A New Day Dawns

Today I waved goodbye to my youngest grandson.  He’s on the way to University in Christchurch in the South Island and on the way to the next stage of his life.  I can hardly believe that little boy who wasn’t even born when his grandfather died, is old enough to strike out on his own.

His mother and I shall miss him and his older brother will be lost without him, although sometimes one could imagine that they don’t even like each other.

So good luck Darling No. 4.  He is the last one to leave school and start at University. What a great time he is going to have and as Dr Seuss says:

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Out there things can happen and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting
So..get on your way!

Two years ago the 13th February was a Friday and I wrote about superstition and then went on to write about my day; a beautiful sunny day in Ohope on the east  coast of the North Island of New Zealand.  On days like that, this certainly is Godzone.  And what was I doing?  I was Watching.  Here’s part of that blog post:

Today I am watching

Judith & Alice

  • The way a newly born baby attracts people and noticing the joy of being allowed to hold her
  • The huge waves rolling onto the beach; they are quite magnificent in their power
  • Surfers battling these waves and some succeeding in standing up
  • Children paddling in the surf
  • Two older couples just enjoying the sunshine, sand, and the water’s edge
  • Puffs of smoke emanating from White Island – New Zealand’s most active cone volcano.  It’s very close only 48kms/30 miles from shore.  It’s puffing away merrily today.
  • And strangers interacting as they meet on the beach
  • A couple walking their dogs
  • A small child clambering onto a tyre strung up to make a swing
  • My partner stretched out on a lounger contentedly reading
  • Teachers from the local school rounding up the pupils
  • A group of teenagers enjoying their lunch on the beach
  • The same group chasing each other and generally having fun
  • The brilliant sun shining down onto our part of the world that we call Paradise.”
So different from today  Again, it raining and windy – oh where has summer gone?
 But some summers are brilliant.  And as a reminder, here’s a photo of the beach in front of our house in Ohope.
Ohope beach
“Abundant sunshine, warm waters and safe swimming make Ōhope Beach the perfect summer holiday destination. Maybe that’s why it was voted NZ’s Most Loved Beach—with 11 km of easily walkable white sand beach from the Ōhiwa Harbour entrance all the way to West End.”  Whakatane.com  Information.
And have you had a chance to look at my new blog, Books&morebooks where I review the books I have read.?  Maybe there’s a book that appeals to you.
 

Deadly Lies

deadly-lies

Well, I just finished reading Deadly Lies by Chris Patchell.  This is her first book and what a good book it was.  I couldn’t put it down – well couldn’t put down the iPad and read well into the night.

The book has it all.  Office politics, adultery (both literally by the wife and thinking by the husband), kidnapping, date rape, sexual abuse and murders, 4 in all and only one was not premeditated.

Alex is a Seattle PD Detective and his wife Jill is climbing the corporate ladder. From the outside, all looks well with their marriage.  Things really begin to go wrong when Alex is called by an ex-girlfriend to find her missing sister.  Meantime Jill is breaking all the rules.  She is committing adultery and with the man to whom she responds.  When he reacts in the expected (by us but not by Jill) manner she is devastated and vows revenge.  His accidental death occurs, or is it her first murder?    She then goes on to meet a newspaper reporter and after his interviewing her she experiences date rape and all her hidden past comes rushing to the fore.  She cannot allow this man, or his awful cohorts to get away with this unharmed and goes on to commit more murders.

Meantime, Alex is searching for the kidnapped girl and finds her murdered.  His life takes an unexpected turn when he is called upon to assist a fellow detective in San Francisco who has two unsolved murders to solve.

This review doesn’t really describe how good this book really is.  You just have to read it for yourself.

Oh and I did receive a free copy of this book but am under no obligation to review it.  I just thought it was so good I wanted to share.

For reviews of more books, visit my new blog Books&morebooks.

Wild Windy Wellington Wednesday

Another Christmas has come and gone, another New Year’s Eve celebration followed it as always and has also passed  and now we are back to the everyday life that we know.

All the festivities and fun are great.  It’s always good to catch up with friends and family and what better time than at Christmas and New Year?  But don’t you feel rather flat when the day has passed, the friends have left for home and things are really no different than they were on December 24th?  If like me, you were lucky to receive some gifts and now you have a few more ‘things’ to find places for, you will be adding the fact that you have friends and family who care to your Gratitude List.

Here in the Southern Hemisphere of course, it is summer (?)  Well here in Wellington we had a glorious Christmas Day – Mother Nature pulled out all the stops, sunshine, no wind and not even a hint of rain.  The next day was the same but since then we have had a really mixed bag.  Sunny and warm one day, overcast and windy the next.  Today we are living through gale force winds.  We went for a walk  in the Town Belt (625 hectares of Crown-held land “reserved for the enjoyment of the public and not to be built upon,”) that circles our city.  Unfortunately it was a very short walk as the wind was so strong that several times it threatened to blow me over – and Lotte?  Well her ears were blown right back as we walked into the wind and forward over her face when we walked in the other direction.  Really it is not at all the warm, dry summer we were promised.

Lotte on desk

Would have been better to stay at home
writing our blog

Many people are away on their Christmas/Summer holidays and this weather is not helping them enjoy themselves.  In the South Island we have heavy rain warnings in many places; roads are closed; the Milford Track said to be NZ’s premier walking track has been closed for the past two days because of heavy rains.  Approximately 120 trampers were stuck as the track was too difficult to maneuver.  Trucks and cars are stuck in the Buller Gorge in the north-west of the South Island.  And parts of the North Island are faring no better with Severe Weather warnings in place for parts of the lower island.

So what to do in the face of this awful weather.  There is always the television of course and today I chanced on a wonderful programme written and fronted by Griff Rhys-Jones about the “Wind in the Willows”.  Along with Alice in Wonderland, this has been an all time favourite of mine.

In this programme, Rhys-Jones introduced us to Kenneth Grahame, the retiring scholarly man who wrote this story for his somewhat troublesome only child Alistair.  At the time, Grahame was the Secretary of the Bank of England.  He had written some books about children for adults but this was the first (and only) book for children. Do you know this fabulous fable?

The story is set along a river bank.  In fact it is subtitled Tales of the Riverbank. We are introduced to the kindly, self-effacing, industrious Mole (Grahame himself perhaps?), Rat, Badger, Otter and of course the incredible, irascible  Mr Toad.  Who hasn’t met a Mr Toad in real life?

These woodland animals are given human characteristics and live an indolent  life on the riverbank often messing about in boats.

But Toad it is who fills the book with his antics and exploits.  He is very sure of himself and he is very conceited.  He sings about himself  “Ho, ho!  I am The Toad, the handsome, the popular, the successful Toad”.  And he  thinks that he alone knows anything.   Consider –

“The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad”

toad

When Toad sees a shining red motor car he cannot resist it and drives it off eventually being caught and being sent to prison –

“The motor-car went Poop-poop-poop
As it raced along the road.
Who was it steered it into a pond?
Ingenious Mr Toad!”

The book was originally published in 1908 and  my copy of the book is 55 years old, well read, well-thumbed but still securely bound in spite of that.

Quite late in life, by then considered a confirmed bachelor,  Grahame married the shy and retiring, scatty and whimsical Elspeth Thomson.  They had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was “Mouse”).  Unfortunately, he  was born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life.  It was for this child that the book was written.

The-Wind-in-the-Willows-001

‘Simply messing about in boats’ …
EH Shepard’s illustration of Ratty and Mole.
Photograph: EH Shepard/PA

So I am glad for a cold, windy January evening that allowed me to find this programme on the TV.  I thank Rhys-Jones for taking us along the riverbank and telling us about Grahame and his strange little family.

And as an aside in 2010 a First Edition of the book was sold by Bonhams in London for 32,400 GBP.

Wet Wild Windy Wellington Weekend

Well it’s the second weekend of Spring but somebody forgot to tell the powers that be.  We should be out and about smelling the spring flowers, enjoying the balmy weather and wearing our lighter spring attire.

Alas, both yesterday and today the fickle Wellington weather has proven to us once again that it cannot be relied upon.  Yesterday we had wild winds and today we have had torrential rain and gale force winds.  We have hunkered down only venturing out when absolutely necessary.  Fortunately for me (and Lotte) my friend is quite happy to take her out for her walk while I sit reading my Charlie Fox novel.

I have written before about Zoe Sharp’s protagonist Charlie Fox  and today I read Fifth Victim.  At the end of the earlier novel – Fourth Day – Charlie’s lover Sean Mayer was critically injured and now lies in a coma.  Charlie is attempting to come to terms with this as she sits at his side each day hoping for some sign of life and/or recognition from him.  But he lies unmoving and unresponsive and she wonder what will become of her without him.

Her boss, Parker Armstrong head of the Close Protection Company, Armstrong-Meyer determines that Charlie needs to do something and so he assigns her to guard a rich young woman.  The young woman, Dina lives in the Hamptons with her  mother and fills her days riding her champion horses, shopping  and attending social  functions and parties.   Because of a spate of kidnappings among the children of the fabulously wealthy set in which her daughter moves, her mother is fearful that she might be the next  victim

While Charlie strikes up a friendly relationship with her charge she is hard put to keep her out of harm’s way and when another of the set is kidnapped and brutally murdered Charlie must unravel the mystery of who, what and why.

This is another well written, fast paced novel that is hard to put down.  The very thing to fill in a wet, wild, windy, Wellington day.

Obviously, I am completely taken with Zoe Sharp’s character and can’t wait for the next book.  I hope you are sitting at the computer writing away now Zoe.

Related Posts

 

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

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!”.