Monday, 7 August 2017

Just Finished, the Pop Culture Challenge, History/ Science and the Birth Date Thing

We've had a few hazy days over the past week, especially on Saturday. Last night Jo and I went for a drive and the sun was bright orange from the haze surrounding it. No chance of rain in the forecast until Saturday but it's supposed to be slightly cooler until then.

Just Finished

On Sunday I finished an interesting mystery from a new author for me, Julia Keller. It's the first in her Bell (short for Belfa) Elkins mystery series, A Killing in the Hills. I have the next book and look forward to reading it. I've started the 3rd Mary Russell mystery next, Laurie King's A Letter of Mary. My review for A Killing in the Hills is below.

"A Killing in the Hills is the first Bell Elkins mystery by Julia Keller. The story is set in rural West Virginia and Elkins is the local District Attorney. Something happened to Bell during her childhood in the town of Acker's Gap, which becomes apparent as you progress through the story. She married at a later date and moved to Washington DC with her husband, a new lawyer. Bell also got her law degree but wanted to return to Acker's Gap to help the people of that community; ending up with her going alone with her daughter, Carla.
The story starts with a triple murder in the town, 3 old men sitting having coffee at the local restaurant. Carla is one of the people who sees the shooting. Bell is also working on a case in which a mentally handicapped boy is charged with the murder of his friend. As well, Carla, a typical teenager?, is rebelling, anger issues, suspended driver's license. Bell's best friend, Ruthie, is suffering with cancer, and, oh yes, Bell's sister is coming up for a parole hearing for the murder of their father, many years ago. So, yes a lot is going on.
But Keller is able to tie this all together to make an interesting, tense story. It flows very nicely and there are characters, especially Bell (Belfa) and the sheriff, Nick Fogelsong, with long ties to Bell, who are developed nicely. The past and the present are tied together, the murderer is well-described and interesting/ somewhat scary, and the mysteries are nicely tied up. There are enough loose ends at the end of the book; especially re. Bell's daughter and Bell's sister, to make you want to find out more about this series. I enjoyed very much and look forward to trying the next, Bitter River. (4 stars)"

The Missus's Pop Culture Challenge

Taking a look at Days 13 - 15 today.

Day 13 - Name a film you think every 15 year old should be forced to watch. I chose On the Beach, either watching the movie or reading the books should be a must, even for some adults (and I use the term loosely), such as the carrot - topped president and the guy in charge of North Korea. These people shouldn't be let near nuclear weapons. Some other choices were Shawshank Redemption, Sophie's Choice, Spotlight (Jo's selection), etc.

Day 14 - Favourite: literary, television of movie detective. One of my favourite categories as I love mysteries. Probably 75% of what I read and watch these days are mysteries. I chose Bruno, Chief of Police from Martin Walker's mystery series. It's set in France and everything about the series is excellent. Jo chose Bobby Goran from Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Other choices included Inspectore Brunetti from Donna Leon's mystery series featuring this Italian police inspector, Chief Inspector Morse, Hercule Poirot, etc. So many to choose from and most people had more than one choice.

Day 15 - A Film you've seen once but will never watch again. What Jo meant was not a bad film, but one that had an effect on you, that you might have appreciated, but was a bit too much to want to watch again. I chose Schindler's List. She chose The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Other choices included Dances with Wolves, Sleepers, Minority Report, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, etc.

Today the category was the Worst Film you've ever seen. More next entry.

Great Historical Events

My excerpt today continues events of 1781.

"April 22. - Surrender of Fort Watson to Gens. Marion and Lee
April 25. - Battle of Hobkirk's Hill
May 9. - Surrender of Pensacola
May 10. - Camden evacuated
May 12. - Fort Schuyler (Utica) destroyed by fire
May 12. - Fort Mott taken
May 15. - British abandon Nelson's Ferry
June 6. - Augusta, Ga., capitulates
June 18 - 19. - Siege of Ninety-Six, S.C.
July 6. - Battle of Green Spring
Aug. 3. - Arrival of the French fleet under De Grasse."

A lot has happened in 1781. I'll finish the year with my next entry.

Science of Common Things

This excerpt from Prof. L.G. Gorton covers something I'm quite familiar with... *sigh*... SNOW!

"What is snow? Snow consists of the watery particles of the atmosphere frozen for the most part in a crystalline form. Why is snow white? (Ed. Note. I kind of thought that it had something to do with that fairy tale?) On account of the aggregate reflection of light from the sides of minute crystals. (Ah, that explains it) Why are the high mountain peaks covered with snow? Because the upper regions of the atmosphere are intensely cold."

Next we move on to other forms of snow, e.g. hail and sleet.

The Birth Date Thing 10 November 2002
(From initial look, I don't particular like the music choices, but here you go.)

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 2002

Lose Yourself by Eminem. I can think of one song of his that I 'liked', that being Stan, from 2000. Lose Yourself is a song from his movie, 8 Mile.

UK #1 Single 10 November 2002

Heaven  by DJ Sammy and Yanou. DJ Sammy is a Spanish DJ and Heaven is his dance cover of the Bryan Adams hit.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best-Seller 10 November 2002

Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton. I've read through S in this excellent detective series. Kinsey Milhone is one of my favourite Private Eyes. My review was short but sweet. This wasn't my favourite of her books, but I still enjoyed.

"Most enjoyable. I've enjoyed every one of the series to - date. I liked the characters in this one; the two old cops, Dolan and Stacey who involve Kinsey in their cold case. They are like a bickering old married couple. The cold case was interesting; I did think at times that there were great leaps in the solving of the case, but hey, it's a mystery story. Ms. Grafton also makes the peripheral characters interesting. Nobody is totally unlikeable, even the suspects. All in all, another good story from Sue Grafton."

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2002

Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I've not read but the story follows the life of Miles Roby in a fictional, small blue-collar town in Maine and the people, places, and the past surrounding him, as manager of the Empire Grill diner.

It was turned into a two part mini-series on HBO, starring Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman and others. (I've not seen this either.)

Nobel Prize Laureate 2002

Imre Kertesz (Hungary). Kertesz was a Hungarian author who lived from 1929 - 2016. He was awarded the Nobel Prize "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history."

Hugo Award Winner 2002

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I've only read one of Gaiman's books so far, that being Neverwhere, and I enjoyed it very much. I've got both Stardust and American Gods on my bookshelf awaiting my attention. I hope to read Gods before the TV series starts, but we'll have to see.

"The central premise of the novel is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them. Immigrants to the United States brought with them spirits and gods. The power of these mythological beings has diminished as people's beliefs waned. New gods have arisen, reflecting the American obsessions with media, celebrity, technology, and drugs, among other things."

Edgar Award Winner 2002

Silent Joe by T. Jefferson Parker. I've seen Parker's books but have yet to try one. I'll probably get around to it as I continue to explore the mystery genre.

"When his adoptive father, an Orange County politician, is murdered, Joe Trona sets out to find the killer. His investigation leads him to confront his own childhood abuse."

Man Booker Prize Winner 2002

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I've not read the book nor seen the movie. Not sure I will, probably because of the hype. I do sometimes miss out on good popular books because I find myself avoiding them. My loss of course.

"Life of Pi is a Canadian adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist is Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, an Indian boy from Pondicherry who explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age."

Giller Prize Winner 2002

(Ed. Note - Jack Rabinovitch, the creator of the Giller Prize, which he named after his wife, died Sunday, 6 Aug. He was 87.)

The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke. This is a book I've been meaning to try. It's on my list of books I want to get.

"When Mary - Mathilda, one of the most respected women of the island of Bimshire (also known as Barbados) calls the police to confess to a crime, the result is a shattering all-night vigil that brings together elements of the island's African past and the tragic legacy of colonialism in one epic sweep."

So there you go. Get any good ideas? Enjoy your week. Until my next entry. :)

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