Friday, 30 June 2017

Canada Day, the Music Challenge and the Monthly Reading Review

Just wanted to start this off (even though it's a day early), by wishing my fellow Canadians a Happy 150th. I've been part of this great country for 61years and think it's one of the best in the world. We've got our problems but I think they pale when you consider what other people have to go through. Heck, we could have a Prime Minister like the current resident of the White House... (nope, nope.. don't go there. It's a celebration!!!). Enjoy your parties tomorrow, wherever you might be celebrating. Myself, I'll be relaxing at home and watching the Blue Jays.... if they are winning anyway... ;0)

The Missus's Music Challenge, Part Deux.

Today I'll review Days 36 - 39. So without further ado, here we go.

Day 36 - A Song That is Your Current Favourite. I picked Waiting by English singer, Betsy. Jo picked Future Looks Good by One Republic (I might question the sentiment.. *g*).. Some other choices were So Into You by Ariana Grande and Shape of You by Ed Sheerhan.

Day 37 - Song from a Musical. I chose 76 Trombones from The Music Man. Jo chose Seasons of Love from Rent. Some other choices (and this was a popular category) included Somewhere from West Side Story, What's the Buzz from Jesus Christ Superstar and Bring Him Home from Les Miserables.

Day 38 - A Song that Stopped you in your Track. I chose Untouched by The Veronicas. Jo picked Riverdance (from the Eurovision song contest). Some other selections included Dance by The Cars (from Live-Aid) and Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits.

Day 39 - Break-up Songs. I have to say that I struggled with this (not all that many relationships) but I picked I Never Loved You Anyway by The Corrs. (As a joke, I said that if Jo and I ever broke up, the song would be Watch that Axe Eugene (substitute Jo) by Pink Floyd). Funny, eh? Jo picked Friends by Amii Stewart. Some other choices included Everybody Hurts by R.E.M. and Someone Like You by Adele.

Today's category was Songs from the 1st Album you ever bought. Think about it and you'll see some other choices next entry.

June 2017 / Mid-Year Reading Summary

June was a pretty good month, much better than the previous two. My stats are below.

                                                   June                   2017
Books Read                                 12                       61        (one book ahead of my overall 120 aim)
Pages Read                                3,100                 15,700

Pages Breakdown
      < 250                                        4                       32
250 - 350                                        6                       18
351 - 450                                        2                         8
      > 450                                        0                         3

5 - star                                            2                         6
4 - star                                            7                        32
3 - star                                            3                        20
2 - star                                            0                         3

Author Gender
Female                                           3                        16
Male                                              9                         45

Fiction                                           3                          9
Mystery                                         8                         31
SciFi                                              1                         19
Non-Fict.                                       0                          1
Humour                                         0                          0
Classics                                         0                          1

Reading Challenges

12 + 4 (Part Deux) (1900 - 1950)
1. Maigret in Exile by Georges Simenon (3.5 stars)
2. Maigret Meets a Milord by Georges Simenon (4 stars)
3. To Love and Be Loved by Josephine Tey (4 stars)
4. The Chequer Board by Nevil Shute (5 stars)

(I've finished 8 books in this challenge now, 1/2 way there)

Canadian Literature (I've completed 2 of an anticipated 5)

The Classics (pre - 1900) (I've completed 1 of an anticipated 4)

Mysteries (The Cops)
5. Kittyhawk Down by Garry Disher (5 stars)
6. Gently Does It by Alan Hunter (4 stars)
7. Death of a Cad by M.C. Beaton (4.0)

(I've completed 13 of an anticipated 25)

Mysteries (The Sleuths)
8. The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall (3.5 stars) 
9. Bright Orange for the Shroud by John D. MacDonald (4 stars)

(I've completed 12 of  planned 25)

Fantasy (completed 1 of 5)

10. Classics of the Macabre by Daphne du Maurier (4 stars)

(Completed 2 of planned 5)

Fiction (post - 1900)  (completed 2 of 15)

Science Fiction
11.  The Martian by Andy Weir (4 stars)

(completed 1 of 5)

Spies / Thrillers / Was / Adventure
12. Sharpe's Battle by Bernard Cornwell (3.5 stars)

(Completed 2 of 10)

Non - Fiction (Completed 1 of 5)

Top Three of the Month

3. Maigret Meets a Milord by Georges Simenon (4 stars)
"Maigret Meets a Milord by Belgian Georges Simenon is the 2nd book in the Inspector Maigret mystery series, published originally in 1931. This story finds Maigret investigating a murder of a woman along the canal / locks. The body is discovered by carters who make a living pulling barges through the lock system.
It turns out that the body is that of the wife of a retired English colonel who sails his yacht along the canals, living a decadent life style. Maigret begins his investigation, travelling by bicycle along the locks, interrogating witnesses amongst those that live and work and travel through the lock system. Exploring the life along the locks made for a very interesting scenario. The people and the lifestyles were fascinating. The mystery, as I've found the other Maigret stories, was also interesting, with Maigret working more by instinct and touch to come up with his solution to the crime. The solution was also satisfying, coming as a nice surprise. I continue to enjoy the Maigret books as they are different from most of the series I enjoy."  

2. Kittyhawk Down by Garry Disher (5 stars)
"Kittyhawk Down is the 2nd book in the Inspector Hal Challis Australian police series by Garry Disher. I've enjoyed both immensely. It's a simple premise really, following the investigation of a variety of crimes by the Australian police of the Mornington Peninsula Police Force. The Criminal Investigation Bureau is led by Homicide Squad Inspector Hal Challis, in which he is assisted by Sgts. Ellen Destry and Scobie Sutton. In this story we also follow two uniformed cops, John Tankard and Pam Murphy.
There are various crimes being investigated; the disappearance of a two-year old baby, the discovery of a dead body that washed ashore and over the course of the story, various murders. You follow the cops and also various of the suspects and other characters, including Challis' girlfriend, reporter Tessa Klein. Each cop has their own problems which makes them human and likable. The progression of the cases, the various suspects and the community in which the story takes place makes it even more interesting. It's not a perfect story by any means, but then again, neither is life.
I just found everything about this story enjoyable and refreshing and I liked how the crimes were eventually worked out. All in all it was as satisfying as the first book, The Dragon Man."

3. The Chequer Board by Nevil Shute (5 stars)
"The more books by Nevil Shute that I read, the more I come to recognize that he is one of the best story-tellers ever. I've enjoyed so many of his books so far; The Far Country, On the Beach, Pied Piper, etc and as I've been slowly exploring his works, I'm enjoying him more than ever.
The Chequer Board, published originally in 1947 was no exception. It is set after WWII and tells the story of Capt (Ret'd) Turner. Turner was injured during the war, while on a flight from Africa to England to be tried for black marketeering. On the flight were other personnel, including a Negro American soldier (on his way to be tried for attempted rape), a young English Commando (on his way for court martial for murder) and the English co-pilot. These four survive the attack by German fighters.
After the war, Turner is now being treated for the effects caused by his injuries (pieces of shrapnel still lodged in his brain). He is told that nothing can be done due to the location of the shrapnel and he has maybe a year to live. This starts Turner on a journey to find the other three men, all of whom kept him company while he recovered from his surgeries, and all of whom have moved on.
it's a simple story, but the journey to find out what happened to these men and the internal journey of Turner, his past, his relationship with his wife, etc, makes for a fascinating and at times very emotional story.
There are other issues that are touched on; the treatment of African - Americans in the US military, how the English impacted those countries that they ruled over, etc, but it is the stories of each man that is so interesting and the emotional stories as well. Shute has such a knack for addressing these emotional touches, that you probably don't realize how much you have found yourself becoming involved in the sub-stories, until the end. I do find that this story, like so many others Shute stories I've read, always strike my heart and soul, lovely to read and to think about."

and finally.....

Currently Reading
I've started the month with these books.
1. The Archer Files by Ross MacDonald (a collection of short stories featuring cases of PI Lew Archer.)
2. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (a collection of short stories by that famous sleuth Sherlock Holmes)
3. Midnight Crossing by Charlaine Harris (the first story of a new fantasy series by the creator of the True Blood books)
4. The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe (a piece of historical fiction by a Canadian writer.)

So there you go. Jo is just ordering a pizza from our favourite bakery and I'll be heading off to get it shortly. Yay!!

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