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!!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Book Reading and Buying Update, the Music Challenge and other items... Whew!!!

Well, just took a look at my last entry and realised it's been 4 days since I wrote anything. Shame on me!!! We've had lovely warm weather the past week, being Canadian, I have to say it's almost been too hot. But today, even though the sun is shining brightly, there is a nice cool breeze and it feels very comfortable.
On the doggie front, Bonnie no longer has a bandage on her tail. Other than a little scab, everything looks fine. Just have to keep an eye on her for the next couple of days to make sure she (or Clyde for that matter) don't lick the scab off. Clyde goes on Wednesday to make sure his foot is OK. The cream seems to have worked fine as the little lump between his toes fell off within a couple of days of us applying it.

Book Purchases

This is a bit of a misnomer actually as I didn't really buy any books. I just took the dogs out on Sunday and we drove by the 3 or 4 Little lending Libraries that people have outside their houses. I found two books I liked so traded two of mine for two of theirs. Neat, eh?

I found two of the more recent Lee Child and Thomas Perry books -

Make Me by Lee Child. "Jack Reacher has no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, so he steps off a train in Mother's Rest, a small town hidden in a thousand square miles of wheat fields. It's a strange place with watchful people, and a worried woman named Michelle Chang, who mistakes Reacher for someone else: her missing partner in a private investigation she thinks must have turned lethal. There's something about Chang that makes Reacher want to help ... so he teams up with her and starts to ask around. He thinks: How bad can this thing be? But before long he's plunged into a desperate race across the country, up against thugs and assassins every step of the way, and into a nightmare he never sees coming. Walking away would have been easier. But as always, Reacher's rule is: If you want me to stop, you're going to have to make me."

Blood Money by Thomas Perry. "Even before she heard the teenager's story, Jane Whitefield's native American intuition whispered danger. For a year, Rita Sanford kept house for an old man in Florida. When he disappeared, other men came and tried to kill her. That was before she knew that her employer was the mafia's brilliant moneyman, recently reported murdered. Now the mob suspects Rita of stealing the only record of a shady investment worth billions. Unless Jane, Rita's last hope, can spirit Rita into a new identity, she's a dead woman. As the Mafioso army converges on airports and hotels, highways and city streets, there seems to be no exit - except from life itself..."

Just Finished

One author never disappoints me and that is Nevil Shute. Over the past couple of years I've explored more of his work and I've enjoyed every book I've read. I just finished The Chequer Board and loved it.

My review is below. I've now read 8 books by Shute and I still have a few (5) on my bookshelves to keep me occupied. Everybody should try one of his books. My review of The Chequer Board is below.

"The more books by Nevil Shute that I read, the more I come to recognise 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 realise 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. (5 stars)"


I do try to avoid politics in this BLog but I read an interesting article in the Washington Post yesterday that struck my interest. It was about Amy Siskind, a former Wall Street executive who has taken it upon herself to keep track of everything that the current White House is doing. As she puts at the top of her weekly document, or as she calls it, her Weekly List. She starts each entry with the following statement, "Week 32: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember". I've now read the past couple of weeks and will continue to do so. If you want to follow her, this link might work. She is also on Facebook, etc. Anyway, interesting stuff.

The Missus's Music Challenge, Part Deux

I know you've missed it and I apologise for not updating this sooner.

Crikey, we've already done the first 5 days of the new challenge, Day 31 - 35. So without further ado, here are some of the selections that have been provided for each. It's as popular as the original list that Jo borrowed.

Day 31 - The Last Song Played before the Light's go on at the Disco. Being a crusty old guy, I picked Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven,  nice long slow song. I remember it from my university days. I think Jo called me a dinosaur for my pick (or similar sentiments anyway). ;0). She picked Avalon by Roxy Music, another good track. A couple of other choices included Midnight Love Affair by George Benson and Make it With You by Bread.

Day 32 - A One Hit Wonder. I picked Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg's Je t'Aime, Mon Non Plus. Jo picked You Get What You Give by The New Radicals. A few others included Gotye's Somebody I Used to Know and Chesney Hawkes - The One and Only.

Day 33 - A Song from the '80s. As you can see, this one was wide open. I picked a nice simple rock song, Run to You by Bryan Adams. Jo picked a great song, The Boys of Summer by Don Henley. Some others included Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics, Need You Tonight by INXS and Through the Barricades by Spandau Ballet.

Day 34 - A Song that You Changed your Mind About (meaning you once hated it and now don't or vice versa. This was a difficult category) I picked Which Way You Going Billy by The Poppy Family (once hated, now likeish). Jo picked Advice for the Young at Heart by Tears for Fears (again, once hated, now likes). A couple of others were Sorry by Justin Bieber (hated but now likes) and Hot, Hot, Hot by Arrow (liked now hates.)

and the final category, not including today's.

Day 35 - Song that was only an Album Track. I picked The House at Pooh Corner by Loggins and Messina (brings back nice memories). Jo picked Last Chance on the Stairway by Duran, Duran. A couple of other picks included A Foreign Place by Japan and Bad Influence by The Robert Cray Band.

I'm enjoying this very much. Getting lots of ideas for new songs to add to my USB. Today's pick if you want to think of your own answers is a Song that is a Favourite Right now. It doesn't necessarily have to be current, just new for you and liked by you at this time.

I was going to do a History entry but this has been pretty lengthy already so I'm going to pass on that today and move right along to the Birth Day thing.

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1990 (at which point I hit the grand old age of 35.)

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1990

Love Takes Time by Mariah Carey. American singer, Mariah Carey got her start in 1988. Love Takes Time was her second US #1 single after Visions of Love, which was also the first single that she ever released. Her 1st 4 singles released off her first album reached #1 in the US. Carey wrote Love Takes Time with Ben Margulies.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1990

Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers. The Righteous Brothers were an American duo consisting of Bill Medley and formerly Bobby Hatfield. The two performed together until Hatfield's death in 2003. They originally released it in 1965 and it reached 4th. They re-released it in 1990 for the movie Ghost. It reached #27 on the AFI list of top Movie songs.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1990

The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel. This is the 4th book of 6 in Auel's Earth Children book series. It started with The Clan of the Cave Bear, which I did read and enjoyed. The six books which make up the series are -

1. The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980)
2. The Valley of the Horses (1982)
3. The Mammoth Hunters (1985)
4. The Plains of Passage (1990)
5. The Shelters of Stone (2002)
6. The Land of the Painted Caves (2011)

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1990

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos. The book tells the story of two Cuban brothers and musicians who move to New York in the 1950s. It was the first novel by an American - born Hispanic to win the Pulitzer. The book was turned into a movie, The mambo Kings, in 1992 and also into a musical in 2005.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1990

Octavio Paz (Mexico). Octavio Paz was a Mexican poet and diplomat who lived from 1914 - 1998. He was awarded the Nobel Prize 'for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterised by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity'.

Hugo Award Winner 1990

Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Hyperion is the first in a series of novels by American writer Simmons in his Hyperion Cantos.

Other books so far include -
The Fall of Hyperion;
The Rise of Endymion; and
Short Stories.

The first book is being developed as an event series by Bradley Cooper for SyFy.

Edgar Award Winner 1990

Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke. Black Cherry Blues is the 3rd book in the Dave Robicheaux mystery series by American writer Burke. There are currently 20 books in the series, with Black Cherry Blues being the 3rd book. Two movies have been made from this series, one starring Alec Baldwin and the other starring Tommy Lee Jones. Burke has also written other series.

I've considered trying the Robicheaux series but I might wait until I finish off a couple of others. :0)

and finally....

Man Booker Prize 1990

Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt. Don't know and just read the first sentence in Wikipedia describing it and now I don't care if I do ever read it. I quote... "The novel explores the postmodern concerns of similar novels, which are often categorised as historiographic metafiction, a genre that blends approaches from both historical fiction and metafiction."

A.S. Byatt is an English writer from Sheffield. She has written novels, short stories and essays.

So there you go, a wordy entry for your perusal. Enjoy your week!!

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!

Sunday, 18 June 2017


My Dad is front row middle, we believe.
As a young man, during WWII, my Dad joined the Royal Canadian Navy. After the war, he returned to his home town of Timmins, Ontario and began working in the gold mines up there.
Such a handsome couple
He met my Mom, Edith, who lived down the road in Kirkland Lake and they were married. After my older brother, Rick and my sis, Christine, were born, my Dad decided that he needed more job security than the mines could offer so he rejoined the military, this time the Royal Canadian Air Force.
In Chatham, NB, I think. Looks like our PMQ.
He spent another 20+ years in the Air Force. We got to travel around Canada; Bagotville, Que, Chatham, NB and then back to Ottawa and North Bay, Ontario. In between we also managed 3 years in Germany, an excellent time.
My Dad and Mom retired in North Bay, Ontario, strangely this was where he started his Air Force career and he lives there still, with my sister.

We're all very proud of Dad. Along with my Mom, they raised 4 good kids (so say I) and we've had a great life.
From your kids!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Currently Reading, General Topics, the History and Science Things and the Birth Day Thing

It's been a sort of lazy day today, or at the very least, I've been feeling sort of lazy. Took Bonnie down to the vet to get her tail checked again. It's progressing nicely, the vet says it's getting better each time I take her in.

This is what it looked like back in 2003 when we first bought it
The missus started painting her 'woman's cave' today. We emptied out the closet, took down the shelves, moved out a bit of the furniture and all of the loose stuff. Jo will finish painting tomorrow, or get the main stuff done. Then on Monday, the kids show up to put new shelves in the closet and mount a display board on the wall. We'll be working on the closet in the den while they work upstairs.
This is the view, but with the old windows.
We've done some work on the room, but just basic stuff; painted it, installed new windows. But it's basically become a storage room. So it'll be nice to turn it into a usable room again.

Currently Reading

This morning I finished the sixth book in the Travis McGee mystery series by John D. MacDonald, that being Bright Orange for the Shroud. Definitely a dark story and it kept me on the edge of my seat. My review is below. I've started something I think will be a bit lighter as a replacement, Death of a Cad by M.C. Beaton. It's the 2nd book in the Hamish MacBeth mystery series. Anyway, the review for the McGee book follows -

"Bright Orange for the Shroud is the 6th book in the Travis McGee mystery series by John D. MacDonald. It surprised me that it's been 4 years since I last delved into McGee's world.
McGee is a beach bum who lives on his houseboat in Florida and to make ends meet takes cases to help people in need. In this story he is planning to take the summer off, having earned enough money from previous cases, so he can take the boat and just relax and vegetate for the summer.
His plans are upset by the sudden appearance of an acquaintance, Arthur Wilkinson. Arthur is at wit's end and doesn't know who can help him, but McGee. He married a few months back and it turns out that it was part of a scam to bilk him of his inheritance. Arthur is beaten physically, mentally and spiritually by this encounter. With the assistance of Chooke, a dancer who had previously dated Arthur, McGee agrees to try and help. While Chooke works to build up Arthur's spirit again, they set off to try and get Arthur's money back.
That's the basic story, but it has an edgy darkness to it. Arthur is a decent guy, who has had his spirit broken by his 'wife', a malicious, wicked gold digger and his body broken by a swamp dweller, Boone Waxwell, who partners with the 'wife', Wilma. Other people were involved in the scam but Boone becomes the focus and he is someone you don't ever want to meet.
McGee's plan to recover the money is not without danger and the story begins to get under your skin, in a creepy, dangerous way. I'm trying to remember the other McGee stories I've read so far, but I think that this one might have been the darkest, or at the very least, right up there.
The story is a page turner, the characters; McGee, Chooke and Arthur are all well-crafted and they are people who you don't want anything bad to happen to. Excellent story and I look forward to the 7th instalment. (4 stars)"

The Missus's Music Challenge

Today I'll look back at the entries for Days 23 - 26.

Day 23 - Name a song that Everybody Should Listen to. I chose Hello Birmingham by Ani Di Franco. Jo's sis, Sue, chose James by Billy Joel, Jo picked Age of Reason by John Farnham. A couple of other choices included Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone and Symphony by Clean Bandit.

Day 24 - Song by a Band or Group you Wish were still Together. I chose Living in the Past by Jethro Tull. Other selections included Selling England by the Pound by Genesis, He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by The Hollies, and Jo's choice, Kisses of Fire by Abba.

Day 25 - A Song by an Artist no Longer Living. I chose Billy's Blues by Laura Nyro. Other choices included The Arms of Orion by Prince, Jesus Was a Cross Maker by Judee Sill (picked by Jo), Let The Music Play by Barry White, etc.

And finally, Day 26 - A Song that Makes you Want to Fall in Love. I chose Passionate Kisses by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Other selections included Close To You by The Carpenters, You Give Me Something by James Morrison, In Demand by Texas (Jo's selection), etc.

Today's selection is a Song that Breaks Your Heart. You'll have to wait until next post for that one. :)

Great Historical Events
This excerpt will concern July 4th, 1776.


July 4. - The American colonies openly declared their independence and freedom from British sovereignty
Eleven of the thirteen States establish a second branch of Legislature, calling it a Senate.
The States unitedly agree in appointing for each a Governor, or head of each State.
The States agreed in deriving their powers of government from the people' and in no case was the smallest title or power to be exercised from hereditary right.
All hereditary privileges and religious establishments were declared abolished, thereby destroying the alliance between Church and State (Ed. Note - Oh my, that is funny. You'd never know it these days in the US of A), and leveling all social distinctions."

Science of Common Things (Today's excerpt from Prof L.G. Gorton)

"Why is it frequently warmer when a frost sets in? Because when a liquid is changed to a solid heat is given out. Why is it sometimes colder when a thaw sets in? Because when a substance changes from a solid to a liquid it takes up heat. How is ice cream frozen? (Ed. Note - Now who doesn't want to know that?) By placing salt on pounded ice. The salt melts the ice, and in melting the heat is taken from the cream."

Well, there you go.. what will the good Professor discuss the next time you ask? Wait and see.

The Birth Day Thing 10 November 1989

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 1989

Listen to your Heart by Roxette.  Roxette is a Swedish rock duo who formed in 1986. They had 4 US #1's and Listen to your Heart was their second.

UK #1 Single 10 November 1989

That's What I Like by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers. Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers were an English novelty pop act in the 1980's and early 90's. They had 3 UK #1 singles, with That's What I Like being the second.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 1989

The Dark Half by Stephen King. I think this was around the time I started to lose interest in Stephen King. I had been a real fanatic up to then. I remember starting this book but for the life of me, I don't remember finishing it. This was around the time that he also put out Rose Madder, Gerald's Game, Dolores Claiborne, etc and they didn't grab me like his earlier books.

The Dark Half, as far as I recall is about a writer who begins seeing some sort of evil twin. I think I'll let you look it up as even now I'm losing interest.. ;0)

It was turned into a movie as well, starring Timothy Hutton as the main character.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1989

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler. I can't say I've ever read anything by Anne Tyler although I have looked at her books on occasion. Breathing Lessons is her 11th novel, of 21 so there is lots to choose from.

Breathing Lessons tells the tale of the ordinary marriage of Ira and Maggie Moran as they travel from Baltimore to attend a funeral and back again in one day.. (Well, maybe I won't look up her books....)

It was turned into a TV movie starring James Garner and Joanne Woodward and also was adapted into a stage play.

Nobel Prize Laureate 1989

Camilo Jose Cela (Spain).  Camilo Jose Cela lived from 1916 - 2002 and was a Spanish novelist, short story writer and essayist. He was awarded his Nobel Laureate 'for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability.'

Hugo Award Winner 1989

Cyteen by CJ Cherryh. This was Cherryh's second Hugo Award, the first being for 1982's Down Below Station. The story is set in her Alliance - Union universe and in the story the murder of a major Union politician and scientist has major repercussions.

I have looked at Cherryh's books many times and keep putting her stories back on the shelf. I will definitely have to try one of her stories.

Edgar Award Winner 1989

A Cold Red Sunrise by Stuart Kaminsky. I have read other books by Kaminsky and enjoyed. A Cold Red Sunrise is the 5th book in a series I've not yet tried, that of Porfiry Rostnikov. Rostnikov is sent to investigate the murder of a Commissar under the watchful eye of the Kremlin.

It does sound a bit like an Arcady Renko mystery. Maybe I'll have to check it out.

Man Booker Prize Winner 1989

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I did have this book on my shelf for awhile but I kept getting mixed reviews of it and I've so many to read that I ended up trading it in, unread.

It is a story by British writer Kazuo Ishiguro and tells the story of a butler, Stephen, recalling his life in the form of a diary.

The book was turned into a movie as well, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and was nominated for 8 Academy Awards.

So there you go, a late entry today. Enjoy your Sunday!

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