Category Archives: Books

A Letter to Mr Toad

Recently Val Erde aka ArtyOld Bird asked “What would you say to a fictional character”.  she referred us to  Letters With Character and suggested we try our hand at writing to a fictional character.  Well, Mr Toad has long been a favourite of mine, so here goes….

My dear Mr Toad

I am compelled to write to you regarding your recent quite erratic behaviour.

For many years I have followed your progress through various adventures and yes, cheered you on for the most part.  But now I am becoming concerned at your blatant disregard for not only your own safety but that of several of your close friends.  Of course, here I refer to Ratty and Mole. 

These two (and occasionally Badger and Otter) have stood beside you through thick and thin.  Sticking up for you when everybody else was against you, and how have you repaid them?  They have been hounded by the Stoats and Weasels, (the Wild Wooders), even having had their own houses broken into by these vagabonds.  And you did nothing.

While you were breaking out of jail and being pursued around the countryside, the Stoats and Weasels were harassing your friends,  And the only thing that Mole and Ratty were guilty of was that of being your friend.  On several occasions you have ruined the clothes lent to you so generously by Ratty and have also  lost him his boat.

Ratty has reminded me that while you were riding about the country in expensive motor cars and galloping proudly on blood horses and breakfasting on the fat of the land, your two steadfast friends, Mole and Badger were camping out in the open watching over your house and contriving ways of getting  your property back to you.  I think at the very least you owe these two good friends an enormous debt  of thanks even if they weren’t very successful.

And breaking out of gaol was probably the most foolhardy thing you could have done.  Oh I know that being in gaol was not comforting or comfortable to you, but really.  The gaolers daughter took pity on you and tried to improve your lot.  It was she who arranged for you to escape and how have you repaid her?  You have complained about the manner in which you had to effect your escape.  Shame on you.

So Mr Toad, may I ask you to reflect on these things and being the gentleman you are, make redress to these close friends of yours.  They are all feeling pretty well put upon at present and I know each would welcome a few kind words from you.

Yours very sincerely

Judith Baxter

Note Mr Toad is a character from The wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Graham.

Stalking Charlie Fox

“If you stay involved with Sean Meyer you will end up killing again,” my father said. “and next time, Charlotte, you might not get away with it.”
Charlie Fox’s father in Road Kill.

Yes, I am still reading and following the adventures of my favourite heroine Charlie Fox.  I have somehow got them out of order, but as I have already said, each novel stands alone and one doesn’t have to have read any of the others in the series.

In Road Kill we find Charlie involved with a group of bikers who are really so innocent that they get themselves involved with an unscrupulous gang of thieves.

Charlie is taking time out to sort out her life and her feelings for her boss, Sean Meyer..  She is refurbishing her parents’ cottage and instead of overseeing the refurbishment is doing much of the hard work herself.    Into this scene comes a friend to advise that a really close friend has been seriously injured in a motor cycle accident and a second person has died.

Leaving the demolition  work unfinished she rushes  to Clare her friend’s side and is relieved to find that the dead man is not Clare’s partner  but some other  man.  Jacob, Clare’s partner is away in Ireland on a buying tour for his business.  Stories about the accident flow around; there is bad feeling towards Charlie from the biking group and when Charlie is brutally attacked  by Jacob’s ex-wife and her strongman thug things begin to get out of hand.

Clare is very vague and secretive about what she was doing with this other man and how she came to be riding with him on his motorbike instead of riding her own beloved bike.   Gossip has Jacob’s son involved with Clare (surprising  to Charlie given how close Clare and Jacob are) and Charlie decides to investigate further.  She learns that there is to be a trip to Ireland for the motorcycle group and is determined to become part of the trip, partly because Clare and Jacob have asked her to look after Jacob’s son, but also because nobody will or can give them a straight answer as to why the trip has to go ahead even after the tragedy.   After proving herself capable of riding and keeping up with them, she is allowed to join them.  Sean is also allowed to go along after he proves to the group that he would be a good person to have along.

I won’t go into more detail as it would spoil the story for any one else but it is well written (of course) and has a good plot, with our heroine (is there a better word for this) coming up trumps once again.

Needless to say, this novel is full of motorcycles (both Zoe and Charlie’s favoured form of transport), guns, shooting, good guys and plenty of bad guys; innocents abroad who really should not be allowed out on their own, murder, mayhem and some good love scenes between Charlie and Sean.  I wonder where this relationship is going.

So as you can see a jolly good read and again, one that I recommend.

Road Kill

Click on the image to go to Zoe Sharp;s home page

And I still have the next two books in the series sitting patiently waiting for me to get to them.  So look out for more on this feisty woman, her lover and her exploits.

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience:
this is the ideal life.
Mark Twain

Hard Knocks

I introduced you all to Zoe Sharp and her feisty protagonist Charlie Fox a few days ago.  My addiction to Charlie is growing and I found that I was still reading at 1.15am this morning.  Far too late when at this late stage in my life I need all the beauty sleep I can get!

Book cover - Hard Knocks

Anyway, I finished Hard Knocks on Sunday night but wanted to think on it before writing a review.  So here goes –

In this, the third in the series, Charlie is reluctantly spending Christmas with her disapproving parents as her apartment was trashed in a fire.  Into the strained atmosphere comes a call for help from her friend and lover Sean Meyer.  He sends his assistant to tell Charlie that an ex army “buddy” has been killed while on a mission for Sean.  Charlie doesn’t care about the dead “buddy” but for various reasons, not the least to get away from her parents, she agrees to go to Germany to discover how he died.

To do this she has to enrol in a course in close protection work in Germany; this is where Kirk (the dead ex soldier) was prior to his death.    The school is run by a Major Gilby and various (rather dodgy) instructors and it is soon clear to Charlie that they are hiding something.  She of course, sets out to discover what.  She eventually of course, discovers that they are involved in a series of kidnappings with somewhat disastrous results as stronger, more powerful forces are at work here also.

As the novel progresses we learn more about the various characters that people the story and some more about the mysterious Sean to whom Charlie is strongly attracted but whom she also knows is a danger to her.

So more rapid page turning to an unexpected ending.  If you want to know about motor bikes, close protection work, the workings of convoluted minds, then this is a book for you.  Enjoy!

I have started the next in the series – Road Kill and have two more patiently waiting for me to get to them.  So expect my addiction to keep turning up in these blogs.

A new friend

I love making friends, either in person or more often recently, in the blogosphere.  And this happened earlier this week.

In Six Word Saturday last week, I wrote about Charlie Fox,  Zoe Sharp’s leading lady/protagonist.  Charlie Fox is a British ex-soldier, has taught self-defence  and in this book,  is a Bodyguard.  I reviewed the book “First Drop” telling how riveting the story was and how I sat all day reading.

Imagine my surprise and delight when one of those commenting on my blog was Zoe Sharp herself!  How cool is that? And after I responded to thank her she then posted another comment.  I am blown away that an author of this calibre would read my blog and also take the trouble to comment.  Oh I know she probably has a reader and a search tool or person for anything that mentions Charlie Fox or Zoe Sharp but still… You can read the post and Zoe’s comments by clicking here.

And as further icing on the cake, Zoe mentions my blog on her website – http://www.zoesharp.com/homepage.htm.  Thank you, thank you. 

Also on Zoe’s homepage is a snippet – “Word of the Week.  This week’s is anchorite, or anchoret, which means a man or woman who has withdrawn from the world especially for religious reasons; a recluse, from which we get anchorage, a recluse’s cell or a place to withdraw from the world.”  I haven’t come across this word before so not only have I a new friend, but also have learned a new word.  Thank you again Zoe.

And I am currently reading “Hard Knocks” so expect a review of this book very soon.

Book cover - Hard Knocks

Temper is never the best thing to wear to a confrontation.  It has a nasty habit of disintegrating into tatters just when you need its protection most and the colour has never suited me.
Charlie Fox in Hard Knocks by Zoe Sharp

Saturday Again

Six word Saturday button

How quickly the weeks pass and it’s already Saturday again and time for Six Word Saturday.  If you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.

PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB – I’M READING.

I awoke to a grey Saturday morning and decided that the best thing to do was to take my tea and toast back to bed with a good book.  And this set the rest of the day in train.

I had planned to meet with my French speaking buddies for lunch but that plan was quickly discarded after I had a long telephone conversation with my friend who recently found the huge lump in her breast.  While she didn’t want me to visit, she did want to talk.  After hanging up I realised that it was too late for the proposed lunch and so I stayed home.

I had started a Zoe Sharp book this morning in bed and after making a quick sandwich for lunch settled down to read more.  Have you come across this English writer?  Her protagonist is a feisty woman  called Charlie Fox.  I read the first book in the series after reading somewhere that Lee Childs thought her one of the best thriller writers to emerge in recent times.  High praise indeed.

Are you, like me, a trifle bored with all the macho male heroes protagonists that litter the current crop of best sellers?  If so Charlie Fox is a breath of fresh air.  Feisty as I said and not always charming, she takes life full on and faithfully stands by her friends and in this case, her charge even when it looks as if she is facing death herself.

So I settled down to read this book – First Drop.  Charlie Fox is a British ex-soldier, has taught self-defence  and now is a Bodyguard.  In this novel she is tasked with minding the 15 year old Trey, son of a computer programmer.  What starts out as a disappointing assignment for her, rapidly turns into a fight for her life, the life of her charge and her lover.  Swift page turning and I couldn’t put it down.

I had almost finished the book when I realised it was getting dark (around 5pm) and Lotte hadn’t had a walk yet.  So reluctantly I left the book at page 343 of 373 pages and did what any self-respecting dog owner does, I took my dog out for her walk.  And her delight more than compensated for the fact that I hadn’t finished the book.  But of course, once I returned, I finished it. 

I understand that there are 8 9 Charlie Fox mysteries and while I can’t quite work out the order in which they were written, it is clear that each one stands alone and so one can start reading anywhere in the series.  However, I read Killer Instinct first and this is the book that gives Charlie’s background and in some way, helps to understand why she does what she does.  I certainly recommend this author to you if you are looking for something a little different.

“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.”
Paul Sweeney

Footnote – Can you believe that I received a comment from Zoe Sharp (see below) and she has linked back to this post from her website.

Special Privileges On Hold For You!

Readers Digest logoHave you ever fallen into the trap of buying something from Readers’ Digest?  I used to quite like this little magazine – perfect size for slipping into my purse to read when travelling to and from the office.  We also bought the condensed books from time to time.  And although I haven’t even seen a copy of the magazine or bought one of their books for many years  somehow I am on their prize-giving list.

As I haven’t bought anything from RD and certainly not online, I can only think that somebody from whom I have purchased an item has shared my information with them.  Is this legal?  I thought one had to opt in to receive emails, but here I can’t even opt out.    I have tried unsubscribing on several occasions without effect.  I can’t get off their list.

Every so often I hear that I am only one of twenty, thirty, fifty or whatever magic number, to be in with the chance to win BIG;  up to $500,000 is on offer.  And often a car – what colour would I like, which of the three cars on offer can I win, and if I just scratch the pad I will see which car I am likely to win..if only I purchase a series of CDs books or whatever.

Today’s email subject was the title of this blog and just enough to pique my interest.  Normally I just delete the email without even opening it but today I thought I would see just what was on hold for me.  When I opened it I found “You stand to forfeit a share of up to $215,000 if the entry claim number printed above is not activated and you fail to register your entry in time… the first draw for $15,000 closes on 30th June.”

Not only that but “Your chance to win comes along with an exclusive privilege to send for the most talked about television series of the moment, now an exclusive Collector’s DVD collection available ONLY from Reader’s Digest.”

And further “This is an exclusive BY INVITATION-ONLY offer. ”  How could I resist and miss the opportunity to purchase this DVD collection and miss out on my share of the prize?

My response is No Thanks and please stop bugging me.  If I am bugged on the phone in this way I can just simply put down the phone if they don’t get the message.  But what is it with Readers’ Digest that they don’t get the message.

Go Away sign

And another rant is ended with this apposite quote from Og Mandino, author of The Greatest Salesman in the World

My days of whining and complaining about others have come to an end.  Nothing is easier than fault finding.  All it will do is discolor my personality so that none will want to associate with me.  That was my old life.  No more.

As we say here in NZ/Aotearoa “Yeah, right!”.

More Memories

Today I came across an old book that was given to me by my father some 25 plus years ago.  It wasn’t new when he gave it to me; he had obviously had it for some time.  But he was a great reader and loved to share his knowledge with his daughters.Book cover - Rural LondonThe book is written by  Emil Otto Hoppé (14 April 1878 – 9 December 1972)  German-born British portrait, travel, and topographic photographer.

I have no idea when this book was published but the London to which it refers is a far cry from the London in which I grew up or indeed the London of today.

It talks of leafy lanes and villages and tells us: “To the visitor from the Provinces or from abroad London must seem at first sight to be a stupefying maze of brick, tile and slate whose main purpose is to support millions of crazily pitched and variously patterned domestic chimney pots….”  Well of course nowadays no open fires are allowed in London but many of the chimney pots remain.

Vachel Lindsay the so called, “Prairie Troubadour” was in London in 1920 and apparently when asked (by Mr Hoppe) what had struck him most about the town he had described as “The lovely lady London” he responded “Maybe it was seeing the squirrels playing among the leaves in Russell Square and the wild ducks scudding across the sunset high over Hyde Park”.  Well the squirrels and the ducks may still be seen but London has changed dramatically since Lindsay visited.

Of course, I most enjoy reading about the East End of London which is where I was brought up.  The book must have been written after the Second World War but there is no notation as to date of publication.  However, Hoppe says of the East End “Here amid the wilderness of bricks and mortar, where the Luftwaffe let loose its fiercest furies there is a profusion of flowers and shrubberies”.

A favourite playground for us was Victoria Park that Hoppe describes as the Hyde Park of the East End.  He describes the shady walks of the park, lily pools and swings and roundabouts and “one of the loveliest lakes in England”.  All this was still there for three little girls to enjoy.  But sadly things change, and the park is no longer an idyllic place for children to play alone.

The Hackney Marsh is another memory from long ago.  And here (of course before my time) Dick Turpin and Claude Duval used to hide from the Kings men and clatter past Queen Elizabeth’s Lodge at Chingford.

And now I am off in the direction of another favourite poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.  Do you know this poem?  And what part was brought to mind by the above paragraph?

And still on a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a gypsy’s ribbon looping the purple moor,
The highwayman comes riding, riding, riding
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard,
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred,
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter
Bess, the landlord’s daughter
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

If you don’t know this poem or want to refresh your memory – click here for the rest of it.

And on the other side of the River Thames, an area not really known to us when we were growing up but still in the East End, Hoppe shows us `pictures of Calvert Court in Southwark which was standing when Chaucer’s “nine and twenty pilgrims” set out for Canterbury  and the George Inn, Southwark, the solitary surviving medieval inn now owned and operated by the National Trust.

Here  you can walk where Shakespeare walked  – Bankside where we are told that Shakespeare walked every day composing Lear and Hamlet and Ariel in his head.  Here too is the Rose Theatre,  London’s most historic theatre.   The first Elizabethan Theatre on Bankside and home to many of Shakespeare’s and Marlowe’s first productions.  Of course, The Globe Theatre is close by just  through Cardinal Cap Alley famous for the fact that this was the way to the brothels in medieval times.

Jekyll and Hide

Image via Wikipedia – Title page of the first London edition (1886)

And let’s not forget that it was here that Dr Jekyll used to go when he turned into Mr Hyde.

And this area is so steeped in history. Pickwick walked here, Browning and Joseph Chamberlain were born here, Byron went to school and the Victorian art critic, John Ruskin,lived here.

As I have often said before Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner that I find this all so interesting, familiar and comforting.

You find no man at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.  No Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
Samuel Johnson, English Poet, Critic and Writer 1709 – 1784

And may I please interject with a bit of nonsense I remember from so many years ago.  It must be read with an East End accent.  So  –

With a pair of steps and glasses
You could see the ‘ackney marshes
If it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between”

Note the use of ‘ denotes the dropping of the aitches as common in the East End.

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner

Anti bull cookbook

I have written before about this cookbook and how it make fun of the pretentious while delivering some really good recipes.  On looking through it today for some inspiration I came across this:

Dinner Guests

This picture accompanied the suggestion that we assemble a really nightmare selection of guests for a party:

  • Career woman (remember the book was published in 1964)
  • Repertory actor
  • Accountant
  • Pop star
  • Tough young writer
  • Back bencher (for those who don’t know this is a member of the parliament who doesn’t hold a Ministerial portfolio)

The actor, the writer and the star will no doubt have had to starve at times while making their fortune and the rep actor probably is still starving.  So they will be reasonably easy to please.  The author suggests that the career woman has”had t fight tooth and claw to establish herself in a bluff man’s world and she’s nobody’s fool” and the accountant probably has an ulcer or is diabetic because of the stresses and strains of his chosen profession.  And the Back bencher is used to being fawned over and eating at Bellamy’s (or the equivalent of the restaurant in the seat of government) so he is likely to be more demanding.

So what would you serve this nightmare group?  Our author suggests two menus:

  1. Hot grapefruit flavoured with brandied honey; followed by Lobster Thermidor and then Negre en Chemise which I decipher to be chocolate souffle.
  2. Oysters “in the English manner” which I decide is oysters sprinkled with cayenne pepper and then skewered with streaky bacon and grilled; followed by roast lamb, new potatoes and french beans and then brandied melon.

But for these disparate and perhaps difficult people I would serve:

  • Chilled cucumber soup because they would be so busy talking and trying to impress each other that a hot starter would soon get cold.
  • Beef Wellington with scalloped potatoes and a large green salad
  • Pavlova with fresh fruit and cream*

Hopefully this will impress the career woman, the accountant and the Back bencher and totally ‘blow the socks off’  the other three.

*Pavlova is a dessert with a meringue base, topped with fresh fruit and fresh cream.  It is the subject of hot arguments between New Zealanders and Australians as to which of them first introduced this desert.  But we all agree that a well made Pav takes a lot of beating- excuse the pun!

Pavlova

Image via Wikipedia

Then hopefully, they would all make their way home having been thoroughly entertained by the other guests and well fed by me.  And leaving me to clear the table and do the dishes and all those other follow up chores after a party.

“I went to a marvelous party,
I must say the fun was intense,
We all had to do
What the people we knew
Would be doing a hundred years hence…”
From I went to a Marvellous Party,
Sir Noel Coward

I Spy

As with most of my friends of my age I find that I now need to wear my glasses from almost the time I get up in the morning until I go to sleep.  The one notable exception is my elder sister who , while needing glasses in her early years now no longer even needs her specs for reading.  How fair is that?

And now I notice that each of my children, and their spouses, need glasses for reading.

So with my glasses on am I seeing any more clearly?  Looking around my world I see that there is still strife and war; still hungry children; still abused children and still homeless people.

But today, we didn’t need our glasses on to see the pod of Orca whales spotted in Wellington harbour; they were swimming about 100 metres off shore this afternoon.

Orcas

Orca whales in Wellington Harbour

Earlier reports had them on the other side of the harbour.  A local man, with a friend visiting from Hawaii spotted the pod .  Apparently they followed the pod for about 90 minutes.  He also said dolphins were playing with the Orcas and they could be seen diving alongside the whales.

According to the Department of Conservation  Orcas come into the Wellington Harbour several times a year.  We are told the whales could have been following the coast line of the North Island and followed it into the harbour.  Or they could be taking shelter from turbulent conditions in open sea.

We are also told by DOC that while commonly called ”killer whales”, Orcas are actually large dolphins.

But we obviously didn’t have our glasses on when some shady deals were being made.  The Serious Fraud Office has revealed it is investigating another failed finance company over alleged related party deals.

SFO chief executive Adam Feeley this afternoon said a probe had begun into the affairs of NZF Group, including commercial and residential loan provider NZF Money that collapsed in July last year owing debenture holders $16.4 million.

How many more of these finance companies are going to be in the spotlight in the coming months.  And how many people have lost or will lose their retirement funds having invested in these companies.

And I shall need my spectacles to see the upcoming movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  We have seen the trailer for this movie every time we have been to the cinema recently and I am really looking forward to it.

The blurb tells us the story follows a group of British retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.

So what else do I see through these spectacles?

I visited the library today and picked up a couple of books by a writer new to me, Charles Finch.  My elder sister told me about him a weeks or so ago and then today I read this post from Marie at My Life, Such as It is.  I now have both this book September Society and the earlier one in the series A Beautiful Blue Death to read.

September Society book coverA Beautiful Blue Death book coverSo now I am off to bed with a cup of coffee to read about the antics and adventures of this “Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer”, Charles Lennox.  I hope the stories are as interesting as I am led to believe by Marie and my sister, Christine.

“The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn’t indicate or promise, and which the other kind couldn’t detect.” Mark Twain.

Taken on Trust

Book cover

I have this old, dog-eared copy of Terry Waite’s book, that I have read several times in the 20 years or so since his release.

I bought a copy when it was released and enjoyed it so much that I gave copies to various friends as Christmas presents.  I was reminded again of this man when reading about a recent failed attempt to free hostages in Nigeria.

In 1987 Terry Waite, as the special envoy for the archbishop of Canterbury (though not a clergyman himself), went to Beirut  to negotiate the release of several hostages, including John McCarthy, Terry Anderson and Brian Keenan. He had already successfully negotiated the release of hostages in Iran and Libya, but when he arrived in Lebanon to meet with Islamic Jihadists, he too was taken captive.

As he said on his release, he foolishly believed the words of an intermediary that he would not be taken.  As he says  “I went without guards, arms or a locator device”.   So far from being a hostage negotiator he found himself a hostage.  He was taken to various houses to shake off any followers and then eventually to a prison cell in Beirut.

Besides being chained to a radiator, he was regularly blindfolded, beaten on the soles of his feet, subjected to mock executions, and moved from place to place in a large refrigerator.  But he maintains that the mental torture of being in solitary confinement for so long, far outweighed any physical torture.

We have heard tales of prisoners retaining their sanity by practising their golf shots, running marathons or as in Waite’s case, writing their autobiography in their heads.  Waite spent 1,760 days in solitary confinement, his only contact with the outside world being through wall tapping to his fellow hostages.  Apparently, these hostages had a radio and could listen to the BBC World News.

In his book he reveals the inner strength that helped him endure the savage treatment he received, his constant struggle to maintain his faith, and his resolve to have no regrets, no false sentimentality, no self-pity. of photos.

Waite was released in November 1991 some 20 plus years ago.

After his release and giving one interview to the media, he realised he needed time to readjust to life and so with his wife Frances and their four children he stayed away from the spotlight for a year to recover and convalesce.  During this year he put the harrowing account of his ordeal down on paper and then published it in his book, Taken on Trust .

Then,  rather than dwell on his own suffering, he turned his energies to helping others in desperate situations. He campaigned for the welfare of prisoners, and gave support to families of hostages through Hostage UK; he even offered to negotiate on behalf of military personnel held captive in Iran in 2007.

Terry WaiteThis is a difficult book to read, but one that is also difficult to put down.  We are told that  “Waite no longer works for the Church of England, but retains the faith that kept him going through nearly five years of captivity. His experience as a prisoner, he says, also helped him to see the shallowness of modern materialism. In 2009, angered by the MPs’ expenses scandal, he considered running for office as in independent candidate, but now believes he can do more good as an active humanitarian rather than as a politician. And despite his religious affiliation, he is sympathetic to the Occupy London protesters who have set up camp at St Paul’s Cathedral. “Our society is going to fragment unless we are very, very careful,” he said in an interview with the Guardian last week. “ We have a responsibility for the elderly, for the sick, for children and for those who are casualties of society.” Source The Irish Times, November 26, 2011.

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it.  Autograph your work with excellence.
Anonymous

Other books to read by fellow hostages:
Some Other Rainbow by John McCarthy and Jill Morell
An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan