Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Facebook drama

One of the things I find most annoying about some people on Facebook is the way they create fake drama to attract sympathetic or encouraging comments from their friends and acquaintances. Things like "I've been wanting to write this status all day but due to some people felt intimidated". Or a vague statement like "People I call friends may pull me down but they can go to hell because I will just keep getting up" - cue all the comments about that person being strong and how they love that person. And of course those comments will require individual "Love you so much" responses. There's so much love doing the rounds on Facebook, it's just amazing that it hasn't won the Nobel Peace Prize yet! 

(By the way, this is me and I don't use textspeak or stupid spellings, but more often than not, Facebook dramatics involve spellings like "Haterz" and "Frens" - which doesn't exactly help endear those people to me. They won't care, of course, because that's just how strong they are in adversity. Not that they would phrase it that way.)

Yes, I do know you can avoid fake drama on Facebook by unfriending the dramatists or choosing not to see any more posts from them. I do that regularly but the odd dramatic post still does get through. That's why I felt a pressing need to let off some steam! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Right temperatures, wrong season

Ok, there's a chance that I might regret saying this... but for goodness' sake, where's the cold weather? It's nearly November, it should be cold - not necessarily rainy, but cold! Instead, it's a wishy-washy 12-14 degrees Celsius, which to my mind is summer temperatures, not in the least suitable for autumn-turning-to-winter! 

That said, sometimes it does get rather nippy, necessitating my heavy winter coat. But the very next day could be incredibly mild - like today was 15 degrees and sunny. What annoys me most of all is that I never seem to wear the right coat, and that is because the weather is so changeable. I want winter temperatures so that I can put away all the other coats and just wear my new, heavy, superwarm winter coat. 

Is there such a thing as a snow dance? I would do a snow dance in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Human or stick insect?

Can anyone explain why it is attractive for women's thighs to be the same stick-like width as their calves? And why are there so many disturbed people who DO find starvation chic so fashionable and sexy? 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

It's just bitchin'

I read a Guardian article recently where this guy took up the challenge of going 21 days without complaining about anything - not world events, not the weather, absolutely nothing. I don't know what it gained him, because he didn't venture on an actual opinion. Guardian lifestyle writers are always self-deprecating from the start because that's how they do humour, and even if they're meant to be carrying out a "social experiment", they always, always end it ambiguously, leaving you wondering if there was any actual point to the article. Me being me, my wondering is always augmented by (probably disproportionate) irritation. What can I say, age doesn't seem to engender saintly patience in me. My point - yes, I have one, to mine own satisfaction! - being that there is no way that I would take up a challenge like that. Cynicism and bitching are the only plus points I see in getting older, so I won't be giving them up in a hurry, or ever.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Down the Guardian path...

I don't remember if misleading headlines were quite such a part of mainstream newspapers when I was I worked as a sub-editor. Today Facebook highlighted a post from the Guardian which said that Usain Bolt might be stripped of an Olympic gold medal. This was so shocking that I went straight to the Guardian website to see if it was a real news item (simply because I like the Bolt, dammit, and I did not want this to be real, and I was hoping to NOT find anything in the Guardian!). But there it was, the news item.

However... it turned out, on reading past the headline, that the gold medal in question was the one from the 400m relay in the Beijing Olympics, not the current one. On reading a little further still, it turned out that someone in the Bolt's team had failed a drugs test, not the Bolt himself. And if that person was stripped of his gold medal, then it followed that the entire team would forfeit their gold medals too - and that was the only way Usain would have been "stripped" of any of his gold medals in any Olympics so far. Yet the Guardian - supposedly a mainstream broadsheet and not merely a shamelessly unethical tabloid - made it seem like Usain Bolt had failed a drugs test personally! 

I LOATHE being taken in by lying bastard headlines approved by some faceless little worm who is obviously a poor excuse for an editor and has never heard of journalistic ethics. Yes, I understand the concept of clickbait, and I normally stay away from shit like that especially if it's from the Sun or the Daily Mail or other unethical tabloid but - like I said - this was about Usain Bolt, people! 

I can only say that The Guardian is pretty much the UK's Times of India. 

Friday, August 05, 2016

What's wrong with drinking plain water?

The number of women (and men too, I'm sure, although I've mostly seen only women) who give their babies, toddlers and young 'uns fruit juice or cola or soda to drink when they're thirsty is quite, quite amazing. Why they don't just carry bottles of water for them beats me. It's cheap, it's good for you, it's easily available and safe to drink straight from the tap in this country... so, what's wrong with drinking water that's just - you know, water? Not flavoured, sugared, coloured, fizzy or any other variation. I can't help feeling that these people are simply, unnecessarily setting up their children to have lifelong bad habits when it comes to hydration. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

What was I going to say?

I had an epiphany while watching or doing something, and I thought I should share it with my blog. I should have shared it the moment the thought crossed my mind. Because, alas, now I can't remember what the epiphany was about and what I wanted to say *sigh* Them's the breaks as you get older, my friends. Watch me and be warned.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud

The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud, is probably the most disturbing novel I've read in a while. On the face of it, there's not really anything scary or suspenseful, and it's not a conventional horror story filled with gratuitous violence and torture scenes. All the same, the tension just kept building in my mind as I read.
Nora Eldridge is a school teacher in her late 30s, on the outside seemingly patient, kind and dependable. Within herself, however, she is prickly and a bit despairing of her lifeShe had ambitions of being an artist, but that ambition fails to materialise. Her life seems to be waiting for validation in some way, for something exciting to happen. That happens when one day an 8-year-old boy called Reza Shahid is admitted to her class as a student. Nora falls instantly in love with the kid, taking care of him when he is bullied for being a "terrorist" because of the colour of his skin. That's the first occasion on which she meets Reza's mother, an Italian woman called Sirena with whom she feels she has an instant intense connection, especially when she finds out that Sirena is an artist. Unlike Nora, Sirena is actually a fairly well known artist back in Paris. Nora's two friends feel she has a "crush" on the Siren (as they refer to Sirena), but Nora is offended that they so casually dismiss her feelings for Reza's mother.
When Sirena suggests to Nora that they rent a studio together to work (separately) on their respective art projects, Nora is thrilled beyond belief. The two women seem to get on quite well together, sharing pastries, coffee and long chats in between working - but Nora's emotions are very much more involved than Sirena's. When, one day, Nora meets Sirena's Lebanese husband, Skandar, unexpectedly at the studio, at first she is almost jealous as he seems to have "come between" her relationship with Sirena and Reza. But soon enough she grows very fond of him - in fact she is in love with all three of them, separately and as a family unit. It's very much as if Nora is vicariously living her dream of being a successful artist while having a loving husband and beautiful son, although she denies this to her friends. For the first time, she considers herself happy - having "eaten her greens" all her life (being dutiful and sacrificing her life for her parents), she finally feels that she has reached the dessert course of her own happiness.
Eventually, as Sirena becomes busier and busier with work for her video exhibition/show to be staged in Paris, Nora draws closer to Skandar and they sleep together. This only happens the once, and as far as she knows, Sirena does not know and she thinks that Skandar would not have told her. While the realisation that he does not intend to repeat the occasion does hurt her, she is still happy to be what she thinks is a big part of their life. But of course she is not... nor does she have Sirena's friendship, as she finds out to her cost.
Nora's inner monologue gives you all the insight you could need into her character and spirit...her obsession with Reza and Sirena, her repressed creativity, her inferiority complex that makes her describes herself as "the woman upstairs", meaning someone who lives on the fringe of other people's lives, having no life of her own. She is not the most likable of characters and comes across as tediously self-involved in many ways. Yet the tension does build and the denoument, even while I was expecting it to be shocking in some way, is still like a punch straight to the heart with the terrible betrayal that it lays bare. The verdict: not my most favourite book ever, but I also didn't want to stop reading it.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Widows and Orphans, by Michael Arditti

15/100 I might just be stupid, but the title "Widows and Orphans" didn't seem to me to be at all related to the story. That said, this book by Michael Arditti is very readable, a gentle but accurately observed microcosmic (microcosmal?) portrait of a greedy modern society.

 The book is set in the fictional seaside town of Francombe, once a thriving community but now almost derelict, a nothing town. Duncan Neville is the editor-proprietor of the town's newspaper; he is a good, decent man who is in the unenviable position of trying to run an increasingly irrelevant newspaper on a shoestring budget while trying to expose the machinations of local politicians and businessmen. Geoffrey Weedon, an oily and wily developer, is the worst of the lot and Duncan's arch-enemy, so to speak. Duncan suspects Weedon of destroying the town's historic pier through arson so that he can set up X-rated parlours and clubs, ostensibly to shore up the town's sagging economy. Duncan's efforts to stop this seem particularly useless set against Weedon, who is a smarmy silver-tongued operator who is very good at getting people on his side.

 Things are not rosy in Duncan's private life either. His ex-wife has remarried and his son Jamie is a loathsome little teenage brat - seriously, for most of the book there just isn't anything redeeming about him - his language and attitude towards Duncan are nothing short of shocking. Duncan, however, hurt though he is by Jamie's cruel words and attitude, is not the sort of man who would tell off his son harshly. He is a man who is ruled by his conscience, sensitive to other people's feelings and able to see things from another's point of view. He sees understanding of the flaws in others and is able to look past them, and he is honest in acknowledging his own.

Events build up, however, culminating in Duncan being accused of possessing child pornography - but it is a set-up, and when he finds out who the culprit is, what Duncan feels is not anger for the damage to his reputation; what he feels is grief that someone so young could be so full of hatred towards him.

 This book is certainly not what you would call a fast paced thriller, but it is not short of melodrama either. Human emotions are given free range -  love, dislike, hatred, intolerance, violence... they're all there, The author's writing draws you into the story and makes his characters very real. Michael Arditti certainly managed to make me feel intensely sympathetic towards Duncan and his predicament. I don't think I've come across a character so likable since - dare I say it - Atticus Finch. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a tad, but when you're shouting (in your mind) at obnoxious Jamie to tone down his nastiness towards his dad because he doesn't deserve this behaviour, the author is obviously doing something right for his unlikely protagonist! I would definitely recommend this book as a good read. #100bookpact

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Revenant, by Michael Punke

14/100 My husband bought me The Revenant, by Michael Punke, because I didn't really want to see the movie. And after reading this book, I still don't. If that sounds like I didn't like the book, I'm afraid you've been misled, because it was one hell of a story. Man gets severely mauled by grizzly, his companions leave him behind to die, man refuses to oblige - and the rest of the story is about how he overcomes fearsome odds to survive and track down the two men who abandoned him. You'd expect this to end in sweet revenge, and I admit I was rooting for Hugh Glass all the way, but things don't end like they should - in the words of one of the characters: "Lots of loose ends don't ever get tied up. Play the hand you're dealt. Move on." Good advice, true words. The fact that Hugh Glass was a real person, and this book is based on true events is, for me, the icing on the cake. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sign of the times

I think may have been reading too many books on my Kindle in the last few weeks. You ask why? Because I was reading a real paperback yesterday when I tried to turn the page by tapping it and was left puzzled for a fleeting moment when the page remained very much the same. I'm going to read real books until the urge to tap pages goes away.

Fevre Dream, by George R R Martin

13/100 I picked up George R R Martin's "Fevre Dream" out of curiosity, just to see what sort of book it was, whether he could hold my interest aside from "Game of Thrones". Somewhat to my initial disappointment, it turned out to be a vampire novel, but luckily it was not a run-of-the-mill story. The year is 1857, the place is St-Louis. Abner Marsh, a riverboat captain on the Mississippi, is offered a partnership by a mysterious aristocrat, and the chance to turn his luck for the better by building the best and fastest steamboat to run the great river. Abner is a bit doubtful about the deal, because the stranger, Joshua York, has some very odd conditions to make - mainly that Abner should never, ever question what Joshua does, no matter how odd or bizarre. The lure of gold and the opportunity to captain the best steamboat overcome Abner's doubts. He names the boat "Fevre Dream". 

The maiden voyage of the Fevre Dream does not turn out like Abner ever dreamt of even in his chequered career which has seen plenty of violence and bloodshed. What I liked very much about this book was the period setting, with the Civil War, slavery and other historical events woven in with great skill and to excellent effect without taking away from the story itself. You'll have to take my word for it that this is a vampire horror novel unlike any other I've come across. There are vampires and then there are vampires...and both kinds are to be found here. Be warned, you'll come across the "N-word" a few times here, used in the interests of authenticity in language and the mores of those days - those were not PC times, after all. ‪#‎100bookpact‬

Sunday, March 20, 2016

House of Thieves, by Charles Belfoure

12/100 This is a repeat author - Charles Belfoure, who wrote "The Paris Architect" that I liked so much. The book I finished today was "House of Thieves". As with the previous book I wrote about, the main character is an architect, but the story is set in New York of the late 1880s (well allright, 1886, to be precise). The architect is John Cross, who belongs to the rich and privileged section of society.

All seems well in his life, until his son George racks up a huge debt because of his uncontrolled - and uncontrollable - gambling addiction. The notorious gang to whom George owes the money is Kent's Gents. Kent meets John Cross and tells him that if he doesn't help pay off his son's debt (by helping Kent's Gents to rob the mansions of the rich), his son would die. Not having any choice, he starts helping the gang and, quite quickly, due to his connections in high society and the fact that he can get the building plans for the mansions, he becomes invaluable to Kent in planning and executing the robberies.

 Meanwhile, his daughter Julia, an aspiring Dickensian-style novelist, gets friendly with a handsome pickpocket and starts to explore the seamy underbelly of New York. Even his youngest son, 10-year-old Charlie, acquires a secret life in low society, making friends with an older newsboy who saves him from being robbed by a couple of young street thugs. All this takes place without his knowledge. 

Then John Cross is forced to confess his involvement with Kent's Gents to his wife, Helen, a beautiful society butterfly. Oddly enough, this confession results in a new lease of life for their marriage, because Helen, to his surprise, enthusiastically helps him by getting him information on which of their wealthy friends and acquaintances to rob next. However, there is a tragedy waiting to happen... which I will let you discover on your own.

 While I did enjoy this book, I thought "The Paris Architect" was the better read. I will be trying out a couple more books by Charles Belfoure to give myself a chance to make up my mind about whether it was a one-off good'un or if there are others I will like as much or more.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

The White Road, by John Connolly

When I find an author whose books I like, I tend to track down as many of them as I can get and have myself a reading glut. That's what I've been doing for a few weeks now - reading everything I can get of John Connolly. I REALLY like his books - they're addictive. While they have the same main character - Charlie Parker, a somewhat reluctant detective with a very tragic past - and his associates, every book has a solid and different story. These are not just your regular crime stories, however - they contain some supernatural elements, a lot of truly evil villains (both human and non), a bit of horror, a lot of philosophising on the nature of good and evil and human failings, a good dollop of (American) history, a good deal of black humour... all of which I really, really like because put together, they make for addictive reading. Did I say I find them addictive?
I thought about reviewing each book as I finished it, but I was just so caught up with just reading them I couldn't bear to take the time out to write about them. In any case I didn't get to them in serial order, but that didn't really matter. They can be standalone books, or you can read them in the order they were written. So, in short, I've not yet come across a book I've disliked. But, if you want a recommendation, I would say that "The White Road" is a great book to start with. It's set in the Deep South and of course racial tensions feature strongly... and it's a gripping story, too. It's not Connolly's first book, but it's the one I read first. It's the one that hooked me. #100bookpact

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

No Second Chance, by Harlan Coben

10/100 Yay, double figures at last! Today's author is another American, Harlan Coben. I've read some of his books starring his most famous (I think) character, called Myron Bolitar. Myron, however, doesn't make an appearance today. 
Today's book is "No Second Chance", and believe me when I say that I finished it in a breathless rush - and I only started reading it sometime yesterday morning. It would have taken me much less time to read it had I only had a few uninterrupted hours to devote to it, but work and cooking and things like that got in the way rather. Lunch time at work simply flew by today. I didn't lift up my head even once for the entire hour, partly because I didn't want to catch anyone's eye and be forced to make conversation - but mainly because I just wanted to be left alone to read the book! (Yes, it's my friendly winning ways such as this that have gained me such a wiiiiiiiide circle of friends.)
Let me now come to the book. Dr Marc Seidman comes to in the Intensive Care Unit, having almost died of gunshot wounds, to discover that, in the 12 days that he was unconscious in hospital, his wife Monica had died (also of gunshot wounds) and his 6-month-old baby daughter, Tara, was missing. And nobody has a clue what happened to her, or who shot him and his wife, although the police entertain the theory that his drug addict sister was the culprit. A few days later Dr Seidman gets a ransom note asking him to bring 2 million dollars to a specified place, with the usual warning not to contact the police or he'll never see Tara again. But of course - reluctantly - he does...and inevitably things go wrong, the kidnappers getting away with the money. With no way of contacting them or finding out where Tara is, Dr Seidman is left with no choice but to get on with his life as best he can.
But then, a year and a half later, the kidnappers contact him again, with the same conditions. This time he doesn't tell the police, but his ex-girlfriend, an ex-FBI agent, is there to provide some help. Once again, things go wrong and yet again the kidnappers get away with the money... but this time around Dr Seidman is much more determined to find out the fate of his daughter, hoping against hope that she IS alive, and he's willing, if not actually to break the law, to at least bend it out of shape to get the information he's seeking from the people who are keeping secrets from him. The story has a powerful mix of emotions - love, loyalty, loss, the bonds of friendship and the all-consuming love of a father for his child. It's a really good read, although there is one thing I wasn't happy with - the baddies didn't get as much coming to them as I wanted, so it was not particularly the best sort of ending for me. I like my threads tied up in pretty bows at the end of a novel. Open ended does nothing for me (and this is not an admission of how THIS book ends). 


Monday, January 25, 2016

A Tap On The Window, by Linwood Barclay

9/100 My gosh, this list is progressing really slowly. Anyway, better slowly than never, so today's book is by an American author called Linwood Barclay. I've been reading his books for a while (chanced upon one in - where else - my library, and never looked back from there). This book is called "A Tap On The Window", and it's a bloody good read, like all the books by this author.
Set in a small town, the story starts with private investigator Cal Weaver making the mistake of giving a teenage girl a lift in his car late at night. His intention was to question her about the suicide of his teenage son but it doesn't quite pan out as intended. When the girl is found dead the next morning, naturally the police suspect him of the worst, especially as another teenage girl is missing. The pace is exciting as Cal tries to solve the puzzle, which seems to involve most of the town. And then there's the mystery of his son's suicide, too...
I guess Linwood Barclay's books are the literary equivalent of junk food - addictive like it, greatly enjoyable, and delivering what's needed when you crave it. I believe I couldn't recommend this author more! ‪#‎100bookpact‬,

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bittersweet, by Colleen McCullough

8/100 When we were in college, my best friend Laksh Guda and I were voracious readers and had plenty of warm discussions about the merits of various books. "Gone With The Wind" was one of them - she was a huge admirer of Scarlett o'Hara and I thought her (Scarlett, I mean) a spoilt selfish b*tch (I have since altered my opinion somewhat - she's a spoilt selfish b*tch with unlimited courage and when it counts). Similarly with "Thornbirds", by Colleen McCullough. I thought it was a good read, but not in the class of Gone With The Wind - and of course Lakshmi had to consider both books to be on a par. Not that we ever fell out over a book, though.
So, all that rambling was merely the build-up to my opinion of another book by Colleen McCullough that I read recently, called "Bittersweet". Once again, it was not a bad read - the book is set in Australia during the Depression, and it charts the story of four sisters (two sets of twins born to different mothers). Each of them has a distinct personality - Edda is the oldest and the strongest, the most opinionated and ambitious; Grace is dreamy and unpractical (at first, anyway); Tufts is pragmatic and ; and Kitty, the youngest and the most beautiful, the apple of her mother Maude's eye, is disturbed and oversensitive because she feels (rightly) that everyone just sees her as a beautiful woman but doesn't bother to get to know the real her. The girls leave home to train as nurses at the local hospital, which turns out to be the fire in which their iron of their character is forged. I liked that the author inserted bits of the history and the politics of those times along with descriptions of society from the perspective of both the haves and the have-nots. That said, I can't say that I found the narrative to be flowing, as it were...there's lots of "masala" but it doesn't quite gel (pardon the sloppy metaphor). Also, the men in the novel seemed one-dimensional, almost caricatures - either overbearing and judgmental or needy, or just weak. The girls' father, the Rector, is the character I liked best - non-judgmental, strong, loving, accepting... an excellent specimen of fatherhood and manhood.
NB: I meant to only write about books I really loved...but that would probably make the ‪#‎100bookpact‬ a lifetime project. I didn't really want that, plus I thought I might as well write about books that are meh or downright awful, so that other people can avoid them!
PS. A review on the book's front cover said "...think of Scarlett o'Hara and multiply by four". Ha! In their dreams! It's not within light years of "Gone With The Wind", never mind four times as feisty!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Married to Adventure, by Jule Mannix

7/100 Chances are that this book will be very difficult to source in a library and may generally be difficult to get anywhere, because it was a "find" in my favourite bookshop in Much Wenlock. I love to browse the books there, mainly the old and out-of-print ones, because while there are modern books and contemporary authors too, I can get those anywhere. It's not often that I manage to come away with any purchases, because I don't always strike the happy median where I can afford to buy the books I want to read! This one, though, fit the bill nicely (or maybe it was the bill that fit me nicely - heh!)
Anyway, this book is called "Married to Adventure", and it was written by Jule Mannix. She and her husband Dan must have been contemporaries of Gerald Durrell, and did more or less what he did - which is travel to exotic places to photograph exotic wild animals in their natural habitat (and keep some as pets in a good way ). While Durrell's aim was mainly animal conservation, this couple took photos and made films of their adventures with wild animals, mainly for the lecture circuit. Jule Mannix's book is set in the mid-1930s or thereabouts, and she writes with a genuine enthusiasm for the adventures and the animals she and her husband came across - the bonus is that she's also funny. Not as funny as ol' Gerald, and she doesn't have a madcap family or friends like he did... but there was enough humour to keep me entertained and smiling. I would definitely recommend sourcing this book if possible, as it's a genuinely lovely - and lively - read. If not, you know where you can get this copy, right? 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Paris Architect, by Charles Belfoure

6/100 I just love it when I borrow a book from the library on a whim and it turns out to be a cracking read - and I'm happy to say that "The Paris Architect" by Charles Belfoure falls very much into that category. The book is set in Paris of 1942, and the (reluctant) hero is Lucien Bernard, an architect who takes on a commission from a rich French industrialist to build a secret invisible hiding place in an apartment. He does it at first purely for the money, then for the sheer challenge of it (even though he's terrified of being caught by the Germans) and, finally - when something goes very wrong with one of his constructions and people die - because he suddenly realises that the Jews who have been hiding are actual people, not vermin to be wiped out. The tension ratchets up for the reader, with the Gestapo getting ever closer to catching up with Lucien, even as Lucien himself changes from a selfish, self-centred, self-serving coward to someone who helps others from the goodness of his heart despite the danger. It's a lovely book, so go read it, go, go!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Penguin Lessons, by Tom Michell

5/100 Still only on book#5. It's not that I haven't been reading, but while I liked most of the books I've read since my previous post, I couldn't honestly say that I truly loved any of them - not enough to write about, at any rate. Until this gorgeous little book by Tom Michell, called "The Penguin Lessons", It's not a novel, it's all true and that makes the story even more wonderful! The book is about a little penguin, rescued by the author from an awful death by oil slick in Argentina. He names the bird Juan Salvador (John Saviour) - sometimes called Juan Salvado (John Saved) - and the book is basically about how the bird brings laughter, wonder and love to those he comes across. I just loved this book. Totally worth reading, 

Friday, January 15, 2016

This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper

4/100 I can't remember if I saw the movie (IF there is a movie - I haven't bothered to check) but while I was reading Jonathan Tropper's "This Is Where I Leave You", I kept getting the feeling, on and off, that some things in the book seemed familiar in a nebulous sort of way. If it indeed has been made into a movie, and I indeed did see it at some point, suffice it to say that I won't be bothering to refresh my movie memories. Not because the book is bad, but because it isn't. Book lovers will probably find this a familiar sentiment, but if I read a book that's been made into a movie and I like the book, I don't bother to watch the movie. It's pretty much a given that it will never be as good as the book.
Anyway, I did like "This Is Where I Leave You", because it's a good mix of funny, touching, sad, shocking and entertaining all the way through. The family - dysfunctional, of course - have gathered to mourn their father's death, and the events take place over 7 days (the Jewish period of formal mourning). What I liked most is that the protagonists start out dysfunctional at the beginning of the book and stay dysfunctional throughout. I won't say that things don't get resolved, because they kinda sorta do... but the resolutions are not cut-and-dried and tied up with a pretty ribbon at the end.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake - by Anna Quindlen

3/100 Anna Quindlen is an author that I came across only very recently, and the book that I first read (a novel called "Black and Blue") I liked enough that I did what I usually do when I find an author I like - I went and chased down all her books that were available at my local library and reserved them. "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" was the next book I read, purely because my reservation came through on it before any of the others - it's a collection of her essays on ageing. She has a lovely conversational prose style, eloquent, gently humorous and very, very wise. I enjoyed this book too, so I'm looking forward to the other books when they become available. Oh, and I might write about "Black and Blue" next time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Life I Left Behind, by Colette McBeth

2/100 Have you heard of Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones"? That's not the book I'm going to write about, but "The Life I Left Behind" by Colette McBeth has, at its very basic level, a similar premise. It's a psychological thriller, where a woman who was nearly murdered but survived, has to find the murderer of the woman who tried to find the original assailant but didn't survive the assault. The story is told by turn from the viewpoint of the woman who survived, the woman who didn't and the detective inspector who is investigating both cases. A very good read, because I lived and breathed this book for the duration - nothing short of surgery would have parted me from it till the finish!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, by Alan Alda

1/100 Ever since I watched my first episode of M.A.S.H, I've been a huge fan of the series. I fell in love with practically every character on it - BJ, Trapper John, Father Mulcahy, Frank Burns...but most of all, Hawkeye Pierce, played by Alan Alda. So when I came across his book "Never Have The Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned" in the library by chance, I just GRABBED it! It was such a good read! This man is (was?)funny, intelligent, honest and loyal and a good writer to boot...I'm in love with Alan Alda and I don't care who knows it! If you're a fan of his, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. And now I'm off to track down the other books he's written. 

The #100bookpact mini-reviews

I've been doing quick reviews of books I've read recently, and posting them on Facebook for the #100bookpact. A dear friend of mine suggested that I post them here as well, so that they are easily accessed (FB tends to be arbitrary and mysterious in how some posts disappear completely and cannot be traced, yet others from years ago suddenly resurface). Anyway, I thought her idea was a good one, because it takes some effort to write even mini-reviews and why drop the fruits of that effort into FB's giant uncaring maw? Plus it also helps to keep my blog going!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Favourite description I've heard this year

Character in a TV drama describing a teenage boy who's been making out with her daughter: "He looks like a scruffy little hormone!"

I'm still laughing every time I think of it!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

A possible New Year's resolution

I've resolved to try and be more positive this year - or at least less cynical. Is that the same thing? Well, if it isn't, what I have resolved is to find more positive things to write about on my blog, and not just rant. It's going to be hard, because the older I get, the more easily I get pissed off. But an easy resolution isn't worth anything, so... keep your fingers crossed for me, won't you?

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy new year 2016!

On New Years Eve, when possible and depending on the weather, my husband and I go for a midnight walk in our neighbourhood, oohing and aahing at the various fireworks popping off everywhere. Tonight was perfection, a clear, cold night with the frost only just letting up and a beautiful half-slice moon among the million of stars visible intermittently where they were not outshone by movement sensor lights and general night lights on the outside of residences. Even with all that the night was gorgeous, As Pete said, it was a symbolic walk together into the new year, which I hope will be better than this year for us and for everyone else. Happy new year 2016, dear readers!