Thursday, 23 March 2017

A Bit of History and some Music

Yesterday, I mentioned a book I'd found down in Nanaimo, Treasures of Use and Beauty, published in 1885 by F.B. Dickerson. I also quoted a couple of passages from the book, the first from the section titled Great Historical Events and the second from the section titled Letters of Affection. I'll continue with that today.

From Great Historical Events (those dealing with North America in this book), I'm moving up to the 1,000's A.D. These are the events that affected North America, according to this book, in that Century.

"1002. Biron, an Icelander discovers Newfoundland and Nova Scotia (the good wine country) supposed to be the coast of New England.
1004. Natives discovered in Newfoundland.
1002 - 1006. Adventurers from Iceland repeatedly visit the New World, explore the country and barter with the natives.
1006. Thorin Karlsefni, a wealthy Icelander spent three winters on the coast of Massachusetts. His wife bore him a son whom he named Snorri, supposed to be the first child born of European parents on the American continent. " (Ed. Note. I wonder if J.R.R. Tolkien got the names of some of his dwarfs from Iceland?... :))

So what happened in the 1100s you ask? Wait until next time.

Letters of Affection

Yesterday, I posted a letter that Napoleon wrote to his wife Josephine. Historically, their marriage dissolved in December 1809. The letter below, from Josephine to Napoleon, was written in March 1811, after their split. Interesting to read.

"Navarre, March 21, 1811


Amid the numerous felicitations you receive from every corner of Europe, from all the cities of France, and from each regiment of your army, can the feeble voice of a woman reach your ear, and will you deign to listen to her who so often consoled your sorrows and sweetened your pains, now that she speaks to you only of the happiness in which all your wishes are fulfilled? Having ceased to be your wife, dare I felicitate you on becoming a father? Yes sire, without hesitation, for my soul renders justice to yours, in like manner as you know mine.
*      *      *      *      *      *       *
But it is from you that I desire to know if your child be well, if he resembles you, if I shall one day be permitted to see him; in short, I expect from you unlimited confidence, Sire, of the boundless attachment I shall cherish for you while life remains.


Napoleon's response -

"March 22, 1811

My Love:

I have received your letter. I thank you. My son is stout and very well, I hope he will be prospered. *** He has my chest, my mouth and eyes. I hope that he will fill his destiny.

I am always pleased with Eugene. He has never caused me any dissatisfaction.


So there you go, your touch of history for today.

Music Stuff

Now on to some music. My usb stick is a constantly changing thing. Either mine or Jo's is always found in the usb port in our car and that is the music we listen too when we go for a drive of any length. We rarely listen to the radio. I've had it for five or six years now and I regularly update it with new songs and remove older songs. Some I just add to the Walkman I use when I go for my morning run.

Anyway, I scrolled through the list I keep of the songs that I currently have on the usb. I also keep the songs on the list that I've removed, just so I don't start repeating myself when I add new songs. And, yes, I love making lists. It's one of my favourite things.

So, as I went through the list I thought it might be interesting (to me at any rate) to see if there are any artists/ bands that I've preferred over the years since I started the list. And that is the point of this article, to provide my Top Ten 'usb' artists, as of today. You'll note in the list that some of the songs will be bolded. They are songs that are currently on my usb by the applicable artist. If you click on the bolded area, it will take you to a version of the song on You Tube; if you want to hear what music I like. No pressure. ;0)

Top Ten List

10. London Grammar. This English group formed in 2012 and released their first album in 2013. The group consists of singer, Hannah Reid, and band mates, Dominic Major and Dan Rothman. I love Hannah's voice, which can be haunting, and just the style of their music, a very ethereal sound. I currently have 3 of their songs available on my usb. These are the songs I've enjoyed thus far.

1. Strong (2013)
2. Wasting My Young Years (2013)
3. Wicked Game (2014)
4. Hey Now (2014)
5. Rooting for You (2017)
6. Big Picture (2017)

9. Beverley Knight. Beverley Knight has been an active recording artist since 1994. She was born in Wolverhampton in 1974. I discovered her music a few years back and have enjoyed it ever since. I love her voice and her bluesy style. I currently have 4 of her songs on my usb.

1. Come as You Are (2004)
2. Shoulda Woulda Coulda (2002)
3. Middle of Love (2016)
4. Private Number (2016)
5. Made it Back (1998)
6. Cuddly Toy (2011)

8. Shawn Escoffery. English soul singer, Escoffery, is the only male solo artist on my list. He's just so cool and smooth. His first major release was in 2001. I've liked every song of his I've heard. I have 3 of 7 songs on my usb.

1. Days Like This
2. Nature's Call
3. Nobody Knows
4. Love Shine Down
5. Perfect Love Affair
6. Healing Me

7. Prefab Sprout. This is one of those groups that I first heard of from my wife, Jo. This is definitely her favourite music period. I also check the play lists of various BBC Radio 2 shows to see what they are playing and have gathered some of my song choices from there. Prefab Sprout has been active since 1978. The bands name was formed from the misheard lyrics of a Nancy Sinatra/ Lee Hazelwood song, Jackson. The lyrics were "We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout", which Paddy McAloon heard as 'hotter than a prefab sprout'. (Thank you Wikipedia). They have such a unique sound. I've had 7 songs on my usb over time, with one currently in place.

1. Cars and Girls (1988)
2. The Best Jewel Thief in the World (2013) (a favourite of mine)
3. The King of Rock and Roll (1988)
4. Appetite (1985)
5. When Love Breaks Down (1984)
6. Hey Manhattan! (1988)
7. Electric Guitars (1997)

6. Sophie Ellis Bextor. English singer, Bextor, was born in Hounslow and has been active since 1998 and is another artist I first heard of from my wife, who played me Murder on the Dance Floor. I've had 7 various songs on my usb. Currently, I have two of her newer songs.

1. Come With Us (2016)
2. Runaway Daydreamer (2014)
3. Love is a Camera (2014)
4. Murder on the Dance Floor (2001)
5. Bittersweet (2010)
6. Crystallize (2016)
7. The Death of Love (2017)

5. Squeeze. This is another of those groups that came out in the '70s when New Wave was so hot, but for some reason back then I just didn't really listen to them. I had my favourites and there were so many excellent bands. They have been active during various periods since 1974. In the past few years, I've had 7 of their songs on my usb and currently have 2 on my usb.

1. Satisfied (1991)
2. Up the Junction (1979)
3. Hourglass (1987)
4. Happy Days (2015)
5. Pulling Mussels from the Shell (1980)
6. Nirvana (2015)
7. Labelled with Love (1981)

4. Lisa Stansfield. Stansfield has been performing since 1981 and I readily admit that I came late to her musical prowess. She has a fantastic voice and I love the jazziness of her music. One of those fantastic female singers like Tina Arena and Belinda Carlisle who I enjoy listening to so much. I've had 7 of her songs on my usb at various times. Currently there are 2.

1. The Rain (2014)
2. Change (1991)
3. Face Up (2001)
4. Live Together (1990)
5. This is the Right Time (1989)
6. I Will Be Waiting (1991)
7. The Real Thing (1997)

3. Spandau Ballet. I'm repeating myself here. Yup, this is another of those New Wave bands that I didn't follow originally. Maybe it was as simple that I liked ABC, The Police and The Cars and didn't explore quite so much. Who knows. All that I can say is that I'm so glad that I've become familiar with their excellent sound. Spandau Ballet has been around since 1979. They took a hiatus between 1990 and 2009 but have reformed since then. You'll never hear a better voice than Tony Hadley's. Great singer. Mind you so many of those bands had great singers. I have 3 of 7 songs currently on my usb.

1. Through the Barricades (1986)
2. Instinction (1982)
3. Communication (1983)
4. This is the Love (2014)
5. Heaven is a Secret (1983)
6. Steal (2014)
7. Lifeline (1982)

2. The Veronicas. Australian band, formed by twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Ogliasso, has been a favourite of mine since I first heard Untouched on one of my trips from Comox to Victoria when I was stationed down there. They are a great pop/ rock band and have such great musical sensibilities. I've had eight songs of theirs on my usb at various times. Currently I have one. I've noticed recently that they've released a couple of new songs. Will have to check them out.

1. Leave Me Alone (2006)
2. Revolution (2006)
3. This Love (2008)
4. When It All Falls Apart (2006)
5. Everything I'm Not (2005)
6. Untouched (2007)
7. 4Ever (2005)
8. Popular (2008)

1. Simple Minds. OK, OK... I didn't really know the band before when they were popular... *sigh*. I'm starting to sound like a broken record. I did live in Cold Lake Alberta.. Anyway, I'm glad that have become familiar with their music the past few years. Such a great band. Great singer, great powerful sound. A Scottish band that formed in 1977 and are still going strong. I've had 9 of their songs on my usb, with 3 currently there for my enjoyment.

1. Let the Day Begin (2014)
2. Someone, Somewhere in Summertime (1982)
3. Honest Town (2014)
4. Broken Glass Park (2013)
5. Glittering Prize (1982)
6. Promised You a Miracle (1982)
7. Alive and Kicking (1985)
8. Midnight Walking (2015)
9. The American (1981)

OK, so there you go. Check out the bands/ artists and the songs if you're not familiar (or even if you are) with them. Such excellent artists. Here are a few others of my favourites.

- Tina Arena
- Siouxsie and the Banshees
- Pet Shop Boys
- Kaiser Chiefs
- Clean Bandit.

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A Trip to Nanaimo, BC March 21, 2017 and other stuff

Yesterday, the missus and I dropped the dogs off at doggie day care and headed down island to Nanaimo. We've been finalising some of the work we've been up to in the house and thought it might be worthwhile checking out a couple of stores we like down there (they just aren't available here). It was a drizzly day so we knew the puppies would be mighty dirty when we picked them up on our way back home. (We were right)

As well as Home Sense and Urban Barn, Jo had found an article on a new antique / collectibles store that had opened in Nanaimo, that being Romantic Ruins (see the link for some photos and other info on the store), so she thought it might be interesting to check it out as well.

So off we headed, enjoying the opportunity to get away for the day and take a break on the work we'd been doing in the house. (more on that later). We hit Home Sense about 11 a.m. and had a nice morning wandering about. It is one of Jo's favourites, and, as usual, Jo found a few items and also a possible night stand for the extra bedroom. I wandered over to Pet Smart and a new leash for Clyde (one to try and keep him from barking at other dogs and people when we out for walks. About time probably... lol). I also got a sonic egg. It's supposed to distract dogs when they start barking. We'll see.

After Home Sense, we also tried Home Outfitters, which is right beside Home Sense in Nanaimo. Very disappointing. They don't seem to know what they want to do with the store anymore. We spent only a few minutes there. I guess if we wanted sheets or towels we might have been more interested. Mind you, they also sell those in Home Sense, just as good and probably cheaper.

We tried a new place for lunch. I guess any place would actually have been new as we don't often have a meal on our visits. Normally we would stop at Cuckoos in Combs on our way back home. Anyway, we saw a place called Cactus Club Café and gave it a try. It was very good, nice, friendly staff, clean and open, and excellent burgers. What more could you ask for?

After lunch, we headed downtown to Romantic Ruins. What a great place! You can see some photos of the layout of the store at the link in the 2nd paragraph above. We could have spent a long time there.. well, we did, in fact. Jo found another possible little table for the extra bedroom. She'll decide today which we'll go with. Both were very nice and will fill the spot perfectly. There were so many other neat things, including the book above, which was published in 1885 by Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan publishers, F.B. Dickerson and Co. More on that next. Needless to say, I had to have it. I told Jo she could put it in her new office that she's creating if she wants.

We finished off the day with a quick trip to Urban Barn, didn't really see anything there that we needed. So off we went, heading back up island to pick up the tired, dirty puppies and then head home. All in all, a lovely day, even with the rainy weather. The pups had baths when we got home, a good dinner and then we all relaxed for the rest of the night. Today, just for info, we're waiting for Aaron to arrive and do some tree trimming for us. Hope it doesn't rain too much for him to work.

Treasures of Use and Beauty

OK, now on to a couple of other things. Firstly, the book I found. It's called Treasures of Use and Beauty, an Epitome of the Choicest Gems of Wisdom, History, Reference and Recreation. It's so well preserved and taken care of for a book published in 1885. If I can read the inscription correctly, it belonged to Mrs. Alice Havill of Paris Ontario at one time. It's one of those odd combinations. Part 1 contains sections dealing with Making the Home Attractive, Home Decoration in Natural Flowers, Preparing Leaves and Flowers, China Painting, Bronze Work, etc. Part 2 contains a Pictorial History of Canada, Historical Discoveries, an Encyclopedia of Great Events, Science of Letter Writing, Letters of Affection by Eminent Persons, etc. I glanced through it and thought it was fascinating. I think over the next while, I'll try to highlight some of the sections of the book, especially the Great Events and the Letters from Eminent Persons. Here are a couple of the first to tweak your interest. (These are direct quotes from this book, copyright F.B. Dickerson, 1883)

The first items in the Great Historical Events -
"458. Chinese tradition alleges the discovery of Mexico
861. Iceland discovered by the Normans
889. Greenland discovered by the Normans
985. The Danes peopled Greenland under Eric Raud"

(Next segment starts at 1002. Exciting, eh?)

Letters of Affection (This from Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine. They were married in March 9th, 1796. Their marriage was dissolved Dec 15th, 1809. Bonaparte was taken prisoner to St Helena Aug 11th, 1815 - died May 5th, 1821 at St. Helena. The letter below was written from Bonaparte to Josephine Jul 17th, 1796.

Marmirolo, Jul 17th, 1796

"I have received your letter, my adorable friend. It has filled my heart with joy. ** Ah! I entreat you to permit me to see some of your faults. Be less beautiful, less gracious, less affectionate, less good. Especially be not over-anxious, and never weep. Your tears rob me of reason, and inflame my blood. Believe me it is not in my power to have a single thought which is not of thee, or a wish which I could not reveal to thee.

A thousand kisses

Interesting stuff. "

Josephine's marriage dissolved Dec 15, 1809. The beautiful palace at Malmaison was assigned for her residence. She retained the title of Empress and received an income of $600,000 a year."

Home Reno Update

CD shelf and my Cadfael books
So where are we now you ask? The study is now about 95% complete. We've got the wall units stacked again, have put up the floating shelves that contain our Cd's and my Cadfael books.

My 'I Love Me' wall is sorted. I went through all the various plaques and certificates that I've received over the course of my career and Jo put them up. The new wall lamp (right side of the photo above) is perfect and much nicer and more substantial than the one we used to have there. We still have a few things to do. Jo says she'll probably move most of her decorating books and magazines up to her new office upstairs when she's finished setting it up. We still have a couple of things to do; get a new end table maybe beside the orange chair and also clean out the closet and put up some proper shelves in there.

The front hall - picture by Spinning Compass
We're so very pleased with the work that the Spinning Compass kids did in the front hallway. It looks fantastic. It's not quite finished. New carpet down the stairs still to come in the next couple of weeks. Although it doesn't look like if from the photo, we still need to paint the walls; just sorting out what colour we want it (white, anyone?). And then there will be new floors in the hallway, the lounge and into the dining room. Looking at May sometime for that. But, I'm sure you'll agree that it looks beautiful at the moment.

Starting to put books and other things in the shelves now
The extra bedroom is pretty well done. Jo is working on the boxes you see bottom centre that Jay, from Spinning Compass, made for us. She's painting them and they'll sit in those little cubbies. We still need a small table for the other end of the room. And then basically just organise the shelves, make sure the bed is ready and the room will be done. It really has been transformed. Jo also repainted our old dress and put new knobs on it to refresh it perfectly.

My Conan books and some others
Since this is first and foremost a book Blog, I thought I'd highlight what I've put in the shelves so far. Jo will reorganise as she sees fit and also add some of her fine touches as the finishes them off. This little stand is located at the top of the room in one of the cubby holes there. Jo repainted them and gave them a new lease on life. In this one, I've got my Robert E. Howard Conan series, which I've had for many, many years. Also a couple of older books, one from my childhood, the Rupert annual, which unfortunately has seen better days. The ice bucket, drink mixer, Jo and I got at an antique fair down in Qualicum Beach a few years back.

The other shelf still needs a bit of fleshing out. I could add more books.. :).. but I'll let Jo fill in the top shelf. The bottom shelf includes some of my hard cover mysteries and some history/ biography books. Lying down are some of my favourite graphic novels. I have too many stored in boxes that I will eventually have to deal with.

The rest of the books in the room are stored in the built-ins. I am almost ashamed to say it but I'd hazard a guess that I haven't read about 90% or so. They are books I'm looking forward to reading. The shelves above are bottom left and are mostly mysteries. Some of my series that I'm working on; Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series set in Norway, Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen mystery series set in Italy, Stanley Evan's Silas Seaweed series set in Victoria, etc.

On the bottom right are most of the Science fiction, fantasy and horror series I'm reading, including Iain Banks' Culture series, Joe Haldeman's Forever War, Hugh Howey's Dust series, etc. 2nd from the bottom is more of a variety of books, fiction, biography, etc. The shelf above, on the left side contains my Inspector Brunetti series by Donna Leon and on the right side of the shelf is another variety, some mysteries, etc.

Top middle over the window holds most of my Penguin books, a very wide variety from A - Z, left to right. You've got my Graham Greene books and authors like Nevil Shute, Somerset Maugham, John Wyndham, etc. I love Penguins, especially the traditional orange covers.

The top shelves on the left side are a bit better organised as Jo has added a few things. Just to the bottom left you've got my Oliver Potsch Hangman's Daughter historical mystery series and also my James Runcie Sidney Chambers mystery books. Middle of the photo is a newly published series of Jane Austen novels that I got Jo for Xmas this past year. And the top shelf has my Charlaine Harris books; Sookie Stackhouse, Harper Connelly and Lily Bard books.

Finally, on the right side, top shelves, you've got the following. I already mentioned the bottom shelf. Above that are a number of Jo's design books, many that I got her for the Xmas's we've spent together. Far right beside the 'J' are my Alan Furst, Night Soldiers series, various spy stories set during WWII. The top shelf is another varied set of books, some history and biography and my Barbara Cleverly Joe Sandilands mystery series set during the Raj in India.

So there you have it, a bit of an update on what's been going on in our happy lives. The work we've had done so far has brightened up and updated the rooms we've finished. The ceiling in the study makes the room look totally different and is one Jo's favourite things. The front hall is welcoming and rich and the extra bedroom is now cosy and comfortable; probably my favourite so far.

Enough for now. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Book Purchases End Feb 2017

Well, it's a nice sunny cool day today. I'm just getting over a bit of a cold. Not sure where I might have obtained it, but it left me feeling a bit crappy the past couple of days. The other night the missus had to leave the bed as she said I was snoring like a freight train.. lol.. Well, not so funny for her, I think.

Our front hallway has been basically finished. The new baseboards will be installed when we pick the flooring we want to install. I've been slowly putting books on the new built-ins in the extra bedroom and we've been selling off some of the extra furniture and stuff we've acquired over the past 15 years. The room that Jo will be using as her office/ crafts room is pretty well emptied of the furniture that we wanted to get rid of. Now it's just a matter of painting it and maybe installing some hard wood. Then that room will be all ready as well. So everything is progressing nicely. The house is starting to feel less like a warehouse, what with furniture and stuff lying all about and in the next few weeks we'll be back to normal and can focus a bit on the garden..

So there you go, a bit of an update. Now on to book stuff. I've been avoiding updating my book purchases for the past month as I've waiting for a small book order to arrive that I could include in my update. But it's a bit overdue so I'll just provide an update on the books I've purchased locally since my last update at the beginning of February.

The first four books were purchased at Second Page Books, a used book store I frequent in Courtenay. The other four were purchased at my used book store in Comox, Nearly New Books. So here you go...

1. Wycliffe and the Four Jacks by W.J. Burley. This is the 12th book in the Chief Superintendent Wycliffe mystery series set in the Cornwall area of the British Isles. I've read 4 or 5 so far and always enjoy pulling one down off the shelves. I've still got lots to go so I don't have to worry about running out of them.

"David Cleeve lived the way a bestselling novelist should live - in an opulent house set in a beautiful corner of Cornwall. But beneath the successful façade he lived a private nightmare. For at regular intervals a sinister and mysterious warning arrived - a single playing card, the Jack of Diamonds.
The day came when - ominously - the card arrived torn in half, and that night a murderer struck.
Chief Superintendent Wycliffe - on holiday in the area - found himself drawn into the investigation of the murder - which became a double murder, arson, and a series of crimes that stretched back over many years."

2. This Perfect Day by Ira Levin. I enjoyed reading Levin's Rosemary's Baby so much last year that I've found a couple of his other books, This Perfect Day and Sliver, in the past few months, so I can try his other works.

"The story is set in a seemingly perfect global society. Uniformity is the defining feature; there is only one language and all ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into one race called “The Family.” The world is ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they will remain satisfied and cooperative. They are told where to live, when to eat, whom to marry, when to reproduce. Even the basic facts of nature are subject to the UniComp’s will—men do not grow facial hair, women do not develop breasts, and it only rains at night."

3. Background to Danger by Eric Ambler. Sometimes I just like to try an new author. This book cover attracted my attention and I do enjoy a good spy novel. This is the second Ambler book I've purchased recently. Now to read them.

"Kenton' career as a journalist depended on his facility with languages, his knowledge of European politics, and his quick judgement. Where his judgement sometimes failed him was in his personal life. When he finds himself on a train bound for Austria with insufficient funds after a bad night of gambling, he jumps at the chance to earn a fee to help a refugee smuggle securities across the border. He soon discovers that the documents he holds have a more than monetary value, and that European politics has more twists and turns than the most convoluted newspaper account."

4. Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer. I enjoyed Bauer's first book, Blacklands, very much. This is her fourth book. Her second, Darkside is next on my list to read.

"Winner of the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime novel of the Year Award, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and one of the Guardian's Best Crime and Thrillers of the Year, Rubbernecker is a can't - put - it - down page - turner from one of the finest voices in UK crime. "The dead can't speak to us," Professor Madoc has said. But that was a lie. The body Patrick Fort is examining in anatomy class is trying to tell him all kinds of things. But no one hears what Patrick hears, and no one understands when he tries to tell them. Life is already strange enough for Patrick - being a medical student with Asperger's syndrome isn't easy. But as he learns one truth from a dead man, he discovers there have been many more lies much closer to home."

5. Lonely Road by Nevil Shute. On the Beach and Pied Piper have long been two of my all-time favourite books. In the past few years, I've reread both and then started trying others of Shute's books and he's fast become one of my favourite authors. Lonely Road was first published in 1932.

"She was a dance hostess in a grimy northern town, a professional partner for lonely men. He was rich, an ex-Naval Officer and a bachelor. Linking their fates, a burning lorry that had carried a cargo of guns... Lonely Road has all the hallmarks of brilliance and excitement that have made Nevil Shute's novels consistent world bestsellers."

6. The Murder Stone by Louise Penny. I've read the first two Inspector Gamache mysteries so far and enjoyed them both very much. I like that they are set in Canada, Quebec to be exact, and I like the community described in the first two books. This is the fourth book in the series.

"Beneath a scorched summer sky, the wealthy Finney family have gathered at a lakeside manor to honour their late father. But when the heat wave boils over into a mighty storm, a dead body is left in its wake - and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache finds himself with a building full of suspects..."

7. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. I do like this genre of Young Adult fantasy fiction. I enjoyed The Hunger Games books, The Scorpio Races and I'm looking forward to trying this series. The Scorch Trials is the sequel to The Maze Runner which is currently awaiting my attention.

"Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.
Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated - and with it, order - and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious diseases known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim ... and meal.
The Gladers are far from done running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned - out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Thomas can only wander - does he hold the secret to freedom somewhere in his mind? or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?"

8. Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke. This is the final book in the Inkheart trilogy. The first book was excellent.

"Ever since the extraordinary events of Inkspell, when the enchanted book Inkheart drew Meggie and her father, Mo, into its chapters, life in the Inkworld has been more tragic than magical.
The fire-eater Dustfinger is dead, having sacrificed his life for his apprentice Farid's, and now, under the rule of the evil Adderhead, the fairy-tale land is in bloody chaos, its characters far beyond the control of Fenoglio, their author. Even Elinor, left behind in the real world, believes her family to be lost - lost between the covers of a book.
Facing the threat of eternal winter, Mo inks a dangerous deal with Death itself. There yet remains a faint hope of changing the cursed story - if only he can fill its pages fast enough."

So there you go, my latest purchases. I'm expecting that now that I've finished this post my shipping order will arrive today. Ah well, I can always update that tomorrow.. :)

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

February 2017 Reading Summary

Well, well, March is now upon us... Egad! The first two months of 2017 have moved along very quickly. We've been busy renovating the old homestead, had a nice trip down to Victoria and basically enjoyed the year so far, amazed that we've actually had a winter this year.

As to my reading plans, I'm moving along nicely. According to my overall Goodreads' total challenge of reading 120 books in 2017, I'm 3 books ahead of schedule. Mind you, I have read a great many shortish books so that may be somewhat misleading. As to variety, because I've been trying to complete my 12 + 4 challenge (all Science Fiction) and also work through a number of mystery series, the variety hasn't been great, if you just consider genres. But I'm sure it'll all work out in the end. Ultimately, the key is to enjoy what I'm reading and let the challenges resolve themselves as they may.

My favourite book of February
OK, so let's go, here is my February reading summary and totals so far for 2017.

General Stats

                                                    Feb                    2017 Total
Books Read                                10                           22
Pages Read (approx.)              2,600                      5,600        (Average per book - 255)

Pages Breakdown
       < 250                                      5                            12
250 - 350                                       3                              7
351 - 450                                       2                              2
       > 450                                      0                              1

Author Gender
Female                                          3                               4
Male                                             7                              18

5 - star                                          0                                1
4 - star                                          9                               13
3 - star                                          1                                8

Fiction                                          0                                2
Mystery                                        5                               10
SciFi                                             5                               10
Non-Fiction                                  0                                0
Humour                                        0                                0
Classics                                        0                                0

Reading Group Challenges

One of 4 completed
12 + 4 (Science Fiction - from oldest on my bookshelf) (completed 9)
1. Ballroom of the Skies by John D. MacDonald (1952) - 3 stars
2. City by Clifford D. Simak (1952) - 4 stars
3. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester (1953) - 4 stars
4. The Door to Summer by Robert Heinlein (1957) - 4 stars

Canadian Literature (1 of 5) - Nothing read in this category in February

Classics (0 of 4) - Nothing read in February

Joe Gunther #1
Mysteries (The Cops) - completed 2 for a total of 4 of a suggested 25
5. Open Season by Archer Mayor (Joe Gunther #1) - 4 stars
6. The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker (Bruno, Chief of Police #4) - 4 stars

Kat Colorado #1
Mysteries (The Sleuths) - completed 3 for a total of 6 of a suggested 25. I started 2 new series this month and finished one, so just the opposite of President 45's rules (being delete 2 policies for each new one), for each 2 series started, finish 1.. (not that I follow that too strictly)
7. The Judas Pair by Jonathan Gash (Lovejoy #1) - 4 stars
8. Katwalk by Karen Kijewski (Kat Colorado #1) - 4 stars
9. Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris (Harper Connelly #4 - series complete) - 4 stars

Fantasy (1 of 5) - I completed The Hunger Games trilogy)
10. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games #3) - 4 stars

Horror (0 of 5)

Science Fiction (0 of 5) - I'm thinking that if I finish my 12 + 4 challenge early enough, as in March or early April, I'll do another combining a mix of Fantasy/ Horror / SciFi and that will leave me the other book of the 4 I read at a time for the remaining genres. :0)

Fiction (1 of 15) (nothing new in February)

Non-Fiction (0 of 5)

Spy / Thriller / War (0 of 10)

My Top 3 Books of February

1. The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker - The Bruno books continue to be a favourite of mine. At the moment there are 10 books in the series and I've completed 4. (One is an e-book that I won't be able to read) I will have to add a the next couple to my book shelves. My review of The Crowded Grave is below.

"The Crowded Grave is the 4th book in the Bruno, Chief of Police mystery series, by Martin  Walker, a series that very quickly became one of my favourites. Bruno is the police chief in the small French hamlet of St. Denis and the stories for the most part focus on cases and the lives of the people who reside in the community and surrounding area.
In The Crowded Grave, Bruno investigates a body discovered at an archaeological dig and crimes against local foie gras producers. As well, he is seconded to the national security apparatus as they are organising a conference in the local area between French and Spanish governments. Add to the mix a new, young state prosecutor, on whose bad side Bruno seems to fall, and the arrival of previous love, Isabelle, and you've got the makings of a fast-paced interesting story.
There is so much to like about the Bruno books as they focus on more than just crime. There is the wonderful, close community of St. Denis, the fantastic cuisine that they share with you with such enjoyment and the scenic area where the stories are set. It's difficult not to want to visit.
The mysteries in The Crowded Grave are interesting as you have possible involvement by PETA, suspicious activities by Basque separates, a decades old mystery. It definitely keeps the story moving along and Bruno has to use all of his wits to try and sort out whether the various activities are related. Throw in the fact that his current love, English resident Pamela, has family problems of her own to deal with and the confusion to Bruno of the arrival of Isabelle and it's an intriguing story. The story is wrapped up very nicely although it left me very sad at the end; something that I never expected to happen, that did and left me heart - broken. But I'll leave that for you to find out. If you've never delved into Bruno's world, I recommend it heartily. If you have, this book is a worthy follow-on to the first three. (4 stars)"

The remaining books are -
The Devil's Cave (2012)
Bruno and the Carol Singers (2012) - e-book / short story
The Resistance Man (2013)
Children of War (US title The Children Return) (2014)
The Dying Season (US title The Patriarch) (2015)
Fatal Pursuit (2015)

2. City by Clifford D. Simak - I had read this previously during my university years but I wanted to reread to see if it was as good as I remembered. It was.

"City by Clifford D. Simak was a reread for me. It had been 40 years since last I'd read it so I wanted to see if it would have a similar impact as my memories of it. I had recently read The Werewolf Principle by Simak and thoroughly enjoyed it. So with that short preamble, I decided to read a copy of City that I found recently.
Basically, it did not disappoint. The story is more of a series of short stories about the future of mankind on Earth. The stories are told by dogs, who have been surgically given the ability to speak and also have had their eyes altered to provide them with a human view perspective. There is a preamble before each story which outlines the dogs views on whether the stories are true themselves.
The main humans are the Webster family who are involved in all of the changes that are taking place in the future. It is a Webster who makes the changes to the dogs, who impact on a philosophy that might give a hope for the future, etc. The other main character, besides the dogs is Jenkins, the old family butler, who also happens to be a robot. The stories move farther and farther into the future with drastic changes to mankind, the dogs, robots, etc.
The stories tie together nicely and make for a fascinating view of the future. I'm glad I read again; it was worth digging it out again. (4 stars)"

3. Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris - This is the final book in Harris' Harper Connelly supernatural mystery series. This is the second series by Harris I've completed in the past couple of years, the other being the Lily Bard mysteries. Luckily I still have a few books in her Sookie Stackhouse fantasy series and a new one she has just introduced, Midnight Crossing.

"Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris is the fourth and final book in Harris' Harper Connelly supernatural mystery series. While I'm sad that it's ended, just as I was sad when her Lily Bard mysteries ended, at least everything was wrapped up nicely.
Harper and her step brother, Tolliver, travel around the US, mainly the South, helping people discover how their kin died. When Harper was young, she was struck by lightning. One of the after-effects is that she can see how a person died or, as in most of her stories, was murdered. She and Tolliver get involved in the mysteries trying to solve the crimes.
In this final story, the two have returned to Dallas to see their younger sisters and Tolliver's brother to try and decide if they want to settle down in the area. Their childhoods were not the best and the area brings back many, many bad memories; their parents were drug addicts, their sister Cameron disappeared at a young age, etc.
One of the surprises for them during this visit, where they also conduct some business in Texarkana for a wealthy land owner, is the discovery the Tolliver's father, Harper's step father, has been released from prison and wants to regain contact with Tolliver. Another 'bad' surprise is an attempt on Harper's life; someone tries to shoot her but hits Tolliver instead.
So you have a few mysteries to solve as well as try to resolve the series. It's an interesting, well-paced story with nice twists and turns, just like the other books in this excellent series. The results, while a bit pat maybe, are very satisfying and succeed in the aim at wrapping up the stories and the outstanding issues. I like Harper and Tolliver and also some of the other characters, especially Manfred, their other supernatural friend. So now I have the Sookie books and the Midnight Crossing books to work through. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

So there you go, my February summary. I've started off March with the following books.

1. Time Out of Joint by Phillip K. Dick (12 + 4 SciFi Challenge)
2. Listening Woman by Tony Hillerman (Ongoing series, Cops - Joe Leaphorn #3)
3. Murder on Washington Square by Victoria Thompson (Ongoing series, Sleuths - Gaslight #4)
4. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (Fiction)

In my next BLog entry, I'll update my recent book purchases. Have a great day!
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