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!!

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