Tag Archives: books

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.

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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!”.

Happiness is…

” …he was discovering happiness in the present.
When he sat reading in the library or playing Mozart in the music-room, he often felt the invasion of a deep spiritual emotion, as if Shangri-La were indeed a living essence, distilled from the magic of the ages and miraculously preserved against time…”
From “Lost Horizon” by James Hilton,
English Novelist 1900-1954

Book cover

Dust Jacket from the first edition. Via Wikipedia

Have you read this classic? It was a must when I was growing up.  The Second World War was just over and we wanted to believe there was a Shangri-La aka Utopia.  Perhaps we thought one would even be the outcome of the peace between the nations.

The book tells the story of a disenchanted member of the British diplomatic service stationed in Afghanistan.  To escape a revolution the white residents of Baskul are being evacuated to Peshawar, Pakistan but the plane is hijacked and Conway, the diplomat and his 3 companions disappear.  The plane crash lands, the pilot is killed and the four passengers seek shelter at a monastery named Shangri-La high up in the mountains of Tibet.

The book was published in 1933 so some of the prose is archaic outdated but it is well worth reading.  It caught the imagination of the populace and in fact, Camp David, the presidential hideaway, was originally called Shangri-La by US President Franklin D Roosevelt.

So what does Shangri-La mean to you?

  • Do you seek a peaceful and unhurried place to live out your life?
  • Do you want a serene environment with a place for everything and everything in it’s place?
  • Do you want to be surrounded by good friends who support you and who you can support in turn?
  • Do you want a world without war and aggression?

Some of these things are within our ability to achieve, if not 100% then pretty close to it.  Remember Lord Marks of Marks and Spencer fame said “The cost of perfection is too great.  Close enough is good enough.”  Imagine how you would feel if you could invent your own Shangri-La even if it was only 90/95% perfect.

  • We can slow down the pace of our lives.  We can determine how much we want to do (notwithstanding the fact that most of us have to work to live).  Do we have to be so involved in the myriad of things we have chosen.  Remember to slow down and smell the roses!
  • We can achieve a serene environment by de-cluttering (is there such a word) our home and office and getting rid of all the extraneous baggage that we have accumulated over the years.  If you haven’t used it or worn it in the past six months, chances are you never will.
  • We can reach out to friends offering our support and accepting their support in return.  If we surround ourselves with like minded people there is no room for the toxic folk who try to invade our lives and minds.
  • A world without war and aggression is not so easy to accomplish but let’s start in a small way.  Let’s try really hard not to react aggressively when confronted with something or somebody we don’t like.

I would love to hear your take on Lost Horizon and of course your thoughts on Shangri-La and how to achieve your own Utopia.

PS – I once stayed at a hotel called  Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort in Penang, Malaysia.  And it lived up to it’s name in all respects.

I Know it’s Winter Because…

“Every winter,
When the great sun has turned his face away,
The earth goes down into a vale of grief,
And fasts, and weeps, and shrouds herself in sables,
Leaving her wedding-garlands to decay –
Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses.”
~Charles Kingsley
, 1819 – 1875  English priest of the Church of England, university professor, historian and novelist.

I know it’s winter because yesterday I had my annual flu injection.

Syringe

via Wikipedia

Here in New Zealand these injections are free to all over the age of 65 and anybody with a life threatening condition.  So I made an appointment with the GP and went along for my shot.

I was greeted by a nurse who introduced me to a trainee nurse and asked if I minded Melissa being there and would I allow her to administer the injection.

After asking how many she had administered before I was met with a beautiful smile to be told that she had been a ‘body piercer’ for 13 years before beginning her nursing training.  There followed an interesting conversation on body piercing and oh yes, I did get the shot.

I know it’s winter because sweaters, scarves and umbrellas are the order of the day more often than not.

Woman in sweater

So much younger

The children are all muffled up against the cold as they walk past the house on their way to school.

They look absolutely miserable, whether from the weather or just simply because they would rather not go to school, who knows?

I know it’s winter because the heating is on every day now.  While we don’t have the extremes of temperature that many places have, it does get cold here.Fire alight

And it rains and the wind blows so it is great to come into a warm house after walking the dog, or grocery shopping or whatever.

I know it’s winter because  Lotte doesn’t want to get out of the warm bed in the morning.

Lazy Lotte

Too cold to get up

She looks so comfortable on my bed and only gets up when I move her so I can make the bed.

She does get more alive when the lead is produced, or the car keys come out and she know/thinks it’s time for a walk.

I know it’s winter because I can walk along deserted beaches with only Lotte and the gulls  for company.

Gulls on beach

Photo - Bill Peters

The beach in winter is usually deserted apart from the seagulls and us.  I can spend hours just looking at the distance and thinking without any disturbance from other people.  On occasions I see nobody else in the hour or so that I walk the beach.

I know it’s winter because I have time to sit beside the fire and read some of the books that have accumulated in the pile during the summer months.  And Pile of booksbecause I can’t get out into the garden I can spend some blissful, uninterrupted time with my books.

The weeds are growing apace with the rain that seems to fall constantly and it is so warm in here with my cup of tea

“Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I’ll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.”
~Minna Thomas Antrim, 1861 – 1950, American writer


I know it’s winter because my son can have his fill of “Mummy’s Soup. 

Bowl of soup

via Wikipedia

Since he was a little boy he has told everybody that nobody makes soup like his ‘Mummy”.  So in winter, when I go to their house I take some soup. Enough for him to freeze and take to the office for lunch. 

Isn’t it great how we can still please our children so very easily?

And because as Percy Byshe Shelley asks “If winter comes can spring be far behind?” I am posting my favorite rainbow knowing that spring will break through the gloom and rain and the world will awake from its long sleep once again.

Rainbow

My rainbow - looking forward to spring

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home. ” ~Edith Sitwell, 1887 –  1964  British poet and critic.


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Musings on what might have been..

Footprints in the sand

Only one set of footprints

Have you ever read a poem that seemed to be written just for you?  This is such a poem and it speaks to me in my late husband’s words.  How often did he ask me to put down a book to see something he wanted to share or to tell me something he thought I should like to hear.

This poem from James Rainsford is such a poem for me:

Please put down that book you’re reading now
and gently close its pages.
So no harm shall cometo damage its cold thoughts.
Look up.  Please, look up and see
what little there is left of me where you felt loved.

© James Rainsford – Author, poet, photographer.

Thank you, James, for giving me permission to reprint your poem here.  And for anybody wanting to read more about James and his works click here.

It was almost like the Roberta Flack song ‘Killing me softly with his song” and the words ” He sang as if he knew me in all my dark despair”.  I do think James knew what it was like to be where I was after my husband died.

And for all that misery today I am still very grateful for the 41 years I had with my soulmate.  See My Gratitude List

So that’s my musing for today. I promise to be more upbeat tomorrow.

And today’s quote is from Wayne Dyer, American self-help advocate, author, and lecturer. 1940-

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice. “


What I am reading

I recently moved from a three bedroom plus study and two bathroom home of 2500 square feet – far too large for a woman on her own – to an old (1914) cottage with only two bedrooms and one bathroom.  It’s 1,000 square feet if stretched from end to end.  As you can imagine much had to be shed and many of the books I have collected over the years also went to the Lions and Rotary Clubs to raise some funds.  I kept only the treasured books that I couldn’t bear to let go.

Library books

Library books

Because of the lack of space, I decided that I could no more just purchase books and that I would investigate the library.  What a treasure world that is.  And now at least once a week I take myself off to the library for an hour or so of browsing around and noting those authors of whom I never heard.

In this way I found the following three books.

I have a talented sister who is a quilter. I sorry to say, can barely thread a needle and where would I get the patience to be a quilter? So when I was browsing in the library recently I came across a series of books written by Jennifer Chiaverini.  Knowing absolutely nothing about quilting I have found this  a fascinating novel, centered around quilting, family, friendship and sisterhood.

Thank you Christine for making me aware that quilting is still practiced.

Having looked at the website I see that Jennifer has written seventeen Elm Creek books and my admiration for this prolific writer is unbounded.

I recently discovered two Australian writers –Bronwyn Parry and Susan Duncan.  Bronwyn writes about life in a small town many miles from any large town and her novels are filled with fascinating insights into the hinterland of Australia.  Here there are few people and fewer amenities but the characters are rich and enthralling.  A third book is due out shortly but Bronwyn is recovering from neurosurgery so maybe the publishing date will be pushed out from April.

The other writer is Susan Duncan.  Her books are set in Pittwater a small settlement on the northern beaches of  Sydney in New South Wales,  A short distance from Sydney but a different world.  Susan relates her story moving from a 25 year career in journalism and magazine editorship to settling in this lovely area.  Have a look at Sheila Smart’s images to see just what a special place this is.

And I have always been a follower of Jeffery Deaver.  I particularly like the Lincoln Rhyme stories and have recently discovered his other protagonist, Kathryn Dance.  I look for his new titles now in the library rather than in the bookshop.

Apart from the novels I am reading ‘1421 – The Year  China Discovered the World’  by Gavin Menzies. This is a tome and it certainly is making my brain work.  I now see that there is another book by this author called 1434 that tells of the fleet leaving China for Italy.  Have a look at the website for a wealth of really interesting things to learn about.

The other book is ‘Secrets in the Fields’ by Freddy Silva. This is an investigation into crop circles, where they appear and how they came to be.  It’s fascinating but another book that one just can’t sit and read.  I find myself turning back regularly to check something that he has said.

Crop Circles

Photo - Freddy Silva

So in the spirit of use it or lose it, I am exercising my mind with some ‘heavy’ books liberally sprinkled with novels and other books.

See you tomorrow.