Thursday, 25 May 2017

Music, Book Buying and the Birth Day Thing

Jo and Fiona's final trip to Victoria before Fiona flew home
Before I get into the normal subject matter, I just want to mention this puzzling item. Every time I log into my BLog, I start off by checking my stats. Basically, I want to see if anyone is actually taking a look at it. (Yes, I'm that vain.. :)) Normally, if I've been posting fairly regularly, there are 30 or so visitors; mostly from the US and Canada. Once a month or so, however, the visits spike amazingly (for me anyway), to 400 or 500 a day. And the odd thing is that the people visiting are from Russia. Or at the very least, their URLs, I guess, are from there. I do find it kind of strange, especially with all this palaver going on in the US these days.

No, Fiona didn't fly back to England on this plane. At least I don't think so.
Anyway, just one of those curious things. Like I have anything interesting to say to Russia.. lol. As I was downloading the photos of my latest book purchases from Jo's camera this morning, I noticed there were also some photos of their trip to Victoria. Jo booked a night in Victoria to show Fiona a bit of the city before she flew back to England the next morning; from Victoria to Vancouver to catch her connecting flight. Jo stayed at our normal hotel and as usual, took a few pics from the balcony of Victoria Harbour. The first is a look at the Empress Hotel, an old CN hotel. The other of the float planes that fly back and forth to Vancouver each day; a constant stream of them arriving and departing.

The view from the study this morning
It's been lovely and sunny this past week; fairly windy the last couple of days. But everything is blooming and flowers are all over the place. You can see the nice view from my study window this morning. The yard on that side needs some work. When we had a couple of the fir trees topped off last fall, the guys pretty well destroyed that yard, dropping huge stumps from the top and leaving holes all over the place. I have to get some top soil and level it out and reseed. Too bad I'm so lazy, eh?

OK, on to my normal subjects. I'm going to forego the Great Historical Events and the Science of Common Things portions and instead update on some recent book purchasing. The howls of dismay are deafening. Don't worry, I'll get back to it next time. ;0)

30 Day Music Challenge

First, an update on the Music Challenge that missus started on You Tube a couple of days ago. We've now done Days 2 - 4 of the Challenge and once again interesting choices made by everybody participating.

Day 2 was A Song with a number in the Title.

I had a couple in mind and ended up picking Blondie's One Way or Another. Jo picked Vanessa Carlton's A Thousand Miles, excellent choice. Some of the others were; Ringo Starr - You're Sixteen, Noah and the Whale - 5 Year's Time, Blur - Song 2, Nena - 99 Luftballoons, The Four Seasons - December 1963, etc.

Day 3 was A Song that reminds you of Summertime.

I picked one that I used to play when I was a DJ back in Cold Lake Alberta. It always makes me think of summer; Martha and the Muffins and Echo Beach. It's always been a favourite. Once again there were so many other excellent, varies suggestions; Level 42 - Freedom Someday, Texas - Summer Son, The Beatles - Here Comes the Sun, Don Henley - Boys of Summer, The Sundays - Summertime, etc.

Day 4 is being done today; kind of a difficult one for me. The category is A Song that reminds you of somebody you'd rather forget about. I haven't been in all that many relationships in my life and I also don't tend to identify people with particular songs. But I did come up with one idea and, without going into any specifics why, I provided Metallica's Enter Sandman. Jo added Mariah Carey - Always Be My Baby. Some of the others so far today have been; Daniel Lanois - Rocky World, Soft Cell - Tainted Love, Aerosmith - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, Tears for Fears - Start of a Breakdown and Devil - You Make Me Sick.

It's been interesting to see how many people have been having fun with this. And lots of neat songs that I've never heard before. Day 5 will be A Song That Needs to be Played Loud. Ooh, so many possibilities.

Recent Book Purchases

I traded in a few books the other day and while I was at the store also picked up a few more books. Jo and I went downtown yesterday and I checked out another store while she was wandering around and picked up three more. Here are the books I bought.

1. Mo Hayder - Hanging Hill. I have read two of Hayder's thrillers so far; Birdman and The Treatment and enjoyed them both. They are the first two books in the Jack Caffery mystery series. I liked The Treatment more, but I think that's often the case; as a writer gets their feet on the ground and get more familiar with their main characters and writing styles, they become more comfortable and fluid with their stories. Hanging Hill is a standalone and it sounds interesting. The synopsis is below.

"When Sally's daughter gets into trouble, she has to find cash - lots of it - and fast. With no one to help her, she is forced into a criminal world of extreme pornography and illegal drugs, a world in which teenage girls can go missing.
Meanwhile, Sally's sister, Zoe, a detective with the British police, has her own set of problems. Confident and hard-working, no one would guess that she hides a crippling secret that dates back twenty years and that, if exposed, would destroy her.
Two sisters intent on survival find themselves in situations they never expected to face. Then one does something so horrible and desperate that there's no way back..."

2. Ann Cleeves - Harbour Street. This is one of Cleeves' Vera stories. I've read a couple so far and enjoyed, just as I've enjoyed the TV series based on the books. I've also read some of her Shetland books, enjoyed them too.

I remember the TV version of this particular story. It'll be interesting to see the similarities and differences between the two. This is the synopsis.

"In Newcastle, Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter Jessie travel home on the busy Metro. The train is stopped unexpectedly, and Jessie sees that one woman doesn't leave with the other passengers: Margaret Krukowski has been fatally stabbed.
No one saw the murder take place. How could this be, when the train was packed? Searching for a lead, DI Vera Stanhope heads to the quiet Northumberland town of Mardle to investigate. She can feel in her bones that the local residents know more than they are letting on: a killer is among the.
Just days later, a second woman is murdered. Retracing the victim's final steps, Vera finds herself searching deep into the hidden past of this seemingly innocent neighbourhood, led by clues that keep revolving around one street: why are the residents of Harbour Street so reluctant to speak?"

3. Simon Brett - Blood at the Bookies. I do like Simon Brett's mysteries. I've read on of his Charles Paris stories so far and the first 3 of the Fethering mysteries, of which Blood at the Bookies belongs. I have yet to try his Mrs. Pargeter series, just trying to find the first book, really.

The stories could be classified as cozies, I guess. But there are nice differences between each series, more humour in the Charles Paris books. But, so far, both series I've tried have been very entertaining.

"Jude has never been averse to a bit of a flutter. Her friend Carole, on the other hand, thinks that the local betting shop is a den of iniquity. But when Jude stumbles upon the body of Polish immigrant Tadeusz Jankowski, the amateur lady detectives race to find his killer.
The odds aren't looking good. No one seems to know anything about mysterious Tadeusz. As they question the local residents, Carole fins an unexpected friend in an inveterate gambler, and Jude finds herself in potentially more trouble than she can handle with a lecherous and charming drama professor.
In this race there can only be one winner, but with no leads and several suspects in the running, will our lady detectives be pipped at the post by a cold and calculating killer?"

4. Georges Simenon - Maigret Hesitates / Maigret Takes the Waters. I've been slowly collecting and reading this classic series. I've enjoyed the stories very much; the writing style, French Inspector Maigret's investigating style and the stories. It's a long series so it'll keep me busy for a few years yet. This book contains two of the Maigret stories.

"Maigret Hesitates - Paris in Spring and Maigret's mood, as sunny as the weather, is overshadowed by the arrival of an anonymous letter telling of an impending murder. The letter is traced to the cold, embittered household of a prominent Paris lawyer where Maigret soon uncovers the writer's identity. But in spite of this knowledge and the vigilance of his men, the Inspector is unable to prevent the horrifying tragedy.
Maigret Takes the Waters - Far from the bustle of Paris, Madame Maigret is amazed at her husband's placid acceptance of the dull but curative routine of Vichy. Until, that is, the death of Helene Lange by strangulation. Maigret, at first reluctantly involved, soon makes some extraordinary discoveries. Not only about the apparently harmless victim, but also about her sister. And a man who, like Maigret, is ostensibly in Vichy to take the cure."

5. China MiƩville - Embassytown. I've so far read one of MiƩville's unique fantasy novels, Perdido Street Station. It really grabbed my attention and I found it difficult to put down. I hope the other books I've managed to find will continue in that vein.

"Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe.
Avice is an immerse, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, Humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie.
Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.
Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts.
And that is impossible."

6. Donna Leon - Drawing Conclusions. Leon's Inspector Brunetti series ranks up there as one of my favourite series. The books are a pleasure to read. I love the setting; Venice. I enjoy all of the characters, from the Inspector to his police investigators, to the beautiful, enigmatic secretary, Signora Elletra and on to his wonderful family, lead by his wife, Paola. The food is tempting; there is great joy thinking about the dinners the family enjoys or those quick meals (can you have a quick meal in Venice?) Brunetti grabs at the local restaurants and bars. Everything about the stories, including the politics, the interesting crimes and Brunetti's thoughts and values, make them entertaining, enjoyable reads.

"In Drawing Conclusions, the twentieth novel in Donna Leon's brilliant Brunetti series, young Signora Giusti arrives home after a holiday and senses that all is not right in the apartment below. When she investigates, she find her neighbour, an elderly widow, lying lifeless on the floor. The autopsy shows that Signora Altavilla's death was due to a heart attack - a verdict which her son seems to hear with a great deal of relief. Brunetti, however, is convinced that things are not as straight-forward as they appear."

7. Joan D. Vinge - The Snow Queen. Vinge is a new author for me. I noted the book down when it appeared on my list of Hugo Winners that I've been going through as part of my Birth Day Thing posts. I saw it at one of my local used book stores yesterday so I thought I would give the book a try.

"The Winter colonists have ruled Tiamat for 150 years, slaughtering the gentle sea mers in trade for off-world wealth. But soon the gate to the galactic Hegemony will close, Tiamat will be isolated, and the 150-year reign of the Summer primitives will begin. Unless...
Arienhod, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can commit a genocidal crime - and destroy destiny... unless Sparks Dawntreader, the Snow Queen's companion, can survive sea and city, palace and slums - and find destiny... unless Hegemony Commander Jerusha Palathion, the Snow Queen's victim, can find one ally on Tiamat - and change destiny...
And unless Moon Summer, a young mystic, can break down a conspiracy that spans space - and control destiny. Because Moon is the Snow Queen's lost weapon. The Snow Queen's lost rival. The Snow Queen's lost nemesis. The Snow Queen's lost soul. Moon is the Snow Queen's clone."

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1982

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1982

Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. This was the theme song from An Officer and a Gentleman. I didn't realize that one of the songs writers was Canadian Buffy Ste. Marie. Great song and great movie.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1982

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me by Culture Club. Boy George and Culture Club formed in 1981. At the time they weren't one of my favourite groups. I think that I got tired of hearing Karma Chameleon and Do You Really Want to Hurt Me. More recently, I've begun to appreciate their songs as I've listened to others of their efforts. They were obviously popular and successful, having sold over 50 millions records world wide. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me was a collaborative writing effort.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1982

Space by James Michener. I'm almost getting bored with all of the books by Michener that seem to have been #1 on my birthdays. This is the 5th since 1955 and trust me, it won't be the last.

The book is a fictionalised account of the US Space program with emphasis on the manned space program.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1982

Rabbit is Rich by John Updike. This was the 3rd book in a 4-part series by Updike, including Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux and finishing with Rabbit at Rest. This third book continues to explore the life of Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom. It's not a series I've ever explored, but maybe someday.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1982

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia). Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a Colombian novelist, short story writer and screen writer who lived from 1927 - 2014. He was awarded his Nobel Prize 'for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts.'

Hugo Award Winner 1982

Down Below Station by CJ Cherryh. CJ Cherryh is another SciFi author that I haven't explored. I've picked up quite a few of her books but because I've got so many books on the go, I tended to put them back.

CJ Cherryh has written over 60 novels and short story collections. Down Below Station forms one of the novels of her Alliance-Union series. It is the first book in the Company Wars.

Edgar Award Winner 1982

Peregrine by William Bayer. One of the things I've enjoyed most about this Birth Day thing is the songs I've been unfamiliar with and the number of authors that I've been unfamiliar with and who I'm looking forward to checking out.

William Bayer is one of those new authors. Bayer is an American novelist who has written over 20 novels. He wrote a series featuring NY Police Lieutenant, Frank Janek, which became a series of 7 CBS TV movies starring Richard Crenna as Frank Janek.

Peregrine was the first of his Janek novels. It tells the story of a falconer who brings terror to the citizens of New York with a series of murders caused by his falcons. Sounds interesting.

Man Booker Prize Winner 1982

Schindler's List by Thomas Kenneally. This is one of those books you should read at least once. In fact, once might be enough. It's that powerful.

I probably don't have to describe it as it's also been made into a fantastic movie by Stephen Spielberg. It tells the story of August Schindler, a Nazi party member, who risks his life to help save over 1,200 Jews from Nazi concentration camps throughout World War II.

Amazing story and excellent book and movie.

Next post moving on to 1983. :) Have a great day. I'm off to donate some of my old blood.

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