Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Song Challenge, House Renos and New Books...

Home Renos Update.

The small bedroom, view from the door.
A couple of entries ago I mentioned that we were getting some work done on one of our bedrooms that had basically become a storage room. When we first bought the house, the room was bright blue and there were little stars stuck on the ceiling that glowed in the dark. Your basic kid's room, eh?

To the left of the door
We didn't do a lot to the room. Jo painted it white. We added a new light and the windows were replaced when we did the whole house.

The 'new' new light
On Monday and Tuesday, the 'kids' were here and they installed new shelving in the closet and mounted a homemade bulletin board on the wall by the window. We just have to finish painting and then move in the furniture and it'll be Jo's new office/ craft room. More pictures to follow. As well, in the den, we did the same thing with the closet there; took out a shelving unit we'd had in there to store odds and ends and put in built - in shelves so we can make it more efficient. What we have left to do in a big way is to replace the carpet in our family room. Then it'll just be the normal small stuff.

The Missus's Music Challenge

Jo has been very happy with the number of people who've been taking part in her Facebook music challenge. It got to the point as we got near the end that she's been asked to continue it. So, with a little help from me (a very little), she's made a new list (she had borrowed the original list from a friend) and in the past couple of days we've been playing with that. It's lots of fun thinking back about songs from your childhood or younger years and how they might have affected you, or whether they brought back memories. (I'll post the list for the new challenge next entry)

To finish off this challenge, here are some songs that were picked for Days 27 - 30..

Day 27 - A Song That Breaks Your Heart. I took this to be a song that tugs at the heart and my choice was a live version of a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Hard Way. She performed it at a Country Music Awards show and was assisted by so many talented women Country musicians; new and the classics. The first time I heard it, it choked me up and it still does. Some other choices included Piece By Piece by Kelly Clarkson, lovely and emotional (Jo's pick), Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran, Bring Me Home from Les Miserables, etc.
Day 28 - A Song by an Artist whose Voice you Love.  I chose a song by an artist that I've only become familiar with in the past few years. She's been around for a long time and has a great voice; Lisa Stansfield and the song was All Around the World. Jo picked a song by another new artist for me, Australian singer, Tina Arena a her fantastic Chains. Some other choices included Stevie Wonder and Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer, Michael MacDonald and I Can Let Go Now, etc.
Day 29 - A Song You Remember from your Childhood. I chose Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows by Leslie Gore. I liked this category because we've got a bunch of people of different ages and it was interesting to see what they recalled. Jo picked Cinderella Rockefella by by Esther and Abi Ofarim. Her sis picked  Perry Como and Magic Moments. It was a neat one.
The final day was -
Day 30 - A Song that Reminds You of Yourself. I struggled with this. I was teasingly thinking of Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus, but ended with Somebody's Baby by Pat Benatar. Jo's sis picked All About the Soul by Billy Joel and Jo picked She's Always a Woman, also by Billy Joel. (I like it.. :))...

As a teaser, this is the new list that Jo made up. We've already done the first two and people are still enjoying themselves.

Currently Reading

These are the 4 books I'm currently enjoying and that I may end up finishing June off with.

Sharpe's Battle by Bernard Cornwell. This is one of my comfort series. I've enjoyed the TV adaptations and every year I try to read at least one of the books. Sharpe's Battle is the 12th book in the collection.

Sharpe is still in Portugal fighting in the Peninsula wars. This story takes place in 1811 and is centered on the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro in May. Sharpe and his men are quartered in an old Portuguese fort and attacked by an elite French unit. Sharpe is blamed for the disaster and must fight to restore his honour.

I'm enjoying so far, but that's no surprise. The books are always entertaining and fast-moving.

The Chequer Board by Nevil Shute. I enjoy Nevil Shute's writing so very much. He touches on his subjects with sympathy and tells such excellent stories.

The Chequer Board was initially published in 1947 and is set after WWII. The main character, John Turner, who had been injured during the war, discovers that he probably has a year left to live. He was injured as a plane he was in was shot down during the war, with only 4 survivors. He was being shipped back to England due to crimes he had committed while in Libya; black-marketeering was the crime.

He wants to find the other people who survived the crash to see how they have done. I'm enjoying the story very much; we've met the others so far and now we have to find them in the present.

Death of a Cad by M.C. Beaton. This is Book 2 of the Hamish Macbeth mystery series, a nice light gentle mystery series.

"When Priscilla Halburton-Smythe brings her London playwright fiancé home to Lochdubh, everyone in town is delighted.. except for love-struck Hamish Macbeth. But affairs of the heart will have to wait. Vile, boorish Capt. Bartlett, one of the guests at Priscilla's engagement party, has just been found dead during a grouse shoot - murder most fowl! Hamish must take care to smooth ruffled feathers in his hunt for the killer."

The Martian by Andy Weir. This was a popular (is that understating it?) book and a successful movie. Luckily, I think, I've never seen the movie so even though I know the premise, it's still quite fresh so far.

I'm enjoying so far. Some of my friends on Goodreads have said that it is quite technical at the beginning but that you just have to get through that and enjoy the story itself.

I haven't found the technical aspects overwhelming so far and I'm enjoying quite a bit. Basically, Mark Watney is left on Mars when a windstorm forces his fellow crewmates to evacuate. (They assume he is dead). Now Watney must find a way to survive and hope the next mission can find him. Interesting, eh?

New Purchases

I picked up a couple of new books yesterday at Nearly New Books and then, lo and behold, when I picked up the mail later in the day, an order had arrived, what a bounty! So these are the books I received.

Nearly New Books Purchases

Eye of Vengeance by Jonathon King. King is a new author for me. I've been looking for his books. This is one of a couple of standalone thrillers he's written.

"Crime reporter Nick Mullins had a knack for keeping tragedy at arm's length - until violence struck his own family. Struggling as a single father, he's back on the beat to cover the story of a convicted murderer gunned down in public by a sniper's bullet. Soon Nick realizes that the victim was the subject of one of his old crime stories. But that's not Nick's last link to the killer's cold-blooded revenge - because he and his daughter have caught the sniper's eye as well.

Rider of the Gate by C.J. Cherryh. Cherryh has been listed on previous BLog entries as a Hugo award winner (best Science Fiction story) and I've been thinking of trying her out. There were a couple of her books at the store so I thought I'd pick one up.

"A forgotten colony lost on a planet of wild beauty and unimaginable danger. A people held together by a renegade band of outcast heroes, called to their destinies by alien dreams. A world of Riders and Nighthorses, their minds linked together on the knife-edge of an abyss - for even a single Nighthorse can annihilate the human race. And now one Nighthorse has gone insane....."

Chiron Books, Wallingford, UK (one of my online bookstores.)

The Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser. Nesser is a Swedish crime writer. I've read one of his Inspector Van Veeteren mysteries, Borkmann's Point. I wanted to get the first book in the series before I tried any others.

"Teacher Janek Mitter wakes one morning unable to remember who he is. As he stumbles into the bathroom, he sees the body of a beautiful young woman floating dead in his bath. It is his wife, Eva, and she has been viciously attacked.
Even during his trial Janek has no memory of attacking his wife, nor any idea as to who could have killed her. Only when he is sentenced and locked up in an asylum for the criminally insane does he have a snatch of insight. He scribbles something in his Bible, but is murdered before the clue can be uncovered.
Chief Inspector Van Veeteren becomes convinced that something, or someone, in the dead woman's life has caused this terrible double murder. As he delves further, Eva's tragic story begins to emerge, and Van Veeteren realizes that the past never really stops haunting the present..."

Gideon's Corpse by Preston & Child. Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child have successful solo writing careers but they also work well together and have produced a number of books. I was interested in finding Relic (from the Agent Prendergast series) but so far have acquired the first two books in the Gideon Crew books instead. Gideon's Corpse is the 2nd book.

"When a top nuclear scientist turns homicidal, taking an innocent family hostage at gunpoint, Gideon Crew is called in to talk the man down. But, even though Gideon knows the man personally, the stand-off ends in an explosion of violence.
When the authorities discover the scientist's body is intensely radioactive all hell breaks loose. A plume of radiation over New York City leads to a warehouse, where it seems a nuclear bomb was assembled just hours before. Gideon finds himself charged with a desperate assignment: to track down a rogue nuclear just 10 days."

Gently with the Painters by Alan Hunter. This is the 7th book in the George Gently mystery series. I've read two so far and enjoyed both.

"When artist Shirley Johnson is murdered and her body dumped outside a provincial police headquarters, Gently is despatched from London to take over the investigation. The prime suspect appears to be the woman's husband, a former bomber pilot with a guilty secret, but the other members of the woman's art group also have strong views about her and her controversial final painting - Dark Destroyer.
With too many motives, too many suspects and too little time, George Gently must work quickly before the murderer manages to slip through his fingers."

The Blue Edge of Midnight by Jonathon King. This is the first book in King's Max Freeman thriller series. I'm looking forward to trying it.

"Max Freeman's old life ended on a night that will haunt him for ever. The night he killed a twelve-year-old child in self-defence in a Philadelphia shootout. The night he stopped being a cop. Now he lives a solitary existence on the edge of the Florida Everglades, with a conscience that gives him no rest.
Then he finds a corpse of a child beside an ancient river and Freeman's past explodes into the present. Distrusted as an outsider by the long-time residents of the Glades, and considered a suspect by the police, he is thrust into the centre of the search for a serial killer. And when another child goes missing, Freeman knows that he has no choice but to hunt down the murderer himself..."

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi. Scalzi is another Science Fiction author who I've noted as a result of my Hugo Award posts. His stories sound very interesting.

"They are the special wing of the Colonial Defence Forces, elite troops created from DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF's toughest operations. The universe is a dangerous place for humanity as three hostile races combine to halt our further expansion into space. Their linchpin is a turncoat scientist, Charles Boutin, who unfortunately knows the CDG's biggest military secrets. And to prevail against this alliance they must find out why Boutin did what he did.
Jared Dirac is meant to provide answers, a superhuman hybrid created from Boutin's DNA so as to access his electronically recorded memories. But when this attempt seems to fail, Jared is sent to the Ghost Brigades. As Jared fights for his own survival, Boutin's memories begin to surface, and with them a plan for something much worse than mankind's military defeat.
Will Jared's new memories be enough to save humanity? And will they be enough to save himself?"

Stephen Morris / Pilotage by Nevil Shute. The more I read the books of Nevil Shute, the more I enjoy his writing. I've now made it priority to acquire all of his books (the same thing I'm doing with Graham Greene's books). Stephen Morris and Pilotage were both written in 1923 but not published until 1961. Pilotage continues the story of Stephen Morris.
"Two linked novels of the pioneer days of flying. Both are thrilling and moving stories which combine tenderness, courage and a keen perception of the human heart with expert knowledge of aviation and sailing."

Well, there you go... whew... A nice afternoon outside, we're definitely enjoying the fresh breeze coming in through the windows. Next entry I'll head back to my normal subjects of late. It's also almost time for the half-year review of my reading challenges. Have a great day and enjoy a good book!

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