team, around for a season. I enjoyed this immensely. Connor follows a team playing in a small football ground in Scotland, struggling to even stay in the 4th division (another futile season may see them relegated out of the football league into non-league football). Loved the people, the stories, the humour and since that time, when I check out the weekly football activity, I always check out East Stirling and see how they are doing. Just checking and they lost their first game of the season against Montrose 4-1. Come on East Stirling!!

2. Foul! The Secret World of FIFA by Andrew Jennings - The missus bought me this for Xmas in 2009 and almost ruined my enjoyment of footie with it.. ;0) A fascinating inside account of the wheelings and dealings with Footballs ruling body and the crooks that find themselves there. Reading about the possible scandals in awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has just reinforced some of the interesting details found in this book. Luckily I still enjoy my day-to-day footie and watched this year's Brazil World Cup with much interest. Good book though.

3. Football's Greatest Heroes by Robert Galvin - An excellent book listing some of the greatest players Britain has ever produced from Dixie Dean through Stanley Matthews, Gary Lineker and Paul Gasgoigne to name just a few. I enjoyed reading this very much and often interrupted Jo's TV watching to tell her facts about another footie player. She loved it.. ;0)

Those are just a few of the excellent books. I've got biographies of Frank Lampard, Bobby Robson and Bill Shankly and a couple of books filled with interesting Football facts and stats; always an enjoyment for me.. More lists!!!

One book that I still have to read is My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes. I received it a couple of years ago and this is the synopsis "A beautifully written and moving account of the author’s search for the man his father was, and the life he led as a well-known footballer at a time when the men who played the game, and those who watched it, led fundamentally the same lives together in the same communities."

Top Ten Sports Movies

I haven't made a Top Ten List for ages, I think my last was probably my Top Ten Horror films... *shudder*. Since I'm on the topic of Sports, I think a Top Ten Favourite Sports movies list would be appropriate. I've been checking out various lists of sports movies and there are so many excellent movies. I've tried to make a list that isn't strictly baseball movies, because I really could. The list below isn't perfect by any means, but it does include some of my favourite sports movies. As to making a movie a 'sports' movie, there are a couple that aren't about sports teams, but the theme is a sport I believe. Anyway, here you go -

10. Men With Brooms by Paul Gross (2002) - a truly Canadian sports movie starring Paul Gross, Leslie Nielson and Molly Parker. Fun stuff about the reunited of a local curling team as they try to deal with their personal demons and win the curling championships. Great stuff and one I could watch over and over.

9. Mystery, Alaska by Jay Roach (1999) - Another fun movie about a local Alaskan hockey team that issues a challenge to the New York Rangers and it becomes a televised game. The movie has a great cast, including Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Mary McCormack, Burt Reynolds and Colm Meany and is a feel-good hockey movie.

8.  Moneyball by Bennett Miller (2011) - The first of a few baseball movies on my list, stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill and is the story of Oakland Athletics manager, Billy Beane, and his introduction of a computer generated analysis into managing a baseball team and the teams run for a World Series title.

7. The Worlds' Fastest Indian by Roger Donaldson (2005) - Starring Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro in a true story about this New Zealander and his years building a 1920 Indian motorcycle and his journey to Utah Bonneville Salt Flats to test his motorcycle and challenge the speed record. Excellent movie, touching and emotionally positive. Loved it.

6. The Blind Side by John Lee Hancock (2009) - Starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw and introducing Quinton Aaron, this is beautiful, positive true story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatised young boy who is taken in by a family, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy who adopt and raise him as one of their own. Oher ultimately becomes an All-American football player and is drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. Quinton Aaron is fantastic in his first major role and Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw also bring out the best in this wonderful film.

5.  Chariots of Fire by Hugh Hudson (1982) - A true classic starring Ben Cross and Ian Charleson as Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddel as two British sprinters competing in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. One a determined Jew trying to prove his place in Cambridge society and the other a devout Scottish missionary running because he knows it will please God. Beautifully filmed and covering many issues, it is well-deserving of its 1982 Best picture Oscar. Also a fantastic moving score by Vangelis, another Oscar winner. Wonderful movie.

4. Sea biscuit by Gary Ross (2004) - One of those movies that chokes me up just thinking about it. It stars Tobey McGuire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper and Elizabeth Banks and is the beautiful true story of a small Depression-era race horse, his owner, his trainer and his jockey. Moving, powerful and excellent, it won best picture in 2004.

3. Field of Dreams by Phil Alden Robinson (1989) - This also one of the missus' favourite movies. A movie I can watch over and over. One thing about Kevin Costner is that he does know how to star in a great baseball movie. The fantastic cast also includes Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Ray Liotta and many many more. Based on a baseball fantasy written by Canadian W.P. Kinsella, it's a story of an Iowa farmer who hears voices telling him to build a baseball diamond in his cornfields. It features one of the most iconic movie lines ever, "If you build it, he will come". And he, Shoeless Joe Jackson, does and brings along many of his baseball friends.. Excellent!!

2. Hoosiers by David Anspaugh (1986) - A simple story starring Gene Hackman as a former disgraced basketball coach who turns up at a small college in Indiana and tries to mold a team into a NCAA championship team, along the way finding out things about himself and life. Excellent supporting cast of Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper, who turns in a tour-de-force as an ex-drunken basketball coach who finds his way when the pressure is on. A beautiful, emotional movie that is must-see and can be watched over and over.. At least I have..  :0)

1. A League of Their Own by Penny Marshall (1992) - One of my all-time favourite movies about the Women's professional baseball league formed during WWII while the men's professional league was shut down due to the men being off fighting the war. It's a great movie in so many ways, funny, powerful, emotional, a great sports movie, a great cast; Tom Hanks as the coach of one of the teams,Geena Davis in her best movie, Madonna in her best movie, Rosie O'Donnell, Lori Petty and so many others. One of those great movies that comes along once in awhile and makes me laugh and cry no matter how many times I see it.. Must see!!!

So there you have it, my ten favourite sports movies. There are so many great movies that I didn't mention, well, until now that is, but all deserve a look. Make sure you also check out - in baseball, The Rookie, Bull Durham, For the Love of the Game, Eight Men Out, Major Leagues, etc'; Football - The Longest Yard, We are Marshall; Footie - Goal, Bend it Like Beckham,. The Damned United; miscellaneous, Rocky, Dodgeball, Phar Lap, The Karate Kid, etc..

Now I've got to get something to eat, passing out with hunger here. :0).. Have a great weekend!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Currently Reading - Aug 11 2014 and a brief look ahead.

The house is quiet. Jo is off downtown until 5:30ish and the puppies have been dropped off for their second session of doggie daycare. If all goes well, we'll take a weekend trip to Victoria in the near future and see how they take to a weekend at the kennel. Megan and her assistants seem very nice. I have to say the dogs did need a bit of encouragement to go through the door to meet the other dogs there. Megan did say that Clyde's barking sounded different today, more inquisitive than aggressive. Poor puppies, but it's all for the good. :0)

So taking a bit of advantage of the quiet to put down a few thoughts before I head off to get the puppies and then Jo. Takeaway for supper tonight; we'll stop off at Toscanos on the way home.. Yummy!

The view from the den (improved a bit since this photo)
So let's see, it's been quite hot here lately, watering restrictions mean we can only water twice a week now, vice odd days. The garden is looking a mite brown, but at least this year we've had a yard of grass, not dirt. Looking out the den window, it's nice to see our efforts have started to come to fruition; there is grass, we've planted some ivies, more roses and the new hydrangea looks great so far...

Currently Reading

Onto my favourite topic, these are the books I'm currently working through -

1. The Axeman's Jazz by Julie Smith - This is the second in Julie Smith's Skip Langdon series. Skip is a lady cop working out of New Orleans, hence the jazzy title. I read the first book in the series, New Orleans Mourning, a few years back and enjoyed it. I started to pick up a few others, a couple more Skip Langdon, the first couple of the Rebecca Schwarz books, etc. So as part of my bed-time author's challenge this year, I decided to read a couple more of Smith's books, starting with The Axeman's Jazz. This is the synopsis "In hundred's of anonymous self-help groups, New Orlean's young and not so young search for love, self-esteem, freedom from addictions, a quick roll in the hay, the lost inner child, you name it. Enter the Axeman, a 1990's reincarnation of the city's notorious serial killer of seventy years ago. Pretty Linda Lee Strickland, strangled in her own apartment, is the first victim. For detective Skip Langdon, cheated of a romantic vacation by the killing, the case is a bummer. Yet as she threads her fascinated way from one self-help group to another, she finds she has more in common with the twelve-steppers than just the murder. And she knows what they do not: that among their anonymous numbers is a deadly dangerous, and dangerously attractive, psychopath... ".

I'm enjoying this very much so far, regret that it has been so long since I picked up a new Julie Smith. I'm thinking my second story of hers for my challenge will be the first of the first of the Rebecca Schwartz books, Death Turns a Trick, moving from New Orleans to San Francisco. Should be good.

Carol Drinkwater's The Olive Farm
2. The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater - This is the first book in the Olive Farm books by Carol Drinkwater, an actress/ author who describes in the first book, her purchase of a French estate, with an Olive orchard, with her partner, Michel. Carol Drinkwater may be known to you also as Helen Herriot in the BBC TV series, All Creatures Great and Small, but she also has written a number of books, non-fiction, children's fiction, etc; one of those under-achievers. I've about half way through this book; a slowish start but as I've gotten into it, I'm finding it very interesting and well-written. This is the synopsis "The Olive Farm is a powerful memoir of life, love and olive oil in the south of France. It is the tale of a real-life romance between actress Carol Drinkwater and Michel, a television producer, and of the abandoned Provencal olive farm with which they fall in love. Here, Carol reveals the highs and lows of this vibrant Mediterranean world: the customs and cuisines, the threats of fire and potential ruin, and the thrill of harvesting their own olives by hand - especially when they are discovered to produce the finest extra-virgin olive oil." It's an interesting book; who knows I may find myself visiting again if I purchase the other books in the series.

A Scandinavian mystery
3. The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler - I bought this book in August of 2013, had seen if a few times in my local book stores and finally bit the bullet and decided to try it out. It's one of my 12 + 4 Challenge reads, will be my 13th book completed in the challenge. I am so glad that I decided to give this book a chance. It's a fantastic, tense page-turner. I keep wondering how this story can go on for over 500 pages, but it's not letting me down at all. Very interesting characters, a plot that moves along at a clip, with twists and turns and lots of excitement and tension. I hope the second half of the book is as good as the first half. If so, I'll definitely be reading more books by Mr. Kepler. This is the synopsis - "Tumba, Sweden. A triple homicide - all the victims from the same family and murdered without apparent motive - captivates Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who goes against the grain of the national police and demands to investigate the grisly murders himself. The killer is at large, and it appears that the elder sister of the family escaped the carnage. but she is missing and it might be only a matter of time until she, too, is found dead. Where can Linna begin? The sole witness is an intended victim - the boy whose parents and younger sister were killed before his eyes. He has suffered multiple knife wounds and has been taken to the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm where he lies in a state of shock. Devoid of enough information on which to build his investigation, Linna enlists the help of a disgraced specialist, Dr. Erik Bark, who has sworn he will never again practise hypnosis, as it is ethically dubious and possibly scarring. But then he breaks his promise..... "

Book 10 of the Gaslight mystery series
So there you go, my current choices. What do I plan for next?.. Not sure yet. I will have to read another book for my alphabetical mystery author's challenge. My last selection was at the lower end of the alphabet, Karen Irving's Jupiter's Daughter, the second Katy Klein mystery, which I thought was excellent. It's a great trilogy, I recommend heartily. So next will find me at the upper end of the alphabet, Charles Todd was my last author, so I'll be moving onto Victoria Thompson and her Gaslight series. Unfortunately, I only have Book 10 on my shelf and have only previously read Books 1 and 2. I will hopefully find Book 3 before I get to this challenge, otherwise, the book will be Murder on Bank Street. I'm not sure what else I'll choose; I do have 3 more 12 + 4 Challenge books, and I will be starting a new series, or maybe just a freebie.. :0).. How exciting!!
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